So, when I asked about time travel games on Twitter, my feed instantly became the Legacy: Gears of Time fan club. So... well, so I decided that I needed to try it!
In Legacy: Gears of Time, each player represents a time architect that is attempting to invent and influence various technologies. The caveat is that many technologies depend on other technologies existing - for example, you cannot have the Internet without having Electricity. And so, influencing a technology that cannot possibly exist due to a historical contradiction is useless. The game consists of four rounds, with each round consisting of four turns per player. On each turn, you are allowed to take three actions. The actions can be moving back in time, drawing a card (you actually draw two and keep one), inventing a new technology, or adding influence to an existing technology. At the end of the round, everyone checks to see what historical contradictions occur - which technologies were "invented" multiple times, which ones are missing dependencies, and which ones have no influence. After checking this (and removing technologies as appropriate), players score points for each technology in which they have the most influence. And, each technology that is an immediate prerequisite for another technology scores again if the dependent technology scores. (For example, if the Internet scores, then the person that has the most influence on Electricity gets to score Electricity again.) Then, the influence on the technologies deteriorates, all the players go back to the "present" time, and you play another round. Whoever has the most points at the end of the fourth round wins the game!
|One of those Basic Tools is a fake!|
The next pro that I have for Legacy is that the influence on inventions (or "technologies" if you listen to the rule book) deteriorates. And, most fundamental inventions don't have much influence on them when you build them. This combination normally results in a mass chaos around round three in which most of the prerequisite inventions exist but without influence - and so, if nobody places influence on these inventions, then all of the better inventions are going to fail. This makes for some very interesting choices as you decide which of your inventions are most important, and thus which prerequisites are vital to your success. Or, if you don't have any of the later inventions, then you have to decide whether you want to influence some of the prerequisites (thus scoring a decent number of points but helping other players) or whether you want to use large piles of influence to steal credit for later inventions.
Speaking of influence, my third pro for Legacy is how the Influence Pool works. To start the game, you have two influence in your pool. These are the only influence that you can spend on the "place influence on an existing technology" action. However, at the end of each round, when influence deteriorates, the player with the most influence on each successful technology puts the deteriorated influence in his Influence Pool. (Only the person with the most influence has one removed, and influence from contradictions and from failed technologies don't go to the Influence Pool.) Having a lot of influence available in your Influence Pool is very helpful, as it gives you flexibility with your actions - to steal credit for technologies, or to claim all of the useful prerequisites. So, you are further rewarded for controlling successful technologies. And, building a lot of fundamental technologies (instead of just a few advanced technologies) helps you in more than just total points. I thought that this was a really nice mechanic that made the game play very smoothly.
The final pro that I will mention about Legacy is that I like that you can only move backwards on the timeline. (And then, at the end of the round, you return to Present Day.) At first, I was really uncertain about this mechanic, but as I played the game more, I really saw why it was very important. It forces you to plan out what you intend to do in the round before actually performing any actions. And, if you don't plan this out, then you generally won't be able to build any of the more advanced technologies. And yet, never being able to move forward adds an element of "chicken" to the game, where several players might stay in the present and draw cards, waiting to see who will move first - and what era they will move to. After all, you don't want to move back two eras and build Flight, just to see another time architect move back three eras and invent the same thing!
|A general timeline|
And, now that I've convinced you that Legacy: Gears of Time is a great game, I guess it's time to balance that out a bit with some cons. First, if someone in your game really wants to calculate the best move at all times, then the game will slow down to a crawl. There are a lot of decisions to be made, and there is enough open information that, if someone wanted to, they could generally determine the best choice. For example, you can determine if it is more valuable to take credit for one of the specific prerequisites, and if so, which one. Or, should you add a new technology. Should you re-invent a prerequisite earlier in the timeline in order to take control of it? And, with all of this - which one? If you want to calculate this, then you have to look through all of the cards in the timeline, calculate up how many of them depend on that technology, and then repeat for the next one. And, while doing this, you have to factor in how many points you are giving to other players by allowing their advanced technology (or technologies) to score. Basically, there is enough going on that it can cause someone to unwittingly take drastically long turns if they are not intentionally trying to keep the game moving.
|Some sweet technology!|
Overall, I give Legacy: Gears of Time an 8.5/10. I was quite pleasantly surprised with this game, and, with multiple plays, I think that the cons will shrink, just leaving a bunch of pros. If you're looking for a game with interesting time travel mechanics, then you should definitely check it out.
If Legacy: Gears of Time sounds interesting, you might also check out ARC and Innovation.
I would like to thank Floodgate Games for providing me with a review copy of Legacy: Gears of Time.