Type: Worker Placement / Euro
Time to play: 150 – 180 minutes (Teaching: 20 – 25 minutes)
Best played with: 4 Player (2 – 4 Players)
Let’s do the the time warp….again and again and again. Once for a water, once for some metals and then one time with just a dummy token! What’s all this about; Anachrony is a game of using time distortions to bring resources from the future to fund your growth only to have to pay them back in that future! Even including deception – where you don’t time travel at all! This is an incredibly innovative and thematic mechanic that made me want this game and now compels me to put a review up!
At the core, you buy workers and you develop buildings – buildings give you personal actions that are a complement to the core/shared actions (buying people / developing buildings). This seemingly simple structure is then augmented by a thematic twist – the end of the world as we know it!
Thematically this is a really interesting because most games are set in a modern world or in a post apocalyptic setting – few straddle this. Now, Anachrony uses this concept to allow players to manipulate their resources throughout the game – bring them forward and then pay them back later in the game. Each round players are allowed to call on 0,1,2 resources from the future – once they do, they cannot call the same ones again until they are repaid. Those with the most outstanding debts to the future (in each period) could cause a rift in time though – three rifts and you start to suffer penalties. Penalties that will block your boards and cost you victory points.
So there’s a few things to consider; (1) what you bring forward, (2) how much you bring forward in one turn and (3) when to pay it back. None of this is in isolation, with other players taking less from the future, you will need to take less and with others paying back less, perhaps you can take more!
Adding to this, the game expands beyond most other Euros with a climatic race to the finish as the capital city on the main board gets destroyed and the last few rounds represent a race to the final resources. There’s a race to then leave the capital to add to the victory point conditions. Keep expanding the game and its interesting to note that this race can be different lengths with a variable “disaster” round. In some variations you can actually avoid the disaster round entirely – the race never occurs (the time just runs out!).
All this in a base game with loads of modular expansions. Oh and if that’s not enough the players have asymmetric powers, a-side/b-side tiles and variable end goals thrown in. This is an incredibly dense euro for the amount of options and replay-ability.
Speaking of which – it’s worth saying that another interesting mechanic is the four asymmetric worker classes that get different benefits from different uses, and that each can be used on the home base freely but requires an exosuit (purchased only at the start of the turn) to venture to the main board for specific actions! Complex worker selection, timing and planning involved.
All that said there are still a few limiting factors. This is not as tight / cut-throat a game as Agricola (good or bad take your pick) and it’s not a tightly coupled mechanical system (see Vital Lacerda!). There is a rich stream of euro mechanics right through this, but in a way they hide or mask the powerful thematic component that I enjoy so much – time travel! For me at least, the idea of waking workers in each round or four different building lanes are small choices that slightly increase the teaching in this game without providing any more emergent complexity.
However, please don’t take from the above that I dislike this game. In fact, I really like it. I really enjoy Euro mechanics and I think this combines smoothly a whole host of excellent ones, and enriches this with one of the most thematic and well-crafted mechanics I have seen. However, I can understand why this is a game that doesn’t meet everyone’s taste and really benefits game groups who can bring it back to the table time and time again.
If you were introducing gamers through euros, you have to go through Agricola, Euphoria, Lords of Waterdeep and Caverna before you get to the rules teach that is Anachrony – this is right at the peak of games. However, you will quickly grasp the rules and constructs. Does this game then reward the persistence and engaged replay? In my opinion, yes but not as much as other equivalent heavy games.
- If you like a simple constructs brought together into a well structured game – this is a class choice to advance your Euro gaming
- If you hate rolling dice, this euro has dice!
- If you win, then try again because I guarantee other players will change their game to reflect where you got those points!