Recommend
17 
 Thumb up
 Hide
6 Posts

Tempus» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Tempus - The Good. The Bad. The Verdict. rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Scotty Pruitt
United States
Simpsonville
South Carolina
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
If you are looking for my general thoughts on Tempus, skip to the end of this review for my take on The Good, The Bad and The Verdict.

I eagerly awaited the arrival of Tempus. After reading about it on the geek some time ago, I placed my order on thoughthammer.com. The expected delivery date came. The expected delivery date went. Several times. I became very frustrated and said "I don't need you, Tempus!" and changed my order to something else (I can't even remember what). I intended to never play the game because of the frustration experienced with the delays. Then, on a rainy day in September, I picked up a copy in a trade. When USPS delivered the game, I cracked it open and read the rules (Funny tid bit here: I fell asleep that night while reading the rules. My wife said I was talking in my sleep and said "You can't put that baby there. There are too many babies there already."). It was pretty straight forward.

In Tempus, you are fighting for control of an island that is created by the players at the start of the game. Each player places a piece of the island onto the board. Each piece must touch a previous piece. You may leave spaces to create lakes (the board is blue to represent water where tiles do not cover it). The island is broken into hexes. Each hex contains a different type of terrain: Grassland, Farmland, Hills, Forest, Mountains. Players start by placing 3 tokens which represent their people or population. These tokens must be adjacent to start and certain places on the map will be more desirable than others.

Tempus uses the familiar "action point" system. You receive 3 actions to start your turn. The number of actions you receive increases as the game progresses up to a maximum of 6. With an action, you may perform one of the following: Move a token, Have Babies, Have a Fight, Have an idea, Build a city.

-Move a token - take a token and move it one hex. Easy! You are able to move more tokens further as the game progresses. You may also move across lakes and, eventually, the ocean.
-Have Babies - this is how you create people. You may only have babies in grassland hexes where your tokens already exist. When you take this action, you may only place one token per hex and you can't break the stacking limit.
-Have a fight - your tokens may attack the enemy as long as they are directly adjacent to you when you initiate the Have a Fight action.
-Have an Idea - you may draw an idea card. Idea cards give you bonuses during the game. They can also be used for fighting and during the progress phase. Idea cards have text on them that perform a function. Each idea card also has a background that matches one of 4 terrain types: Grassland, Farmland, Hills, Forest.
-Build a city - you may remove all the tokens within a hex and replace them with a city marker that equals the number of tokens you removed. Your city markers range from 2 to 4. You cannot build cities in mountain hexes nor adjacent to any other city. The defensive power of a city is equal to its value.

Along with the action point system, Tempus uses a chart that is broken into rows and columns. This chart is on the board next to the island. Each row represents an era. Each era has certain limitations on the actions that may be performed. The columns in each row define the limitations for each of the 5 actions. When you first start off and you are in the lower eras, you may only move one token one hex per action and you may only stack 2 tokens in a hex etc. As you progress down the era track, you may start to move more tokens further and stack more tokens in a hex. In other words, not only do you get more actions, but you can do more with your actions.

At the end of each turn (when everyone has used all their actions), you count up progress points. Whoever has the most progress points will advance to the next era. This gives them an advantage for the next round because they are in an era that gives them more bang for their buck for each action they play. Hey! This sounds like it is a case of the rich get richer! Not really. The game has a mechanism in place to keep players somewhat equal. At the beginning of each progress phase, everyone catches up to the player that has progressed the farthest. This means that no one is more than one era behind at any point in the game.

So, how do you determine your progress points? Each era has a special terrain type associated with it. Whoever controls the most of that terrain type of the new era has a good chance of advancing that round. You also need to count your cities and add any idea cards to the mix. The idea card's background which match the target era's terrain may be played to add to the progress point total. So... tokens in target terrain + 1 point for each city marker + idea cards gives you your progress total. The person with the most points advances to the next era (if tied, both go). Everyone else stays behind for a turn.

Battles are very simple. It is a matter of counting up the tokens in each hex and then playing any additional idea cards to increase your overall score. Some idea cards are weapons or fortresses that increase your score by +1 or +2. Idea cards that match the terrain you are fighting in also may be played to increase the score by +1. However, the cards played are hidden until each player has chosen what he will play. Each player knows the number of cards the other person has played. He just doesn't know what they do. This adds an element of bluffing into the game since a player may play cards that do nothing to improve his situation! Once idea cards are used, they are discarded. If the attacker wins, the defender loses everything. If the defender wins, the attacker loses one token. Ties go to the defender.

The games lasts 10 turns. No more. No less. When all is said and done, you count up Victory Points. Victory points are equal to the number of non-mountain hexes that you have tokens in, plus the value of each city you control. You also receive +3 to your victory point total if you advanced into the age of flight on the last turn of the game. From what I've experienced, this +3 points has been the game breaker every time.

