Dodging A Bullet From My Pistol - Time Stories: Brotherhood of the Coast Spoiler Free Review

TIME STORIES has a lot of cause for concern right now. What originally started as this mind blowing revelation in board games, has certainly died down a lot and reached the point where many are growing weary of it. How times change in the board game industry eh? But why so? Well, when you release expansion modules for a "one play and that's it" product 1-2 times a year max you are running the risk of players getting bored and moving on. Not to mention if a particular module isn't received well, that's like a whole year nearly of wasted time.

For me, I still enjoy the game, regularly engaging in playthroughs with the lovely ladies from The Game Shelf, my go-to group for dealing with Time Stories. But the infrequent nature of the expansions coupled with other issues that have not been resolved is starting to grate. Firstly the overall plot arc took a back seat for a while and we just want it over! Secondly the game seems obsessed with ridiculously hard combat scenarios of which most are unavoidable forcing you to take "tank" characters or else you will lose. Thirdly the game still doesn't have reset points for a long campaign. You could get punished severely on time units from a bad die roll or decision and suddenly you have to reset EVERYTHING. These problems could easily be resolved I feel, but we've seen no progression. Can Brotherhood of the Coast fix these issues or is it time to say goodbye to Time Stories?


Designer: Manuel Rozoy
Publisher: Space Cowboys
Age: 13+
Players: 2-4
Time: 60 minutes per run
RRP: £19.99


From the publisher:

Brotherhood of the Coast is the seventh expansion for T.I.M.E. Stories, a board game in which players take on the roles of temporal agents for the T.I.M.E. Agency which protects humanity from temporal faults and paradoxes.

In T.I.M.E. Stories: Brotherhood of the Coast the team travels to 1685 to the Golden Age of piracy.



NOT FILLER THIS TIME!


There's a mix of points to make so let's start off with the good ones. Time Stories has always done a good job representing the theme through good artwork and staying true to the setting as well as the sci-fi background parts. Brotherhood is no different to the formula - the buccaneer theme is prevalent throughout and the artwork as always is bright, colourful and brought out nicely in those panoramic picture cards.

We've got a fair amount of content here as well - I don't want to spoil anything of course, but there feels like there is more packed into this box then we tend to see in other scenarios or at least you get that feeling while playing. This scenario will likely take you the longest time out of all of them however that brings about a negative issue, which I'll mention later. Subject to said issue, I'd be glad if all future scenarios had at least this much content.

I'm also glad that they've actually tried to bring back the overarching plot that has been foreshadowed in previous scenarios, unlike the 80's one before which completely ignored it, almost like a filler anime episode. Again, no spoilers, but let's just say it takes a giant leap to where I feel (or more accurately pray) that the next scenario could be the final one in this cycle, thus allowing for a new plot to take shape. Don't drag this out any more Space Cowboys - it doesn't work for 13 episode Netflix Marvel series (seriously 10 episodes is so much better, see Iron Fist Season 2), it really won't work for Time Stories!




DODGY CHECKPOINT SYSTEM


Now despite the good things said above - the elephant in the room is those 3 points I mentioned in the introduction. As enjoyable as the scenario is, Brotherhood only addresses one of those key issues, that being the main plot arc.

But aside from that, again we see really hard combat scenarios that on many occasions you simply cannot win. Thankfully one or two of them have options for getting around them, but in one specific instance it comes at a hefty cost that you can't repeat too often for your own survival. Why can't we find ways to solve issues without having combat be a focus? Can't the combats be easier to survive, yet more time consuming perhaps? Can't we have multiple options to get out of the situation so that there's always a choice? It's not as bad here as in other scenarios though I will say.

As for the reset points, this one is pretty bad for that. There's a decent amount of content in the box, a good thing I agree, but this will require you to make multiple runs to get through this scenario. I actually came across one card that just made you lose a ton of time units instantly - no way to expect it or avoid it and it's so bad that it almost forces another run on you. The whole gimmick of going through locations and characters you've seen before works fine a couple of times, but 4-5 times and I hate you now. And you have to listen to that annoying Bob character shout at you for not doing well, well why don't you allow us to start with more time units then you pompous, bald headed........??

And there's no reset points. If you run out of time, back to the start again. This is one of the few scenarios where we have house-ruled a reset point so that we "rewind" back to then rather than start all over. In fact I think we did it twice, I'm not sure. I know others have done it even more. It's mad that we should have to even do that.


VERDICT ON BROTHERHOOD OF THE COAST


Time Stories is on a tenderhook right now - with only 2 releases max per year, sometimes only one, Space Cowboys can't afford to put a foot wrong and when they do, it's a big tempo hit. Issues with the system are coming to the surface and beginning to grate, such as the emphasis on insanely hard combat, the lack of reset points requiring multiple pointless runs, the lack of progression with the main story arc, etc.

Brotherhood thankfully feels like a return to form at least with respect to the theme and the main story. However the problems with combat and reset points still remain and it's going to put players off this system if it hasn't already. They really need to make the next scenario the last in this cycle, wrap up the main plot and then reboot from a fresh start.

The scenario itself though, is still a lot of fun, one of the better scenarios to date sitting somewhere in the upper half of the rankings. There's plenty of content within this scenario to keep you playing for a while and it does at least advance the main story. Fingers crossed though that Time Stories can hang on though as it definitely isn't the big mind blowing experience it once was. 




PERSONAL RATING - 7





YOU WILL LIKE BROTHERHOOD OF THE COAST IF:


You want to return to the big story arc.


You enjoy a pirate theme without all the fantastical side of it.


You want plenty of content within the box.



YOU WILL NOT LIKE BROTHERHOOD OF THE COAST IF:


You wish it wasn't mandatory to take combat characters.


You aren't willing to house-rule reset points to avoid multiple runs.

0 comments: