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

Designer(s): Andrew Looney

Publisher(s): Looney Labs

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Product Description

What would YOU do with a Time Machine? Would you stop the sinking of the Titanic? Prevent the assassination of JFK? Kill Hitler before WWII? These are just a few of the possibilities in Chrononauts, the award-winning card game of time travel. To win, you must change history at key points called Linchpins, so that history transforms into the Alternate Reality your character calls home. You can also win by collecting a specific set of Artifacts, such as a live dinosaur, the Mona Lisa, and an unpublished Shakespearean play. But be careful -- if you create too many paradoxes, you could destroy the entire universe!

What's New in Chrononauts 1.4?

The card count has gone from 136 to 140. The cards added aren't all that new: one is just an extra "Restore History", the second is the "Beatles Reunion CD" (previously available as a promo card), and the two cards that are new are both just ideas that have been on Andy's Mysteries of the TimeLine page for years: "Sarah the Triceratops" and the 1945-D Patch, "Tokyo Nuked," which fills out the Nexus for the case in which Hitler was assassinated but the Pearl Harbor and Manhattan Project linchpins are set to True History.

There are a few tiny edits, such as adding this clause to the "Articles of Faith" mission "If you are playing UberChrononauts, the Golden Calf may be substituted for any one of the above artifacts." But perhaps most interesting tweak is the addition of the 2001 Linchpin icon to the "Halt Attack" and "Avert Disaster" inverters, thus making the game forward compatible with the new Gore Years expansion.

Product Information


  • 140 cards
Chrononauts has the following expansions available:
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Product Reviews


Average Rating: 3.8 in 11 reviews

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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.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
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.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
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.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.

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