The Good
-A very simple rule set. The rulebook is only a few pages long and the game is easy to teach. However, even with the simple rules I still find myself constantly thinking about my next move. It feels like there is very little downtime since my mind is occupied.
-Low luck factor. There is some luck involved. Mainly the starting order and the types of idea cards you get. In my opinion, Tempus has just the right amount of luck.
-Smart play is rewarded. Once you start to figure out how the game works, the better player should win more often than not. I've won without making one attack!
-Acceptable components. The components won't win any awards. But the board is attractive and looks interesting when setup with all the markers and cities populating it. The cards are sturdy. The tokens are your standard wooden pieces that Wallace seems to like. The game also comes with his typical black bag. I've noticed some wear on the action markers and city tokens. This doesn't bother me too much.

The Bad
-It does seem a bit dry at times. It doesn't really feel like I am advancing my "people" through the eras and improving their technology. I can't put my finger on it. But it is missing something in the theme department.
-Playing time. It seems to take a bit long for such a simple game. Of course, playing time comes down to an opinion. Our 5 player game went 2.5 to 3 hours. Too much for this type of game.
-Gamey rules. There are some rules that seem to be there just to keep the game balanced. I understand why they are there. That doesn't mean that I like that they are there. These three rules in particular:

--You can't attack anyone that occupies 3 or fewer hexes with tokens. This means you can't even attack their cities!
--You can only have babies in the Grasslands. I understand why this is there. It forces decisions to be made about using grasslands wisely. If it wasn't there, people would be having babies in any ol terrain type they please, and we can't have that.
--Everyone catches up to the leader on the era track. Again, I understand why it is there. It just feels forced to me.

The Verdict - 7.5
I think Tempus is a good game. Its beauty is in its simplicity. The rules mesh and the mechanics fit together well. The design is strong. I enjoy playing it. The gamey rules won't stop me from playing. Once you get used to them, you start to play around them or use them to your advantage. I do wish Wallace had put some more "fluff" into the game to tie it into the theme more. Is it worth the money (or the trade)? Yes.



8 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ryan Olson
United States
Auburn
Kansas
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Picked this up last weekend (found it at the FLGS cheaper than online prices), and have been reading the rules.

I think this is one of the more newbie friendly Wallace games (by newbie I mean to Wallace's games, not to gaming in general). I tried Liberte, and had Age of Steam (but traded it), and i don't think these gaems work for my group yet. There is just too much going on in Liberte. Age of Steam was too unforgiving.

But this game seems simpler. Alot of descisions to be made each turn, but the descisions make sense. Build a city, make babies, draw cards. Simple.

I can't wait to play this with my group. Hopefully it will lead to more Wallace games.

I guess I am considering this to be a Wallace gateway game. Not a pure gateway game, but a good one to introduce a group to Martin Wallce .
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Champion Eternal
Malaysia
Unspecified
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Yup - I agree: this is a gateway game for newbies, who do not have any other games to compare Tempus with.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Scotty Pruitt
United States
Simpsonville
South Carolina
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I agree also. I think it is a good gateway game. I plan on teaching some casual gamers this weekend. I suspect it will go over well.

Yollege wrote:
Picked this up last weekend (found it at the FLGS cheaper than online prices), and have been reading the rules.

I think this is one of the more newbie friendly Wallace games (by newbie I mean to Wallace's games, not to gaming in general). I tried Liberte, and had Age of Steam (but traded it), and i don't think these gaems work for my group yet. There is just too much going on in Liberte. Age of Steam was too unforgiving.

But this game seems simpler. Alot of descisions to be made each turn, but the descisions make sense. Build a city, make babies, draw cards. Simple.

I can't wait to play this with my group. Hopefully it will lead to more Wallace games.

I guess I am considering this to be a Wallace gateway game. Not a pure gateway game, but a good one to introduce a group to Martin Wallce .
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jim Leesch
United States
Buffalo Grove
Illinois
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
A thorough and well thought-out review. Thank you. I enjoy the game more than you, it seems, but I tend to place less emphasis on the "strength of theme" aspect than many gamers here on the geek.

There are two points about the "gamey" rules that I would like to quibble with, however.

Quote:
--You can only have babies in the Grasslands. I understand why this is there. It forces decisions to be made about using grasslands wisely. If it wasn't there, people would be having babies in any ol terrain type they please, and we can't have that.
--Everyone catches up to the leader on the era track. Again, I understand why it is there. It just feels forced to me


Babies only in the grasslands makes perfect theme sense. We tend to reproduce best where there is arable land and room to expand. While it is true that once urbanization sets in, poopulation growth centers shift, this isn't supposed to be an outright simulation, so for simplicity, keep the location uniform throughout the game.

As for everyone catching up with the leader on the era track, again the tie to the theme is easily explained. As civilizations grow, they engage in trade, leading to the sharing of ideas. It is certainly true that such trade and growth is not so uniform, or lock-step in the real world, again, Wallace is not trying to create a simulation, so he keeps things simple.

Other than that, I agree with most of your comments. I particularly enjoyed the sleep talking. Glad to know it's not just me and my obsessions that come out in strange ways.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Rob Leveille
Canada
St. Catharines
Ontario
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Quote:
We tend to reproduce best where there is arable land and room to expand.


Humans will reproduce anywhere, anytime and with anyone.

Or is that just me?
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.