Temporum Impressions – Or Dominion meets Timecop
..well, not exactly Dominion meets Timecop, more like Dominion meets Ron Silver’s bad guy character from Timecop. Speaking of cops, if you haven’t watched Runaway starring Tom Selleck and Gene Simmons, do yourself a favor and watch it. It’s so (bad) good! There are little robot spider things that can jump on your face and spray it with acid. And Gene Simmons is practically trying to kill everybody with his evil glare! Anyways, what were we talking about? OH YEAH! TEMPORUM! Clicky clicky for details!
Temporum is the latest release from designer Donald X. Vaccarino. You may know Donald from such games as Dominion, or one of my personal favorites, Nefarious. Temporum is from Rio Grande Games, supports 2-5 players, and plays in about 35 minutes according to the box. But it’s got time travel, so really you could’ve completed a game just now, that you started a year from now. OOoooooOO TIME TRAVEL!!
In Temporum, you play as…time hoppers, we’ll say, who are trying to go back in time, muck around with the timeline by stepping on butterflies or killing Hitler’s mom, in an attempt to mold the future in such a way that you have the most power and influence when compared to your competitors. Ok, so while you can actually play a card called Step on Butterflies, you don’t really kill Hitler’s mom (but seriously though, that should totally be in an expansion. Donald, call me!)
How to play Temporum
The game comes with a board with four Times starting with a single card location in the past, pyramiding out to two cards in the second, three cards in the third and finally four cards in the current Time, where players start. At the beginning of the game, you’ll deal out Zone cards to each of the 10 locations on the board, and place markers between cards indicating the current “real” timeline. Each player draws two player cards, and gets starting capital with first player getting nothing while later players have more to spend. Each player places their player marker on the starting Time Zone and gets 10 crown markers, which are put in the appropriate color track in the Time 1 section. The object of the game is to get all 10 of your crown markers moved into the Time 4 section before anyone else. The first player who accomplishes this wins the game immediately.
Your turn consists of four phases:
- Change Time (optional)
- Move (optional)
- Visit a Zone (mandatory)
- and the obligatory Check for Winner phase.
Change Time – In this phase, you do the stomping of the butterflies, by switching the “real” timeline marker below the card their player marker is currently on. If this causes another player to no longer be in the “real” timeline, they fade out like Marty McFly’s family and fade back in on the appropriate “real” Time Zone of the Time they were visiting. Why would you want to muck with time? Shouldn’t we be concerned about the ramifications of our actions and preventing paradoxes and major changes to the timeline? Well, honestly, no, because this plays into the Move action. And also, this is a game, this is not reality. Calm down, and pretend to live a little, sheesh.
Move – When a player moves, they take their marker and place it on any of the four “real” Time Zones. Comboing this with the Change Time action above, allows you to position yourself where you’ll get the most benefit out of the Visit a Zone action.
Visit A Zone – This is the meat of the game. When you Visit a Zone, you’ll take the action that’s described on the Time Zone card. These actions let you play cards from your hand, draw new cards, or score cards from your hand. If you play a card from your hand, you’ll get the money value depicted in the center of the card, and carry out the card’s action. Some cards are one time use, and others are ongoing and give you benefits throughout the game. Scoring cards allows you to spend your hard earned (and totally not stolen from history or earned by placing illegal bets on sporting events, BIFF!!) cash to move your crown markers. Each card has an exchange rate between dollars and number of crown move actions you get. Moving your crowns all the way to Time IV is important for winning, but moving them between the intermediate Times is important as well, as having a majority of crowns in certain Times or multiple Times can give you extra benefits when you take a Time Zone’s action.
Finally, if on a player’s turn they’ve moved all of their crowns to Time IV, they become ruler of the world and win the game and the hearts and minds of the universe. Or something.
My Thoughts on Temporum
So, I’ve only played Temporum once, but I really want to play it again. It has facets that are familiar from Dominion and Nefarious, which make for an interesting combo. There’s a ton of Time Zone cards so there’s a good amount of replayability straight out of the box, but that will need more plays to confirm. One thing I did notice giving the Zone cards a quick glance is there’s definitely themes to the actions they provide. Time I is primarily about scoring cards, Time II is for drawing cards, Time III is where you get to play them, and Time IV is kind of a mixed bag. There are some cards across all four Times that basically give you a choice between playing, drawing, or scoring. My group played the recommended beginner setup, and with that, the changing of the timeline didn’t seem to make that big of a difference. I think with further plays and possibly different card layouts, it would be of more importance.
In the end, if you don’t like Dominion and it’s play cards to draw cards to score mechanisms, you might not end up liking Temporum. There is more planning to be done in Temporum in order to be able to draw/play/score cards, as opposed to Dominion’s play all, 1 action, 1 buy default turn structure. And with that planning you can find yourself trying to catch up with someone who just shoved a bunch of their crowns down the track because you needed to play a card to get the money to score a bigger card. On the topic of scoring, I don’t know the breakdown, but there are some cards that are 4 money for 4 crown moves up to 20 money for 7 crown moves, I think. I’ll need to confirm this. So there’s definitely a tradeoff between playing a card to get it’s money and use its action vs. scoring the cards because it’s got a better exchange rate.
All in all, I’m very pleased with my first play of Temporum. Like I said, it will likely not be for everyone, but I’m glad I impulse bought it and I’m interested to see how varied different setups of the Time Zones end up feeling.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go check if Runaway and/or Timecop are on Netflix.