João Pedro Cotrim
Theme is definitely a plus when picking a game, but rarely a deal-breaker. There are some themes, however, that I just can't stand. And if a game is mostly a thematic experience, then theme may be a decisive factor after all.
So, for a long time I've been searching for a good board game with time-travel as a theme, hopefully with a good integration with the mechanic. So far, Khronos has been my choice to scratch that itch, but even that one I felt was very far from the more "hard sci-fi" time-travel game I'm looking for.
I bought this game on a whim, after hearing good things about it and the subject, and being given the main gist of the mechanic, but the main selling point made by the vendor was that the expandable scenarios were non-sequential and not related - in other other, unnecessary. This was important to me, because I am aware of the limited replayability of the base game, and had heard the expansions so far veered towards horror and fantasy, two themes I despise. The fact that a third expansion is coming out, apparently more history-driven (my conjecture), made me take the plunge and buy the game, but recently another topic made me realise that the expansions have, if fact, related content and some degree of sequence to them.
So now I'm thinking if this will limit my enjoyment of the game. I was already let down by a more "narrative" game last year (Pandemic Legacy), so I was hoping not to repeat that mistake. I haven't even removed the shrink from the base game, so I might not take a big loss on it if I re-sell it.
So I am asking players who have experienced the base game, and ideally the three expansions (though I welcome those who have tried only the base game or the first two expansions) to answer these few questions, if possible spoilers-free:
- is this game the thematical "hard sci-fi" experience I'm looking for, or is there any element that cannot at least be theoretically postulated by science?
- is the theme nicely integrated with the mechanic?
- will I be loosing anithing by skipping the expansions I have no interest in?
- is the third expansion free of "magical" or "mythical" story elements?
Also, if I do decide to carry on and play it, what player count is prefered, and is playing with the same group advised or required (like in a Legacy game).
Thanks in advance.
1. The only moment that I feel it is Scifi so far is the time at the agency before they send you through time. After that is mostly drama.
2. Yes, and some mechanic is different base on the story that you play.
3. A little. For example, people in agency will talk like they know you before in expansion. While in base game they treat you like a true newbie.
4. Im not sure that the 3rd expansion Under the Mask expansion is out yet, not in English as far as I knew.
you can defiantly play them in any order or skip some and also play with totally different groups
Dist of Columbia
Basically you want Tragedy Looper.
But I hate horror, fantasy, theme, all that sort of Ameritrashy stuff, and despite that, enjoyed TS for the mechanical inventiveness. I'm hoping Scenario 4 is better in terms of theme.
We are all speculating that the scenarios have a through line. Certainly the "theme" between Asylum and Marcy was different at least.
1. is this game the thematical "hard sci-fi" experience I'm looking for, or is there any element that cannot at least be theoretically postulated by science?
2. is the theme nicely integrated with the mechanic?
3. will I be loosing anithing by skipping the expansions I have no interest in?
4. is the third expansion free of "magical" or "mythical" story elements?
[I changed the bullet points to numbered items for ease of reference.]
Background: I've played both Asylum and Prophecy of Dragons. I've dipped my toes in the Marcy Case (one run-through).
1: Now this entirely depends on how far you're willing to go. Is a fantasy world possible? Probably not in our universe. Could an alternate timeline exist in which there are sub-atomic mana particles or ley-lines? Maybe. The laws of physics would be different in that world. So such a world would be impossible under our laws of physics.
You could also try to understand this by analogy. The quantum world doesn't satisfy a Newtonian description of the world. So from a Newtonian point of view, it is a world "that cannot at least be theoretically postulated by [Newtonian] science". For TIME Stories, you'll probably be pushed to expand the frontiers of what you call science.
TL;DR: TIME Stories is not oriented/limited to the hard sciences of our world.
2: very much so.
3: I'll give a cautious "yes". Think of it like this: You watch an episode of Star Trek. It's self-contained. So you get a nice little story there. Will you enjoy the story even more if you're familiar with the Star Trek universe? Perhaps.
I do think there's an overarching story in TIME Stories, but it's very early to really be sure about that.
4: I don't know as I haven't played.
I think the limit to your enjoyment is up to you, not us. You say you despise horror, but you list Betrayal at House on the Hill as "Want to play", and I don't know what "hard sci-fi" means.
The basic theme of TIME Stories, time travel, is necessarily in the background, enabling creators to go where and when they please, so far 1920s France, 1990s America, another planet and Egypt in the 1100s. Each setting is self contained, though subject to the external influence of non-contemporaneous agencies, the TIME Agency being one of those.
Asylum is a story in a setting likely to inspire disquiet and horror, and introduces out-of-place fantastical elements (which the Agency requires your team to resolve/eliminate/prevent), but it's not a horror story. It's a story that raises questions along the lines of "how was a (non-real world thing) able to be here in the real world?"
The Marcy Case is a rescue mission with plenty of science fiction dotted through it.
