Radio Review #35 – Time ‘n’ Space

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(2013 – Stronghold Games, Eggertspiele)

 

“Ticking away the moments that make up the dull day….”

 

Designed by Tobias Stapelfeldt, Space Dealer was originally published in 2006 and amassed a tight-knit following. A player’s goal was to produce goods and sell them off to neighboring Planets (opposing player’s areas), all while building your own Home Planet with bonuses. While the game was enjoyable, the largest issue was the lack of interactivity amongst players. It was almost as if multiple solo games were going on at once, all using the same main game board. When Stapelfeldt decided to republish the game, he basically stripped the game down to its core mechanics and reworked it in order to streamline the mechanics and involve more player interactivity. While Time n’ Space is quite a different game altogether, the core mechanics and original concepts (such as using sand timers for action allowance) of Space Dealer are still vividly present.

In Time n’ Space, players control a Home Planet consisting of Production Factories, Beaming Stations, and Trade Depots. Throughout the course of 30-minutes, players will attempt to use these buildings along with their personal Spaceship to complete Orders for other players as well as fulfill Orders from players. Buildings can also be upgraded to allow players more flexibility by visiting the surrounding Moons of a Planet. Much like in Space Dealer, actions are taken using a Sand Timer. When a Sand Timer has been placed on a particular action space, the player cannot take that action until the Timer is complete. Once completed, the action can be taken and the Timer can be moved to another action space. Players are given two of these Timer to use simultaneously as they wish. By the end of 30-minutes, the player who has had the most success at exporting his Orders while fulfilling Orders from other players will win the game. Time n’ Space is a fast-paced, interactive experience for 3-4 players.

 

 

Components:

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– Time n’ Space Game Board

 

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– Player Boards

 

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– Player Ships

 

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– Depots (Production, Beaming, and Trade)

 

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– Player Order markers (1 set for each player consisting of blue, yellow, brown and gray Orders)

 

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– 3-point Bonus Order markers

 

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– Good tokens

 

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– Sand Timers

 

 

 

Setup:

Time n’ Space can be played as either a 3 or 4 player game. As such, the game board comes 2-sided; one consisting of spaces for a 3 player game, and the other for 4 players.

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The outer colored areas of the game board represent various planets and act as the home base/starting point for each player. Players will choose a color and place the matching colored ship on the planet along with a single 3-point Bonus Order markers.

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Each player receives a player board matching the color of their planet. Player boards consists of Production Factories, Beaming Stations, and Trade Depots (which we’ll discuss in further detail a bit later). Players also receive 2 Sand Timers and all of the Player Order markers with their matching colored symbol.

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On the inner section of the game board, a number of moons equal to the number of players are present. Players will be able to visit these moons throughout the game and purchase upgrades to the buildings on their player boards. These various tiles are first shuffled into 1 large Draw Pile, then separated into a number of piles equal to the number of players in the game. One pile is placed at each of the moon spaces on the game board.

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One of the main focuses of the game is attempting to sell orders of goods that you produce to other players. Therefore to begin the game, players are allowed to go ahead and place a couple of orders on their player boards in order for opposing players to complete early on. Players will secretly disperse 2 of their Order markers onto any of the available spaces on their player boards.

Finally, the Good tokens are placed somewhere that all players may reach them when needed. At the end of setup, the game should look something like this:

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Gameplay:

A game of Time n’ Space is made up of a full 30 minute session. Players will attempt to accomplish as much as they can within the 30 minute time frame before the game comes to an end. Gameplay for all players will occur simultaneously, meaning that there are no alternating turns in the game. Players take as many turns as they are able to during the allotted time, while all opposing players do the same. Stronghold Games provides a free Timer app that contains a 30-minute timer, but a egg timer or any other sort of 30-minute timer will work. Before we get into the various available actions, let’s first go over how actions occur.

Each player has two 1-minute Sand Timers available to them during the game. These Sand Timers are used as a placeholder on a particular space, referencing an upcoming action that the player can take. This is somewhat loosely related to a worker-placement mechanic. When a Sand Timer is placed on a space in order to take the space’s action, the Sand Timer is flipped so that a full minute must pass before the action can be completed. Once it is done, the player can pick up the Timer and perform the action. It’s important to note that the action is taken when the player picks up the Timer from the space, not when the Timer runs out of sand.

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For instance, Player A wants to move his Spaceship to a nearby moon. He places one of his Sand Timers onto the ship. After the Timer is done, he may pick this Timer up. Doing so will allow him to activate the move action and move his Ship to the Moon space. He chooses to move to the nearby Moon.

 

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Each space that can be used as an action is marked by a Sand Timer icon on a player’s board as well as a player’s ship.

 

 

Player Board Actions:

A player’s board is representative of the buildings currently located on his home planet. These building consist of various Production Factories, Beaming Stations, and Trading Depots. Players will begin the game with 4 Production Factories (each able to produce 1 of the 4 different Goods in the game), 2 Beaming Stations, and 2 Trade Depots.

