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Subject: For the Meeple, by the Meeple (Review of Tides of Time) rss

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Michael Carpenter
United States
West Virginia
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BOX ART



Build monuments, raise impenetrable fortifications, amass vast knowledge as you control ancient civilizations throughout time.



QUICK FACTS:
Style of Game: Strategy
Play Time: 15 to 20 minutes
Theme: Ancient Civilizations
Number of Players: 2
Main Mechanics: Card Drafting and Set Collection
Components: Nice
Weight: Light


THEME AND MECHANISMS:
This your typical pasted on theme in a board game. While the symbols use make sense for the types of buildings in the game, this connection could be created for several other themes. The one thing that keeps you engaged in more than just the mechanical movements is the artwork. The cards in the game are beautiful. After that though, I don't think I have felt thematically engaged in any of my plays.



GAMEPLAY OVERVIEW (In five sentences or less):
Tides of Time is a micro game that consists of 18 game cards, each with a particular way to score points. In the first round both players will receive 5 cards, but the second and third rounds will both introduce 4 new cards per round (using all 18 cards in the game by the end of the game). Each round players will be drafting one card from their hand and passing the remaining cards to the opponents until all cards have been drafted. Once all cards have been played in each round players will score points based on the requirements of the cards they drafted. After three rounds the player with the most points from all three rounds is the winner.

Rules Clarification:
- Each card has a symbol to distinguish which of the 5 symbols it is.

- Scoring requirements typically (not always) involved having specific types of symbols in front of you.

ASSESSMENT


My assessment of board games is broken into three core areas: Depth of Strategy and/or Tactics, Replayability, and Quality of Design.

Depth of Strategy and/or Tactics

Tides of Time is a "micro-game". The entire game consists of 18 cards. This may make is seem as though there isn't much opportunity for strategy and that is true to an extinct. However, you can certainly establish your path to victory and you do this on the very first turn. Now, this obviously limits your options because you only receive 5 cards as your starting hand and they may not seem to work well with the other cards in your hard. Luckily, Tides of Time does two things that negate this concern and allow you opportunities to make meaningful decisions.

The first of these two things is that you draft and pass. As with any drafting game you receive a new hand of cards after making your initial play so while your starting hand may not work well if they were your only five cards, now you get to mix in new cards on your second turn that will potentially work with your selected card better. The nicest thing about this mechanism in Tides of Time though is that there are only two hands to deal with. In many drafting games there are several hands to either get one or two shots of drafting from or have to try to remember all the cards in each. Tides of Time offers you an opportunity to more easily organize your plans and actually get a chance to draft a card you would like to draft in the future. That is not to say that it will be there on your turn though. It is possible to recognize your opponents intentions at times if you are paying attention so the game offers that "Block or Progress" conundrum.

The second thing Tides of Time does well in terms of strategy is that the game technically resets at the end of each round, but allows both players to keep one card that they drafted from that round in play. This allows players to keep onward with their strategy if they feel they have been able to create a good combination of cards or readjust and start the next round with a more desirable card than they started with in the previous round. Obviously, going through all three rounds on a clear cut path will typically help you a little more but there are plenty of times when readjusting and trying to work on a slightly different path can pay off.

While there is opportunity to be strategic I can't say that the whole round will work out for you. You will sometimes miss out on a card you want and have no cards that align with your base strategy well, but there will almost always be a card that you can find a way to make useful in more of a tactical way.

What holds the game back in this area of assessment is that the game is simply too small to offer a lot of depth. I don't mean all small games lack depth of strategy or tactics but Tides of Time has some quirks that keep it from being rich in strategy. For one, you know that every card in the game will be come out in every game so you eventually start to have a pretty good idea of what to expect. Yes, the order in which the cards come out changes things, but it doesn't change things as dramatically as something with different cards from play to play. If you are looking at Tides of Time as what can this small game offer me strategically compared to larger games then I think it may fall short. If you are looking at it proportionally... meaning how much strategy does this small game offer for what it is compared to what a lot of larger games offer for what they are... then you may enjoy it because Tides of Time does allow you to really organize clearer thoughts than a lot of drafting game, make somewhat tough (definitely not easy) decisions, and adjust on the fly when necessary.

Depth of Strategy:
3.0 = A simple strategy, when it can be implemented, will give you an advantage, but is not necessary to compete and enjoy the game.




Replayability

Replayability is a tough sell here. In my opinion this will rely strictly on what you want out of the game. Tides of Time does a good job of what it is meant to be... a thought-provoking, micro-game that fills time or offers a couple an activity in their evenings. If you try to take Tides of Time too far outside it's comfort zone then the replayability is going to drop because it appears as though you could overplay this game rather easily. That is not to say you will solve the game because it has too much randomization and opportunity for blocking each other from the limited means of implementing strategies. What I mean is the game just doesn't quite offer something you want to do over and over and over again in a small time-frame. Yes, you may play this game multiple times in one sitting each time you get it out, but I would be surprised if a majority of owners of this game play it multiple times multiple times per week. I could be wrong. I just don't see the game being that type of game. Instead, I see it being something that you enjoy owning because occasionally it fits a perfect situation that many couples experience often. It's early enough that you don't want to go to bed, but it is too late to really start a bigger game.

My best advice would be that if you already have some solid go-to games for two players only, I'm not sure this one is at the top of the ranks of games commonly used in this situation but it is cheap and I think it is a good addition if you are okay with stocking up on small situational games.


