English language edition
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Travel through time to acquire collections of artifacts for fun and profit. The players are pirates of the future who brave the plagues and wars of ancient times to collect the treasures of those times. They must be fast and careful to avoid being caught by the time patrol.
I have played this game twice now--both times with 4 players. There were different players involved in these two sessions, and both groups agreed that this game is a winner.
Here is a synopsis of the game: Players collect artifact tokens of 5 different colors + white (which is a wild card). Artifacts are then traded in for scoring markers. Scoring markers are available in the same 5 colors + white.
Each scoring marker has a number on it. To get the 'blue 4' scoring marker, the player must collect 4 blue artifacts. White artifacts are wild and can replace any color. To collect a 'white 3' scoring marker, the player must collect 3 different colored artifacts.
The board consists of 7 different 'time epochs' which are all connected with multiple arrows. Each epoch is stocked with a fixed number of artifacts chosen at random. Each epoch has two arrows leading in (labeled A and B) and two arrows leading out (again labeled A and B). Time is indeed relative, and this makes the board--in effect--a neverending circle of spaces all connected together.
The time police starts on one epoch, and players take turns placing their playing pieces on different epochs to start the game.
A turn consists of:
Scoring happens three times during the game. When the eighth time police tile is drawn, the round is scored and the next round is started. After the third scoring, the game is over.
I have omitted some details (in particular, how scoring works), but hopefully, this is enough get the idea of the game across.
I like this game for several reasons. Each turn offers several choices--to collect more artifacts, run away from the time police, or trade in artifacts for scoring tokens while you still can? Getting one's friends busted by the time police has proven to be a source of enjoyment at the games I have played. The race for the scoring tiles has also made this game very interesting. Grabbing a scoring tile before your neighbor can get it can be an effective strategy.
The rules included in the game vary somewhat from those on the Gaming Dumpster. We have been playing using the ones on the Dumpster with much success--these appear to be the rules direct from the game designers themselves. I would suggest that if you buy this game, get both sets of rules and decide for yourself which would be best for your group.
Although the theme is 'time' pirates pursued by a persistent police, it really does not play that way. Players try to acquire sets of pieces and trade them in for points. Points are scored at an indeterminate time, so there is a lot of running around trying to build large sets before the scoring round. Play is fast-paced with enough 'screw-your-neighbor' tactics to make it fun with more people. It does not merit a five because it does play like so many German-style boardgames losing marks for originality. Otherwise, it is a respectable game and a worthwhile purchase.
Time Pirates is a light game; there is not much opportunity for strategy. You can take rewards before your opponents get them, but it is difficult to make long-term plans. The time police move frequently and randomly, advancing the game to a scoring round before there is time to do much. The time police may also interfere with your inventory or ability to collect items.
Union Pacific is another game that uses randomly arriving scoring rounds, but the tension builds much more effectively in Union Pacific, and there is room for strategy. Consequently, Time Pirates is a light diversion, not a serious strategy game. As such, it is a fine game for a group that simply wants to pass time with light entertainment.
Interesting. Two designers, but only one of them gets his name on the lid of the box! Holywood can be very cruel: they say you are going to be the co-star, but when you get to the premire you find that you are only the "and introducing". It seems unfair on Aaron, but perhaps Piatnik felt that this game was going to achieve most of its sales on the strength of Alan's name. And they could well be right.
The idea is that you are a dealer in historical artefacts and you have a time machine. Using this, you travel backwards and forwards through the centuries, collecting and selling items. Your activities are illegal and so there are Time Police who are out to stop you. They also have a time machine and, as you will discover, it is liable to move faster than yours. The game, therefore, is about trying to collect the valuable items while avoiding arrest.
At this point the reviewer's life gets a bit complicated, because there are two sets of rules: one from the publisher and one from the designers. We used the latter and the review is based on these, though I'll explain the main difference between the two when we come to it.
The board shows seven time zones, each with between three and seven spaces for artefacts. Each zone has 3-5 arrows which join it to other zones. Movement is along the arrows. At the start of the game the artefact spaces are filled, which leaves 42 further artefact tiles to join 10 "move the police" tiles in a black draw bag.
What you can do on your turn is dependent on whether or not you are in the same time zone as the police. The good situation, as you would imagine, comes if you're not. In this case you perform two or three actions: three if you draw some tiles from the bag in order to replenish the artefacts in a denuded or partially denuded time zone and two if you don't. If you have the choice, it is not normally one that calls for much thought, as the only occasion on which drawing tiles could hurt you is if the game is close to a scoring turn and you don't wish to risk bringing it about before you have had the chance to add to your collections. The actions, each of which you can perform more than once, are: move along an arrow to an adjacent time zone; pick up an artefact from the zone you are in; leave the board to sell a set of artefacts. If you take the last of these, you complete it by coming back on to the board in a zone of your choice.
If you have been unlucky and start your turn with the police having caught up with you, you lose some of your artefacts, move to a new zone and then perform one action of your choice from the list in the previous paragraph. This is where the main difference comes between the two sets of rules. In the Piatnik version all you do in this situation is move to a new zone: no loss of artefacts but no opportunity to perform an action.
The police move whenever one of their tiles is drawn from the bag. Among the arrows attached to each time zone are two outward arrows, one labelled '1' and one labelled '2'. Each of the police tiles also carries the number 1 or 2 and when a tile is drawn the police move along the appropriate arrow. The game is divided into three 'weeks' and at the end of each, players score for the sets they have cashed in. A week ends when eight of the ten police tiles have been drawn from the bag.
The artefact tiles come in six colours: blue for Europe, green for Asia, yellow for Africa, purple for Australasia, orange for the Americas and white, which are 'jokers'. For each of the five continents there are five scoring tiles to be won. These are for sets of 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 tiles of the appropriate type. There are also scoring tiles to be had for sets which consist solely of jokers. When you cash in a set, you take the appropriate tile if it is still available. If it is not, you will either have to take a less valuable one for a smaller set or stay out on the trail in the hope of improving to something better. Scoring, when it comes, is just a matter of adding up the values on the scoring tiles you have accumulated and working out who gets various small "most of" bonuses.
All of this fits together very smoothly. You wouldn't expect a game from a partnership involving Alan to be less than thoroughly workmanlike and this one isn't going to make you revise that opinion. Unfortunately, 'well-crafted' is not only the bottom line here; it is also the top. While there is nothing to make you point and say "that doesn't work properly" or "that should have been done better", there is also nothing to make you say "this is interesting". There are no hard decisions to be made, nothing much in the way of interaction and there is a great deal of luck. When it is your turn, if you have the option of drawing tiles from the bag and thereby getting a third action, you take it. When collecting sets you do the best you can with the tiles within easy reach. When you are moving, it is risky to stop just in front of the police, but otherwise the odds are in your favour and so you trust to luck. And when you come back on board after cashing in a set, you relocate just behind the police. If there is more to it than that, please tell me, because we failed to spot it. In the meantime the recommendation is that if someone comes along clutching the box and asking if you would like a game, say yes; but if you are looking to buy two or three games from this year's Nuremberg offerings, there are much stronger candidates for the short list.