Okay so here’s the skinny on Anachrony.
It’s a worker placement/economy game, yeah. You manage five different resources to build buildings and superprojects throughout seven game turns. There are four different categories of building and they all provide different effects, bonuses and actions. You have to manage your population of workers, of which there are four flavors (scientist, engineer, administrator, and “genius”, which is a wild card for the other three).
The killer app of the game is that you can borrow stuff from the future. The player(s) who borrowed the most roll a die and produce Paradox. Get three Paradox, and that turns into an Anomaly, which takes up building space and hits you with – 3 victory points at the end. Time travel itself, that is, the act of opening a hole back through time to pay off those loans to yourself, also earns you victory points.
When the game is over, you also have a chance to score on five different endgame scoring things, which are randomly drawn from a set of 9 or 10 of them I think.
It’s pretty okay. Wildly overproduced, oh my lord. Setting it up reminded me of some of the elaborate setups that Vlaada Chvátil’s games require. It was maybe one step more elaborate than, say, Dungeon Petz or something of that ilk. Maybe on par with Mage Knight.
The time travel twist I wish was more hard-hitting. There’s this really interesting bit where, to time travel, you have to build power plant buildings. They’re all different, with different ranges (how many eras/turns back you can reach) and different side effects (jump just two back but get 2 victory points, or get a bonus when you assign an engineer to run it, or whatever). So if you leave a debt unpaid long enough, you need to have multiple power plants available to you to push your “focus” token back to where you need to deliver, say, that extra scientist or water that you used on round one.
My wife pointed out that borrowing from the future is basically just accruing debt and that the whole time travel thing was a headfake. And it kind of is. It’s good color, I love it, but yeah…paradoxes don’t actually hurt you beyond becoming inconvenient victory point sinks later. You could have totally made it a credit card.
Only the two of us played it this time, mostly because the rulebook is terrible and the only way to really learn how to play the game is to play the game and see what happens. Our very first round I just kind of floundered around, borrowed too much stuff from the future and sent my little dudes around the map to do stuff. By the third round, we had a pretty good bead on how the game actually works — that is, it’s a fairly conventional worker placement game — and settled in on solving how to win the game, not just play it.
Very curious to see how it works with a full complement of four players. I also know that, like all points-salad games — here’s a dozen ways to earn points, work it out for yourself — my AP prone players will put off a burning-oil smell when they try to solve their rounds.