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T.I.M.E. STORIES

[Chantal Noordeloos is an author of speculative fiction (Horror, Science Fiction and Fantasy), who lives in the Netherlands, where she spends her time with her wacky, supportive husband, and outrageously clever daughter, who is growing up to be a supervillain. When she is not busy writing, she likes to dabble in drawing, working with clay to make meeples, and is an avid board game geek.

She’s been playing games since she was a child, and it took her a while (and some cunning) to get her husband into the hobby too. She likes many different types of mechanics and genres, as long as they’re not ‘mean’, since she’s a ‘Care Bear player’. In 2015 her passion of the hobby was ‘Kickstarted’ and has escalated since. The shelves filled with board games can confirm that she’s now a bit of a collector. Chantal and her husband are always on the lookout for new and interesting games, and hope to spread their gaming addiction to friends and family. ” In this, her first contribution to GA Report, Chantal tells us a (TIME) story!] 

T.I.M.E. STORIES (Asmodee, 2 to 4 players, ages 12 and up, 90 minutes; $50)

 

In 2015 designers Peggy Chassnet and Manuel Rozoy brought us the narrative board game T.I.M.E. Stories, in which we, the players, were invited to travel through time as temporal agents, to stop bad guys by solving mysteries, so that we can save the world from paradoxes and temporal faults.

I knew this game was going to be right up my alley when I first heard Richard Ham, aka Rahdo, mention it in one of his run-throughs. Full disclosure, I may have made a beeline towards the stand that sold these at Essen 2015, with a determined look on my face that my husband described as ‘frightening’. I was utterly over the moon when I finally got it to the table.timestories1

If given a chance I could talk hours about this game—with a high pitched excited voice, and big bug-eyes—but I really need to be careful with what I say. There are many secrets to the game, so I don’t want to describe too much, in fear of giving away spoilers. That would really ruin all the wonderful surprises. What I can tell you about it is that it’s a truly unique game. There are elements that you may recognize out of other storytelling games, such as Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective, Arabian Nights or Agents of Smersh, but T.I.M.E. Stories manages to take the narrative gaming experience to a new level through combining both narrative and visual elements. I would say that it relies even more on the visual aspects as it does on the written parts, which makes the game a little less ‘dry’ than say ‘Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective,’ and more accessible to people who don’t have the patience to listen to long descriptions (like my husband and daughter.)

You, as a player, start out at the T.I.M.E. agency, where you are briefed about your mission. There’s a starting place, but from there you can enter different vicinities on the board, by choosing them on a map. As you discover more about the story, the map will give you access to more locations.

Each area in the game is represented by a row of cards. The artwork, and the way the cards are laid out, really give you the impression of being in different places. It’s a really wonderful detail that brings a lot to the game. From the picture on the cards you must choose what you want to do next. Each location comes with a short description to aid you, but you really have to look around. You must use your instincts and deduction skills to choose who you will talk to or what you want to investigate. Every action you take will cost you precious time, and not everyone you speak to wants to do what’s best for you. There are foes hidden behind friendly smiling faces and you have to be careful who you try to help.

This brings a fair bit of excitement and tension to the game. We have roared in frustration when some of the characters would lead us to a dead end… or worse. You must really pay attention to what you are doing. Sometimes the devil is in the details, and you will find that you had the last piece of the puzzle with you all along. The problems you need to solve are different. They can be literal puzzles, figuring out who is telling you the truth, riddles, codes or even figuring out what objects you need to take. Not everything you find is useful, and some things actually turn out to put you in danger for nothing.timestories2

The game really takes you on a rollercoaster ride, and it will entertain for a length of time. Even our 8 year old daughter—who rarely has the patience to do anything for longer than 90 minutes—played along, and was enthralled for hours on end. I’m not saying this is a game that’s exactly suitable for children, mind you. We’re just odd parents, I guess.

Another interesting part of this game is that it asks you to role play your parts. For those of you who are not familiar to any role play games, don’t worry. You have control over how far you want to take the acting, and there won’t be any high expectations of you.

It’s often wise to split up your party and, instead of reading cards to each other, you are asked to tell the other person what you have heard or seen. This gives some interesting interaction between players that you don’t often see in co-operative games and it also works brilliantly against Alpha players.

We absolutely love this game. To date, it’s the only game we’ve scored a perfect ten on BGG. Having said that, this isn’t a game for everyone. My family and I enjoy narrative game play. We really get into the story and the characters. If you don’t like storytelling game, T.I.M.E. stories will not tickle your fancy.

There have been several comments about the replay ability of this game. Let me tell you up front, it’s not the kind of game you can just play again. Much like some computer games, once you know the answers to the puzzles, there’s no point in going back. Unless you’re like me, and you have the memory span of a goldfish with Alzheimer. I believe that in two or three years, I could easily visit the first scenario again.

Does that make this a waste of money? Let me ask you a question before I give my answer. If you go to the cinema and watch a movie, or go to the theater and see a play… is that a waste of money? It’s the same principle, you pay money for a certain type of entertainment. If you think that a night out like that is a waste, then you’ll most likely have a similar opinion on this board game. A game of T.I.M.E. Stories is cheaper than taking my family to see a musical, and we spend more time on it. So to me, no… it’s not a waste. It’s all a matter of how you look at it, I suppose.

We’re currently looking forward to the third expansion of this game, and have enjoyed all of them so far. T.I.M.E. Stories is a clever and evocative storytelling game, that will keep a group entertained for several hours. When you walk away from the game, it will still make you think and haunt your thoughts. If this is the kind of game you and your friends or family enjoy, I would highly recommend it. – – – – – Chantal Noordeloos


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