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Ages Play Time Players
11+ 20-45 minutes 1-6

Designer(s): Andrew Looney

Manufacturer(s): Looney Labs

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Product Description

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.

Product Information


  • 136 full-color playing cards
  • rulebook
Chrononauts has the following expansions available:

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 3.8 in 11 reviews

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The Space/Time Continuum has never been this fun!
December 27, 2002

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.

Adamant recommend.

Origins Award Winner for a REASON!
October 17, 2001

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.

very playable and highly entertaining
November 30, 2000

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.

Change history and save the world, all over lunch.
November 13, 2000

Chrononauts is one of the first games I've found that both accomodates a wide range of players and is playable over lunch. Add to that the highest fun quotient of any Looney Labs game I've played, and enough variety for high replayability, and you've got a card game no gamer should be without.

There are three ways to win Chrononauts: by either collecting the right artifacts to complete your mission, restoring the timeline to match the world you came from, or patching enough paradoxes to retire. You get a mission and identity randomly at the start of the game, and there are enough different missions and identities that it will be a while before you get the same combination twice.

This would make a great stocking stuffer for anyone you know who enjoys games with a healthy balance of skill and luck.

Clever, amusing, and fun
November 25, 2001

Chrononauts is a great choice for a casual, fun game. The way that the game handles time travel (changing a key event in history has a ripple effect that may change other events) is clever and fits the theme without getting too complex. The design of the cards also helps make the game easier to play.

There is a large amount of luck in the game, but how you play your cards makes a difference. During our first few games, the players only worked toward their own goals, which would often result in a sudden, lucky victory by a player that was almost as surprised to win as everyone else. But once we developed some defensive strategies, the games lasted longer and were more fun.

This is the kind of game that isn't played strictly to win; it's played for the fun of it. I think Chrononauts is clever and fun and deserves four stars.

Style, depth, and humor. If only it were cheaper.
February 14, 2001

First and foremost, you should know that Andrew Looney, the designer of this game, is mad. Barking mad. He is just as his name implies. This makes him ideally suited to design games.

The idea behind this game is, of course, that you are a time traveller, and you are attempting to do various things to history. At the beginning of the game, you are given an Identity (which tells you who you are, what your motivations are, and which 3 key years you need to focus on to get home), a Mission (which briefly describes a situation and 3 items from history which only a time traveller could obtain) and 3 cards from the play deck (which might let you do things like saving Kennedy, or blowing up the Titanic in 1929, or searching through the play deck for just the right card).

This game verges on being a role playing game with cards, a rarity on the game market. It is extremely enjoyable, and the card format makes it compact enough to take with you close to anywhere. Add to that variant rules for solitaire play and a treasure hunt game, and you've got a definite winner. Of the 10 people I've shown this game to, 9 want their own deck. The only problem is the price. $20 (list price, cheaper here) is a bit steep for some, despite the great playability. I, however, felt it was a sound investment, and have gotten far more than $20 worth of enjoyment out of it.

Quick and Silly
November 15, 2000

To some degree, this is Fluxx with a lot of stuff added on (one method of winning, collecting artifacts, is pretty much the same as goals and keepers in Fluxx) ... however, it adds lots of other stuff to keep you interested.

Stategy is somewhat minimal, since there's lots of hidden information and randomness ... this one rates as a very entertaining diversion.

Love the idea, game itself is disappointing
April 02, 2005

When I first saw Chrononauts, I absolutely loved its sci fi time-travel theme and the notion of strategically manipulating the timeline. But when I played the game, it fell short for me.

The main problem is the game is too luck- driven and chaotic. I don’t mind a little randomness in my games – a little uncertainty can add increase the fun and the challenge. Unlike some strategy fans, I do enjoy the game Fluxx (by the same designer). I don’t mind the chaos in Fluxx because I see it as a light party game, and because the chaos is due to the unique mechanic of allowing players to constantly change the game rules.

However, Chrononauts would have been much better as a strategy game than as a luck game. As it is, any strategic planning in Chrononauts is often undercut by the randomness and the high chaos factor. You are largely dependent on which cards you happen to draw. It feels like you spend most of the game waiting for a card that finally allows you to do what you want. And then when you do play that card, it can easily be nullified by another player’s actions in the next turn. The more players, the worse the chaos factor. It’s true there are multiple ways to win, but they all depend on the luck of the draw. When you do win, you feel like it was mostly due to chance rather than to your skill.

