It's the same thing with gimmicks in board games. Often enough people try to bring a mediocre game into the conversation with eye-catching material. At Time Capsules there are sixteen large capsules in the box. These time capsules are used to group artifacts, computers and other materials into small groups. Round by round you improve the contents of the capsules that you randomly draw from a bag.
In this review you will find out how much there is to discover in a playful way about the time capsules that give them their name.
All embody in Time Capsules Mega-corporations that have seized the time capsules for their own economic interests. On a remote planet, these capsules were part of the remains of an alien civilization that were found. The players send these capsules back and forth between the present and the past in order to acquire valuable and powerful technologies.
Anyone who gets too greedy causes too much damage to the space-time continuum and collects time fractures in their own capsules. If you have six or more time breaks at the end of the game, you lose the game immediately. Everyone else compares how many Space Dollars (W$) they have collected.
The board game Ü-Ei
The rules of the game are quickly explained and only require four pages in the rulebook. The following six pages contain an example move and the solo rules.
Each turn you draw two time capsules from your bag. Since this is only refilled when it is empty, you can see the entire contents of your capsules every two rounds.
You now place the content on your own board in the active zone. If there are computers, you roll dice with the appropriate side number and place them on the individual computer tiles. Your number indicates the “strength” of the computer in qubits.
You use everything that is in front of you to buy more and better materials. You can purchase new computers or batteries (the two “currencies”), buy victory points, remove time breaks, re-roll computers, add qubits to the computers or exchange improvements (upgrading the computers) and bio-matter.
Bio-Matter offers effects in two levels. If you drop it from the inactive zone, the effect is slightly weaker, but can be used immediately after receiving it. If you pull them out of the time capsules in later rounds and place them in the active zone, you can use the stronger effect.
If you own artifacts, you can use their effects if you meet the requirements or pay the costs. You buy artifacts with qubits or energy. In addition to their repeatedly usable effects, when you purchase the artifacts you often get an instant bonus and victory points in the form of W$.
The points you have collected are recorded on the W$ track. You pass blue and orange fields. On the blue ones you get time breaks, which you should remove over the course of the game in order not to be excluded from the final scoring. Removing time breaks is only possible with effects that explicitly allow this. The orange fields on the W$ track give you the choice between a chrono crystal or a fluctuation card.
These two game elements are directly related. You use the chrono crystals to pay the cost of the fluctuation cards, which you can play at any time on your turn. They offer powerful one-time effects.
All things that you get new or have already used in a round go into the inactive zone. At the end of your turn, everything goes back into the capsules emptied at the beginning of your turn. They hold up to seven components. You would have to throw away anything in excess and potentially lose W$.
Time breaks endanger the W$
With the options described above you can build up increasingly effective combos in your time capsules before the final scoring takes place after ten rounds.
Not much needs to be done here anymore. Everyone opens their time capsules and counts how many time shards they have collected. Anyone who has six or more time breaks automatically loses. The person who has fewer than six time breaks and is furthest ahead on the W$ track wins the game.
If you are missing other players, you can Time Capsules also play alone. Not much changes for the solo player compared to the multi-player game.
The bot is placed on a space on the W$ track according to the difficulty. Before the human makes its own moves, the bot rolls two D6s in each of the ten rounds and removes artifacts from the face-up display. If these victory points show, the bot's figure is advanced by the corresponding number of spaces on the W$ track. He does not carry out any further actions.
Unlike in multi-player games, the display is not refilled immediately, but only at the end of your turn. There are not three artifacts available that can be paid for with energy or qubits, but only four in total. However, if a person buys artifacts, they will be refilled immediately.
If after ten rounds you have fewer than six time breaks and more points than the bot, you win the solo game.
Information about Time Capsules
|Number of people: 1-4 people|
Age: from 12 years
Playing time: 60 to 90 minutes
Difficulty: expert game
Long-term motivation: average
Classification: Bag Building, Engine Building
Game idea: Yaroslav Kustov
Illustrations: Roman Kelip, Maxim Suleimanov, Stijn Windig
Publisher: Red Cat Games; German edition: Giant Roc
Official Website: Link
Year of publication: 2023
Cost: 70 Euro
Time capsules is a game that I would really like to rate even higher. In addition to the things that I really like, there are also some negative points that drag the rating down again.
Mechanically the game is really original. The quasi double bag building with the time capsules is a really exciting mechanism that is less dependent on luck than “normal” bag building and offers more tactical options.
However, in connection with the topic, there is no coherent overall picture. The thematic connections are transferred too arbitrarily into the game mechanics. The individual game elements simply lack a suitable description. Bio-matter in particular is simply “there” without its origin, meaning or mode of action being comprehensibly explained.
Even with computers, a more in-depth look at the topic wouldn't have hurt. Especially since the qubit is the information unit with which quantum computers work, it could have been easy to fill the advanced alien technology with something concrete.
Visually the game seems rather uninspired. The bright colors attract attention, but don't really fill any of the game elements with life. It all seems very generic and doesn't do justice to the game's great core mechanics.
But the game feels really great. Above all, the capsules are simply fun. Since they are also used sensibly in terms of game mechanics, dealing with them becomes a real pleasure. Most of the other components are also of good quality. The cardboard tokens for computers, batteries, artifacts, etc. are stable and the bags and crystals are also solidly made. Only the game boards could have been thicker, as they are very fragile and tend to bend in the corners. The inlay is also almost perfect. If the recess for the batteries were a little larger, you could simply lift the upper part out and place it on the gaming table, thus saving yourself a more complex game setup.
As much fun as your own moves are, the other players' moves feel just as tough. Even though the rules suggest that you can do the filling and opening of the capsules during each other's turns, this only covers a fraction of the time waiting for your next turn. Since the display is limited to three artifacts that can be paid for with energy and three that can be paid for with qubits, too much changes here for it to make sense to plan much in advance before it's your turn again.
With more than two people, the waiting time between your own turns became noticeably tiring, as the individual moves become more and more extensive as the game progresses, as you activate and/or buy various artifacts, play fluctuation cards and try to get rid of the dangerous time gaps.
There are hardly any real points of interaction between the players. The display of artifacts is the only place where you can have some influence on what the other players can do. Forced interaction with artifacts like the EMP bomb that gives everyone a time break feels out of place.
Solo mode also suffers from the lack of interaction. You have little influence on what the bot will receive. Although you can buy point-rich artifacts on your own turn, a third of the display is only visible when it is the bot's turn again.
A positive thing about solo mode is the focus on yourself, as you don't have to wait for long trains from other people and can concentrate fully on your own capsules.
In the end it is Time Capsules a solid connoisseur game that works best in small casts. Anyone who can overlook the weakly implemented theme will get an exciting and freshly implemented game mechanic that doesn't ignore the “game” factor.
|Modiphius The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim – Adventure Board Game,... *||122,59 EUR||Buy|
* = affiliate link. If you purchase via one of the links, we receive a portion of the purchase price as a commission. There are no additional costs for you, but you can support our portal by doing so. Last updated on September 1.12.2023, XNUMX / Affiliate links / Images from the Amazon Product Advertising API. Images from Amazon PA API.