Why is piracy so much fun in gaming?
T.I.M.E. Stories is basically an experiment from Space Cowboys, and one I enjoy overall. As a system, it sits somewhere between point and click adventure games and ‘games master’-less role play board games. Each expansion or module does this to varying degrees of success, but overall its an ambitious project.
As usual, little is known about the scenario itself. Each T.I.M.E. Stories expansion can be thought of as the next episode in a series, and too much knowledge in advance can sway your decisions.
What is known is Brotherhood of the Coast is set in 1685, during the ‘Golden Age’ of piracy. Think about the time of the show ‘Black Sails‘, which by the way you should watch if you haven’t already – you will never look at Treasure Island the same way again.
Time-wise, this is smack dab in the middle of privateers and pirates sailing from Tortuga and Hispaniola against the Spanish colonies, and long pirate voyages against Muslim targets and the East India Trade Company.
The T.I.M.E. Agency previously dispatched four agents to this period but has lost contact with them. From a story perspective, you are no longer travelling to restore the status quo to the timeline, but to track down some of your own.
This is hopefully the beginning of a few changes in the T.I.M.E. Stories system as a whole. While the previous sixish adventures have all had differences to them, this is an almost public change to the game, which I will briefly talk about in the thoughts section below.
Information on two of the receptacles (characters) for this adventure has also been made available:
Wait hang on – sixish adventures? What gives?
That’s right – Brotherhood of the Coast sets a few firsts for the series. Sixish is because there is an official prologue to this scenario – Frères de la Côte.
Now I haven’t played Frères de la Côte yet, but I know someone that has it and I will definitely be playing it once I have Brotherhood of the Coast. I highly doubt you would have had to play it to play the new scenario, but more T.I.M.E. Stories is always a good thing for me 🙂
There is also another implication to this, but this goes more into possible spoiler territory and I will talk about it in the final section. If you haven’t played T.I.M.E. Stories before, then read on.
So should I play T.I.M.E. Stories? A mini review and random thoughts
Now, this is a very general overview of a series of games, so please keep this in mind.
T.I.M.E. Stories is a series I find a lot of fun to play but is not for everyone and a very expensive experiment. The beauty of the system is that each scenario allows for completely different types of adventures each time. When you buy the base box, you buy the generic tools that allow you to play the scenarios – it’s incredibly basic components wise, but it has to be.
Essentially, you get a board that is just the layout for where to place the cards that actually makeup each scenario. In the top left of the board, you have your map of locations. On the lower part of the board, you can see the scene itself, with the reverse of the cards describing the interactions. In the middle, your timer. Everything else is just placeholders for stacks of cards or tokens.
Now, this minimalist componentry is required because equipment requirements change wildly from game to game. At one point, a blue token can be medicine. Next game, blue tokens can be magic charges. Various blocks can represent keys or records of prior interactions that allow you into new areas.
So, for the base game that gives you the tools of the system and a tutorial scenario (Asylum), you get to pay over AU$100. That is really expensive, and a major drawback to buying the game.
The example I draw doesn’t quite work in today’s streaming world, but should still make sense. When you first bought a DVD or Blu Ray player, you would drop hundreds of dollars to buy the equipment that lets you play reasonably priced movies going forward. T.I.M.E. Stories is the same idea, but I really can’t see where the initial cost can be justified in the box.
As this is a game you really want to play with three or four people though, if you bought it collectively as a group, the price per person becomes more reasonable. That said, if you know someone with a copy, ask to borrow theirs.
But as I mentioned earlier, the real draw of T.I.M.E. Stories is that it grows with the scenarios. A lot of the adventures so far have been in the past, but with different takes with varying degrees of historical accuracy. But there has also been magic as a fact, and different dimensions are alluded to. There really are limitless possibilities.
Now, there have been not great scenarios. Asylum, the included scenario, was fine and a good tutorial, especially for how puzzles can be approached. The follow-up, The Marcy Case, was also fine but more of an exploration and combat tutorial or at least heavy on those points.
My biggest complaint though is timing. These scenarios should be released at least every six to eight weeks I think, but three years later we are getting our seventh scenario. That is a horrendous release schedule, especially because of a spoilerish reveal.
I know it sounds like I have bought up a lot of negatives on the series, but it’s because I can’t go into the positives without spoiling some great elements of the game.
I really enjoy this series, and that is the reason I want to keep playing. Keeping this in mind, if you have any interest at all borrow a copy and give T.I.M.E. Stories a try.
If you have played T.I.M.E. Stories before, or don’t mind mild spoilers, the final section is definitely for you. Otherwise, stop reading now and I will catch you for Blatherings tomorrow!
Don’t read this – mild spoiler within!
OK, so if you’re here, I am going to assume you don’t mind a small spoiler.
The scenarios are not as stand alone as they first appear. I am not going to go any further into how or why, but if you play each scenario a greater story arc has been revealed.
And the delayed timing of the expansions has been compounded by delayed timing on the augmented reality/expanded online experience that T.I.M.E. Stories that are part of this ongoing series. I get every game weeks AFTER it’s released, and yet when we discovered this in our game the webpage we are directed to had huge areas that could not yet be explored. Not we were looking in the wrong area – the graphic we were supposed to click on just had no content. Very frustrating.
But all this considered, once again I love the idea and the premise of T.I.M.E. Stories and I can’t wait to play Brotherhood of the Coast.
Until next time,