Sean's Game of the Month (November 2017)
In Anachrony, you take control of one of the four factions or what the game call ideological paths: Harmony, Dominance, Progress, and Salvation. Your goal as leader is to prepare for an impending asteroid impact and secure the future for your followers while becoming the dominant ideology in charge of shaping the future of humanity.
Anachrony is a worker placement game with a twist for 1-4 players that takes approximately 30 minutes per person. The game is played over the course of up to 7 rounds or “eras”. After the 4th round, the inevitable asteroid impact occurs which alters how the remaining eras play out.
The majority of the gameplay in Anachrony revolves around one of three mechanisms: powering and utilizing Exosuits, taking actions with specialized workers, and traveling through time.
At the start of each turn, players decide how many Exosuits they want to power. Prior to the impact, each player may power up to three Exosuits for free and each additional Exosuit (up to a maximum of 6) costs energy cores. Exosuits are used to protect your workers as they venture out to the capital. After deciding and paying for Exosuits, players take turns placing their workers. Each worker placed on the main game board must be in an exosuit while workers placed on the individual player board do not require a suit.
The time travel aspect of Anachrony is what gives this game such a unique feel. Before the action round of each era, players have the option to send themselves resources from the future to boost progress. Be careful though as the more resources you borrow from the future, the more likely you are to create a paradox that will cost you resources and the life of a worker to remove.
Like other worker placement games, the majority of Anachrony takes place in the action phase. During this phase, the players will use four different types of workers: Scientists, Engineers, Administrators, and Geniuses. Each worker has their own strengths and weaknesses. For example, a scientist is the only worker that can perform the research action but cannot take the recruit action. Generally, after a worker takes an action, they come back to your base exhausted and an action must be used to refresh them. Some exceptions to this do exist. If an engineer takes a mining action, on the subsequent turn he is immediately available to take another action.
On the primary game board, each action has a limited number of uses and after the first use a resource cost must be paid to use that action. The limited actions that may be taken on the main game board are: construct, which allows the player to build one of the available four building types, recruit, where the player can add workers to their pool, the research action, which is used to develop special resources needed to build super projects, and mining, which is used to gather resources needed for building. Other actions that can be taken but do not have a limit are purifying water or trading with nomads.
Actions taken on individual player boards are limited at the beginning of the game until buildings are built that give worker action spots. Until buildings are available, the only worker action on the player board is the force workers action which refreshes exhausted workers increases moral at the cost of water. This action can also be taken for free but reduces the moral of your faction.
To trigger the end of the game before the end of round 7, each player must take an action to evacuate. After taking this action, the player immediately scores points based on their factions unique evacuation requirements and bonuses. The Path of Salvation faction needs to have built 3 power plants to score 3 victory points and then additional victory for each neutronium(purple) resource held at the time of evacuation. Evacuation is optional but can be the difference between winning and losing.
Why is this my pick for game of the month?
Anachrony is an absolute blast! The twist on the classic worker placement is refreshing and exciting. The time travel aspect adds a level of strategy that I’m still getting used to but thoroughly enjoy. Deciding whether or not it is worth the risk of causing a paradox to borrow resources from future me is a great element. This is even more of a gamble if the alternate timeline is used.
Something else I love about Anachrony are the multiple paths to victory. If there is a “best” way to win, my group has yet to find it. The games we have played so far have all been close. Like a 10 point difference between 1st and 4th close. Nobody has ever been completely out of a game we’ve played. One game came down to a single end game condition card! No single strategy feels overpowered and often the game comes down to who has built the best synergies.
I have personally played several games of the solo mode in Anachrony. To preface, let me say that I do not consider myself a solo board gamer. I have tried playing solo on a few other games and I have yet to make it past a game or two. One of my favorite things about board games is the interaction with my family and friends and obviously this is removed from a solo game. I have played Anachrony against the “Chronobot” far more times than any other game and I plan to play again after I finish writing this. The Chronobot has his own set of rules and player board and the actions are determined by a dice roll which makes it almost impossible to manipulate the AI. I have about a 25% winning percentage against the AI but each time the game has been within 8 points.
The biggest flaw with this game has nothing to do with the gameplay but the storage. I’m an insert elitist and the plastic bags just don’t satisfy my desire for keeping my games organized. I can fix this though and have already started 3d printing parts for an insert.
Overall, Anachrony is an amazing game that I highly recommend.