This sounds interesting. I searched, but I couldn't locate the rules for this game. Are they available anywhere?
Never mind, I found them. Posting them here for ease of reference:
Time Gradient is a game for 2 players, each representing one possible future civilization.
At the start of the game, your future is a very low priority one. This is a bad thing - a few more splits in the main time stream, and your whole civilization will cease to exist.
The most probable future leads to a mankind reliant on primitive technologies spreading out across the galaxy. Temporal archaeologists have identified 10 key events which must be changed in order to make their future the dominant one. With the invention of reliable time travel, you send your agents back in time to change events to match your recorded history. Unfortunately, however, it looks like there is opposition from another time-travelling civilization...
Required for play:
- Two decks of playing cards
- About 40 Counters (of any kind)
- Remove the court cards (J, Q, K) from the two decks and set them aside. These will not be used during the course of the game.
- Take one set of cards numbered 1-10, and lay them out in Numerical order. This represents the time line... 10 important events that lead to one future or the other. 1 is the event closest to the present, 10 is the event furthest back in time.
- Players sit either side of the time line.
- Deal 10 cards to each player as their starting hands.
- The most improbable player starts.
- A player wins immediately if they manage to lock 5 events with their version of history.
- The game also ends once the draw deck has been emptied twice (reshuffle the discards after the first time through). In this case, the player who has locked the most events wins.
- In the case of a tie, the player who has locked the event with the highest number (i.e. furthest in the past) wins.
Each turn consists of the following steps:
- Draw cards
- Activate agents
- Send new agent back in time
- Draw three cards, plus 1 per locked event that from your timeline (each favourable event increases the probability of your timeline, which makes time travel more energetically favourable).
(If the draw deck is emptied for the first time, reshuffle the discards to form a new deck. When the draw deck is emptied for the second time, the game ends.)
An agent is a stack of face-down cards at an event. Once in the field, the agent can't communicate with the base, though he/she can be recalled.
- Activating an agent is always optional.
- Each agent can be activated at most once per turn.
- A player can recall an agent, picking up all remaining cards an putting them back in his/her hand.
- A player activates an agent by turning over the top card of the agent stack, taking the appropriate action, then discarding the card.
Possible actions are as follows:
- Assassinate: If the card matches the current event, the agent can kill an opposing agent at this location. Put all cards in the opposing stack into the discard pile.
- Travel: if the card is for a different event, move the agent to that event. If the agent travelled backwards in time, the active player must discard cards from their hand equal to the distance travelled, to pay the energy cost. Travel forwards is free.
-- If the card matches the current event, add 1 influence counter to your side of the event
-- If the card is for the current event-1 (one event later), add 2 influence counters
-- If the card is for the current event-2 (two events later), add 3 influence counters
(If the card is in the past, or more than two events later, it can't be influenced. A small change in the present can add up to a large event in the future; but the effects of the change become increasingly hard to predict.)
Once a player has 4 influence against an event, that event is locked; a fixed point in history that cannot be changed. Turn it sideways, and discard all opposing influence.
Send new agent back in time
- Instruct your agent: Choose any number of cards from your hand, and place them in a stack.
- Send him back: choose an event; discard cards equal to the number on the event, and move the stack to that location
Agent action example
The agent actions are maybe a trifle confusing. So, here's an example.
You have an agent at event 4, and choose to activate him. You turn over:
4: add 1 influence to event 4, OR assassinate an enemy agent at event 4
3: add 2 influence to event 3, OR move to event 3 (uptime, so no cost)
2: add 3 influence to event 2, OR move to event 2 (uptime, so no cost)
1: move to event 1 at no cost (no influence option; event is too far away to calculate the effects of a change at this point in the timeline)
5: move to event 5, pay 1 card from player's hand since moving downtime
6: move to event 6, pay 2 card from player's hand since moving downtime
I hope that makes things clear; the principle is that a small change at the current time can snowball into a large change in a decade or two.
Conceptually, there is one agent at the event; the stack of cards represent a series of instructions to be carried out in sequence at the location, e.g. "stop A and B from meeting on 19th July", "leave plans for stonehenge on a specific rock in Glastonbury on date C", "buy 3,000 shares in IBM on 1st January 1960". That kind of thing.
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The definitive rules thread is here: