sam zitin
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*Whispers*
Hey there fellow time travellers. I've just come back from the past (23:17:38 on July 3, 2010 specifically) to bring you some inside info on some historical research I did. I went back in time so that I could play the prototype of the BTTF card game before it even came out!

That's right, I was able to disguise myself as just another Con-goer at Inconjunction in Indianapolis where Andy and Kristin Looney were present as gaming guests of honor. They were strangely enough unsuspecting that there may be any time travellers present and dished out the goods by letting myself and some "time locals" playtest the prototype copy of their new card game based on Back to the Future. I'm happy to share this info with you now back in the present, but you've got to keep it on the down low so we don't risk seriously altering the space time continuum and prevent the game from ever being released!

Overview - Back to the future is a game about (you guessed it) time travel! Each of you (as you obviously already know) are a time traveller from an alternate timeline and you will receive your ID card at the beginning of the game indicating what specific alternate timeline you come from. The goal in this game is to alter the timeline so that it looks like the one that you came from, and then prevent Doc Brown from inventing time travel, thus freezing the timeline in place and ensuring that YOUR future is the one that comes to be.

Gameplay - For any of those out there who have tried Andy Looney's previous time travel simulation Chrononauts, some of the basic premises of this game are the same. However there are some major differences. In that game, you had three different possible roads to victory, in this one there is only one. In Chrononauts you could cause paradoxes in time and then had to find specific patches for each one, in this one there are no paradoxes, they are "self patching" and already have the alternate event printed on the other side. I'm getting ahead of myself though! First I should show you a picture of the timeline simulation engine that Andy Looney utilizes.




You can see there are different colored cards that make up the timeline. There are two different kinds of locations on the timeline, Linchpins and Ripplepoints. Ripplepoints can only be flipped by flipping one of the linchpins that causes it to ripple. At the beginning of the game all the linchpins are purple, and all ripplepoints are blue. You can use two different kinds of cards (which I'll get back to in a moment) to flip the linchpins. Doing so will turn the linchpin red and indicate the alternate history and will ripple various other points along the timeline turning them orange and into their alternate histories. Your ID that you receive will require two specific events to be orange and one specific event to be blue. These are the only events on the timeline you care about, anything else is irrelevant.

IDs - One of the really nice features about the IDs that you are issued is that they tell you exactly what linchpins to set, and how to set them to ensure that the history you want comes about. This should help both seasoned time travellers as well as beginners (and non gamers) pick this game up very quickly. The ID also reminds you that you have to uninvent time travel to win the game. This isn't quite as easy though as that location on the timeline has 5 cards, 4 of which are "mysterious events prevent you from altering the past" and one is Doc Brown successfully hanging his clock and not inventing time travel. You need to have this be the top most card (which you find out as you flip it) in order to win.




On your turn all you have to do is draw a card and then play a card. If you ever can't or don't want to play a card (at any time) you can draw a card instead of playing one. That's the jist of the gameplay, it's pretty simple and the rules comprise both sides of 1 ledger (I think) sized sheet. You can pick it up, explain it and get to playing pretty darn fast (without even using a time machine!).

Card Types - The card types in the game are the following
1. Time machines - There are all of the ones from the movies represented, from the DeLorean version 1 which requires plutonium to work, to the fully tricked out time train that is super powerful.
2. Doublebacks - These set specific linchpins (only one linchpin possible on each one) to whichever outcome you desire. They also all have a secondary effect of letting you flip any OTHER linchpin if you have and sacrifice a specific item.
3. Items - These are things like a pellet of plutonium, case of plutonium, tomorrow's newspaper, Grey's sports almanac etc...

4. Actions - These let you do nifty things like steal or destroy someone else's item or swap your ID for a new one or trade hands with other players
5. Power actions - These are super powerful things like taking something back out of the discard pile and using it, going into the deck and taking any card you want to use, etc... The caveat with these is that they can't be used on other power actions, that would just be unfair.