 

1.) Home Planet Buildings:

 

Production Factories

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When pulling a completed Timer from a Production Factory, that factory will produce 1 Good token that corresponds to the type of Good (or Goods) listed on the factory. The Good token is placed onto the Factory space. The Good token must be moved before another of that same Good can be placed there. Each of the Factories on a player’s board are Level 1 Production Factories and will only produce 1 single unit of a Good each. However, Factory upgrades can be obtained from the various Moon areas on the main game board. Level 2 Factories contain 2 Goods a piece, while Level 3 Factories will produce 3 different Goods for every action.

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Player A pulls a completed Timer from his Production Factory that can produce a blue Good.

 

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Therefore, he places 1 blue Good token onto this space. He would currently not be able to produce another blue Good until he moved this one, as he has no other Factories that produce blue Goods.

 

 

Beaming Stations

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So how exactly does one move Goods from a Production Factory? Completing a Timer at a Beaming Station will allow a player to load produced Goods from their Production Factories to the Station. This is advantageous to a player in two ways. One, it frees up spaces on the Production Factories to produce more Goods (or place more Orders). Two, once a Good is placed on a Beaming Station, players are able to use these Goods to fulfill Orders with their Spaceships at other player’s planets.

When a Beam Station is activated, players can place any number of Goods from their Production Factories onto the Station equal to the number of open spaces at that Station. Level 1 and Level 2 Beaming Stations contain two spaces, while a Level 3 Station contains three of these.

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Later in the game, Player A completes a Timer at one of his Beaming Stations.

 

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Since this Station has 2 empty spaces, he is able to move both a blue and yellow Good from his different Production Factories onto this Beaming Station. He is now able to fulfill a blue and/or yellow Order by visiting another player’s planet with his Spaceship.

 

 

Trading Depots

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While completing Orders at other player’s planets is important, it is all for naught if you can not get rid of your own Orders by the end of the game. Each player starts the game with 6 Order markers of each type of Good, for a total of 24 Orders.

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At the end of the game, players score Victory Points according to the color, value, and varying player icon on each of the Order markers that they’ve collected from other players throughout the game. However, if a player is left with any Order markers of their own that they were not able to get rid of, they will score 0 Victory Points for any Order markers of the same color that they’ve collected from other players, no matter how many they have.

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For instance, at the end of the game, Player B has collected 4 blue Order tokens (to the right) for a total of 16 Victory Points (I’ll explain the breakdown of how these points are scored later). However, he was unable to get rid of one of his own blue Order markers (to the left) during the game. Because of this, Player B would score no Victory Points for the blue Orders he has collected.

 

As you can see, it is very important in Time n’ Space to get other players to complete Orders at your planet so that you can rid yourself of these Orders and allow yourself to gain Victory Points for the Orders that you collect from others. This is where to Trading Depots come in handy. When a completed Timer is pulled from a Trading Depot space, the player is allowed to place any of his personal Order markers onto a building that contains an empty Order marker slot. The number of Order markers that can be placed out in this way is equal to the number listed on the Trading Depot being used. Level 1 Depots allow for 1 Order placement, Level 2 allows for 2, and Level 3 allows for 3 at one time.

Each Production Facility and Beaming Station have outlines on the buildings that match the shape and size of the Order markers. These are the spaces in which the Order markers can be placed when using the Trading Depot. Note that by placing an Order marker on these spaces, they will block them from their normal use. So for instance, if an Order marker is placed on a Production Factory space that normally produces a brown Good, that Factory can not be used to produce that brown Good until the Order has been completed by another player. It is quite a balancing act and a big reason why upgrading buildings with multiple spaces is a viable strategy. Also note that once an Order marker is placed onto a player’s board, it does not count as being in his supply, so even if no player fulfills this Order marker, it will not count against him during end-game scoring.

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Player C pulls a completed Timer from a Level 2 Trading Depot, therefore he is able to place 2 of his Order markers onto his player board. He chooses to place a blue Order marker on one of his Beam Station spaces and a yellow Order onto one of his Production Factory spaces. These two spaces become unavailable to him until another player visits his planet and removes the Order from his board. Another player can now visit his Planet and pay 1 yellow Good token to fulfill the yellow Order marker, and/or pay 1 blue Good token to fulfill the blue Order marker.

 

 

2.) Ship Movement:

Each player controls a Spaceship that they can move around the main game board and visit the various Moons and opposing Planets. A Timer can be placed onto these Ships for movement purposes. Planets and Moons are connected by “wormhole” spaces on the game board.

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When a player is moving his Spaceship from a Planet to a Moon (or vice versa) or from a Moon to another Moon, he places his Spaceship on the wormhole space connecting the two spaces and places a Timer onto the Ship. Once a Time is complete, the Ship can be moved to the corresponding destination. Once arriving at the destination, an action related to the location may be taken:

 

 

Moons – Research & Upgrades

Once arriving at a Moon, the player has 2 options. They can either place the current building there at the bottom of the Draw Pile, or they can choose to place this building into their Research Station on their player board.

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Each player board contains a section at the bottom of the board to house these new building tiles. Once a building is placed here from a Moon location, a Timer must be completed at this Research Station in order for a player to place the new building onto his player board.

