Wednesday, December 30, 2015


We live in a weird era. Not just in board games, but in general.

For the last few weeks, my social media feeds have been filled with spoilers for The Force Awakens, but most of my friends have been good about leaving long spoiler spaces or using spoiler tags (where available) to avoid ruining the movie for those of us who haven't seen it, yet. Other people are out there deliberately spoiling the movie because they are trolls.  Some people are spreading false spoilers because they think that's funny (and sometimes it is).

But the net result for me has been that everyone is talking about Star Wars, but no-one is ... talking about Star Wars.

There is a Doctor Who character, River Song, whose catch phrase is "Spoilers." Because she's not tied to the same timeline as everyone else in the same way, and so she knows some of what is going to happen in everyone else's future.

Fair warning: There may be spoilers for T.I.M.E. Stories in this post. I'll leave a space before I hit that point, and I'll mark it in advance and then format it to indent as a quote so you can try to avoid spoilers (if you're trying to avoid spoilers).

That is, it'll look like this.
A few years ago, Risk Legacy was released on an unsuspecting public. It's a board game based on Risk, so hardcore gamers are "supposed" to hate on it (because Risk isn't actually all that great). But this game is ... different.  In the box is a rulebook, some cards, some units, and a collection of sealed envelopes and boxes that tell you "Open When ... "

The contents of these envelopes have you permanently altering your game. You'll mark the map up. You'll destroy cards. I don't want to spoil this for anyone, but it's really cool. And I still twitch just thinking about it. Because you destroy game components.

Earlier this year, Pandemic Legacy was released, and it's much like Risk Legacy, where things unlock and change based on your success or failure during the game. New characters appear, things get destroyed, and it's apparently awesome.  The similarity is not a coincidence,either. The same designer worked on both games.

Collectively, these are being called "Legacy-Type Games" and elements of the game that are destroyed or altered are being called "Legacy Components," which makes sense.

Another game released this year is T.I.M.E. Stories. It's a "decksploration" game. It initially caught a lot of flak from players due to a low replayability. I disagree, but then my memory isn't fantastic. But there is one element that is "Legacy."

Depending on how you do in the first scenario, you will be directed to lift the insert, where some "beacons" are hidden. To use them, it tells you to "Break them open," apply their effect, and then discard them.
When we were working on the game, we didn't know what kind of component this "hidden" piece was going to be. It sounded like they were going to be plastic (or enclosed in plastic), but we weren't sure. And - having seen later scenarios - that "discard" was intended to be a Legacy-style discard. As in "remove it completely from your box. Throw it away. It's done." Another thing we didn't know at the time.
I'm guessing it's not that clear in French, either, because the translator didn't change it or flag it as something in need of special attention - and the translator in question is someone I've worked with a lot, and he's usually very good about highlighting possible questions like that so that we can be very clear about the rules. 
Either way, there was an official comment made about it here
The "in-game" justification for their single-use/Legacy nature is probably expense. The TIME agency is powerful, but sending folks back in time is expensive. When you fail at the various scenarios, the NPCs at home base gripe at you and how much you're costing the agency. 

I'd love to take the sole blame for this, but it wasn't just me. The translator didn't know. And at least one other person read over the game prior to its release, and they didn't change what the translator and I had done with it. So I'll take partial blame and move on.

This same element is mentioned in the first expansion, The Marcy Case. And in the next, The Prophecy of Dragons.  It wasn't until the third expansion, Under the Mask, that the Legacy nature of these items was made clear to me.

Even setting aside the "Legacy" or "Not Legacy" element of this component, the game is phenomenal. At least one reviewer has likened it to one of the old LucasArts click-based adventure games like Maniac Mansion or Full Throttle. Only without the humor. The first two scenarios are dark.

The one that is included with the box is set in an insane asylum in the early/mid 20th Century. Not a good time to be among the mentally ill. 

The reason the replayability is reported to be so low is because once you know how to beat the game, you can just do the walkthrough of "Go to Location X and perform Action Y. Then go to Location Z ..." But my memory isn't great these days, so I can replay the same scenario several times. And I have enough folks that I game with regularly that I can also serve as facilitator and not actually play.

I - by the way - really like the game. In theory. I haven't been able to get it to the table, though.

Maybe this New Year's Eve ...

Which reminds me: We are doing the usual "Game All Night At Phoenix Games" thing. We'd love to have you join us to play some awesome games with some awesome people.  Event details are here.

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