A unique experience of time travel, time alteration, combat and resource funding.
Other reviews: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRzdrdqsnuyOZAE22C4Hi0A
A unique experience of time travel, time alteration, combat and resource funding.
Other reviews: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRzdrdqsnuyOZAE22C4Hi0A
Before I begin…nothing. I backed this on Kickstarter. If you would like to watch a video of this review, check it out below. Learn more about the game here.
I like Euro games…a statement I never thought I would be saying. But here is the thing. I like euro games that have an interesting theme. If I am going to be pushing cubes around, and turning one color cube into another color cube, then I want to be able to say I am doing it for a cool reason…not because there is some old time-y European city, that needs some cubes pushed around.
ENTER Anachrony! A game about the end of the world! Thankfully a zombie free end of the world. And as you can imagine it is a game about making sure that humanity survives, and in order to do this, your faction needs to push their cubes around better than the other factions. However, since this is a game about time travel, not only do you push cubes around on your board, and the main board, but you can borrow cubes from the future! Seriously. The future.
If you are familiar with worker placement games you have a rough idea of what is going on here. You place your workers on the board. Placing a worker is either going to gain you resources or allow you to build something in your faction board. These will likely be new spots to place your workers. Whoop de doo, right? Well here is where it gets interesting. You see in order to place your worker any where BUT on your own faction board you will have to power up an exosuit to send your worker out in to the dangerous post apocalyptic world.
This means before you even begin your turn you are managing your resources, and spending resources. Yet, it is even more than spending resources to power up some suits, because you actually will gain other resources for every exosuit that you do NOT power up. Then just to add to the resource puzzle, before you start placing your workers you will have the opportunity to borrow resources from the future. This is as simple as placing a tile on the timeline, and collecting said resource.
However, anyone who knows anything about time travel is you risk paradoxes, and time anomalies. Well this game is no different. You see the more things you have borrowed from the future the most chances you have of creating a time paradox…create too many of these and you gain an anomaly. Anomalies are not only worth negative points at the end of the game, but they block spaces on your faction board, and removing them usually results in the untimely death of one of your workers…so make sure you send Herb. No one likes Herb. Then at some point before the game ends you will have to build a specific type of building that will allow you to send whatever it is that you borrowed back through time…or you will lose points at the end of the game…and I can only assume utterly destroy the future.
You will earn points in a variety of ways: building things, traveling back through time, giving your workers water, rather than just yelling at them to work, and by collecting technological breakthroughs.
Whomever has the most points at the end of the game wins.
So what do I think?
The time travel mechanics of the game are delightful. There is something so fun about borrowing stuff from the future, and the delightful puzzle on how to make sure it gets sent back to the past. Additionally, the decision space of how many exo-suits to power up each turn, and when to build new buildings, when to recruit new works, when to travel through time, etc.
Though there is a lot going on the game is certainly quite tight. It does not ever feel like you are wasting actions, or doing things that feel superfluous. Along with that, the AI’s are relatively simple to operate, and definitely offer a good challenge.
Finally, there is a massive amount of variety in the the box. There is a veritable, cornucopia of modules and expansions that come in the infinity box, and each and everyone offers something fun and unique.
The components are good, and the art is good. The game also has some diversity which is wonderful, as the industry recognizes more and more the need for diversity it is good that we are starting to see it here, though I would have liked to see it more present in the game, and the workers that you use.
This game takes up a huge amount of space, both on the table and on your shelf. The more modules and expansions you use the more space it takes. Human sized tables cry in fear when Anachrony comes out. Finally, it might feel like the game is a little bit fiddly. There are a lot of bits and pieces that you are moving about, and managing each round. They are nice bits and bobs…but there are many bits and bobs.
Bringing it all together
Anachrony is a unique feeling euro game. While it has a core of worker placement, the things that are unique about this game are what makes it work. The time travel elements, the use of the exosuits to open up the most important worker placement spaces, and the crazy amount of variety offered from the expansions and modules makes this a game that probably belongs on any euro gamer’s shelf. However, the game is a lot. There are lots of bits and pieces, lots of expansions and modules, and it takes up an incredible amount of space on both the table and on your shelf.
