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TIME `n' SPACE is a 3-4 player  boardgame designed by Tobias Stapelfeldt and published by Pegasus Spiele/Eggertspiele in various languages including English. It is also published in the USA with English Rules by Stronghold Games.

The cover art gives the impression that this is going to be a game based around aliens and technology but this is an illusion and to be honest a little detrimental to the actual game, because this is one heck of a resource trading challenge in real time.

The board is set to represent either three or four planets depending which side of the board is in use (as in number of players) with wormholes connecting them to each other through three or four moons. The planets, less than a quarter showing on the
board, are colour coded for the players to identify them with their rocketships and icons (coded in colour and for colourblind players) on the Order counters.

Each player has a set of order counters in four colours. They also have production plants, storehouses (aka Beam Stations) and Trading Houses, all of which can be upgraded. The idea is to produce resources that can be transferred to their stores
ready for beaming to the ship when an order can be completed.

The game is a very clever mix of producing and collecting, trading and planning. There is a need to produce resources so that you can fulfil orders, but the orders you complete have to come from another player's planet, you cannot complete your
own orders. Thus you need to continually be cycling through whatever system you believe works best for you, producing, collecting, setting out orders etc. If you don't put orders out for other players to complete then your stacks of orders stay as
they are which means that you cannot score points for the orders you complete. This is because you only score for completed orders if you have none of that order type (colour) still to put on the market.

To complete orders on another players planet you have to land your ship there and have the correct resources available in your Beam Stations. You do not need to have the Beam Station or stations (it doesn't matter if the resources are split over one or many  Beam
Stations) activated as the rocket landing on the planet auto-activates the transfer beam and the goods are moved over to the planet (and then back to the resource supply) automatically. The owner of the planet generally gets to decide which order you complete if
there is a choice. Orders require 1, 2 or 3 resources dependant on the value printed on the order - the value is also used for VPs when the scoring takes place at the game end.

When you land your ship on a Moon or a Planet you have to immediately do the action possible. On the moons you can find new technology buildings that allow for great production, better trading and larger storage. You place these in a holding area
(only one can be there at a time) and then another action allows you to move them from the holding area and place them on your playmat covering (updating) any of the buildings already there - either the preprinted level 1s or those previously updated
to level 2s - level 3 being the highest.

Now this game is played in real time, meaning there are no turns or rounds, no clockwise or anti-clockwise orders. Every player has 2 sandtimers which are used to determine which actions are being taken and when they are taking effect. To activate an action
you turn the timer over so that the sand starts to flow - the timer must always start full in one half - as you have 2 timers you can perform two actions almost simultaneously. When the sand has completely flowed through the action can be taken, this usually
means that you have to decide which of your actions to perform first. Each sandtimer has a minute's worth of time. 

When I first played the game I hadn't seen it before and so at the games show it was more like a learning curve, mostly showing people the pieces and running through the rules with them (there are rules for basic and full games) which are quite confusing
and the games show was not really the best place to learn what is a straightforward game but with a set of fairly complex rules. Once you get it into your head that this is a game so different from any you have (probably) ever played before the brilliance of
it will hit home.

Having played several times we haven't come up with a perfect strategy yet, which is good because that means the game has longevity, however there are a couple of things that we are not sure about. One of these is the game length. It is supposed to be a 30 minute
game though for reasons of cost (I assume) a 30 minute timer hasn't been included. The second thing is the game length - 30 minutes is not long enough, especially when you are playing for the first few times, and even after when you know the rules as well as needed
45 minutes minimum makes for a better game. then there are the timers. These are 60 seconds each (as near as dammit) so when you begin the game and turn your 2 timers over you have to sit and wait for a minute to pass. There is plenty for players to do as far as actions
go, it's just that as it takes 1 minute minimum (actually it's more like 65-75 seconds) to begin the actions you can only perform 30 actions maximum (more like 20-25) in a game which isn't enough, at least not for us. There is also no player interaction whatsoever.

So the result is:
a) we love the game
b) we are too slow and need the extra 15 minutes we allow - because we understand that play-testing would have delivered its verdict on 30 minute games as perfect.
c) we were surprised that in a game where time is of the essence, literally, that no game timer was included.
d) yes we would recommend it, but only to regular fun-strategy board games players. The rules, to our way of thinking, are quite complex for the average new gamer to conceive without the aid of an experienced player.
e) the chrome (ie space, planets, moons, rockets etc) works well although it could have been trucks and warehouses.
f) the pieces are good quality.
g) it comes with both English and German rules

In all this is a fine new style board game.


 

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015