The new building is always placed on its Level 2 side and can be placed on top of any building, not just the ones that directly correspond to this one. A player can not build over top of another building that contains Order markers or Goods. The building must be free of any items. Once a Level 2 building has been placed, if a completed Timer is pulled from that location, a player can choose to upgrade it to a Level 3 building instead of taking its normal action.

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Player A lands on a Moon space and decides to take the available Level 2 Production Factory that can produce both a brown and yellow Good.

 

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Once placing it in his Research Station, he uses one of his Timers to complete the research for this building. Once the Timer is completed and he removes the Timer from the space, he is then able to place the new Production Factory onto his player board.

 

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Though it could place it over a Beam Station or Trade Depot if he wished, it is still early in the game and he needs these areas for producing Orders and completing Orders himself. He instead chooses to place it on top of his Level 1 Factory that could produce 1 brown Good.

He couldn’t have placed it on either of the Factories that produce blue or yellow Goods, because the blue Factory currently has an Order marker on it and the yellow Factory currently has a yellow Good on it. The next time Player A chooses to use this new Level 2 Factory, he could choose to produce a yellow and a brown Good here, or he could choose to upgrade this building to a Level 3 Production Factory, which in future turns would allow him to produce 3 different types of Goods by using only 1 Sand Timer.

 

 

Planets

Once arriving at a Planet, players can turn in Goods from their Beam Stations in order to fulfill Orders currently present at that Planet. Each Order marker shows the number of Goods of that color that must be turned in to complete the Order. At the beginning of the game, the first player that completes an Order at another players Planet will receive the 3-point Bonus Order marker to be used in end-game scoring. A player can complete multiple Orders during an action as long as he has the Goods needed on his Beam Stations.

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Player B lands on Player C’s Planet. Player C currently has a blue Order marker valued at 2 and a gray Order marker valued at 1.

 

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Taking a look at Player B’s Beam Stations, we see that he currently has 1 blue Good, 1 yellow Good, and 1 gray Good. Therefore he fulfills the gray Order marker by placing the gray Good token back into the general supply and taking the gray Order marker off of Player D’s board. He unfortunately could not have fulfilled the blue Order, as it required 2 blue Goods and he only had 1 available at the time. He could however choose to stay at Player D’s planet, take an action to produce another blue Good, take another action to activate his Ship, and then fulfill the Order.

 

 

 

End-Game Scoring:

Once the 30-minute timer has reached zero, the game will end. Any Timers that are still in progress can complete one more action after they have expired. After all players are done with any final actions, Victory Points are scored accordingly:

1.) If a player has any remaining Order markers in their personal supply area, these colors can not be scored as Victory Points. Therefore, that player must remove any Order markers they’ve accumulated during the game that match the same color as these. All Order markers remaining after these have been removed, will make up a player’s Victory Points.

2.) Players will separate their remaining Order markers into separate colors. Orders of a particular color are scored individually from other colors.

3.) Orders of a particular color are added together based on their value. Then the player will look at the different icons on that particular color’s Order markers. The number of different icons makes up the multiplier number for this particular Order. This is then multiplied by the value of the Orders.

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For instance, Player B adds his brown Order markers together for a total value of 8. Taking a look at these brown Order markers, we can see that there are 3 different player icons on these markers (meaning that he collected at least 1 from each of the other 3 players), therefore his multiplier is a 3. Player B will score a total of 24 Victory Points (8 x 3) for his blue Order markers.

 

4.) Victory Points are added together for each of the 4 Good types in this way. Players total these values and the player with the highest number of points wins the game.

 

 

 

Thoughts:

Time n’ Space is quite a unique experience. While players are essentially focused on playing their own individual game within the 30-minute time limit, there is still a large amount of player interaction. Communication is a necessity, and players will need to find out what other players need in order to decide which Order markers to place out at any given time. It is in the best interest of both players to sell and purchase Orders, so it is important to talk to the opponents about which Orders will attract them to your Planet. Remember, that while they are basically gaining Victory Points from you, having a player visit your Planet instead of another opponent’s will make it harder for that opponent to get rid of their own personal Order markers.

Though the rules are pretty straightforward, it will take a few plays in order to grasp the strategies of using both Sand Timers in synergy. Because of the time limit and simultaneous actions amongst players, gameplay can be fast, tense, and a bit stressful. Playing the game a few times to work out the kinks and understanding how the various actions flow together is essential. And this leads in to another point for those interested in the game. Time n’ Space is stressful. It is chaotic. Reasons that for some this will be an absolute blast, while for others that prefer pulsating on every decision carefully, may not resonate. Because the game plays 3-4 players, it is a good fit for weekly game groups, but definitely take into account what type of people make up your group and their play styles.

There aren’t many games out there that can market themselves as a game played in 30-minutes and that comment actually stick. Usually play-time can depend highly on who is playing the game, however Time n’ Space is always played in 30-minutes, which makes it very appealing to all sort of gamers. The mixture of simultaneous individual play with a high dose of interactivity amongst players is something that is both rare and intriguing. Though a streamlining and reworking of a game that came out in 2006, Time n’ Space still stands as one of the most unique gaming experiences many years later.

 

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