Players: 1-6 Ages: 11+ Game Time: 20-45 minutes
Chrononauts is a game for one to six players by Looney Labs where you take on the roles of time-travelers attempting to 'restore' the timeline. The only problem is you all have a different version of history... So as any of you keen geeks know, tinkering with the timeline has side-effects in the form of paradoxes, and that holds true in Chrononauts too. You will need to keep those paradoxes in check though, if there are too many then timeline will collapse entirely and you will all lose.
The game is simple to learn and easy to play, which makes it family-friendly, and the small box size makes it easy to lob into your backpack and play at the local pub or even taking camping.
At the start of the game, you will arrange the key 32 events into the 4x8 grid indicated by the event cards location key e.g. A-4 indicates that the card belongs in the top row in the fourth position along. All events are double sided with linchpins having a red and purple side, and ripple points have a blue side and paradox on the reverse. All the linchpins and ripple points should be in the position of the 'true' timeline (purple and blue sides showing). Once the timeline is in place each player should be given a secret identity and a mission card and will be dealt a starting hand of three cards.
The game starts with the 'true' timeline
There are three ways you can win Chrononauts:
Restore YOUR timeline by making sure you have the correct events showing as indicated on your identity card
Complete the secret mission you have been assigned by collecting the appropriate artifacts
Obtain ultimate power by have 10 or more cards in your hand.
For any of these conditions to be completed, this must be the case at the end of your turn. So keep an eye on your fellow time-travellers and watch how much power they are accumulating.
Each turn you will draw one card from the deck and play one card. There are several types of cards which can be played:
Artefacts - Objects from time that are required to complete missions
Gadgets - Useful objects that will give you special benefits
Actions - Cards which cause unique effects and are then discarded
Timewarps - Powerful action cards which allow special effects
Inverters - These cards are how you change history
Patches - Fix paradoxes and get rewards from the time agency by drawing cards.
There is also a solitaire version of the game in which you have to try and get eight travellers back to their own time. The catch is you only have one pass through a streamlined deck to achieve this, so you will need to plan carefully how you do this. Of course you can easily adjust the difficulty of this by adding or removing how many travellers you need to rescue.
The production value of this game is nothing special and is fairly standard with simple and basic card stock used and very simplified graphics throughout. While the box is compact making it easily transportable, there is as ever no room to add any card sleeves to protect your game but I'm not sure if that matters so much for such a cheap game.
The rules pamphlet is comprehensive and easy to use, with just the right amount of illustration. In terms of ease of use, the game is friendly for those who are colour blind with the extensive use of symbology on all cards but is far from being language independent.
Personally, I would have preferred there to be more illustration on cards and less text and would have preferred a less cartoonish style, but the theme is at least consistent throughout the game.
This is a very solid game, lots of replayability with different combination of identities, mission and card draws. However, unlike other games, I've found this getting a little stale with time.
That being said the game has many redeeming features:
Compact design (well expect for play area...)
Multiple play-modes, including solitaire.
Overall, I rate this game a five. Nothing too innovative but generally an enjoyable experience, and while it might be leaving my collection soon because of personal taste on the art style. It's a great family game.
Your friendly DoaLG rules lawyer
George E Ohh