The T.I.M.E Agency protects humanity by preventing temporal faults and paradoxes from threatening the fabric of our universe. As temporal agents, you and your team will be sent into the bodies of beings from different worlds or realities to successfully complete the missions given to you. Failure is impossible, as you will be able to go back in time as many times as required.
T.I.M.E Stories is a narrative game, a game of "decksploration". Each player is free to give their character as deep a "role" as they want, in order to live through a story, as much in the game as around the table. But it's also a board game with rules which allow for reflection and optimization.
At the beginning of the game, the players are at their home base and receive their mission briefing. The object is then to complete it in as few attempts as possible. The actions and movements of the players will use Temporal Units (TU), the quantity of which depend on the scenario and the amount of players. Each attempt is called a "run"; one run equals the use of all of the Temporal Units at the players' disposal. When the TU reach zero, the agents are recalled to the agency, and restart the scenario from the beginning, armed with their experience. The object of the game is to make the perfect run, while solving all of the puzzles and overcoming all of a scenario’s obstacles.
The base box contains the entirety of the T.I.M.E Stories system and allows players to play all of the scenarios, the first of which — Asylum — is included. During a scenario, which consists of a deck of 120+ cards, each player explores cards, presented most often in the form of a panorama. Access to some cards require the possession of the proper item or items, while others present surprises, enemies, riddles, clues, and other dangers.
You usually take possession of local hosts to navigate in a given environment, but who knows what you'll have to do to succeed? Roam a med-fan city, looking for the dungeon where the Syaan king is hiding? Survive in the Antarctic while enormous creatures lurk beneath the surface of the ice? Solve a puzzle in an early 20th century asylum? That is all possible, and you might even have to jump from one host to another, or play against your fellow agents from time to time...
In the box, an insert allows players to "save" the game at any point, to play over multiple sessions, just like in a video game. This way, it's possible to pause your ongoing game by preserving the state of the receptacles, the remaining TU, the discovered clues, etc.
T.I.M.E Stories is a decksploring game in which each deck makes anything possible!
How to Play
The game always starts in the home base with a mission briefing. After that, players choose their receptacles and are sent out on the mission.
To avoid spoilers, I’ll be brief on the how to play. TIME Stories is played over a series out rounds. Players always start at one location and may move to others on later turns.
Arriving at a location: Each player chooses which card in the panorama they wish to examine. They flip over the card and read the information on the back. This is a free action.
After that, each player chooses their action, one of three possibilities:
1. Move to another card – There are usually a few different cards in the Panorama and players may move to a different one as an action. Once they move, they can flip over the card and read the information on the back. Note: the game says that players should not read the card out loud, but they may summarize the info on it.
2. Make a Characteristic Roll: The tests in TIME Stories are fairly easy to understand. Players gather a number of dice based on the characteristic being tested and roll them. Every test will have a number of shields, some with special icons. For each hit symbol, the players remove a shield (from left to right). Sometimes, as in the case of a fight, they may take damage if there are danger shields and the players roll a skull. If all the shields are gone after a roll, the test is overcome and the players gain the listed reward (if any). If shields still remain, players may continue to fight the test on later rounds.
3. Do Nothing – This won’t happen often, but players have the option of just hanging out and doing nothing.
Each player gets to perform an action for the round and it costs the group 1TU. Players may repeat action rounds until they are ready to move on to another location. Once they do, they move their pawn on the map to the new location and roll the TU die. This move will cost them anywhere from 1-3 TUs.
And that’s the basic overview of how to play the game. Mind you along the way players will be discovering locations, gaining clues and items, and solving puzzles. If the TU tracker reaches the last space before players accomplish their goal, the run ends and it’s game over.
This is where TIME Stories is unique compared to other games. If the players wish to have another go at accomplishing their mission, the game is reset back to it’s starting state (for the most part) and players may try again. However, this time they will have the knowledge of the cards they’ve seen already and can make wiser decisions.
Once the players accomplish their mission, they are scored based on how well they did.