Game Review: Temporal Odyssey

I wouldn’t say I’m a time travel fanatic, but as I sit here and think about it, some of my favorite stories have time travel at the center. One of my all-time favorite comic book characters is Marvel’s Cable. The time-hopping freedom fighter is a force to be reckoned with whether he’s leading his special ops X-Force or protecting his adopted daughter, Hope. When it comes to TV shows, Doctor Who has so much going for it. Everyone has their favorite Doctor (9th) spanning over the last 55 years. Even in music, there’s a fantastic 5-song mini rock opera by the band Ludo, called Broken Bride. It’s all about a man who creates a time machine to go back in time and save his wife from dying in a car wreck. He ends up running from dinosaurs and fighting zombie hoards before finally reaching his destination, the finale, “That Morning In May”.

When it comes to board games, I haven’t really played anything with a theme rooted in time travel. I know there are plenty of games that fit this bill, it’s just that none of them have come across my table. So when I saw that one of my favorite publishers, Level 99 Games, was developing this 2-4 player card game of battling time travelers, I just had to dive in.

Game: Temporal Odyssey
Creator: Chris Solis, CGC Games
Publisher: Level 99 Games

 

Theme:

Cards representing each of the classes makes for easy drafting.

So, the goal of the game is to defeat your opponent. As a time traveler, you’re able to open portals to the past, present, and future to call allies to your side. You also have powerful spells that can increase in strength depending on the allies and items you surround yourself with from all of time.

In competitive play, players take turns drafting the classes of characters that will be in the past, present, and future decks. Whichever Traveler you use may have more synergy with some classes of characters over others. I really like this. If I was a time traveler, and I knew I’d be having to recruit allies to my cause, I’d probably have some friendly faces already in mind that I’ve come across on my journeys. But be careful, the classes you select as potential allies will be available to your opponent as well.

Each time your Traveler is defeated, they find a way to manipulate time and return to the battle field… but at a cost: their time stream becomes more unstable. Once your Traveler has 3 Instability cards, they cannot escape death again.

I do wish there was a little more backstory included with the game. I’d love to know some more about these Travelers and what their motives are. I want to know why the structures for each Traveler are important. I want to know about the beings on the Instability cards. I just want to know more about the history and lore of this universe.

 

Gameplay:

An example what gameplay might look like at the start of the game.

I really like how your starting spells have tiers of strength based on what sigils are showing on your active characters and items. This can be a huge reason for targeting specific classes to include in to the game. You know the sigils required to reach the higher tiers of your spells, and each class of characters has a trend to the sigils on them.

At the start of each turn you get 4 AP tokens to spend on summoning characters, casting spells, and attacking your opponent. I love the limited aspect of the AP tokens. In the games I played I constantly wished I had just 1 or 2 more to do everything I wanted to. “Keep the people wanting more” is entertainment 101, and it works well here.

There’s a constant ebb and flow to playing more control or more aggressive. The characters you attack with cannot be grouped behind another unit, protected from attacks. So the characters that attack, must be available to be attacked by your opponent. Playing overly aggressive could quickly start snowballing the game of each player constantly going all-out aggressive each turn.

Also, the fact that there’s nothing you can really do on your opponent’s turn is a huge selling point for me. You take your turn, use up your AP tokens, establish your board state, and then you’re done. There’s no brief timing windows for counters, there’s no extra secret way your opponent can surprise you. You see what your opponent has in play, make your choices to the best of your ability, and hope for the best while they take their turn.

At the end of each turn, regardless of what you choose to do, you’ll select one of the time portal decks (Past, Present, or Future) to draw 3 cards from. You will place 1 card in your hand, place 1 card back on the deck face up, and remove 1 card from the game. I hate seeing my opponent lay a great card face-up on a deck, so I’m sitting their wondering “what on earth was better than that for them to keep?!” Remembering what classes your opponent selected for decks could be a great indicator to what sigils they may want for their spells. This could give you a heads up on what cards to remove from the game, and keep out of their hands.

 

For Parents:

This game is probably not going to be for the little kids this time around. I’d have to guess about 12 years old is around the age for being able to play this game on every level: selecting classes for the game and playing strategically. You know your kids better than I do, (Unless you’re my wife is reading this. Then I know your kids pretty well…), so you can be the judge.

The set-up time is maybe a bit longer than your standard card game, due to the drafting classes. But it’s nothing significant. I’d say from opening the box to starting the game is about 15-20 minutes, tops.

 

Final Thoughts:

I like Temporal Odyssey. I really like it. From early indication, it seems there’s going to be an active support program for organized play. So that’s cool. And because of the multiple classes and Travelers, there’s a high amount of variability for games. This really seems like a game that can grow.

I don’t know if it’s one I’ll play with the kids right now, since my oldest is only 7. But on game night while waiting for others to arrive or just killing time with my wife after the kids go to bed, this one is fun. And I’d love to go down to the FLGS once a month or so and play this for a few hours at an OP event

The game also has a Facebook group. Head on over there to find out more information or discuss the game!

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