I was never good at physics in high school but that is not the reason that thinking about time travel makes my brain hurt. I would have thought that being educated by Dr Who for the majority of my life and having watched Rod Taylor deal with the Morlocks would have given me some great insight into time travel and even how it might be translated into a board game. But, when I think time travel and board games a garbled mess of ideas comes out of my mouth or through my fingers onto the keyboard and onto the page – as you are witnessing here.
So, here are my thoughts on time travel and how it could be represented in a board game. I have tried to make it a logical progression but as with time travel I might have to re-visit already typed comments.
THOUGHTS ON ESSENTIAL QUALITIES IN A TIME TRAVEL GAME:
- Any action that is taken in the past should have an affect on the present and future
- Any game should be dripping in theme as you cannot really travel in time
- Paradoxes should be dealt with by some mechanic. Therefore if you travel back to the same point in time more than once you cannot revisit what you did otherwise you might meet yourself…???
- Using multiple time lines and moving between them. I have thought about using multiple tracks in time. Each point in time on the track would be represented by a colour – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple. The tracks would be aligned so that a secondary colour on one track lines up with a primary colour on another track. Players would somehow have access to cards that represent these colours. They could play a single card to move up or down a timeline or play a combination of cards to jump across the timeline – red and blue would allow a person to jump to the purple on another time line. While this is a very abstract mechanic I feel that it might be possible to build a game around this simple mechanic or for that matter it could be a neat themed abstract game.
- Adjusting Macao’s compass rose mechanic. David Short suggested something like Macao’s compass rose. In Macao – on each turn six dice are rolled. They are coloured to match resource cubes. The rose has seven sides – one representing the current round and the others coded from 1 to 6. If you roll a red die with a six value then you may place six red cubes by the number six on the rose. If you roll a purple die with a value of 1 then you may place a purple cube by the number one on the compass rose and so on for the other colours. However, a player may only choose two dice values and use the corresponding cubes per round. The cubes in the 1 spot on the rose may only be used on the first turn, the cubes in the two spot on the rose are only used on the second turn and so on… This means that players have to plan for the future hoping to have the specific cubes they need to perform actions when the turn arrives. How can this be converted to time travel? (1) At the start of the game dice are rolled and cubes are placed on the communal compass rose that represents the timeline for the game. The seventh side represents the present and the other places on the compass rose depict the past and the future. When players move to specific points in time (1 – 6) they roll the dice and effect every future point in time (add cubes for any value that represents a future time point). (2) Each player has their own compass rose that they use to control their actions/resources/events along the timeline.
- Another movement mechanic. As mentioned above I am a big fan of Dr Who (John Pertwee was my favourite but the last three have been very good). In Dr Who, the Doctor – a Time Lord – often ends up at a point in time that was not intended. Some temporal anomaly/shift pulls his craft – the TARDIS – off track and to places that need the Doctor’s assistance. With this in mind I have come up with a mechanic that pushes and pulls people through time depending on how severe the event is at a certain point in time. Imagine 8 points in time along which players may travel. At each point in time there is a deck of cards that represents events/actions at that point in time. Each card has a push/pull value. This value represents the locations effect on the space-time continuum. The greater the effect the event has on the continuum the greater its pull value or lower push value. Therefore it attracts time travellers to that location and makes it harder for time travellers to leave that location. Fix the event/action and start to restore normality to the timeline. As I have mentioned in a previous post it might be possible to use these push and pull values to restrict movement along the timeline. So if a location had a push of 1 but a pull of 4 then the player could move only one point away from the planet but might be able to move further if there is another point that has a pull that is equal or greater than the original point in time. It makes sense to me. 🙂
- Risk: Legacy. In Risk: Legacy the game changes permanently dependent on decisions made by players. Stickers are used to place on cards etc… Maybe this mechanic can be translated to a time travel game. Instead of having a permanent change to the physical aspects of the game, there is a permanent change to the skills of the players or to locations that can or cannot be reached. Once a decision is made by a player it forces other players to to distrust that player or help that player. The change takes away the players ‘free will’ when making choices.