When comparing T.I.M.E. Stories vs Shadowrun: Crossfire, the Slant community recommends Shadowrun: Crossfire for most people. In the question“What are the best co-op board games?” Shadowrun: Crossfire is ranked 7th while T.I.M.E. Stories is ranked 8th. The most important reason people chose Shadowrun: Crossfire is:
Crossfire is _very_ cooperative, it’s basically impossible to go solo and win only by fighting your own threats; everyone must rely on each other because otherwise the game is lost. There’s an absolute ton of planning, micromanaging, and socializing as players try to beat the looming threats in front of themselves and each other.
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T.I.M.E. Stories is unique both idea-wise and gameplay-wise. You could consider it a game system rather than a game itself – you basically play through multiple different scenarios based on the same rules and mechanics. It’s reminiscent of a point-and-click adventure game where players solve a huge puzzle together, except T.I.M.E. is a co-op board game. A loss is considered a reset, and you can use the valuable information you learned in your playthrough in your next runs.
There’s also an interesting “save-game” feature that you can use to stop the game and continue from where you left off the next time you come around. It’s done by placing the components in the box in a specific way – there are compartments that represent inventories, “time points”, health points, and the current room you’re in.
Pro Great artwork
T.I.M.E. Stories looks very impressive. The box, the gameboard, and all the components (apart from cards) feature a white, minimalistic, and sci-fi-ish design, but the really striking stuff is in the scenarios. Most of the art comes in the form of panorama location cards and characters cards. Each of the official scenarios is designed by a different team of artists, which creates huge variety in the aesthetics.
Pro Mechanically simple
The basics of the game are quite easy to understand. After setting up the gameboard, choosing characters, and mission briefing, players arrive in the first location and the panorama view of the room is revealed.
When you arrive, you choose which card you wish to examine and read the information on the back of the card. After that, you can spend your “time points” to take one of three actions – move to a different card, roll for something, or do nothing. When your time points reach zero, the scenario is over. If you didn’t manage to beat it, then you must restart it from scratch and keep doing that until you win.
Pro Official scenarios still developed
The creators of T.I.M.E. Stories are still working on future expansions for the game and play testing fan-made content for potential printings.
T.I.M.E. Stories really pulls players in because of the gameplay design and the thematic nature. It’s like a point-and-click adventure game that requires you to solve puzzles by interacting with your surroundings, but in co-op board game format.
Throughout the game you’ll visit many locations and encounter all kinds of interesting stories and characters. Since you are not allowed to show others the event cards you get when you interact with objects or characters, players are constantly thinking along, communicating what they’ve found, and taking note of things to remember.
Pro Good components
The components of T.I.M.E. Stories are both fine-looking and durable. The gameboard itself is a big, sci-fi-looking surface with dedicated spaces for components. There are many types of cards – character cards, locations, maps, items, etc. They are all made of thick cardstock. The player markers are quite unique – they are wooden cylinders with colored stickers. The box also includes a variety of small cardboard tokens and special dice.
Pro Constant player interaction
Crossfire is very cooperative, it’s basically impossible to go solo and win only by fighting your own threats; everyone must rely on each other because otherwise the game is lost. There’s an absolute ton of planning, micromanaging, and socializing as players try to beat the looming threats in front of themselves and each other.
Pro Minimal “quarterbacking”
A player can’t take the reins and control everything in Shadowrun: Crossfire because the players can’t show their cards and can only communicate what they’ll be doing.
Pro Satisfying character progression
A big part of the game revolves around the players’ characters and it’s nice to see their level increase and new abilities unlock. There are characters of multiple races you can choose from – humans, elves, trolls, dwarves, and orks. After that you pick one of four classes – face, decker, mage, and street samurai.
You keep developing your character’s skills via “karma” from either winning or successfully aborting missions. You use “karma” to purchase stickers which you apply on your Runner sheet.
The Shadowrun universe is quite vast, and it’s implemented into Crossfire well. The aesthetic design of the components coupled with the gameplay provides a thematic experience that’s just right - it suits both fans of the Shadowrun world and people unfamiliar with it.
The character aspect of the game is immersive - players get attached to their evolving characters over the course of many games. The fact that players can’t just reveal their cards to everyone and must find ways to communicate what they’ll do also adds a lot to the immersion.
Pro Simple rules
The basics of Crossfire are quite easy and the rules are uncomplicated. Before you begin playing, players set up their characters and starting decks and draw cards from the obstacle deck. The win condition varies per mission, but, for example, in the Crossfire mission you must defeat three waves of obstacles to win.
In your turn you play cards, apply damage to obstacles, take damage, draw cards, and buy cards before the next player takes their turn. In the second turn of the game a Crossfire card is drawn that basically causes either continuous, enhancing, or triggered effects that make each round different. After every player has taken their turn, the Crossfire card is replaced with a new one.
Con Not replayable
Once you’ve finished a scenario, there’s little real reason to return to it and play the game again because you will have already experienced the unique stories and solved the puzzles.
Con Requires a dedicated group
Similarly to many co-op board games, it can be hard to gather the same people to see a game of T.I.M.E. Stories through. The fact that the first couple of runs will probably be unsuccessful don’t really help the situation.
Con Not very accessible
While the game isn’t necessarily difficult, chances that someone will finish the scenario on their first run are very slim, which could turn away many newcomers. It can also take approximately two hours to finish a run and five to six hours to finish the scenario.
Con Very pricey
The base game retails for around $50, which is a big investment for only one scenario and the components. Moreover, each official scenario goes for an extra $20 - $30, so you should know if you’ll make the most of your purchase.
Con Can get repetitive
Once you run out of “time points” you must re-run the entire scenario. While you will have the knowledge of ways to solve many puzzles, it can be irritating to blast through the same situations you’ve been in.
Con Luck-based elements
The game requires you to roll dice to finish some encounters, which can be a huge turn-off to a game that basically requires you to solve a puzzle in a limited amount of time. The dice-rolling mechanic makes the overall gameplay much slower and can lead to some frustrating moments when you crack the puzzle but just keep getting unlucky rolls.
Con Sticker feature
As your character gains “karma” (levels) when you win or successfully abort missions, you can get permanent upgrades. They are represented by stickers you put on your Runner sheet.
There’s no way to do a complete reset and just start a new game if, for example, you want to play with a new group. It can be a hassle to physically remove the stickers off the Runner sheet, and it might ruin it in the process. Obviously, you won’t be able to re-use the sticker either, and there’s a limited amount of them available.
The base, expansionless game of Shadowrun: Crossfire includes only three missions, so it can get boring to play the same stuff with the only thing that varies being the cards and obstacles you draw.
Moreover, getting levels to progress your character is a really long process – you get 3 points per win and 1 point if you successfully abort the mission. The cheapest upgrades cost 5 karma, whereas the most expensive ones cost 50, so it can take many hours of “grinding” to get something if you don’t introduce house rules that allow you to level up faster.
Con Dependant of the luck of the draw
Even if you’ve planned everything out perfectly, an unlucky draw of a very strong obstacle or an unfortunate Crossfire card can literally make the game unwinnable. This can be especially frustrating if it’s the last wave of obstacles and you’ve already got far.
Furthermore, you are susceptible to luck even if it’s your first time playing the game because the “normal difficulty” deck you draw from includes some enemies that are as strong as the ones in the harder difficulty decks.
Con Not very accessible
Shadowrun: Crossfire is very unforgiving and challenging. While the basic mechanics aren’t difficult, there’s a lot of stuff to micromanage, strategize, and communicate to others, which might be hard for a beginner. There’s little room for error and you can lose simply because you didn’t play completely perfectly.