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Board Game Review: ‘Legacy: Forbidden Machines’

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Floodgate Games made a name for itself with its time-travel game, Legacy: Gears of Time, where players compete to have the greatest impact on history, guiding the hands of great inventors to create technology. In its first expansion, Legacy: Forbidden Machines, the game continues its solid mechanic while moving in a very different, mythical, direction.


According to the Legacy story, the time-controlling Ancient Machine is on the fritz, and its Antiquiters must introduce previously disallowed technology into the time-stream to maintain reality. New steampunky character cards introduce a hunter, countess, vaultkeeper, and automaton each with their own special skills based on the new technologies.

Forbidden Machines follows the same play as the original Gears of Time and, in fact, requires the original board to play. Players take four turns in a round to place technology cards into new Timeframes and add influence tokens to see who most impacted the creation of that technology, Prometheus handing fire to the humans, if you will. At the end of every turn, the influence is added up into Legacy Points and everything resets with a new time period added to kick the game up to the next level. The player with the most Legacy Points at the end of the fifth round wins.

The major change-up in Forbidden Machines is the new technology deck. While Gears of Time carried recognizable technology like Fire, The Steam Engine, and Genetics, FB has a whole stack of magical and mythical engines our world has never seen. Players may establish Skyforks that capture lightning, study Glyphwriting or Starscribing, or build a Vesper Forge powered by Arch-Fire.

Along with these techs comes a wave of potent additional actions, giving a deeper layer to the game as players must determine not only what legacy points they want to gain, but what special plans they could follow as a boost. For instance, playing the Gilding Cannon allows the player to increase rewards in Legacy Points. The Storm Auger can be a goldmine for more cards to draw. The Season Splicer even adds an additional Timeframe to the left of the whole, giving a new chance to invent technologies earlier and throwing off everyone else’s carefully laid plans.

Floodgate has no shortage of ideas for extending the game even further. Additional Deep Vault Promo Cards , which are for a limited time included free in the expansion, give even more powerful options for actions when they are laid. The Colossal Totem gives bonus Legacy Point and multiple players may invent the Resonator, making it something of a wild for the game.

Legacy: Forbidden Machines is for two to four players, aged 13 and up. It requires the original Legacy and an hour or two to play through, much of which time is spent calculating and determining the best possible actions with a player’s hand of cards. The great cartoony art shows fantastical and powerful technologies alien to this world, which gives it an ambiance of myth. Unlike Gears of Time where the tech tree can be easily imagined, Forbidden Machines makes the mind ripple with possibilities never seen in our timeline.

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About Jeff Provine

Jeff Provine is a Composition professor, novelist, cartoonist, and traveler of three continents. His latest book is a collection of local ghost legends, Campus Ghosts of Norman, Oklahoma.