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In Chrononauts, each player becomes a time traveler, with a unique identity and a secret mission. During the game, players travel backwards and forwards through history, doing all those things people have always dreamed of using a time machine to do: Visiting the great moments of the past, peeking into the future, collecting up impossible artifacts and priceless works of art (at the moment just before history records their destruction), coming to grips with the paradoxes of time travel, and of course, changing pivotal events and altering the course of history itself. How would the timeline be different if Lincoln and JFK had not been assassinated? And is that the version of reality that you came from originally... the one you must return to in order to win? It's all packed into a fast and easy Fluxx-style card game that will take you to the beginning of time and back again.
Let me start out by saying that ALL card games are a bit on the random side. It's that whole not-knowing-what's-next thingy. It's what one SHOULD come to expect from a card game. The necessary element in any good card game is to balance the chaos of luck, with a chance to form some sort of strategy based on said luck. Chrononauts succeeds here in spades!
There are really three games here. The main game is perfect for sitting around a table with friends and having a great time. The jokes that come out of the way the cards play are just limitless. There is some real strategy to be had here, and it's had by watching the cards and your opponents. Because of the random factor, I've seen games end in round two. This is not a negative for me. It just makes time for another game! Even if the game goes on for an hour (which I've experienced), there's no end to the good social time to be had. You can't lose with this game, especially with four to six players.
The two sub-games are on complete different ends of the playing field from one another. On one hand, you have a light-hearted romp of two-player item collection. On the other hand is the single-most difficult solitaire game I've ever played!
Three different, but related games for $20? I'd say it's a deal.
As other reviews have mentioned, Chrononauts shares some of its nature with Fluxx. Fortunately, it is much more structured than Fluxx, and gains incredible strategy from that. It is Fluxx with some of the chaotic fun, but without the pure randomness--instead, there are strategic decisions to be made on practically every turn.
The time-travel theme is fun and adds depth to the game--who doesn't want to kill Hitler? Each player has their own character, each trying to 'get home' to the timeline from which they came--which means the 'current' state of events has strategic import. There are two other ways to win, as well--time travelers are able to collect artifacts (like Fluxx keepers) and each has their own goal that they're trying to satisfy, and there's also the goal (if you get stuck with a hand that seems useless) of just getting 10 cards in your hand--a challenging goal, indeed. Yes, there is luck in this game, but you do indeed make long-term plans on every turn.
I was initially skeptical that a card game could do justice to the subject of time travel without getting bogged down in rules and being as much fun as a piece of dry toast. Looney Labs has scored a hit with Chrononauts however. The rules are easy to learn and are fairly intuitive given the way the concept of time travel is handled.
As with many card games, winning depends on a combination of strategy and luck. With multiple ways of winning, several players can simultaneously be on the verge of winning. The various paths to victory also keeps the game from becoming stale with repeated play.
To add to the entertainment value, the ID Cards each come with a 55-word 'nanofiction' that help to explain the character's motivation for changing certain historical events. There are also a few cute jokes/puns to uncover. Consider a brontosaurus named Emily or a counterfeit Mona Lisa with a goofy grin.
That's not to say that the designers didn't put some serious thought into the interaction between the real-life events portrayed. For instance, if John Lennon, an advocate of gun control, hadn't been killed, would the Columbine shootings have occurred?
Overall I'd say Chrononauts is a very playable and entertaining card game that that treats the subject of time travel quite well.
Here's your chance to re-weave the fabric of history. Everyone starts with a secret identity, a mission to obtain three specified artifacts, and three cards in hand. Thirty-two cards are laid on the table as a timeline, which consists of 13 linchpins (pivotal events) and 19 ripplepoints (affected events) of modern history. Your cards (draw one, play one) let you alter linchpins--causing paradoxes at certain ripplepoints--or obtain artifacts. You win by changing the timeline to fit your identity, or by collecting all your artifacts, or by accumulating 10 cards in your hand. Let's hear it for Andrew Looney's Chrononauts, our 1801 game of the year!
Chrononauts is a card game of time travel from the designer of [page scan/se=0496/sf=category/fi=stockin.asc/ml=20]Fluxx and [page scan/se=1030/sf=category/fi=stockin.asc/ml=20]Icehouse. In it each player is a time traveler with a secret identity and mission.
The game consists of 4 decks of cards:
Each player starts the game with a mission, an id and a hand of 3 cards. To win you must either change the timline to the reality on your id card, collect the 3 artifacts on your mission card, or get 10 cards in hand.
Each id has 3 events on the timeline you must bring about, 1 of which is already on the "real" timeline. You play inverters and patches to bring about the other two events. Each mission has 3 artifacts you need to collect. This is done by laying an artifact in front of you on your turn. To achieve the 10 cards in hand victory you must patch a paradox in the timeline, for which you get an extra card. You can only win at the end of your own turn.
To begin, the timeline is placed on the table in "real" order. Timeline cards are of 2 types, linchpins and ripple points. Linchpins are inverted during play. The linchpins in turn cause the ripple points to be affected causing a paradox in time that needs to be repaired (beware, if 13 paradoxes are created the space-time continuum collapses and everyone loses). Patches are placed over these paradoxes. Like all Looney Labs card games, the basic turn is draw a card, play a card. Here you could invert a linchpin, patch a paradoxed ripple point, play an artifact, or play an action card. If you can't or don't want to play a card you must discard one. If you do this, you may discard a second card and draw a replacement. You may do this anytime you are required to play a card.
I find the game a lot of fun and generally quick to play. There is a healthy dose of uncertainty though as the timeline keeps being changed, patched, then changed back again. So having the right card at the right time can be vitally important.
The game is extremely well themed, continuing into the rule book which is easy to read. It has quick start instructions, the detailed instructions and rules for two more games (a Fluxx-like Artifaxx and Solonauts for solitaire play). All in all it's a good little card game for those that don't mind the chaos (that word again!) involved in the timeline constantly changing just as you're about to win. Looney Labs has also just released an expansion with 13 more ids and a new mission.