Game Buzz: Time ‘n’ Space

Back in 2006, a real-time space economic game was released called Space Dealer.  It was well received, but kind of got lost in the shuffle as time went on.  A new, reworked version is now being released, this time called

image by BGG user Vittorioso
image by BGG user Vittorioso

Time ‘n’ Space was designed by Tobias Stapelfeldt, and is being published in the US by Stronghold Games.  The game is for 3-4 players and takes exactly 30 minutes (12 for the basic game).  The basic premise is that you’re running a business in space, trying to fulfill orders from other players in real-time.  Game time is tracked by a soundtrack (or timer), and individual actions are tracked through the use of sand timers.

The game comes with a circular double-sided main board, four control centers (player boards), eight one-minute sand times, four spaceships, 48 goods cubes, 96 order counters, 4 white bonus order counters, and 24 building tiles (production plants, beam stations, and trading centers).  The game also requires a timer, which needs to be supplied by the players – a standard kitchen timer works, or an audio track can be downloaded from the website.  They also say the Stronghold timer app will run the soundtrack, but I don’t think it’s been updated yet.

There are two ways to play the game – a basic introductory game that lasts 12 minutes, and a full game that lasts 30 minutes.  In general, each player will begin with a control center and spaceship of a color, as well as two sand timers.  Each player begins with three stage III buildings in the basic game with no others being used in the game, while the buildings are randomly distributed into piles with stage II face up in the full game (no starting buildings).  Each player also gets 12/24 order counters, which are kept above their board.

When everyone is ready, start the timer.  Players are then off to the races.  There are no turns, you just go.  You flip a sand timer over and place it on a time symbol on your control center or spaceship.  When the timer runs out, you can lift it, taking the action and placing the sand timer elsewhere.  Once placed, you must wait until it’s done before moving it or flipping it over again.  Also, the action must be taken immediately when you lift the timer or you lose it.

YOUR SPACESHIP: If you place a sand timer on your spaceship, you can move it to a space between an adjacent planet or moon on the main board, pointing to its destination.  When the time runs out, it has arrived.  If you’re on the moon, you either take the building at the top of the stack and place it on your research plant (as long as it is unoccupied by another building) or put it on the bottom of the stack.  In the basic game, no building tiles are used other than those you got at the beginning, so moons do nothing.  At another player’s planet, you can deliver goods from your beam station to fulfill order tiles they may have in their control center.  The cubes go to the supply, and you get the order tile, which gives you points (only one in the basic game).  If you are the first to fulfill an order on a planet, you get the bonus order tile (full game only).  No one can deny a sale.  These order tiles all go beneath your board.

PRODUCTION PLANT: When you lift a sand timer here, you’ll be able to produce one matching good in each free spot in the production plant.  You can’t produce goods not in the supply.

BEAM STATION: When you lift a sand timer here, you can move cubes from the production plant to the free spots in the beam station.  These cubes can be any color.

TRADING CENTER: When you lift a sand timer here, you take as many order counters as the number on the Trading Center.   These are put in order spots in your production plant and beam stations.  They’ll be there until someone takes them off of your hands.  That means they’re blocking free spots.  Why would you want to do this?  Trust me, it’s important in the end.

RESEARCH PLANT: This building is not used in the introductory game.  Lifting a sand timer means you get to build the building you placed earlier, covering one of the stage I buildings on your control center.  If you ever lift a sand timer from an empty stage II building, you may upgrade it to stage III (flip it over).  This is done instead of the usual action.

The game us over when the timer runs out.  You can no longer place sand timers, though you may execute actions of those already running.  After that, you’ll do a final scoring.  If you have any order tiles above your board (never put in your control center), you have to get rid of all tiles of the same type from under the control center.  So if you’re not moving your order tiles into your control center, you’ll be costing yourself those points you’ve been collecting from the cubes you used to fill those spaces.  The remaining counters are added up, and each type is multiplied by the number of different players you collected them from.  So, if you collected four blue counters from three different players, you get 12 points.  That is, as long as you managed to move all of your blue counters from above your control center – if not, you get NOTHING!  Bonus tokens are also included in the full game, acting as a wild you can add on to a type.  The player with the most points wins.

I’m starting to notice a trend of time based games coming out.  It’s a small trend, and I don’t know if it’s even enough to call a trend.  But, between Space Cadets, Wok Star, Escape: The Curse of the Temple, La Boca, and upcoming games like Space Cadets: Dice Duel and Space Sheep, it seems like there are more high-profile games coming out where time is an important element.  And I hope it continues – I love time-based games.  There’s just something about working against the clock that amps up the intensity of an experience.

Time ‘n’ Space is apparently a more streamlined version of Space Dealer.  While I can’t speak to that, I do think the game looks pretty simple to grasp, at least in terms of the rules.  It’s a unique take on pick-up-and-deliver games with the real-time element, and I think it’s a pretty clever use of sand timers.  You can set one up to go and be resolving another at the same time.  I wonder if it becomes redundant after a while, but it’s definitely one I want to try out at some point.  I think it’s something I’d have a lot of fun with.  Thanks for reading!

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