Back in 2015, publisher Portal Games brought us the innovative card drafting game, Tides of Time. This two-player only game was a set collection game that roped you in with its stellar artwork. While I still much prefer its follow-up, Tides of Madness, I was nevertheless excited to see it coming to our tablets. Now that we’ve gotten our hands on the digital version of Tides of Time, we are ready to report in if this app is a worthy addition to your digital game library.
Tides of Time is a two player only “Micro Game” that takes about 10 minutes to play. The goal is to earn the most victory points by collecting different sets of cards. At the start of the round, players choose a card from their hand to play. Cards never have a cost, just pick one and play it. Most will have a suit in the corner and a special ability (ie: collect the majority of a suit for 7 points or gain 3 points per card of X suit). Afterward, you pass your hand to your opponent. This is repeated until all cards have been played.
Between ages, scores are calculated, and each player chooses a card to permanently keep and one to remove from the game. Then a new round begins in the same manner. The game ends after the third age and the player with the most victory points wins.
Digital Game Experience:
The first thing that jumps out to you with the Tides of Time app is just how beautiful it looks. Much like the stunning artwork in the tabletop version, the graphics team at Portal Games did an amazing job with the Tides of Time app. I also appreciated the really nice touch between rounds when your buildings turn to dust and blow away. Overall, high marks here for visuals.
To play the game, Tides of Time offers a guided tutorial to get you up to speed. While the game isn’t very hard to learn, it’s nice that it’s there for new players. There were a few localization issues on launch, but Portal Games has been quick to patch those with improvements.
If you are a Tides of Time veteran, you can probably just skip the tutorial as the core gameplay is unchanged and the controls are intuitive. Just drag a card to play it. When your turn is done, you hit the commit button and the screen will pan to your opponent’s kingdom for their turn. Thankfully, there is an option to turn off the panning feature as I got motion sick after my first game with the constant back and forth.
While the core gameplay of the app is solid, there are a number of misses here that really hold back the app. The most glaring omissions being the lack of online multiplayer. Tides of Time is an app that just begs to be played with other players. It’s very easy to learn and plays incredibly quickly. This is the kind of app I’d play with family members or friends in short spurts. Playing against the AI is fine, but that tends to stale somewhat quickly. And pass and play for a card game that only has about 18 cards feels a little pointless. I may as well just play the card game at that point.
I did have some other minor gripes, such as not being able to see your kingdom between rounds. But Portal Games has been actively improving the app and that was recently patched out. So kudos to them for being on the ball.
Finally, for those who like achievements, Tides of Time does offer a variety of Game Center ones and a point system that can be used for unlocking portraits and frames. The app never really explained much about how the system works, but I was able to figure it out pretty easily. Again, the character frames and portraits are nice, but I feel like these would be more impactful in a multiplayer setting where they are essentially bragging rights for how much you’ve played.
While I have always enjoyed Tides of Time, I’m a little hard pressed to recommend the app. The visuals are outstanding and the gameplay works smoothly. Yet the lack of any kind of online multiplayer is a huge miss for me. The tabletop game is only a handful of cards, and unless I’m traveling to a place with minimal space, I may as well just play the card game if I want to play with a friend. The main draw of the digital version of Tides of Time would be so I could play with distant friends as family. Should that ever get patched in, the rating on this game would most likely jump up. But for now, only the most die-hard of Tides of Time fans should grab this one.
Final Score: 3 Stars – While the core gameplay is here and looks fantastic, the lack of any kind of online play will only have this getting limited screen time.
• Lack of online multiplayer