Through time travel I do not have to read all your nonsense
* Unique feeling euro
* Well realized theme
* Time travel mechanics are good fun
* Tight ruleset, where no actions feel wasted
* Very clever puzzle to work out at every stage of the game
* It can be hard to even decide just what modules and expansions you want to play with
* Takes up a ton of space on the table and on the shelf
Hello! Just blinking in to drop a Brian’s Battery review for the Anachrony: Infinity Box! A lot of my other reviews are from a solo only perspective, but I have been incredibly fortunate to play this game both solo and multiplayer. As usual in my review format, I’ll start by giving a short explanation about how the game works and then I’ll warp into a breakdown of various aspects of the game and give my thoughts on each.
Anachrony is a worker-placement time-travel themed game originally released in 2017 from designer David Turzci and publisher Mindclash games. In 2020, Mindclash games and David Turzci went back to Kickstarter to release the first major expansion to Anachrony, the Fractures of Time, and also reformatted the base game to the Anachrony: Essential Edition. During this same Kickstarter Mindclash also put together the Infinity Box – an all-encompassing beast of a box that includes all of the released content for the game, along with game trays and storage solutions for all game components.
Anachrony is set on Earth in the future. Earth has survived a devastating cataclysm that obliterated most of the population and rendered much of Earth uninhabitable. The survivors of this apocalypse huddled together and founded a city designed to survive this new reality. They called this city The Capital. After many years the city has grown, but so too have arguments, disagreements about the future and how to lead humanity forward. These endless disputes caused leading citizens of the Capital split into different factions – known in game parlance as Paths – that looked to lead the remnants of humanity forward following their own preferred ideologies and lifestyles. The four Paths in the base game are Harmony, Dominance, Progress, and Salvation. The Fractures of Time expansion adds a fifth path – Unity.
Each Path split away from the Capital to seek their own futures in peace, away from the other conflicting ideologies. In order to maintain this fragile truce, each Path agreed to join a Council that would meet in the Capital each year and maintain relations with the rest of humanity. This new system worked well and peace was maintained for many years. During this time, a new type of metal was discovered near the source of the cataclysm. This metal, known as neutronium, was unique and seemed to have strange properties.
To commemorate the 300th year of the Council, the Paths built giant statues out of neutronium in the Capital to memorialize the accomplishments of humanity. To their great surprise, the vast amount of neutronium used in the statues and placed in close proximity with each other caused time rifts to open. Communication with their future Path members soon revealed that the cataclysm which obliterated much of Earth was in fact caused by an asteroid impact. This asteroid was so rich in neutronium that when it impacted the planet the force of the explosion was sent back in time, causing the devastation centuries in the past. The even more shocking news was that this asteroid impact still hasn’t happened yet – meaning the future could be potentially worse than the past. After learning about all these revelations, each Path set about preparing to survive this inevitable fate, aided by their future selves and harnessing the power of neutronium.
Anachrony is, at the core, a worker placement game. Each player takes control of a Path and sets out to accomplish an evacuation goal in order to save humanity in their own image. Players send active workers out to the Capital in mechanized suits, or use workers within their own path to perform various other tasks. Each game round (called an “era”) of the game consists of several phases: preparation, paradox, power-up, warp, action, and clean-up. A few of these phases are self-explanatory, but I’ll go over some of the more unique phases in more detail. During the paradox phase, the player(s) who have caused the most damage to the timeline in each era must roll the paradox die and take the indicated number of paradox tiles. Gain too many paradox tiles and an anomaly is created, taking up space in your Path board and giving you negative victory points at the end of the game. Anomalies can be removed, however there is usually a significant cost to do so.
During the power-up phase, players decide how many mechanized exosuits they wish to activate for the coming round. Players are able to activate two suits for free, but other suits must be powered. Resources used to power the exosuits vary by Path. Activate too many suits and you’ll have wasted precious resources. Activate too few and you’ll cripple your action phase for this era.
During the warp phase, players simultaneously choose 0-2 of their available warp tiles and request the resources shown on the tiles from their future selves. Players can warp in extra workers, power cores, standard resources, etc. Placing warp tiles damages the timeline – leading to paradoxes and anomalies as described in the earlier Paradox phase.
