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Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time Box Art
Released 2017
Designer Brett J. Gilbert and Matthew Dunstan
Publisher Funforge (Website)
Players 2 – 4 (But can play solo as multiple characters)
Playing Time 30 – 45 minutes
Category Cooperative
Puzzle
Player Powers
BoardGameGeek View on BGG

Can you catch the Professor?

Well, this won’t be the first time talking about Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time. If you heard the last Blatherings, you already have a good idea of what I think of this game.

Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time is a cooperative game for 2 – 4 players. Like any cooperative game though, this is a game you can play by yourself. All you need to do is play each character in normal player order, taking all actions yourself. I haven’t done this yet but I can see how it would work, so I list is as a 1-4 player game.

What’s in a name?

When I first heard about Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time, all I knew was the title. The first thing that I saw in my mind was a Carmen Sandiego type jaunt with famous artifacts from different times. I didn’t know it was a cooperative game. I saw no box art or prototypes. I knew only the title, and have an overactive imagination. I knew I had to buy it.

While the final product isn’t whatever I was thinking at the time, the Carmen Sandiego comparison isn’t too far off either. Professor Evil is an absentminded evil genius. He travels through time and stealing some of history’s greatest relics. Players form a team and are tasked with retrieving these historical treasures from Professor Evils home. Of course, the professor has a host of traps and locks to keep you out and is also wandering around the house as well. It is imperative these treasures are rescued before he can secure them away forever in his secret strongroom.

Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time Components
About two months after I heard about the game, this was my first look of the game

Gameplay is straightforward. You sneak around the house, unlocking doors and deactivating traps to steal back the treasures. In the centre of the board is the clock with four markers. One marker shows the current time and a coloured marker for each of the three treasures on the board. If the current time meets a treasure marker, then Professor Evil gets to secure that treasure for good, and another replaces it. The first side to secure four treasures – either the Professor or the Players, wins.

Such a simple game calls for very simple components.  Really the game is played with some cards, standees, and tokens all placed around the board.  But the care that has gone into the game is obvious.  The artwork is all beautifully illustrated, and the board itself does feel like a snapshot of a home.

Unfortunately, this does lead to one small problem.  There is so much happening on the board, that it can be a little hard to see the trap switch tokens on the board.  Once you have played the game once though, twice at the most, you know where to look in the rooms to confirm which trap the switch belongs to.

This really is a minor issue, but a couple of times people watching us playing were visibly startled when we picked up a part of what they thought was the board and flipped it over.

Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time Treasures
The Treasures

How to play

The gameplay mechanics in Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time are very simple and straightforward. There feels like a lot of them though, so reading the manual was off-putting enough to begin with. Working through the manual step by step worked out well in the end though. I would suggest skimming the rules, then following the manual for a couple of rounds to learn the game. I would like to see an instructional video for the game though. If you would like to see me try and make one, let me know in the comments!

I will use the setup as an example of the manual being overcomplicated. To begin, place the Professor in the Laboratory, and the clock marker on 12 o’clock. Then, place all the locked doors throughout the house. Shuffle all the trap switches and the room deck. Draw a room card, and place the switch in that room – the first six in the off position, the rest in the on position. Finally, reshuffle the room deck and the treasure tiles. Draw a room card, and place the first treasure in that room. Pick a coloured marker and place it on the treasure. There will be another marker of the same colour. Place this one on the clock the number of minutes marked on the treasure tile from the current time. Repeat this last step until there are three treasures on the board. Players then select their characters, shuffle their ability decks, and then play commences.

Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time Board
The board all set up and ready to play

Now I say this looks difficult in the manual only because it takes two pages in the booklet to give you the same information. Reading it from the rulebook as you go, with pictured examples before you, makes setup a breeze.

On a players turn, there is again a set order with a very specific process and things you can do. To begin your turn, draw two of your character ability cards. Place them face up in front of you. You can perform on of the abilities in front of you as a free action once between this step, and the next players turn. Next, you have three actions you can perform. The action choices available to you are Move, Unlock Door, Flip Switch, and Rescue Treasure. These do exactly what you think they do. Once you have performed your actions, you roll the Professor dice, ending your turn.

Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time Player Characters
The character standees

Again, this is a little over two pages of the manual. There are examples and clarifications in the manual, but this is 95{dfca638b9dbdbc1caf156b9b6679a983a965572ca56a786c9cf360ad3783820c} of what you need to know for your turn. The complexity of playing doesn’t come from what you can do, but how best to solve the puzzle laid out before you. While the actions you have to play are simple enough to understand, there is a little more to it. To rescue a treasure, you not only need to be in the room but have all the trap switches shown on the treasure turned off. Because these switches are all over the house, you may need to turn off half of the switches in the house. Being able to move a room of so per room means you need to be careful how you approach the situation. Also, when you rescue a treasure, every trap switch on the card turns on.

