Going The Distance, Round Three! - Time Stories: Prophecy Of Dragons Review

Time Stories is becoming one of those movie franchises that releases within a short period of each other. You watch one movie, then you wait impatiently for the next one, aching to buy your ticket. Time Stories has been the same. I played the Asylum and loved it. I then waited impatiently for when my friends over at The Board Game Shelf were available to play The Marcy Case, which was enjoyable but not as good. Then I was quickly able to obtain a copy of Prophecy of Dragons, but then had to wait over a month and a half to get it played! It was like the film release was being delayed!

We already have 2 expansions to date and BoardGameGeek already has details of the next one. Prophecy of Dragons is the second expansion and just like before I will keep this review 100% spoiler free. Well 99.9% anyway, there's always one that considers a minuscule comment as a spoiler these days. Can this one live up to the previous two or is the light beginning to fade for this franchise?



Designer: Manuel Rozoy
Publisher: Space Cowboys
Age: 12+
Players: 2-4
Time: 90-120 minutes per "run"
RRP: £19.99


You've Seen One Fantasy Setting. . . . 


In Prophecy of Dragons, again the artwork is a different style with some similarities to The Marcy Case, but in my opinion it's an improvement. I do however miss the fantastic art from Asylum though, can't we bring that artist back? It is refreshing however to see a greater number of receptacles to use as player characters as I was really disappointed with the pathetic four choices you got in The Marcy Case. Feeling very much like your typical Dungeons & Dragons setup there's a nice variety of choices covering the four quintessential aspects of a good team like melee, ranged, magic and support. And here it matters even more who you pick as some cards will only be accessible to specific characters adding a nice unique touch to the system we hadn't seen previously.

The rules within the deck (because you don't get a book, literally you get the deck of cards in the box and that's it!) aren't too tricky to follow if you're familiar with Time Stories by now. The Euro edition of this expansion was hindered by a fairly large FAQ being drawn up due to the translation. Although when we played it, we didn't actually need to refer to it and thought some of the questions being asked were pretty easy to figure out with a bit of common sense.


. . .You've Seen Them All!

The fantasy setting is nice to see, but I don't agree with this whole "Alternate Timeline/Planet" thing they went with (it's not a spoiler, you can tell from the box). Part of the lure of this series was to be pulled into different historical periods and experience that period. OK, the 90's with The Marcy Case isn't that interesting but it's still nice to see little touches like cassette players being used that fit the time period. Same goes for Asylum in the 1920's and I look forward to the Egyptian theme hopefully sticking to a BC time period in our own history and not some other reality.

You will notice that there are multiple paths to take, but yet the plot still feels very linear in progression. Trying a different route may lead to some different encounters, but ultimately you'll reach the same point and you won't need to solve a puzzle to do it. That's probably my biggest bugbear with Prophecy of Dragons, there's little to no puzzle solving here. You play out the adventure much like a typical D&D campaign enjoying the encounters and fights, but not really doing much thinking during it. Asylum had lots of cool think-y moments and one giant hard puzzle. The Marcy Case didn't have many puzzles, but it at least had one over-reaching plot arc to figure out, even though it was broken after the first failed attempt. Here, it's pretty much "go with the motions" and see what happens.

I was expecting the scenario to be longer, but instead it felt like the same length as the others, despite the cool "two halves" effect it pulls off. We however did have a massive lucky advantage in that we found two separate plot devices that granted us a lot of extra time units. The result of which meant we completed the scenario in one run with ample time to spare. Now I figured we did quite well in our decisions, but there was still that bugbear of thinking we simply got lucky especially on some occasions where we had to make a random choice and it turned out to be as good as it could get. The scenario just seemed too easy in terms of difficulty, yet I can imagine that on different paths, it would have been more constrained.

The climax is fairly satisfying though and it teases the potential of a recurring villain over time which gets you excited for the next few expansions to see if Time Stories can pull some really cool Doctor Who style plot arc with plenty of "wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey" shenanigans in the mix.


Verdict


I'm going to feel like I'm repeating myself here a bit, but even though I found Prophecy of Dragons to be very enjoyable, it's never going to measure up to the mystery and awe that Asylum provided. I feel that mystery style settings work best with Time Stories, rather than having it be all about combat and I'm hoping that the next expansion set in an Egyptian timeline will provide that feel.

The fantasy element is handled well and the extended length is a welcome change, although don't think that it's going to be a marathon. Multiple paths allow for different ways to approach the end, but it just felt very linear in how the plot progressed especially in the late game and it's not the biggest challenge as a result. You're playing this one more for the story and setting then you are the mystery or depth, in fact this one has little to no mystery in it whatsoever, it's an adventure story instead.

Even though it's still a fun ride, we are currently on a trend of the scenarios getting gradually worse. Whether this is the initial hype over the game system dying down or just a need for more interesting expansions it's a worrying thought. If you enjoy Time Stories, this is still worth getting and you will have fun, but here's hoping that this trend will stop before the next one.


If you are interested in this game you can find a copy at your friendly local gaming store - http://www.findyourgamestore.co.uk/


YOU WILL LIKE THIS GAME IF:


You enjoyed the original Time Stories - bit of a given really!


You weren't a fan of the gore factor of previous games - it's almost non-existent here.


You enjoy the fantasy theme it's based on.



YOU WILL NOT LIKE THIS GAME IF:


Combat wasn't a favourite part of the experience - not as bad as Marcy, but still a fair chunk.


You aren't prepared beforehand by keeping the "un-official" FAQ on standby.


You felt that Time Stories in general was quite easy as this one isn't particularly hard either.

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