Theme - (As if you couldn't tell by how far in character I am right now) The themeing in this game is superb. Every card is evocative of something from the movies and the mechanic and goal of each character really makes you feel like a time traveller and a participant in the films. Each row of the timeline is a different year represented in the movies and the events that you are attempting to change and bring about are the actual events that were changed and altered in the movies. The theme in this game is (for me at least) as close to perfect as I've ever seen in a licensed game.

Final impressions - In short, as much as I (as a time travelling professional) loved Chrononauts, I think BTTF the card game is going to be my new favorite and is going to see a lot more play around my table. The barrier of entry for non gamers has been lowered and it is REALLY easy to teach and pick up now. That combined with the quick, fun, and highly thematic gameplay make it a real winner in my book. I've been watching the movies again over the past few days and this game just really, really NAILS it. It corrects some of my minor quibbles with Chrononauts and is just really a spectacular stand alone card game, my recommendations (as a time traveller of course) could not be higher!



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Chris Copac
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Hmm, I was hoping this would be farther apart from Chrononauts, but it still sounds like it'll be fun.
 
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B C Z
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sammyz wrote:
In Chrononauts you could cause paradoxes in time and then had to find specific patches for each one, in this one there are no paradoxes, they are "self patching" and already have the alternate event printed on the other side.


This alone means that it may be worth looking at.

Having a patch undone in Chrononauts was the biggest gripe I had with the game.
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sam zitin
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byronczimmer wrote:
sammyz wrote:
In Chrononauts you could cause paradoxes in time and then had to find specific patches for each one, in this one there are no paradoxes, they are "self patching" and already have the alternate event printed on the other side.


This alone means that it may be worth looking at.

Having a patch undone in Chrononauts was the biggest gripe I had with the game.


It really does "smooth" the game out a bit. It's easier to explain to newbies, it helps the game not drag at times, and takes out the frustration of allllmost winning and seeing your vital patch get tossed. I like it better this way personally.
 
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william mcneil
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sniff i dont want a back to the future card game i want a rpg/euro game danm it all also there should be tons more bttf themed game there are tons of lord of the rings games
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Robert Cannon
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I was hoping the cards would look more like the movie. The box and the back of the cards look great. Changing the font to match the movie logo would help.

This is my favorite movie and I hope this game will match my love for the movie!
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Gabriel Manasan
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Call me a little dense, but what exactly do time machines do? Do they let you flip linchpins or something?
 
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sam zitin
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Stormcow wrote:
Call me a little dense, but what exactly do time machines do? Do they let you flip linchpins or something?


Call ME a little dense for not actually putting it in the right place! The time machines indeed let you flip ANY linchpin and then (depending on the time machine) require or consume a specific item or provide a secondary effect.

The time machines as well as the "doublebacks" replace Chrononauts' inverters.

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Just a Bill
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No, I said "oh, brother," not "go hover."
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I enjoy Chrononauts (and EAC) in spite of its chaos, and pretty much try to collect all the sets and promo cards. In the "streamlined" gameplay of BttF, is there anything you miss from the Chrononauts game engine?

I'm wondering if the lack of Missions will make it feel like there's "less game", of if there's anything else that feels "dumbed down" rather than streamlined.
 
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sam zitin
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This may just be me, and some people may miss the missions aspect, but frankly the streamlining of the game made it feel tighter and more competitive and less random than the previous Chrono offerings.

I always kind of felt that mission based wins were a little random, and that the 10 cards in hand win (which I never did) would be the most satisfying (just because I never did it) but the ID wins were the real meat and potatoes of the game.

That being said, I really like that you can't have your very near ID victory totally hosed by your necessary patch being tossed into the discard pile by practically any card in the deck.

So, in short no, I didn't find myself missing anything from Chrononauts. It will still have it's place on my game shelf, but I'll probably find myself pulling out BTTF more, especially with non gamers.
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Sean
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I don't want happiness by halves, nor is half of sorrow what I want. Yet there's a pillow I would share, where gently pressed against a cheek like a helpless star, a falling star, a ring glimmers on the finger of a hand.
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Time to get out my old Huey Lewis tapes! Can't wait for this one.
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