Review: Tides of Time

When it comes to two player games, I’ve found that it’s tough to find consistency. There are great games for two which won’t make it to the table often because of play time, and absolute snoozefests that can be played in 30 minutes…but leave you feeling like you’ve wasted a half hour of your life. And sometimes you’ll find that middle ground, but it’s not a game that will stand up to repeated plays. So when I saw Tides of Time get released, I was a bit skeptical. Which side would this one fall on??

Tides of Time is played over three rounds, with scoring taking place at the end of each round. Each player is dealt five cards to start and they select one to play in front of them, keeping it facedown for now. Once both players have selected a card, they are revealed at the same time. Then the remaining cards are passed to the other player. This is repeated until the cards are gone. Oh, and those cards? Gorgeous.

IMG_3899Once scoring is completed at the end of the first round, the players have some choices to make. Of the five cards now in front of them they get to keep one for the rest of the game, placing a relic token on top of it, and then get to remove a card completely from the game. Then they draw two more cards, bringing their hands back up to five, and start over by playing and passing again. Lather, rinse, and repeat for the third round.

So, by the time the game ends, you’ll have seven cards in front of you, two of which are relics from previous rounds. Which is all well and good, but I should talk about the cards themselves so you’ll know how to decide what to keep and what to pass.

The 18 cards in Tides of Time consist of 15 suited cards (three each of five different suits) and three cards with no suit. Each card will have a scoring condition or an action on the top. So, for instance, you may have a card which says “Score three points for each Garden suit” and you would count your Gardens and multiply by three during scoring.

During the drafting portion of the round you will watch the suits and conditions, trying to maximize your points. Of course, as it IS a drafting game, you’ll also know exactly what you’re getting from the other player each turn after the first…so you can start to plan ahead.

The premise and gameplay are quite simple, but don’t be fooled into thinking that there isn’t a lot of game here.

After my first few plays, I started thinking about other two player games that I’ve played and how this compares to them. Oddly, the first one to come to mind was cribbage. No one is ever going to accuse cribbage of being a complex game, but learning how to play the game well can take a while. You’re playing the other player more than you’re playing the game.

IMG_3902The same is true here. While you’re looking at the tableau in front of you and trying to work out what cards will allow you to score a ton of points, you need to keep your eye on the other person. If you aren’t careful you’ll wind up tossing them cards they need to absolutely bury you once scoring rolls around. There was one game where I wound up with 57 points because my opponent handed me the worst possible card that she could have.

Once the round ends, evaluating what to keep and what to toss are just as important. You’ve now seen all the cards. What path do you want to take? Looking for a majority? Trying for 13 points with one of each suit? Hoping for certain combos of suits? It’s a balancing act to keep what you’re needing and tossing the thing that could hurt you the most. And sometimes it’s hard to tell those apart.

Tides of Time, as it turns out, is a game that hits the sweet spot. With a play time of 20 minutes and only 18 cards to think about, you’re able to play this game multiple times in one evening. And each one of those plays will shake out a little differently. You’ll find yourself playing cards just to keep them from your opponent, pondering which card to slap a relic token on, and sometimes completely missing the calculation on majority and winding up with six points for the round.

So if you’re looking for a two player game which will stand the test of time (har har), look no further!

Gen Con News – Portal Games

I know we’ve been pretty news heavy here lately, but there’s a lot to talk about with Gen Con occurring last week. Today we’re going to focus on Portal Games who had three releases of note that were available for the first time at Gen Con.

The first is by Portal Founder Ignacy Trzewiczek called Rattle, Battle, Grab the Loot:

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rbgtlTake to the high seas as the captain of your very own pirate ship. Seek out valuable merchant ships and raid them for their goods! Hire new crew, upgrade your ship, and give your treasure to the Pirate King for fame and glory!

Rattle, Battle, Grab the Loot takes the fun of rolling dice and combines it with a rich scenario deck to make each game play differently. Each round, the players battle it out with merchant vessels and other ships, trying to grab as much loot as possible. One player takes dice from all the players, rattles them in their hand, then tosses them into the game box to resolve the battle. Where your dice land in the box, in addition to the symbols rolled, determines the results of the battle, then players claim their loot. Players may now return to port to upgrade their ship, hire new crew, or give their goods to the Pirate King for his favor.

When upgrading their ship, players use physical pieces to assemble their vessel, making each ship look different. In the box are dozens of punchboard pieces to customize your ship. In addition to common items and crew members, there will be unique item upgrades and crew that can make your ship stand out among the crowd!

At the end of the game, the player who earned the most favor from the Pirate King wins!

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This sounds like a fun take on a dice rolling game – especially the part about using the lid of the box!


Next up we have the second new title – the two-player offering Tides of Time from designer Kristian Čurla:

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tidesoftimePlay as an ancient civilization as they prosper and collapse through time. Build gigantic monuments, raise impenetrable fortifications, and amass vast knowledge as the ages pass. The greatest civilizations will leave their mark long after their collapse. From times long forgotten to times recently lost, civilizations will rise and fall as the tide of time carries them.

Tides of Time is a drafting game for two players. Each game consists of three rounds in which players draft cards from their hands to build their kingdom. Each card is one of five suits and also has a scoring objective. After all cards have been drafted for the round, players total their points based on the suits of cards they collected and the scoring objectives on each card, then they record their score. Each round, the players each select one card to leave in their kingdom as a “relic of the past” to help them in later rounds. After three rounds, the player with the the most prosperous kingdom wins.

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Two-player card games are always handy to have around and the art on this one is great.


Finally, Ignacy returns to expand the ever popular Imperial Settlers with the Antlantean expansion:

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isantlanteansImperial Settlers: Atlanteans, an expansion that requires the base game to play, adds the option for playing Imperial Settlers with up to five players. The expansion includes a new faction board, the Atlanteans faction deck, technology tokens, and expansion cards for the original factions that complement the Atlanteans abilities.

The Atlanteans bring a new resource to the world of Imperial Settlers with technology that can unlock special abilities on faction cards and transform common buildings into powerful allies. The Atlanteans must use their abilities to find unique ways to score because their faction buildings sink at the end of the game and do not score points! While the other factions do not have the knowledge to use the technology of the Atlanteans, some buildings for each faction allow them to use some of that technology to their advantage.

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He also dropped a mention that this wasn’t going to be the only new faction making its way to this game, so keep your eyes peeled for more! Each one of these titles should be making their way to retail outlets soon!