Then we get to the action phase – the core of the game. Players take turns moving workers into the exosuits and taking actions in the Capital, or using workers in power plants, labs, or factories on their own Path board. Actions at the Capital include mining for resources, recruiting new workers, researching new technologies, building structures on your path board, trading with nomads, or collecting water from the purifier. Actions on the Path board include powering up your time travel device to go back in time to repair paradoxes in the past, working in factories or laboratories to obtain various benefits, or taking the “Wake workers” action.
In Anachrony, workers come in several different types. These include scientist, engineer, administrator, and genius. The FoT expansion adds an additional type – the operator. The worker types function as you would expect – scientists research, engineers build and mine, etc. Geniuses are wild workers and gain the specialized benefit from each occupation. Operators are also wild, but do not gain the special type benefit. Operators are also the only worker type that can gain a rare resource found only in the FoT expansion.
Workers exist in two states - either “Tired” or “Motivated”. Motivated workers are available to perform actions while tired workers must be awakened in order to take actions. During the clean-up phase most workers will return from the board in their tired state, with the exception of some unique spaces. In order to wake Tired workers a player can either Force Wake them, taking a morale penalty to awaken workers, or send an already motivated worker to the action space and spend precious water resources to wake the workers and gain a morale bonus. Careful planning is needed in each era to ensure you have enough workers to achieve your goals.
This covers the most basic parts of the base game. There are of course many more nuances and details but this description hopefully provides a small glimpse of how the game plays.
The Fractures of Time expansion adds an additional board to the main area, a new fracture device player board, and a new action mechanic called blinking. Blinking allows players to spend a Flux core to charge their Fracture device and blink a worker already on an action space to a different action space. This essentially allows one worker to do two actions in a single era. Unfortunately, the Fracture technology is unstable and in unskilled hands (ie – not operators) blinking can lead to glitches in time. Glitches are similar to paradoxes but damage parts of your player board instead of the main timeline. The more glitches you have, the more likely it is that your fracture device will cause another glitch. Glitches are worth negative points at the end of the game and can also prevent you from using parts of your player board, or make you more likely to create anomalies in time. Glitches can be removed by sending operators to repair the glitch in time and paying the associated resource costs. Blinking is a powerful ability but it must be managed carefully. The Path of Unity, the new Path in this expansion, specializes in blinking and makes full use of this new mechanic.
In addition to the main game and the major expansion, the Infinity Box also includes all released modules for the game. There are several modules, some of which are relatively simple, and others that add extra side boards and new objectives to the game. So far I have only had a chance to play with a couple of the extra modules but the additions have been great fun. One of my favorites has been the Pioneers of New Earth module, which adds an encounter-style system as a side board. Players risk one of their exosuits to go adventuring, facing hazards and gaining rewards or suffering defeats.
An example of a relatively simple module is the variable anomalies module. In the base game, all anomalies created by time paradoxes are the same. With this module, anomalies can have a range of detrimental effects – some can have a huge victory point penalty but provide a temporary benefit, others have less negative points but don’t offer any significant penalty. The added variability adds even more intrigue and planning to the game.
One other major feature released in the Fractures of Time expansion is the vastly improved solo AI opponent – the Chronossus. The base game included an AI opponent called the Chronobot which was fantastic but was unable to handle any of the extra modules. The Chronossus is an updated version that allows for the modular setup by including slots in its programming loops to handle the extra modules and expansions. The Chronossus has a player board (including exosuits), and collects resources, builds buildings, and occupies worker spaces just like a human player. It accomplishes all these functions via a token and die roll system. The Chronossus board has multiple looping tracks with number tokens that move around the loops. Each turn for the AI, the human player rolls an average die and performs all the applicable actions associated with that number on the Chronossus board. Once all actions are completed, the number token slides along the loop to the next section. This system allows for an accurate facsimile of a human player, including some limited predictability, similar to a multiplayer experience. In a multiplayer experience, players often attempt to guess or predict what the other players are likely to do and prioritize their actions accordingly.
Ok, so now we are roughly 1800 words into this review and I haven’t even started offering my opinions on the game. If you didn’t want to read the description of the game, this is where you blinked to in order to see how I feel about this game. Let’s break it down into the Brian’s Battery:
Theme (+++): Wow. For a Euro-style worker placement game, this game has theme upon theme. The backstory to the game is incredibly well-crafted and it feeds into the mechanics and play of the game so well. I know some think that the warp mechanic is “just a loan” but the way the theme fits with the paradox tokens it just feels so cool. Everything about the game is so thematic and immersive, pulling you into the game and into the world.