Replayability:
3.0 = Tides of Time offers replayability in small doses over the course of a long time but is small and short enough to be a "carry-on" for those who are always looking to fill time with a small game..




Quality of Design


Card Drafting: I don't have a ton of card drafting games because I don't enjoy the mechanism all that much. I don't always like the unpredictable nature of the mechanism at higher player counts. Tides of Time doesn't offer a new take on the mechanism, but it does make it more manageable without making it boring. Not only will you be able to remember which cards are in which hand more easily, you will actually have a decent opportunity to draft some of the cards you want on later turns. Plus, when you do not get a card you wanted it is typically because the other person made an educated choice (not always) to block you.

Set Collection: This is surprisingly well done. The scoring requirements of the cards blend so well together that while you may not need any particular card all that much. You seldom feel absolutely disappointed in the card you get. I think this is vital to have a game of this nature feel balanced and fun for both players and Tides of Time nailed it.


Quality of Design:
3.5 = A good design that engages the player for more than a just a few plays.


FINAL THOUGHTS:
Tides of Time is a good game. I have given it mostly praise and yet I still can't find time to play it all that often. In a hobby that emphasizes "collecting" almost (or more) as much as playing the games some good games get left on the shelf more than they would in a smaller collection. Unfortunately, Tides of Time falls into that category for me. I enjoy the game. I think it is well designed and it is impressive that it does 2 player drafting so well, and in a traditional sense nonetheless. I also think it falls just short of offering something engaging enough to surpass some of my top 2 player games. So while Tides of Time could potentially offer some people a perfect addition to their collection, it is a game I am okay with owning, but do not play a whole lot of at this point. Again though, I personally think it fits that situation better than being something that gets played all the time because of the lack of variety it can really offer up.

Overall Rating -
Times of Time is a lovely design that does a great job of what it was meant to be, but it doesn't quite stand out in the competitive board game world.

Overall Opinion: Positive, but not overly thrilled.

Notable Negatives
- Micro-games are somewhat polarizing

- There is only so much engagement in 18 cards

- "Good" often gets forgotten in our hobby


Genre Meter

Archaeology: The Card Game | | | | | | | | | | | | |colonist | | | | | | | | 7 Wonders


colonist = similarity to two other games of similar types in the genre.

*Archaeology: The Card Game is a two player set collection game that does not use the drafting mechanism. Definitely different in most regards, but does offer a fun implementation of set collection. 7 Wonders is arguably the king of drafting games and adds quite a bit more to the drafting mechanism than Tides of Time offers and includes set collection.


Thanks for reading!



If you enjoy my reviews please recommend and check out my geeklist For the Meeple, by the Meeple
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David B
United States
Chesapeake
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Tides of Time quickly ran out of gas and left my collection.
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Michael Carpenter
United States
West Virginia
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I can believe that. It doesn't do anything spectacular and the game isn't much of a game so there's not much to grasp on to long term unless you're okay with just having it available or like to have games at work.
 
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Michael Wohlwend
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Isn't this like a lighter version of Fairy Tale ?

In FT you draft your cards, collect sets which have abilities to effect your or the other players scoring..

Here you draft cards and collect the sets..
 
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Michael Carpenter
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That is a good question. I have not played Fairy Tale so I am not sure if it has a similar feel or not. I will look into it though.
 
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Keith Doyle
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After playing Sushi Go and now Tides of Time, I'm also thinking that card drafting is not all that interesting to me. It seems to be overly dependent on an arbitrary collection of different scoring mechanisms. With Tides of Time, we spend more time scoring than drafting, so while it does achieve two-player drafting, we found the game to be mostly a dud. Frankly, I liked Sushi Go better, even though I don't care for either the theme or the artwork, and feel that's a bit lukewarm too, though we do play it now and then as a filler. The artwork for Tides of Time is stunning, but that's just not enough to carry an otherwise weak game.

Which all gets me wondering if we were the type to try to think ahead multiple moves or otherwise apply some more complex analysis for either Sushi Go or Tides of Time, we'd find the drafting mechanism more interesting. Essentially, both games are *just* drafting for score combinations, which doesn't seem to lead to all that interesting choices. And theoretically, I can see picking a card in order to keep your opponent from getting it, but in Sushi Go that rarely seems a very effective strategy-- I was more inclined to do that with Tides of Time, but even there I question the payoff. And without that dynamic, it's an even more banal mini-puzzle of pick what cards you might be able to combo into a decent score. I wanted to like drafting but it's been mostly disappointing-- I'm having a hard time seeing what the draw of it is.

And I bought Fairy Tale, but it probably won't make it to the table for two reasons-- one, manufacturing defects-- the two packs of cards aren't exactly the same size and can make riffle shuffling next to impossible (and this was still true *after* having a replacement set sent by Zman support), and second, the scoring mechanisms seem even more convoluted which I don't see adding to the drafting mechanic.

Is 7 Wonders any better? If so, how so?
 
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Michael Carpenter
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With 7 wonders there is definitely more game and the number of cards alone allows you to develop more of a strategy. I would say it is hard to claim 7 Wonders isn't better than Tides of Time but don't take that as me saying you will like 7 Wonders. I made the mistake of trying to convince myself I would like drafting. What I have come to realize is that I much prefer role selection, especially those that do not allow the other players to directly influence which roles you can and cannot select, like Mission: Red Planet. Drafting is not a bad mechanic, I just don't much care for it. If I was going to play a drafting game that I own though (small list), it would be 7 Wonders hands down.
 
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