Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

Get in touch by emailing thegameshelfblog@gmail.com

Monday, 23 September 2019

The Game Shelf Previews:- Time of Legends: Destinies

Game: Time of Legends: Destinies

Publisher: Lucky Duck Games

Designer: Michał Gołębiowski, Filip Miłuński

Year: 2020

Time of Legends: Destinies is a competitive app driven game of adventuring, set in the world of Joan of Arc: Time of Legends. Supported by both Mythic (publishers of Time of Legends: Destinies) and Lucky Duck (publishers of Chronicles of Crime), this is set to be the first game in the ‘Destinies’ series. Time of Legends: Destinies, pulls from the small scale miniatures and narrative from Joan of Arc, whilst being run by the Scan & Play technology that worked so well in Chronicles of Crime.

Time of Legends: Destinies offers something quite unique, as a competitive, narrative-driven, adventure game – a genre which would typically lend itself to cooperative experiences. It can be played as one-off scenarios or as a wider campaign

With two such successful Kickstarter campaigns as its ancestors, and a very reasonable price tag, it is certainly going to one to watch when it launches on Kickstarter on 24th September.


Gameplay

Time Of Legends: Destinies starts each player as one of 3 characters. All 3 characters will be exploring the world, seeking their own unique solution to the problem of the current story. However, they do not approach the problem in the same way. As a spoiler free example, imagine the problem of a shopkeeper having an expensive item that you needed. One character might be seeking to earn enough money to buy the item. Another character might try to ruin the shopkeepers good name to drive him out town. While the third character will simply plan a way to break in and steal the item without being caught. This is the kind of split you will see among the characters, but with a little more nuance. For starters you don't tell other players what your objectives are so they don't know if their actions are actively helping, or thwarting, you. And secondly each character has multiple ways to reach their final objective, so even if one becomes impossible you still have a path to victory.

Once you have chosen a character you will take turns to explore the map. The map will be seeded with points of interest (represented by tokens and miniatures) that you can explore. On your turn you will choose whether to move and then explore one of the points of interest in your current location. After exploring you pass the device to the next player and the game continues until someone has finished their story. Along the way special events may happen with characters appearing in certain parts of the map, and new parts of the map will be unveiled as you explore.


Your interactions with the world may result in a simple conversation, which can have multiple options, but it can also lead to skill checks. Either way you must read out what you are doing to all players. Your actions may give hints that they can use. When you need to perform a skill check, you roll the two base dice and then up to three effort dice. Effort dice help you complete tasks, but you typically only get 1 back a turn. Add up the result you rolled and compare it to your relevant statistic, for every token you have at or below that number you rolled you gain one success. You then tell the app how many successes you got and it will let you know what happens. Getting three successes is often a very different outcome to just one.

During the game you can earn experience which can be used to add extra tokens on your statistics, making related tests easier to complete. You will also get the chance to spend money on items that can help you. Sometimes you will be given the chance to scan an item you own into the app in order to use it on the item/person you are interacting with. Once a player has completed their mission they do not instantly finish the game, but instead go into a special story mode. In this mode they don't get to explore the world anymore, but instead are locked into their ending. As they progress they will need to answer questions or use certain items. Failure to do so will result in them needing more time to complete their story, letting other players, who may be more prepared, catch up.


Amy’s Final Thoughts

Time of Legends: Destinies is clearly an evolution of the Chronicles of Crime scan and play technology. But this time the app, while still important, no-longer feels quite so central to the game. There is a feeling that the game could have been made with cards, or perhaps a reference book, but to do so would have created an incredibly clunky experience, so instead you have an app that handles all that for you. However unlike Chronicles of Crime where it feels like the app is your portal into the game world, in Time of Legends: Destinies the app feels more like an assistance to gameplay than the focal point. Just make sure you have a relatively modern device with a competent camera or you may struggle a little with the item scanning!

The fact that players have to read out their encounters to everyone felt weird at first, why should my actions be giving everyone else hints? But you soon realise that it prevents a lot of time wasting and frustration, and keeps players interested during other players turns. NPCs will communicate differently depending who they talk to, but they often drop hints that the other characters can use. The system works incredibly well at keeping me invested rather than bored between turns. Skill checks themselves could easily have been a simple die roll, but the addition of the effort dice adds a huge strategic choice, roll all 3 bonus dice and you are almost certain to succeed, but find yourself weakened for several turns as they recharge. But don't push yourself enough and you could have wasted your entire turn failing a simple task. Failure rarely feels like it was because of a bad roll, but instead because you didn't commit enough to the task.

The experience mechanic is simple, but highly effective. In essence the more experience you spend, the lower the token will go on your statistic track. Putting a token on a one will guarantee a single success, but cost four experience tokens. Instead you could have added two tokens on 7/8s giving you more potential, but only when you commit those extra effort dice.

Time of Legends: Destinies creates a 2-3-player, light, competitive, story driven game that really gives you the feeling of exploring the world and unveiling it's mysteries. The app works in tandem with the game giving a tradition gaming experience, but utilising the administrative help that an app can bring. Overall it's a fantastic game which is well worth checking out on Kickstarter!


Fi’s Final Thoughts

When we opened up Time of Legends: Destinies I was fully expecting and hoping for a cooperative experience. Narrative games are typically not my go-to and when games are cooperative I rely on Amy to keep track of the narrative aspects. The competitive feel of Time of Legends: Destinies forced me to keep track of the narrative myself and I was mightily impressed by how that was able to draw me into the experience. I love that the game has the power to reveal aspects of the story to me at just the right time to drive my decision making and lead me to possible next moves or conclusions.

It’s an interesting kind of competitive experience, which feels at least a little collaborative at its core. If one player explores the far reaches of the map, they might reveal the buildings that someone else needs to visit. Any narrative from the app is read out loud and so might fill in the gaps for the quiz that you encounter at the end of some objectives. From a competitive point of view, it is your choice which of the two paths to victory you take, but some do feel easier than others. The fast track to your objective is an option, but it’s still possible for other players to catch you up if the game proves you got there too soon by doubting your knowledge or motives.


I have been really impressed by Time of Legends: Destinies, but ultimately, such a narrative experience is never going to sell a game to me 100%. RPGs are my idea of a pretty awful time. Although it won’t be a long-term favourite for me, I know a lot of friends for whom this would be a really accessible RPG-light experience and the ability to run it without a GM means it could be a perfect fit for those wanting to dip their toes into the RPG world.


You Might Like...
  • If you’re looking to get your board gaming friends into tabletop RPGs then Time of Legends: Destinies is a great entry-points.
  • Seamless app integration allows for interesting branching narratives, without the need for a Games Master.
  • The mechanisms for tracking and improving stats are clear and interesting.
You Might Not Like...
  • It’s a bit unclear how much of the app-driven information is open or hidden information –an individual’s quest can be easier to complete because of some of the things another player found.
  • The game is mechanically very light, so you’ve got to be into the story and discovery aspects.

The Verdict
Time of Legends: Destinies uses the integrated app technology, seen in Chronicles of Crime, to deliver a very different RPG-light experience. The stories of each character are interwoven, the NPCs that you meet respond differently to different characters and the passage of time and story. If you love narrative games, then Time of Legends: Destinies is a compact and seamless example that uses technology to draw you in, and creates an interesting competitive experience in a narrative-rich world.


Time of Legends: Destinies was a preview copy kindly provided to us by Lucky Duck Games. It comes to Kickstarter on September 24th 2019.

No comments:

Post a comment