Game Title: Tides of Time
Designer: Kristian Curla
Manufacturer: Portal Games
Tides of Time is a quick 2 player drafting game where you build up kingdoms and collect points based on interactions between the cards you play. A game takes around 20 minutes but the game has sufficient depth to keep itself interesting with a range of offensive and defensives moves available most plays.
The game works like a typical drafting game, each round you take 5 cards each, then you pick one and pass the remaining four to your opponent. You then reveal your choices and pick a second card from the four you got given and pass the remaining 3 cards along, reveal, choose, pass until the hands run out. As it's 2 player this adds quite a lot of strategic play options, the revealed cards tell you your opponent's strategy so you can play cards they want to counter them or you might have a card that adds a lot to your kingdom so you could choose that. Each move you take you have the knowledge that your opponent can choose from your leftovers, particularly when there are 2 cards left and you are actively choosing the final card that they get.
The cards themselves come in 5 suits, Palaces, Libraries, Gardens, Temples and Strongholds (yellow, blue, green, purple and red respectively). Each suit has 3 cards and there are an additional 3 cards that are unsuited, though these typically have more powerful abilities. Most abilities give you scores based on certain objectives such as getting 3 points for each Library or getting 7 points for having the most Strongholds. The abilities are well spread out so you typically don't get overly strong combos across a couple of suits which means you'll usually have a card or two that aren't worth many points in themselves that you took only because the suit matches ones needed for your other cards.
|4 of the cards demonstrating some of the more special abilities that cards can have, the bottom two earn you no points in themselves, but can massively help your other cards.|
At the end of each your you score the points for each of the cards you have in play, your kingdom then declines, retaining only 1 Relic from the Past. Essentially at the end of round 1 and 2 you choose 1 card to keep, 1 card to remove from the game and 3 cards to put back into your hand, you then draw up to 5 cards and continue play. This means that round 2 each kingdom will have 6 cards and round 3 each kingdom will have 7 cards (the 2 Relics of the Past and the 5 cards played that round). Choosing the right card to keep is vital to win the game, but also let's your opponent know where to block you, meanwhile throwing the right card away can be a huge hindrance if your opponent was hoping to get it.
The game has 18 cards which all come into play during the game, so if there are no Palaces in round 1 it may be worth keeping cards that focus on scoring points through Palaces as you know that they are likely to come up and they can't have been thrown away.
|The final turn and scoring fo a game, at the end of round three the points for all three rounds are added together for the fional score. Note the decorated pieces of card on 4 of the cards which donate that they are from previous rounds.|
So the game is easy to explain, quick, portable (though they could have economised a little on box size), has surprising depth and is different enough every play to feel relatively fresh. Seems like the perfect filler game really. Working against it I could say that the theme is bordering on nonexistent, the cards are beautifully drawn, but during the game all your are looking at is their ability and their suit, you don't have time to sit back and enjoy the art. The fact that it's limited to 2 players could count against it, but it depends what you want in a filler game, if you have more than 2 people free at your group then you probably have enough to play a full game instead.