10 January 2020
As we time travel forward, one second at a time, towards 2020, it feels like the moment to take a look out top 10 time travelling games!
More or less the time travel game for many. Spend your time wisely in this story-deduction game of travelling through time and space solving a mystery. Each turn your time team can decide to spend your time visiting a location, gaining information from cards, and slowly unravelling the tangled narrative. You’re racing against time, and failure means you need to start again, armed with new knowledge. T.I.M.E Stories also, ingeniously, has a way for you to save your progress when you put it back in the box. Now that’s time travel.
The best thing to do with time travel once you have it? Uninvent it. Then, you’ll always have been winning. This is the victory condition of Time Agents and if that doesn’t make it appeal to you, I’m not sure what kind of time traveller you are. Identify the key events from the past to make your faction stronger and once this is achieved, attempt to turn time travel into science fiction, rather than science fact.
A game of gaining influence by changing what has already been. The game is played across three boards, representing each time period. Creating a building in an early period makes it exist in later periods, if it is of large enough size. This shows you a ripple of your actions through time. If you use this building mechanic wisely you can even knock down building in the future (or rather, make them never to have existed). Alternatively, you might be setting your opponents in the future up for a windfall of points. An interesting, tactical tile-layer.
The forking narrative of time travel attracts some players to the theme. The existence of alternative realities where things went a little differently. You could have done this, but you decided to do this – the cost is what you didn’t do. Temporum is an attempt to create this Butterfly effect feeling by allowing you to throw switches in the past to create different futures. As the shape of the game is a forked diagram, changing something further back can have big effects on the future as the path to now flickers out.
Doctor Who: Solitaire Story Game
It’s lonely being The Doctor. Which, we suppose, is why this is a solitaire only game. More like an RPG than a board game, it’s worthy of inclusion for its theme. You really are going to be time travelling around fighting the disruptive forces of evil. All you’ll have at hand is this book and a sonic screwdriver. A story game with a choose-your-own-adventure element that is perfect for fans, whichever Doctor is your favourite.
Replay a day at work over and over – hold on! hear me out… At Loop Inc you’re competing against your colleagues for a bonus with the use of a time machine. Luckily you’re not alone, you have the previous day’s self by your side helping you (or, are you helping them?) Take extra actions on top of your previous day’s work and time it just right to come out on top. If time travel is a fantasy about a fully optimised life, then this may be a good version of it for your tabletop.
An asymmetric scenario-led deduction game, where a tragedy happens every day. But don’t worry, this isn’t just a whodunit, it’s a whodunit-then-stop-them-dunning-it-in-the-first-place game. The game plays out with a handful of protagonists versus the mastermind who is there to stop our heroes from influencing the tragedy. Each side plays out their cards, and it pushes the small narrative along, effecting the location and mental state of each character. If someone dies, including the players, everything is reset in an Edge of Tomorrow kind of way. Bonkers, but definitely high stakes!
Make leaps back in time to ensure your people already have the technology they need to survive and thrive. This game plays out like an arms race across time – create something in the past to already have it now, while your opponent tries to do the same. The risk comes in managing the distance between you and your technology. While it’s beneficial to have already done many upgrades for a long time, you’ll need to spend as much as the distance you are from the technology. As such this can give players a satisfying game of back and forth.
Worker placement games aren’t always full of drama. But what if your workers are going back in time to help themselves avoid a huge catastrophe? That’s Anachrony. The system is two-tiered as you need to send back specialists such as scientists, as well as exosuited workers designed to protect said scientists. Plan whether you’re going to try and avert the cataclysm or simply become the most powerful after it happens. This is a heavy worker placement game and as such, some of the time travel dressing can disappear, like a tree you forgot to plant in the past.
Take on the identity of a time traveller with a secret mission – usually to snaffle a series of priceless historical artefacts or to change the course of history by flipping cards. A simple game where you’re trying to play cards to get cards, but with the fun of seeing various tentpole moments of history altered. While this only remains a binary without intricate ripples of change we like to imagine on this subject, it does give you a little bit of the feeling of changing history.
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This review originally appeared in the January 2020 issue of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue in print or digital here or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.