Note: This preview uses pre-release components and rules. What you see here may be different from the final, published game.
It’s late in the 26th century. Earth has dissolved into a dystopian future where four different ideologies, called Paths, are fighting to rebuild the world as they see fit. Unfortunately, there is now a giant meteor on a collision course with Earth (Bruce Willis must be unavailable to save us this time). Never to let a good tragedy go to waste, the followers of each Path are using this impending disaster to increase their power over what’s left of society.
That’s just the beginning of the theme in Anachrony. A new worker placement game from publisher Mindclash Games (Trickerion). In this heavy euro game, players are trying to acquire as many victory points as possible over the game’s 4-8 rounds. Clever resource management and possibly a bit of time travel will be the name of the game here. So let’s dive in and see if Anachrony is worth your gaming dollars.
Each player in Anachrony commands one of the games four Paths. During each round, players will be collecting resources, workers, and scientific breakthroughs in the hopes of advancing their society. Anachrony is a two-tiered worker placement game, meaning that players will be taking actions on a shared main board, while also building up their own player board with actions and special powers.
Players can further advance their position by use the game’s time travel mechanic. Resources, exosuits, and even people can be sent back in time from the future to help players build up their Path. However, those costs must eventually be paid back, or an anomaly might occur.
Once the meteor hits, time becomes limited for the players to try to seize control of what’s left of the society. Players can earn victory points from a multitude of ways, and at the end of the game, the Path with the most points takes command of the World Council and wins the game!
How to Play:
Anachrony is a fairly deep and complex game. While the overall game play isn’t hard, there is just so much going on and many things for the players to do. So with that in mind, I’m going to give you a high level overview of the gameplay here. You can head over to their Kickstarter page if you want a deeper understanding of the game or to read a copy of the rulebook.
Each player begins the game controlling one of the game’s four Paths. Each has a specific set of workers and resources it starts with, a unique leader ability and also a special victory condition.
Once the game’s various piles and components are shuffled and setup, you’re ready to begin.
Anachrony is played over a series of Eras (rounds), each of which is divided into 6 phases:
Refill Phase: The current Super Project is revealed and the available worker/resource supplies are refilled.
- Paradox Phase: Players who are straining the timeline by using warp tokens must roll for paradoxes. When a player gets their third paradox, they gain an anomaly, which must be treated or the player loses victory points at the end of the game.
- Power Up: Players can make exosuits available to their workers. Exosuits are required to use actions on the main board.
- Warp: Players many place warp tiles on their current timeline space to bring in assets from the future.
- Action Rounds: This is where the meat of the game happens. Each player takes turns taking a single action until everyone has passed.
- Clean Up Phase: Workers are retrieved, the timeline focus adjusts, etc…
There are 4 different types of workers in Anachrony and each can have a different effect on the space they’re played. Some spaces require a specific worker to use, while others will give a benefit for using a certain type of worker.
The Main board actions are:
Build: Construct buildings or super projects on your player board.
- Recruit: Acquire a new worker.
- Research: Acquire breakthroughs, which are used to build the super projects.
- Mine: Acquire resources.
- Trade: Trade water for resources.
- Purify Water: Acquire water.
- World Council: Duplicate the action of another filled main board action space and become first player.
Player boards begin the game with only one action space, supply. This lets players refresh their workers from tired to active (by paying a water for each). As players construct buildings, they will gain access to other player board actions they can take, such as time travel or recruiting options. Player board actions do not require exosuits.
Once a player builds a power plant, they can start traveling back in time. Why would they need to do this? This allows them to pay back the costs of warp tiles they used in earlier eras. It also allows them to build super projects from previous eras that they might have missed. Traveling in time can also grant VPs.
After the fourth round, the meteor hits the capital. Once this happens, players can now complete their unique evacuation requirement for their path (earning victory points). Also, 3 of the main board spaces become more powerful, but also limited. Once these spaces are used, they become unavailable for the rest of the game. After all the spaces have been used up (or the 7th era is finished) the game ends.
At the end of the game, players total up victory points from a number of different sources ranging from tokens acquired during the game, to buildings constructed, to tracks on the board. All-in-all there are about 10 ways to gain or lose victory points at the end of the game.
As long as that section was, that’s still just a brief overview of how Anachrony is played. There is a lot going on in the game and a wealth of options for a player to do. This is definitely one of those games that you will wish you had about 20 more actions each round.
That also means that Anachrony isn’t a game for the faint of heart. If you prefer light, dice rolling games, or >30 minute euros, then Anachrony isn’t going to be the game for you. Anachrony bills its play time at about 30 minutes per player and your learning game is probably going to be even longer than that.
But if you enjoy sinking your teeth into a nice, meaty eurogame then Anachrony is going to be right in your wheel house. The designers have created an interesting game that does more than the average worker placement game. There are lots of decisions a player has to make each round. You will be deciding how many exosuits to power up, whether or not to warp in supplies, and even when to refresh your workers. There is a high level of strategy involved in each round of Anachrony.
One of the interesting design decisions that I liked has to do with the workers. Workers don’t refresh automatically each round. Instead, you have to pay one water per worker to refresh (although that can be lessened with some buildings), and spend a worker to activate the refreshing action. But once you do, they are immediately available to use. This can lead to some great strategic moves. The other benefit of this mechanic is that rushing for more workers isn’t always the best move. Since you have to pay water to use them. And since main board actions require an exosuit to use (and you are limited to 6 of them), having an abundance of workers won’t always be helpful, at least early on.
I really enjoyed the time travel mechanic in Anachrony. Warping in supplies was a great thematic touch, and I especially liked how you have to pay those same supplies back in a future round (or risk an anomaly). I’ll admit, we were pretty tentative at first about warping supplies. The risk of paradoxes was scary. But after a few rounds, I got over that. The benefit of a crucial asset at the right time can be quite the boon. But it’s not just that, you actually get VPs for paying back those supplies in a later round. And that time travel VP track can definitely add up.
The designers of Anachrony were really clever with the end game. Having the action spaces become more powerful, but limited can call for some great strategic decisions. I could see a player rushing to try to use all those spaces to try to end the game quickly if he thinks he’s ahead (or if an opponent has a lot of work to do paying back warp tokens). This variable nature of the end game can really make for some tense moments.
Finally, I found the balance in Anachrony to be pretty solid, at least with our prototype version. There are some buildings or powers that seemed powerful at first glance, but everything really balanced out in the end. In one of our games, a player heavily focused on her path’s evacuation condition and earned half of her points that way. At the same time, another player focused on winning as many of the end game VP cards as possible. What looked like was going to be a landslide win for one player ended up only being a 3 point difference.
I think Mindclash Games has a real hit on their hands with Anachrony. The time travel mechanic is both fun and thematically done. While the heavy nature of the game will probably turn off some, if you are a fan of deep euro games, then Anachrony is definitely worth checking out. The balance seems about spot on and the game play will keep you glued to the table as there is just so much to do.
This is one of those times where your first game will probably be a learning game as you try to wrap your head around everything that there is to do. But I also found that once I finished my first game, I really wanted to jump back in and try it again. Once I had a better idea of strategies and synergies, I couldn’t wait to play it out again. I am absolutely looking forward to getting my hands on the final, published version of Anachrony. This one is definitely has the legs to be a staple at your gaming table for quite a while.
If you’d like to become a backer, pledges start at $59 for the full game and stretch goals. Anachrony is scheduled to be in backers hands in February of 2017 and you have until Tuesday, June 7th to become a backer. Head over today and check it out.
As always, we don’t post ratings for preview copies as the components and rules may change from the final game. Check back with us after the game is produced for a full review.