“Great Scott!”, a game about “time travel”. That was exactly my reaction when I first heard of “Legacy : Gears of Time” at BGG.com 2012. This isn’t some gimmicky sales pitch, and although, you don’t actually get to time travel, you do get to play a solid, strategic and fiercely competitive game of time-line building. So engage the flux-capacitor, find your constant, and turn your backs on those statues. We are going to dive right in to a hopefully non-paradoxical review of Ben Harkins’ Legacy : Gears of Time.
In Legacy : Gears of Time, you goal is to build the greatest legacy recorded as Legacy points (victory points). You build legacy by playing cards of various technologies down columns across the board. Each column represents a single “jump” backwards in time. Each card requires you to discard a set amount of cards from your hand, however you also get to play the same amount of “influence” cubes on that card. At the end of each round, cards influenced cards score a set amount of points as long as all cards listed as requirements come earlier in the timeline. This is a really interesting game play mechanic where you can essentially play cards out of order.
I like to compare this game with “linking” in 7-Wonders. Only, you don’t play the cards in order, you simply make sure they all “link” right before scoring. This also adds bit of a “screw you” element to the game that can be stressful. If you built a technology card like “Combustion engine” in an earlier round. Someone could build it again only earlier in the time-line; essentially nullifying your card out of the game.
Legacy : Gears of Time is not a complex game to learn, but it sure is a complex game to play. The majority of points you will want to get will be points from required technologies. For example, “Printing Press” and “Cartography” both require “Writing. If you had the most influence over “Writing” you would score it every time “Printing Press” and “Cartography” were scored! These combos are what everyone ends of competing over, and can unfortunately, lead to a bit of AP for some players. To have success in this game, you need to be watchful of your position on the board as well as turn order.
There are a lot of very interesting emergent behaviors in this game. One thing that just fascinates me is that you can be 30 points behind in the mid game, and swing past everyone else right at the end for a victory. I’m not saying this game has oodles of randomness nor very swingy scores – progression in this game is the cause of deliberate actions and careful planning. There is a very small bit of luck with card draw, but I rarely feel like I can’t do anything with my current hand of cards.
Overall, I think Legacy : Gears of Time is a great game and probably one of the most under-rated games of 2012. It is a med-heavy game with lots of ‘Take that!’ yet it has simple rules, deep strategy, a fun theme. I highly recommend Legacy : Gears of Time!