Finally, there is the Professors turn. This is the randomiser and tidy up phase that occurs after each player turn. And while outcomes are semi-fixed, it’s almost impossible to predict what will happen.

There are three dice that are rolled at the start of the Professors turn. The black die is for the clock.   On each side is a clock face, and you move the clock forward five minutes per clockface.  This means that time moves five or ten minutes each turn. The other two dice are for the Professor. One die has different symbols, most of which show chevrons. These chevrons show the number of rooms that the Professor walks through on his turn. Of course, he ignores locked doors – it is his house. The other white die shows a colour, and this determines the path the Professor follows. Every room has a colour in the doorway and this colour shows which door he walks through next. Every time the Professor walks through an unlocked door, he relocks it. If the room has a switch turned off, he turns it back on. If he walks into a room with a character, he throws them out of the house and continues on his way.

Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time The Professor
The Professor and his dice

There are two other possible Professor actions rather than just walking though. One is a secret passage, where he instantly goes to the coloured treasure shown on the dice. Once he arrives, he locks every door in the room and resets the switch in the room. While it can undo plans, this isn’t usually the worst thing though.

The worst thing is the Professor can roll a clock face. This takes another five or ten minutes from one treasure, which can lose you multiple treasures sometimes!

But if you lose a treasure, or rescue one yourself, you add another treasure. Pick the next treasure tile and room card as you did during setup. Always do this until there are three treasures in the house again.

During this phase, players can get access to their final perk.  When the clock reaches the 15 and 45 minute marks, players decide which character can flip their character plaques.  On the back of each plaque are two abilities.  The top ability becomes always in effect, giving a little boost to that player.  Examples are Edward Wyre moving through locked doors through locked doors, and Destiny Bradshaw being able to reroll one Professor die.

Below this is a super ability that can be used but requires flipping the plaque back over.  For example, Irene Elder lowers the time to rescue a treasure by 15 minutes but can take three extra actions immediately.

Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time Special Player Powers
The characters unique abilites

What’s it like to play?

Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time is a surprisingly fun puzzle game. Each of the characters feels unique, and the random nature of the game means you never quite know what is about to come up. Long terms plans are needed, but it’s not a pure strategy or tactics game. There is a built-in push your luck/risk and reward aspect built in because you know you can’t get all three treasures at once. This means you have to pick which treasures you will go after, and which ones you know the Professor will keep.

Playing with two players, you need to think about the characters you play very closely. While each character has different abilities, picking complimentary skills is key. With more players, you have a little more freedom and also different tactics available to you.

Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time Irene Elder
Irene Elder can give you more time to rescue treasures
Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time Edward Wyre
Edward Wyre, master of gears, can get bonuses from

Speaking of higher player counts, there are a lot of games that more players translate to longer downtime between players turns. More downtime can be boring for players over time. Each game of Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time is pretty quick to play through. Also, you are always watching a moving puzzle unfold, and talking out changes with the other players. This is great for interacting with people and throwing options out there, but it is a gateway for quarterbacking.

Quarterbacking, if your unfamiliar with the term, is when one player dominates all the decision making. Games like Pandemic can suffer from this, and this generally discourages new players. If you are playing a game, you want to play it, or at least feel like a participant. Luckily, in my experience, quarterbacks generally need very solid information to work on. In Pandemic, for example, you can card count infected cities after an epidemic to calculate the chances of drawing a city.

I’m lucky in my group where we don’t really have any of these kinds of players. The few times a quarterback has come through, the higher random factor in Professor Evil frustrated them more than anything else, so they didn’t play many times.

As an experiment, I did follow one of these players and asked them to play a round by themselves.  They really enjoyed playing it alone and flew through two games in about 15 minutes with one win and one loss.  I was happy with this for two reasons.  First, the player went away with a positive experience overall.  Secondly, it did prove to me that the game itself was enjoyable even for players that didn’t revel in the group participation.

Overall Thoughts

Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time is a great cooperative puzzle game.  While the layout of the citadel remains the same, there are enough characters and randomisation of layouts and conditions to keep players engaged for some time.

I would give it a higher score except for one small thing.  While I really enjoy Professor Evil, it’s position in my collection is as a lighter challenge and filler type of game.  I think it deserves a place in many collections, but the fact is depending on your tastes and budget, this type of game has a lot of competition.

If you get the chance, and you like puzzles and/or cooperative games, give it a play.  I think you will enjoy it, and then you can decide if you should buy it.

JohnHQLD
7.5

Good

  • Simple but challenging gameplay
  • Beautiful artwork
  • Unique character powers

Bad

  • Manual makes rules seem complicated at first glance
  • Board art may be too busy for some
Author JohnHQLD
Published
Categories Board Games
Views 654

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