You probably know how much I love solo modes, especially after announcing the Tentaccolade for the game of the year. Tangled Timelines is a card game, that has popped up on Kickstarter this week, and despite being described mainly as a multiplayer game, solo mode was what drew me in.
Thankfully, the author did what most creators should do to attract backers. He used Tabletopia and Tabletop Simulator. Allowing people to test the game quickly and see that it’s fun is one of the best practices in the Kickstarter tabletop community. Now here I am, after testing the game, and checking out the official livestream. So how is it?
Tangled Timelines takes you to the world, where time travel is possible, but as a result many heroes from different timelines get mixed up and need rescuing. This may often include helping their past and future selves: kind of what we’ve seen in Back to the Future movies. Colorful theme mixed with time travel also reminds me of the Re: Zero anime series, which I totally adore. Now before we begin talking about solo mode, a few words about the…
The basic rules are easy to grasp, it’s a small card game after all. The idea of set collection is centuries old. What makes the difference here are the hero abilities. Each card, apart from having one of the 4 levels of skill (from Novice to Legendary) has a special ability, that needs to be taken into consideration while playing it from your hand. These may include resurrecting heroes, rearranging cards and complicating things for your opponents.
Regular multiplayer mode has people drawing cards, picking one in secret, and using an ability by a hero who had the highest initiative. Players compete for sets and timeline combos.
Heroes can be rescued when their classes or skill levels match with heroes you have in your hand. Rescuing means putting one hero from your hand to the area called Tangled Timelines and in exchange taking all other heroes who match that one in any way. Tangled Timelines zone is unforgiving though: all unclaimed heroes are removed from the game, go to the Dimensional Abyss, and can be returned only through some special means (like Cleric’s ability).
Solo Mode – Initiative and Abilities
Single player variant treats the initiative differently. You no longer have to risk, and choose 1 card to play. Instead you pick four (meaning your whole hand in turn 1) and resolve the ability of the highest one.
That part might get a bit confusing, and I admit that it felt kind of overwhelming at first, but that’s where most of the challenge and replayability comes from. And you can always try playing your first game while ignoring abilities – to learn the rules faster.
Talking about the abilities – according to official ruleset (and logic ;)) some don’t work when you play alone. Pretty much anything mentioning other players has to be ignored. That includes cards like the Runeseeker, Xenomorph and any others that talk about multiple people. Still, most abilities can be played and add a huge amount of depth to the gameplay.
Race With Yourself
The goal of playing the game solo lies in maximizing the effectiveness of your strategy. Author suggests adding up your subsequent scores, and playing the game in a series of sessions until you reach a total of 100 points. This may take between 1 to even 10 games, depending on how well do you know abilities, combos and the cards themselves. Next you can grade yourself by counting the amount of games, that you had to play.
So How Was My Experience with Tangled Timelines?
Getting 100 points in a single game certainly requires a perfect memory, and my initial results were less than stellar. On one hand : the game speeds up when you fully get the rules, but as it progresses you often end up having tons of cards at your hand to choose from. Good memory is a blessing here, as is knowing which cards were sent to Dimensional Abyss stack, or may still be drawn.
In the end I think I had tons of fun with the title. Cartoony, anime-like visuals (reminding me of one of my all time favourite shows) and figuring out how to use my turns to their fullest gave me that feeling of satisfaction I look for in solo variants. The manual might need some tiny polish (like listing abilities working for solo and regular modes), but overall it’s a truly solid title for people who want to pass the time, while making their brain cells go for a little gym workout. Status: Backed!
The official livestream, watch it if you want to learn even more about how solo mode works