The Doctor again got lost somewhere and just at the moment, when five Daleks emerged. The only comforting sound was hum of the sonic screwdriver from afar. This means, that Doctor again came up with one of his diabolical plans. And even though we’re in a submarine deep underwater and TARDIS out of reach, maybe we get away from here. But first, we have to deal with an army of warlike enemies.
Exactly in the spirit of great BBC series comes to us a new game titled Doctor Who: Time Clash with addition Starter Set. The whole game was invented by Jeff Tidball and published by Cubicle 7 Entertainment. Although it is far from being first game with this theme, its first we are holding in our hands. And trust us, we love The Doctor! This new one was published in 2016 and it is therefore for now the latest attempt to bring world of Time Lords on our gaming tables.
Black box welcomes us with picture of Peter Capaldi as the twelfth incarnation of the Doctor. Players must first be divided into two teams – one will stand on the side of good together with the Doctor, Clara and other allies (Paternoster Gang). On the other hand, insistent Daleks will be shouting Exterminate! with ther creaking voices . Each team chooses one part of the game board, which consists of three sectors. The doctor and his team chooses a third devoted to time, Dalek player has the option to choose enemy part and the whole preparation of maps will end by selecting Doctor’s companion.
Entire game consists of several rounds played separately, which each one representing various battles between these two enemies. At the beginning of each one, player insert tokens of time into the center of the circle with build up side up. Each sector has its own scoring scale and players mark them with a token on zero. Both sides have their own deck of cards, which they now shuffle and deal two cards to each participant.
Progress of each turn is really simple and in most cases involves playing a card. Player has three cards to choose from (he draws one additional at start of each turn), then plays it to one of three possible sectors. It can also be a card with no numbers on it. Such special card is used for its printed effect (sometimes a player has more to choose from) and immediately discarded. Other cards have positive or negative value printed on their top and come also with type, that determines sector, where they can be played (threat to the enemy arc, quips to companions, while plans can be located anywhere).
Both teams gradually play new cards, partially covering the older ones, so their top line with value is visible at all times. Positive and negative values are added together after each turn. Plans can override some plans, when same type is played on top of each other and has higher value. This is important option to respond to intentions of the opposing team. Any addition or subtraction should lead to shifting token on a scale, that is tracking the total for better overview.
There is also one another way to use whole player’s turn. By discarding the card and not using its ability, Doctor figure might be moved instead. He is represented by a cardboard figure and player can move it to any sector. Why would a team do this? Because each part of the ring has printed ability „when Doctor present“, that can then be activated. There are also other skills, that are available, like on the planet Skaro.
At the end of each turn, you need to check, whether round did not cross its breaking point and moved to second part, which is called End game. It can happen in turn of enemies, if value of cards in their enemy sector falls below -1000 points. Conversely, team Doctor may flip a fate token (like with a coin) and try to end the stage. But to do this, they need to have the sum more than 800 points in the plus at some positions. For successfully ending build up phase, good team can immediately discard one threat.
Only after that, the battle goes into the second part. And reversing the whole adventure ending in favor of one’s team is not easy. It will require a really good tricks, that Doctor pulls out of his sleeve. In each round, players can now try such maneuvers by turning three cards by 90 degrees. Their rival has opportunity to respond to it with his negative values. To make this even more enjoyable, players one by one can help by playing one card from their hand. Ultimately, dice makes the final decision. After rolling, it shows printed numbers in the hundreds, like cards. Summing up all arc values, it is clear whether sum of eight hundred was achieved. Only such outcome is a victory for the Doctor’s team.
On the contrary Daleks need only to accumulate cards, so that total value including each and every card attached to the plan is less than zero (ie simply sum of the three scales). One team wins the round, but that’s not all. Rivals should always play up to three or five victorious battles. Only the team, that reaches set number of wins first is really victorious.
Doctor Who: Time Clash is a special computational game. Both teams have to fight very hard and situation on the plan continues to go back and forth. But now these numbers are your main focus and theme got lost somewhere into the unknown. Yes, it all looks very good and reminds you of your favorite show on every step. But the actual game mechanics have nothing in common with it.
However, apart from the Doctor theme, we get an interesting team card game. Well, at least slightly above average, because of playing cards is not all. Players may choose not to use cards and move the Doctor instead. But in addition, of course, there is still a choice of arc, which offers players a bit of freedom in their turn.
Thanks to drawing cards from shuffled pile, players have little control. Choice of three cards is not great, but let’s be happy for it. With more cards, this would be all too easy. A whole match is a lot repetitive. This is not a game for regular playing, but more of a leisure holiday fun. Teamwork makes it accessible in four participants, which is the best number. Three is lacking proper cooperation on both sides.
Praise certainly goes towards the variability of individual arcs. They vary not only in graphics, but also in abilities. Thanks to this, players will not become bored after first game and it will remain new and fresh for much more games, before you try out all possible and interesting combinations. This is possible because individual turns are really fast and that applies to whole rounds as well. Second half is finished very quickly. Until then, both teams are trying to create a good starting position for the final attack and victory. The game combines tactics with luck of dice and drawing cards from the deck.
Mechanism of counting will not take your breath away. It’s just some numbers added together, which is not exactly the most popular activity out there. But on the contrary, worthy graphics is to be praised. It is benefiting from the series, but it all looks very nice, consistent and fits perfectly into sci-fi theme.
Doctor Who: Time Clash Starter Set is a game, that immerses players into a war between one man and whole race of machines. Daleks are not just some regular bad guys and you need to have not only sonic screwdriver and plans on your side, but also luck. Together, Doctor Who: Time Clash game is easier, comfortable and solidly entertaining.
Doctor Who: Time Clash Starter Set is a card game, where the foundation of all success is mathematics. But still challenges await, because both teams plot against each other and they reap with numerical cards. Both armies have their own clearly defined goals. But you can win only in the second stage and prepare your attack position first. Players have the chance to influence their chances and even though they eventually find themselves at the mercy of the dice. The gameplay is always quite similar, but fortunately fast, so it does not matter that much. Doctor Who: Time Clash Starter Set is a pretty good card game, but not exceptional as we hoped it to be.