So with its high randomness and chaos, Chrononauts falls (disappointingly for me) into the party game category. However, in my opinion Chrononauts is ill-suited as a party game. The rules are a little too complicated. Also, many historical events in the game, such as assassinations and tragedies, dampen the fun factor. The worst examples of this are the cards for the Columbine school shootings, the Oklahoma City bombing, and the Waco tragedy. Some players may also be offended by other cards, such as “Marijuana Legalized.” Personally, my wife and I were most offended by cards which seem to make light of Christian beliefs, such as the artifact objective card 'Crown of Thorns' worn by 'You Know Who.'

Chrononauts also could have been a good educational game. But I would hesitate to introduce it to kids because of the factors I’ve already discussed, and because of swear words on many of the mission cards.

Having said all that, I still like the theme and many aspects of the design. I can still enjoy the game once in a while. I remove as many of the offensive cards as I can, and I also take out some of the cards that increase chaos.

In summary, I love the potential that I saw in Chrononauts, but many aspects of the game were a big disappointment. I will continue to tinker with variants to improve the game for me. In the meantime, I hope another time-line game comes along that delivers on the promise I originally imagined for Chrononauts.

Time Travel? Now seriously folks...
December 27, 2000

Really want to give it 3.5 stars...

O.K., I'll say it right at the start. Yes, the game has some similarities with Fluxx. It's made by the same folks, it's a card game, it's got silly things on the cards, it's easily played, and it comes in a small cardboard box. That's about it for similarities.

Chrononauts is NOT Fluxx however. First off, you can win three different ways: Find your ID via the timeline, find three artifacts to complete your 'mission', or get 10 cards in your hand.

To do this, yes, OK, you need some luck. But you also need to work on trying to win by changing the timeline (flipping linchpins and patching the timeline). You need to work at gathering artifacts--steal them, search the deck for them, or play them from your hand. You can try to keep patching the timeline and gathering extra cards on your way to ten cards in your hand too.

So there are options, you have some control over your play, and yes, you can, (must, I feel), have some strategy as you play. Sure, luck comes by at times to help or hinder. But the game doesn't claim to be something more than it is: a fun, entertaining, sometimes frustrating, sometimes rewarding, always interesting card game of time travel.

But don't confuse it with Fluxx. Fluxx is a game of 99.9% luck where you have .01% control, and loses interest fast. Chrononauts offers far more, and is a much better game. A tad pricey, but the cards are well done, and it also has a solitaire version, as well as a simpler version where all you do is collect artifacts.

I enjoyed the game, though my gaming buddies were lukewarm about it when we played. I argued they wanted too much from the game. Take it for what it is, and you'll have lots of fun with it. If you're a more serious gamer, save your money and buy another chess set.

Stodgy Fluxx
April 03, 2001

As other reviews have mentioned, Chrononauts shares some of its nature with Fluxx. Unfortunately, it is more structured than Fluxx without gaining strategy. It is Fluxx with some of the chaotic fun taken away.

The time-travel theme is amusing for science-fiction fans but does not make the game exciting nor provide strategy, since the ability to win is largely determined by luck, and you cannot make reliable plans.

by Elyah
It may change history, but it doesn't make history!
January 26, 2001

Chrononauts is all about changing history to fulfill your mission card--but it surely doesn't make history as a game! Two words come to mind with this game--'luck' and 'chaos.' Words that don't come to mind are 'strategy' and 'gaming fulfillment.' Too much in this game depends on the cards you draw. Players have little control over what happens, and your mission can change several times by the lucky draw of another person. Too often the play of your card is all too obvious. The choices are neither gut-wrenching or myriad. If you win, you don't feel like celebrating. If you lose, who cares?!

If you enjoy planning, mulling over strategic options, and the satisfaction of outwitting your opponents in a hard-fought contest, you won't like Chrononauts. If you just play to kill time--then perhaps it has a place--but not in my game collection.

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