Part of my preparation for a trip, I printed off the first few episodes of Tempus Quest. It uses the same Tempus System as Tempus Imperium, where the time and date are used to set up the board and actions.
I’d already played episode 0, the tutorial, but I decided to play it again so I could embrace the whole business of Tempus Quest being a campaign.
I had been playing Tempus Infinitum, a prototype for another Tempus system game. And that gave me appreciation for a couple of design choices on Tempus Quest. One, the Tempus Quest games are more goal focused. That means fewer paths to victory but you know exactly what to plan for if you get a bad number string. And the Tempus Quest game gives you more starting ‘money’ resource to change actions, which also helps compensate for a bad number.
Okay, here’s some more specific thoughts:
Episode 0 - Some Re-Assembly Required
Where you rebuild the spaceship Tempus.
My original impression was Episode 0 was that it was a tutorial that was so basic that it would be hard to fail. The ‘money’ is such a big supply, you can do any action at will. More than that, the Use action is very minimal, installing components as opposed to doing something.
Still, all it is is a tutorial. It teaches you how the date stamp mechanic works. But if this was it, Tempus Quest would get boring quick.
Episode 1 - Uninvited Guests
Where you fight robots and recharge the Tempus engine
And, bam, things get interesting.
It uses a hex grid. The use action makes the things you build actually do something. You have to actually manage the money resource and make more of it. There’s a form of combat.
Episode 0, you had to actually have to intentionally make bad choices to lose. Episode 1 isn’t that hard but you have to put in some effort to play.
I played it and knew I was going to keep going.
Episode 2 - The Dust Farmers
Where you help irrigate farms.
Episode Two breaks less new ground. It’s all about infrastructure development. I still liked it and you actually have to generate two resources, water AND food. (Are these farmers doing anything?)
I also like that it offers two paths. If you can expand lakes, you build pumps and get tons of water. If you don’t get the lake expansion option, you can dig wells. Not as efficient but a viable option. And you aren’t gojng to mix and max those options.
Episode 2 is the closest thing to Tempus Imperium and a Euro game. Not sure why some mercenaries are better at agriculture than farmers though.
Episode 3 - Decision at Degma
Where you you use social networking to get a job
Episode 3 is where I feel Tempus Quest stepped away from from Tempus Imperium and did it’s own thing. Changing to developing social networks and connections isn’t mechanically different than other resources but it felt like it.
And the enemy action, instead of hitting your money resources, is enemies spreading over the board. That is a lot more aggressive. The challenge was definitely there.
This is also where the campaign feel for stronger since it sets up the next episode.
Episode 4 - The Degma Job
Where you actually do the job
While you could pick any of the three jobs, if you are playing the game as a campaign, you use the one you gained in the last episode. It is your choice if you want to treat the series as a campaign but it is a choice.
This was fun. It took the elements that made Episode 3 interesting and harder and made it even more difficult. In particular, there wasn’t any kind of attack action so you just had to manage the enemy spread as best you could. (Of course, you also had to use the enemy as a resource lol)
I actually had to use every turn to complete Episode 4.
I kept hoping that someone would ask me on the airplane what I was doing so I could tell them it was a cross between Catan and a Crossword Puzzle. And that really does describe the experience.
There are definitely better R&Ws that use dice or cards. They just provide a wider range of options. But Tempus Quest was very good for the limited space of an airplane.