Reviews

Review – Time Breaker (Looney Labs)

Time Breaker by Looney Labs
Time Breaker by Looney Labs

 

It’s a cutting-edge, catastrophically chronological competition!

 

Chase across time to catch a chrono-criminal in Looney Labs’ latest pick-up and delivery game, Time Breaker!

Time Breaker set-up
Time Breaker set-up

The Time Breaker is running amok in time, jumping from one tile to another, each representing a different year. In this fast-paced card game, you must carefully navigate the time-stream to find and arrest the Time Breaker. Then, return with them to Time Repair HQ before your opponents catch up or the Time Breaker slips away. Good luck, Agents!

Designer Andrew Looney is best known for the Fluxx line of games. In Time Breaker, the “take that” element and the unpredictableness of the game flow have the familiar feel of the Fluxx games.

The Story

You work in the security division of the Time Repair Agency (TRA). As you know, changing history is a crime, so our job is to apprehend the Time Breaker currently at large.  Unfortunately, we don’t have a good description of the perp, so we’re using a cube to represent them. The sooner we can capture this Time Breaker, the less damage they’ll be able to do to the Time-Space Continuum. Therefore, whoever brings in this dangerous criminal will earn a bonus and maybe even get a promotion. Quick everybody, into your Time Machines!

How To Play

Time Breaker tiles

The goal of the game is to track down the Time Breaker, arrest him, and then take him back to the center TRA tile for the win. But watch out… the Time Breaker is on the run! They will move through the Time-Space Continuum to evade you.

Players always start their turn by drawing a new card, then taking one of three possible actions: Play, Follow, or Wormhole. When playing a card, players will choose a card from their hand and play it. To Follow an Arrow, the green arrow under a player’s piece indicates which tile their piece is moved to. Playing a Wormhole allows a player to draw another card and play it immediately.

If a player moves their piece to the TRA tile with the Time Breaker in tow, they win!

The Cards

Time Breaker jump cards and tiles

There are several different card types that can be played during a turn:

  • Move cards allow a player to move their piece to the next tile over. Legal moves are left to right, top to bottom, or both. Diagonal moves are never allowed.
  • Jump cards move a player’s piece through the Time-Space Continuum directly to the year on a specific tile. There are jump cards for each tile on the board. If a player’s piece is already on a specific year tile and they play that card, they may jump to any tile on the board.
  • Action cards each have a different effect. Players follow the directions on the card, which include actions such as: Return to HQ (Move a piece to the TRA tile), Tag Along (Move your piece to the same tile as another player), or Desperate Grab (Discard your hand to move directly to the tile with the Time Breaker.
  • Breaker cards represent actions taken by the Time Breaker. There are 3 types of Breaker cards. On the Move moves the Time Breaker to another tile. Crash a Gate and Shut and Run both remove a tile from the board. A “crashed” a gate is removed the board and placed to the side with the closed-side up. The gap it creates can now be skipped over when playing a Move card.
  • Stop Time cards are played on another player’s turn to nullify their card. Playing a second Stop Time card will cancel the first Stop Time card.

How To Win… or Not?

Time Breaker action card
Time Breaker action card

When a player’s piece lands on the tile currently occupied by the Time Breaker, they can apprehend them, verbally declaring that they are under arrest. If two players land on the same space and arrest them, the Time Breaker will move with whichever player leaves first. The first player to reach the TRA tile with theTime Breaker in tow wins the game.

However… if a player causes the Time Breaker to move to the TRA tile unaccompanied, it means they turned themselves in. No one gets credit for making the arrest, and thus nobody wins!

The Components

The time travel and science fiction theme pair well with the Time Breaker game play. The components represent the game well, and should hold up to multiple gameplays. The cards are of average weight and quality, so they might be the component that will show wear first. But I do like the tiles. They are thick and slick – the glossy finish should hold up well to wear, and are easy to wipe off any accidents.

Time Breaker components and artwork

The artwork is typical Looney Labs whimsical art. But what is fun is that each tile represents a year in time, and that year has corresponding artwork related to a significant historical event that occurred (or may occur in future years). So the game is a little educational at the same time.

The modular board and point to point movement make gameplay unique and random for each play. No two games will ever be the same. There isn’t a lot of strategy to the game, and luck will play a part in victory. A player will rely on luck of the draw to get that one card that may propel them to victory.

Overall Impression

The gameplay is not anything new and groundbreaking, but it is still fun. If you are familiar with the Looney Labs formula of unpredictabilty and fluxuation, then Time Breaker will feel familiar to you. The game isn’t overly complex, so it will be easy to teach and is accessible to a wide variety of players.

Time Breaker cards
Time Breaker cards

Time Breaker is for 2-5 players. I always like to see a game that breaks into the 4+ player zone. And this game actually gets better with more players. Time Breaker has high player interaction. Each move can change or derail your plans, so it is necessary to watch and adjust accordingly. This adds to the unpredictability of the gameplay, having one more person in there that can move the time breaker, crash gates, or send your player piece through the Time-Space Continuum.

Even though the gameplay will vary each time, I’m not sure this game has high replayability value. It will be a fun game to pull out for a quick round every now and then, or with a new group of gamers.

Game Statistics

  • Release Date: February 28, 2019
  • MSRP: $25.00
  • Playing Time: 10-40 minutes
  • Age Range: 8+
  • Player Count: 2-5

 


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About the author

Shanon Connelly

(a.k.a. “Super Muffin Girl”) is an avid board gamer, cosplayer, and all around nerd girl. She has been cosplaying for over 10 years, attending several conventions every year. She recently started a YouTube gaming channel, "Time to Play!", which previews and reviews board games. Follow Shanon on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram (@supermuffingirl).

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