A Prophecy of Dragons is a quest story where technology has advanced so far that it appears to be like magic (a twisted justification by me courtesy of Arthur C. Clarke).
That's as far as I've played. There is strong evidence that there is an overarching story.
Given your "I play all the games" Microbadge, I recommend you should at least try Asylum out of the box, if it doesn't grab you then sell the game.
Is it a moose that became a detective ? Or a detective who searches for moose?
First, I've only played Asylum and Marcy but will probably being doing Prophecy in a week or two. But Prophecy has obvious super fantasy theme. Under the Mask isn't out in the US yet.
I bought this game on a whim, after hearing good things about it and the subject, and being given the main gist of the mechanic, but the main selling point made by the vendor was that the expandable scenarios were non-sequential and not related - in other other, unnecessary.
...but recently another topic made me realise that the expansions have, if fact, related content and some degree of sequence to them.
I'm pretty sure we all need to think of this like video game sequels. They want to have their cake and eat it too. Any connections between scenarios will probably be slight. They need to keep them separate for people like you and newcomers who might only want "new" expansions, but dot in the occasional reference for people like me who are going to play all of them and really wish they were more connected. Each mission starts and ends with your briefing/debriefing in TIME HQ so as already mentioned there is the dialogue switch from "new guys" to "these guys" and probably eventually "veterans" but that's minor.
Other than that there has been (minor spoilers)
Most importantly, we still don't have, and might never get, an explanation as to why/how the "prime" timeline is more important and what exactly the agency is trying to do.
Spoiler (click to reveal)
mention of a secret cult that I expect to show up again although I don't think they have yet, mention of other unknown time agents being in our scenarios, time agency "gadgets" (dice adjustments mostly) that you can carry over, and ONE "hard to find" item in the base set that is definitely going to play in somewhere in the future.
One would hope there's an eventual mission about the inner workings of the TIME agency that will have lots of callbacks to past missions, but the more people who share your mindset playing, the less likely that is.
heard the expansions so far veered towards horror and fantasy, two themes I despise.
This is going to be a problem for you. Even if you consider time-travel and the Marcy Case stuff to be science, Marcy and Asylum are definitely both horror and Asylum and Prophecy both have fantasy.
- is this game the thematical "hard sci-fi" experience I'm looking for,
I'm going to guess NO. NOT AT ALL.
or is there any element that cannot at least be theoretically postulated by science?
I don't really differentiate between "monsters grown in a lab" and "monsters grown by magic" but I believe its 2-1 in favor of magic and I would bet the Egyptian one has mummies or some such mythological
nonsense fun. That would probably be 3-1 and then we're at the Antarctic mission where the baddies will probably be real people, lab-made monsters, aliens or most likely Cthulhu. Odds probably not in your favor.
- is the theme nicely integrated with the mechanic?
It does time-travel loops, when you fail the mission you re-start it but possibly retain some information. That's it. There has so far been no other scifi - hard or otherwise. Other than that, the theme is mainly in the art of your destinations. So far, TIME Stories hasnt really been deep mechanics-wise at all. And probably won't be since it's just a few cardboard chits and some dice.
- will I be losing anything by skipping the expansions I have no interest in?
Probably not. But maybe. With an outside chance of eventually having an expansion that strongly suggests you've played other expansions. One would also guess that expansion sales have a lot to do with it. If every expansion is selling equally and at 75% of the sales of the base game - they might just accept that people are buying everything and tie them in more. If expansion sales numbers fluctuate highly, they won't be able to do that.
Also, if I do decide to carry on and play it, what player count is prefered,
FOUR players is best. I've played 2 and unlike other co-ops where we can play multiple characters fine or with slightly added complexity, a big part of this game is the ability to miss information. That only works with 3-4 and is obviously better with 4 people.
I've seen some people disagree with the fact that missing information is an important game mechanice and say they read cards out loud and show the whole group but that goes against the entire intent of the game.
and is playing with the same group advised or required (like in a Legacy game).
If you think Pandemic Legacy works better maintaining the same group of people - you will think TIME Stories works better maintaining the same group of people for the same reason. In my opinion they are both drop-in, drop-out and new players just need the equivalent of a "previously on..." like you would get at the beginning of a TV show.
Based on what you've said, I don't think this is what you're looking for. So far, TIME Stories is JUST a board game version of a Choose Your Own Adventure book series with prettier art.
I'm also going to guess that the audience for this game is not looking for actual historical excursions. So even if we get a zany "make sure Lincoln/JFK/someone important dies" mission it will be the exception, not the rule. Expect more monsters and scientifically-impossible aliens.
- Last edited Tue Mar 29, 2016 4:46 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Tue Mar 29, 2016 4:11 pm
João Pedro Cotrim
Thank you, everyone, for the replies. Based on your insights, I now believe this game might indeed not be for me.
But I'm still curious to at least try it. I'm now thinking about selling it or trading it in my own game group, and maybe find myself invited to play.