When our future self showed up for the first time and told us, what is waiting for us in a few weeks, there was an immediate panic. Initially, government tried to cover it up, but it was only a matter of time before the public learned the terrible news. The end of the world as we know it. Just a few weeks to do everything we wanted to achieve. Suddenly, all human values have changed. The richest have gone through the tunnel in the past to hide from the irreversible future. And we only had the chance to look over our heads for a fiery line in the sky.
Who would ever say, that our society would not be blown up with bombs, but we are going to be wiped by a meteorite. Just like our huge dinosaur predecessors. Predicted by three designers Dávid Turczi, Richard Amann (Trickerion) and Viktor Peter. The game was created under the headline of Mindclash Games to try and get support from Kickstarter fans. This happened in 2016 and thanks to 4,500 people and over four hundred thousand dollars, game was finally published at the beginning of 2017. It first went to those who supported it, but now game also arrived on the shop shelves under distribution of Esdevium Games.
The first encounter with Anachrony is unforgettable by itself. You would not expect such a huge box in the case of an ordinary worker-placement game. The more surprising is the fact that the whole space inside is truly used. Just get ready for a huge portion of punching of cardboard tokens. There is many and many cardboard lists resulting into a flood of tokens.
At the beginning of the game, player place a large game board between them (full of action areas), depicting the capital of the empire, whose quiet run is disturbed with the message from the future. Before this transmission arrive, each player must choose their faction (and get their game board) and, accordingly, also receive starting resources – raw materials (but also extremely important water), triangle demand tokens, workers and suits. That’s because the world in the future is not as green and pink as we know it now. People are locked in the safety of their air bubbles, and they need exo suits every time they want to travel somewhere. All participants also get their special leader’s card, showing their differences from other factions.
Around the board, there will be stock of the remaining raw materials and other sources. Piles of buildings are waiting to be purchased and have to be divided by type. One top tile is set aside from each of them, so there are eight structures in the offer to start with. At the bottom edge, the arrow tiles are connected to show a timeline that is broken in half with disaster hits arrow.
Every turn begins with adding supply of raw materials and workers, that players can buy for their city during their turns. But first it’s time to start powering up their exo suits (after evaluating possible time paradoxes). There are six boxes on the player’s board, on which he may deploy any number of suits. First three are free, each in the second row costs one energy source (of which have players limited supply). All these suits will be ready to use for a trip to the capital in this turn. However, vacancies will bring player valuable water.
Before players can use it, they may want something sent from the future. In reality, however, its like this: they will know in the future, they need to send this item back to their current self into this particular moment. By doing this, they will be bound to do it somewhere in the upcoming turns. But right now, player gets any stuff free of charge and must mark the place on the timeline with apropriate item triangle. To avoid the paradox, they will have to give it up and send it back.
But back to the present. Item arrived (not mandatory action) and can be used immediately. Perhaps right in the next action phase, when players will finally use their staff to do actions. They are divided according to their abilities to scientists, engineers and administrators. Accordingly, their capabilities are limited to doing only some of all activities. In general, however, they can (after being sent in a suit to the capital) recruit new workforce, build, invent or acquire raw materials. Everything is possible in here – its the biggest city in the whole world, nourishing and happy – what would not be possible here? Many workers return from their journey tired and can not be used in the next round, if player does not revive them by spending water.
Buildings then have a place on the player board, where they occupy specific line according to their type. After placing, they will now offer new spaces, that can be used by player’s staff, who does not need to be sent to the city and therefore also does not wastes resources because of exosuits. They can work at home, which is really cheaper.
Players are gradually improving their bases like this in order to get as many victory points as possible. For these, task cards have been revealed at the beginning of the game, and everyone has their own conditions (which they can choose from two sides of the board). But while the first part of the game is calm, after disaster strieks, everything changes. Suddenly, spaces are stronger, but will collapse when first used. There is panic in the capital and everything gets cheaper. Player base is also damaged. The whole world is headed for destruction and everyone is running out of town. Where? To city, that looks most interesting. And so both players try to be the one, who lures in most of them (and thus gets a higher score).
When the end of the game will happen is not entirely sure. Players either use all action boxes (thus triggering the premature end) or complete all the remaining rounds. In their course, they will have to deal with possible paradoxes created in the past (item requests) and other consequences of meddling with time. Everyone counts their victory points according to common conditions. Whoever has most of them, becomes the dominating power of the reborn world.
People are a race, that is not so easy to destroy. This is illustrated by Anachrony game, where humanity will survive even the seemingly lethal disaster. The capital falls, but the thread of life continues in other areas of the world. And the story is then about rescuing people and making your city the largest and new metropolis in the first place.
Clearly. The game is extremely difficult. If you do not like the feeling that your brain is boiling, then you will not be able to travel with time. But even if you have to force yourself and try reading through the rules, it is worth it. Just get ready for a good dose of thought and decisions. And that brings with it also plenty of waiting for the others to complete their planning phase. The fewer players, the shorter and more dynamic it gets. With more rivals, however, there is a nice blocking worker-placement element, that gets lost a little with two (even when some action spots are locked).
There are a lot of beautifully themed details in the rules, that we did not mention. For example, exploring discoveries with the help of scientists. You need some luck to gain these, because dice are rolled. Or brilliant geniuses, who act as jokers and can do work of scientist, engineer and administrator. Minor details are the piles of buildings that are gradually moving and thus keeping the offer constantly interesting and new.
The most striking feature of the game is definitely time travel and paradoxes. And this is a very precise matter. Atmosphere of the game radiates to all sides despite the fact, that it is otherwise the ordinary worker-placement. But it’s so cleverly wrapped up, that it does not even look like that. So if worker placement genre needed a second breath, Anachrony definitely caught it!
Has the game avoided all possible problems by designers going back to the past and learning from their mistakes? Unfortunately, no. The first point could be perceived as a property – length of the game is getting close to two hours. But the setup really takes time and costs you another ten minutes of your time. More significant problem is variability, that buildings should provide. Sometimes, you get the feeling, that it’s just not enough. Fortunately, the game is sufficiently filled with contact with others to develop a little bit differently, also with different factions and characters with special abilities.
Processing is basically fantastic. Graphics, dice, everything is there. Despite the high complexity, the rules are very concise. And to make even it a little more appealing, you can buy beautiful pieces for Anachrony, which make the impression almost perfect. The price tag for them is another $ 40 extra in addition to the already high purchase price of the basic box. Unfortunately, some of the tokens are too small, making handling with them a little disappointing.
Wow. This is the only way to start last paragraph of our review. We did not expect it at all, but Anachrony is a game, that charmed us. Perhaps this is our very positive attitude to science fiction and the theme of time travel in general. But who would not like paradoxes and everything that belongs to it? You still hesitate? We will go back in time to repeat this to you every day: Buy Anachrony!
No, Anachrony isn‘t and will never be the best game on the market. It has minor deficiencies that prevent it from going that high. It will also not be a hit for everyone. It's really complex and it depends on your approach to sci-fi theme. But none of that changes the fact that we love it! Players are manipulating time, experiencing real world-wide preparation, and making the most of the victory points trying to be leading superpower, once the cataclysm strikes. All of this in the range of choices, that will probably roast your brain in the first match. All this means, that in our eyes, Anachrony is really brilliant game!