Tymor is set in a land where players are struggling to rebuild their kingdoms after the world suffered an ancient calamity that has unhinged the natural rhythm of the seasons.
This interesting storyline is reflected in game by a season track. To start off each round, the active player will roll the season die to determine which way the season counter will move. 2 out of 3 times it will move forward normally, but there is always a chance that the calamity's effects will be felt, and the season could remain the same, or even regress to the previous season.
Depending on the season, players will receive income, and will then have to pay upkeep for the units on the board - suffering a penalty for each gold they are unable to pay.
On a player's turn, she gets to activate all of the units she has on the board. There are types of units (not including buildings). These units can all perform a "basic move" which is just moving from one hex to another, as long as there are no opponent's units in the destination hex.
The Merchant's special move allows him to move into hexes occupied by enemy forces. The Priest can, instead of moving, spend gold in order to build a new settlement, or upgrade an existing one. Soldiers have the ability to start combat. They can declare an attack as their action, moving into a hex with opposing units and beginning a battle.
One of the most interesting parts of Tymor is that each of these types of unit's has a unique was of scoring the player points. The Merchant scores points by being on a hex with a opponent's settlement during the income phase of the game. Not only will this Merchant give the owning player some extra cash, they will also move up the Trade Points track on the score board. Priests score points by building up the player's Empire, and Soldiers score points by eliminating the enemy in battle.
This gameplay I have outlined above would definitely work, and make a decent game. But the cards in the game add whole new layers of strategy, tactics, and bluffing to the game. These cards come in 3 varieties that match the three types of units and scoring in the game. They have abilities like allowing units to act as other units, providing boosts to the normal actions, and just gaining the player resources.
Tymor is a lot of fun to play. It is that rare game that I am always on the lookout for - great theme, euro mechanisms, with a healthy dose of dice. I really like how there are 3 different score tracks that focus on the 3 different types of units. It makes the overall structure and goal of the game very easy to grasp. A game with similar weight and complexity without this simple differentiation/structure could easily be seen as overly complex for some people - I think the designer has done a great job in this respect.
One thing I don't care for in the game is the fact that since all 3 of the different ways of scoring are almost mandatory, combat is inevitable. Now I enjoy combat games - check my review of BattleLore Second Edition if you don't believe me! But what I don't really care for is combat in games where at least part of the goal of the game is to build stuff up. I just hate the feeling I get when something that I put effort into building up comes crumbling down.
One of my favorite parts of Tymor is the way that scoring works. I've already talked about how I like the segmented scoring system in Tymor, which is great. But another aspect of scoring in Tymor is that each of the separate scoring categories works a bit like a race. The most points a player can get in any of the categories in 10 points - the top space on each track. However, at the end of each round, players check to see if anyone has made it to the top of any of the tracks. If they have, that track is considered "closed" and while other players can still score points on that track, no one else may enter the top space. And since the players' positions on these tracks are very much public, this dynamic can create some very interesting interactions and motivations for the players on the board. Additionally, the tracks also act as a timer - since the game will end once all 3 tracks have been closed.
Tymor is a wonderful little game. It takes a few mechanisms we've seen before, throws in some really interesting new ideas, and is good solid fun. It isn't too complex, but it's also far from a filler. If you think you'd like a get a copy of Tymor for yourself, go check out the Kickstarter going on right now! The campaign is almost half way funded with plenty of time to go!