Published by Looney Labs
Designed by Andrew Looney
2-6 players, 15-45 minutes
Mini-review by John Palagyi
Chrononauts is a card game of time travel from the designer of Fluxx and Icehouse. In it each player is a time traveler with a secret identity and mission.
game consists of 4 decks of cards.
Each player starts the game with a mission, an id and a hand of 3 cards. To win you must either change the timline to the reality on your id card, collect the 3 artifacts on your mission card, or get 10 cards in hand.
Each id has 3 events on the timeline you must bring about, 1 of which is already on the real timeline. You play inverters and patches to bring about the other two events. Each mission has 3 artifacts you need to collect. This is done by laying an artifact in front of you on your turn. To achieve the 10 cards in hand victory you must patch a paradox in the timeline, for which you get an extra card. You can only win at the end of your own turn.
To begin the timeline is placed on the table in real order. Timeline cards are of 2 types, linchpins and ripple points. Linchpins are inverted during play. The linchpins in turn cause the ripple points to be affected causing a paradox in time that needs to be repaired (beware, if 13 paradoxes are created the space-time continuum collapses and everyone loses). Patches are placed over these paradoxes. Like all Looney Labs card games, the basic tun is draw a card, play a card. Here you could invert a linchpin, patch a paradoxed ripple point, play an artifact, or play an action card. If you can't or don't want to play a card you must discard one. If you do this, you may discard a second card and draw a replacement. You may do this anytime you are required to play a card.
I find the game a lot of fun and generally quick to play. There is a healthy dose of uncertainty though as the timeline keeps being changed, patched, then changed back again. So having the right card at the right time can be vitally important.
The game is extremely well themed, continuing into the rule book which is easy to read. It has quick start instructions, the detailed instructions and rules for two more games (a Fluxx-like Artifaxx and Solonauts for solitaire play). All in all it's a good little card game for those that don't mind the chaos (that word again!) involved in the timeline constantly changing just as you're about to win. Looney Labs has also just released an expansion with 13 more ids and a new mission.
This review originally appeared in issue 16 of Counter Magazine.