Indie board-gamer company, Floodgate Games (whose Kickstarter for their upcoming game King of Clubs launched September 20), broke out into the gaming world with a vengeance via its first major game, Legacy: Gears of Time.
Time travel games are gaining in popularity, but it is very difficult to create one that avoids tumbling into a puddle of wibbly-wobbly causal mess ala the film Primer. Floodgate presents Legacy with a straightforward approach that allows players to tamper with the timeline without having to worry about being one’s own grandfather or eliminating the future altogether. Players take the roles of the overseers of time, architects who use the Ancient Machine to ensure the advancement of technology continues properly. Of course, the job description does not specify who is said to have invented the technology, just as with the transparent aluminum of Star Trek IV, so players may orchestrate the timeline to give themselves the greatest legacy in all of history.
With the goal to gain the most Legacy Points, players are able to travel backward in time and initiate the inspiration of technology by laying Technology Cards. The techs rest on a tech tree, meaning that the Combustion Engine is useless without Fire, but if Fire comes into play, should the Combustion Engine already be out there, it immediately jumps into being. Influence Cubes placed by players show who controls which Technology and thus gains the Legacy Points at the end of every round.
The game is played in four rounds, each with four turns during which each player has three actions: Traveling to the Past (players may not go forward in time), Establishing a Tech, Influencing a Tech, and Drawing Cards. Bonus Fate cards randomize the game with free special actions such as removing an opponent’s Tech. It is very “euro” in its style, meaning that the players must be very logical and plan intricately to determine how best to use their actions to gain legacy points. After each round, the players are returned to the present, influence fades, and another epoch of history is added to the game, kicking it up to the next level.
Legacy starts fairly slowly as players strategize and struggle to find a technology that would be useful. As the rounds go, the play speeds up, and the Tech cards begin swarming out. By the end of the game, players are scrambling to ensure they maximize their legacy, throwing Influence Cubes at one another and dealing crushing Fate cards.
Legacy is one of the most innovative games out there, tackling a fascinating genre while not becoming overwhelmed by the eccentricities of time-travel. It is for two to four players, ages 13 and up due to its complexity. Games are fairly long at one or two hours to play, making it a solid main feature to a board game night.