Art (+++): Going right along with the theme of the game, the art is incredible. Clear and evocative, the art in the game perfectly captures the theme and adds to the enjoyment of the game. The graphic design and symbols are useful, once you get past the initial learning curve of the game. The art direction on the big, chunky, exosuits is amazing.
Components (+++): The Infinity Box is an ultra-deluxe mega kickstarter version of Anachrony, so the components better be top-notch. And this box delivers. The cardboard is thick, durable, and chunky. The mechanized exosuit miniatures are incredibly detailed and functional. The resource cubes and water drops look amazing, and the metal(!) neutronium cubes are so weighty and fun to use. The cards are linen-finished and amazing to hold. The game trays are functional and aid in set up speed and organization. This box is truly an epic accomplishment.
Rulebooks (++): There are four (4!) rulebooks in this game. One for the main game, one for the solo AI, one for the modules, and one for the Fractures of Time expansion. The Infinity Box also includes a lorebook and a guide for packing and sorting all the components, which is very much appreciated. The rulebooks are well-organized and easy to read, with plenty of good examples. One drawback to such a big, vast, heavy game is that you’ll be referring to multiple books throughout the course of each game to look up certain things from this module or that module. Fortunately, the appendices at the end of each book are complete and well-organized. The solo book in particular is easy to reference and the different charts used to slot programming tiles in for the various modules is very helpful.
Gameplay (+++): I honestly cannot say enough good things about the gameplay in this one. The mechanics combine with the theme to create this wonderful, immersive, thematic experience. The amount of planning, foresight, and thought that goes into each and every era is incredible. Jumping through time, building game-breaking super projects, and repairing anomalies just is so much fun. The feeling of squeezing every drop out of your meagre resources and cranking out huge plays is amazingly satisfying. The variety of buildings and the randomized resource and worker allocations makes each era a joy to plan and then agonize during the round as your opponents disturb your well-laid plans.
Solo Gameplay (++++): Anachrony is designed by David Turzci. He is widely regarded as the best solo opponent designer in board gaming, and it is no surprise to see such a robust and excellent solo mode in Anachrony. His systems for AI programming are just a joy to play with and are simply the best AI opponent I’ve played against. Not only does the Chronossus replicate a human player, but it does so without a ton of rules overhead. Once you grok the system, the AI plays really quickly, getting you back to your game very fast. As I mentioned earlier, the limited predictability that the system offers helps to recreate the feeling of a multiplayer game almost perfectly. Also, the ability to slot in different programming tiles based on the modules and expansions that you are playing with is absolutely brilliant. The amount of solo gameplay in this box is incredible.
Replayability (+++): There is a LOT of content in this game. Even just the base game has a lot of variability in play. The building stacks are randomized each game, the resource and worker allocations come out in a different order each game. Then adding in the different modules and combinations of different modules increases the variety even further. This is not a game that will be solved – there is enough here to keep any gamer happy for a long, long time.
Tablespace (+/-): This game is a beast. Even the box is a beast. The tablespace required is massive, but worth it. Just don’t expect to play this game on a small table and you should be OK.
Accessability (+/-): This game is expensive. The essential edition is a great investment if you were looking to see if you like the game or not, but in order to unlock the full experience you’ll want to hunt down some of the expansions (especially the expansion that adds the miniatures for the exosuits), and in order to play solo with the Chronossus, you’ll need the Fractures of Time expansion. This game was the single largest board game purchase I have ever made, and to me it was very much worth it. I’ve never owned such a deluxe game before and it brings joy, even if I just see it on the shelf. This game also sits at 3.99 on the BGG weight scale – it definitely has a lot going on. Once you learn the systems it really plays quite smoothly but learning it can definitely take a few plays.
Kickstarter Components (+): After owning this game, I can begin to understand why people go crazy on Kickstarter. The product that you get for your money is just... cool. It's something to be proud of owning. The upgraded bits, the game trays, every single module ever released all in one spot. It's very satisfying to own.
This game is absolutely amazing and cements David Turzci among the all-time greatest board game designers. There is so much to love about this game and the Mindclash team really knocked it out of the park with the Infinity Box. This game currently is in my Top 2 favorite solo games of all time.
Thanks for reading!
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