Friday, 3 January 2020

Chrono-Trek: Play History for Your Own Ends...

What happens when you take Star Trek, mix in some of the great elements of Looney Labs' Fluxx series and then mash it all together with a clever spin on the wonders of the timeline?

You might be thinking one hell of a headache but I can assure you it's not - and if you're looking for a stocking filler at this time of year, look no further than Chrono-Trek.

Here's the spiel - you play as a (randomly) selected character from the Star Trek universe with a mission to correct the timeline and thereby win the game. Each character has a difficulty rating (one to four) and are assembled from the corridors of everything from The Original Series to Enterprise as well as The Animated Series (well done for that by the way). Each character has a series of three goals to achieve to win which might involve ensuring particular events play out or that they have acquired certain artifacts not limited to but including Data's Head, Janeway's coffee cup and Porthos. 

Then there's the timeline itself. Comprised of 36 cards, these are laid out in four rows in front of the players running from A1-D9. The timeline covers a lot of events from the franchise and through playing you can change how it looks for your benefit or to stop other players from achieving their goals through some clever manipulations.

The timeline is made up of three elements essential to the game. The five Anchorpoints represent the anomaly from All Good Things... and travels back in time. If all five Anchorpoints are flipped (there are cards which will direct you to do this) it's Game Over unless you were lucky enough to pick Q as your character in which instance you're the winner! Then there are Linchpins which are cards that can be flipped and will then affect other points in the timeline called Ripplepoints.

Amazingly these Ripplepoints are collected from events in the Star Trek timeline from the beginning of the Universe, passing through First Contact, seeing the Enterprise-C lost, the arrival of Starfleet at Terek Nor and beyond - but changing Linchpins can skip the timeline off into many new directions, some of which will be to your advantage. Ripplepoints are the very events that you will need to command to win the game. Studying the timeline and seeing what can turn which other card is essential.

Play starts out with each player in turn drawing a card from the deck and then using one from their hand; draw one, play one. Containing Action Cards, Power Cards (super Action Cards), these might provide you with a glance at your opponent's cards, allow you to play another, some will swap your hand, another will "erase" your character from the timestream meaning you have to pick a new persona - which dominoes into your goals for the win changing completely and there's even more beyond that guaranteed to make every game different and challenging.

Players might even choose to take on an Assignment and collect items to trade in order to give them more cards to choose from in their hand, you could even draw a Fracture Card and properly lock down the timeline, spinning it out into a third, more terrifying scenario - unless you're playing with a four "pip" character in which case, Fractures are a good thing!

Chrono-Trek does seem quite daunting at the beginning although I found having the existing knowledge of Fluxx was a huge advantage because some of the card principles are replicated. The biggest piece of the game to get your head around is how to manipulate the timeline for your own advantage. Working out which Linchpin to flip to influence other events is as key to victory as the tactical playing of your Artifacts to keep everyone guessing just what you're planning. 

This is another excellent and ever-changing card game from Looney Labs with an insane ability to be replayed and replayed and replayed with a different path to victory each time. Initially it's best to start playing with the one pip characters and working up the difficulties before throwing all in and just seeing what you get. Approaching it this way will help you progressively understand the more in depth parts of Chrono-Trek in stages rather than blitzing everything because you fancy playing as Q or the Borg on day one. 

I've found through the games played so far that keeping hold of hand-change cards or ones that can affect an opponent's path are instrumental towards the more climactic moments plus always pay special attention to which Linchpins are being turned and what events they then change as this will indicate where your "enemies" are likely to be striking!

One more great thing to it is the inclusion of so much fan love. The art and flow of the timeline itself is incredible, recognising so many key parts of the franchise and weaving them into a playable sequence that just works with whatever is thrown at it.

Chrono-Trek is well worth purchasing for yourself or any aspiring Star Trek fan, not only giving hours of good fun franchise entertainment away from a flickering screen but also to refresh that historical knowledge of the timeline - but that's really a matter of perspective if you need something different to be happening.

Chrono-Trek is available now to buy from decent Star Trek game selling shops and websites. 

What's your favourite take on the game? Any good tips and tricks? Drop a comment below!

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