Your destiny awaits! Explore a mystical medieval France, pursuing your own hidden agendas in this app-driven board game.
What Is Time of Legends: Destinies?
Time of Legends: Destinies is an app-driven story-based game from Lucky Duck Games and Mythic Games for 1 to 3 players, ages 14 and up, and takes about 2 hours to play per session. It’s currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, with a pledge level of $49 for a copy of the game (or $79 for the game plus an expansion). Although the game is rated for 14 and up, I did play with my 12-year-old, who enjoyed it, though there are some thematic elements that may not be great for younger kids.
Note: Although Destinies is set in the same world as Time of Legends: Joan of Arc, it is a completely separate game, with different gameplay and rules. However, there will be some content (such as some of the miniatures) which will be usable in Joan of Arc, and Destinies will include “extra scenarios and boss cards needed to play with them.”
Time of Legends: Destinies Components
Note: My review is based on a prototype copy, so it is subject to change and may not reflect final component quality. One of the major differences is that the prototype only contains components for a single scenario, and the finished game will include 5 scenarios. I was provided access to a beta version of the app, which still needs further polishing and editing.
Here’s the component list:
- 3 Player boards
- 65 Map tiles
- 15 Destiny cards
- 150 Item cards
- 15 Dice
- 20 Coin tokens
- 20 Experience tokens
- 25 Point of Interest tokens
- 10 Trade tokens (5 pairs)
- 30 Miniatures
- 1 Abbadon Boss miniature
You’ll also need a tablet, laptop, or smartphone to run the companion app, which will be available on the Apple App Store and Google Play.
The game will include 30 miniatures total representing hero characters and non-player characters (NPCs), though the prototype came with just the 12 needed for the sample scenario. The miniatures are 15mm, so they’re pretty tiny (other than the angel), but the Kickstarter page also shows an impressive 90mm Abaddon figure that will be included as well. Unpainted, the people can be a little hard to tell apart at a glance on the table, though the different poses and props help.
The item cards depict the various artifacts that you may come across during the game. Each one has a gold value at the top—there are ways that you can buy or sell them in the game—and each grants a special ability, sometimes a permanent (“Always”) ability, and sometimes an effect when the card is discarded. You’ll note that each card also has a QR code on it, which is used when interacting with the app. Unfortunately, QR codes just aren’t pretty, and on these item cards it looks particularly anachronistic and pasted on. Lucky Duck Games also published Chronicles of Crime, another game that uses QR codes, but in that game the QR code often replaces the artwork, so although those cards aren’t as visually appealing, there’s also no jarring juxtaposition. If it were up to me, I’d put the QR codes on the backs of the cards instead, so that you only use them when scanning an item, but otherwise your player area would fit the theme better.
The location tiles (cards, in the prototype) are large squares that show various scenes on them, and match up to form a larger map. The tiles themselves simply have artwork of buildings, roads, trees, with some fun (tiny) details that may be referred to in the descriptions in the app. The app notes which locations are points of interest or have NPCs to interact with. The back side of each tile has a greyed-out version of the illustration, so you can see some of the details on it, but you don’t know what locations you’ll encounter until you explore there.
The player boards are nice and large, with a section for skill points (which we’ll explain later), your character card, and your dice and resources. Your item cards go below the player board. I think it would be nice if the boards were dual-layered, simply because we did have some trouble occasionally with the skill point markers getting bumped and shifted out of place, and it isn’t always easy to remember where they should go later. [Update: The campaign hit its first stretch goal, which was for dual-layered player boards! So this complaint is no longer an issue.]
The dice will be custom dice, with “main” dice and “effort” dice. The effort dice will be purple in the final game rather than just smaller, as they are in the prototype.
Overall, the components look fairly nice, though I have to admit that because the bulk of the game is app-driven, some of the components feel almost redundant. We often referred to the on-screen map rather than the physical map and the miniatures, and I could imagine playing this game using the player boards and item cards, but skipping the map setup entirely.
How to Play Time of Legends: Destinies
You can download a copy of the rulebook here.
The goal of the game is to be the first to achieve your character’s destiny—each character has a different goal, which is also dependent on the scenario.
Start up the app and choose a scenario to play. The app will start with an introductory story read by a voice actor. (In the beta, the rest of the stories aren’t read aloud.)
Each player chooses a character and sets up their player boards according to the app. Be sure to take the corresponding character card and read your secret goals on the back, keeping them hidden from other players.
The app shows various numbers listed after the three skills: Intelligence, Dexterity, and Power. Mark these spaces on your player board using the small wooden tokens. Everyone starts with 2 coins, 2 main dice, and 3 effort dice.
Then, you set up the map of the town.
Again, the app walks you through which map tiles to lay out (your starting location is face-up, and the rest are face-down), and indicates some points of interest that are marked either with tokens or miniatures.
Set the rest of the miniatures, tokens, item cards, and map tiles nearby. You’re ready to begin!
Each “day,” every player will get a turn. First, you get to refresh one of your effort dice, if you have any that were exhausted on previous turns. You may explore a new tile, in which case the app will direct you to flip over that tile, add new points of interest, and possibly add other adjacent map tiles to it. Then, you choose a location or NPC to interact with, tapping it on the app.
The app will give you a little bit of story, and then present your options—sometimes several, sometimes just one. Some choices will require a skill check. Others will allow you to scan a card. Either way, typically you can only do each choice once—and some choices will negate others so they disappear from the list.
If you choose an action that involves scanning a card, the camera will open up and you hold the card with the QR code in front of it. You can talk to characters about items you’re carrying, and you can also scan your character card to ask them to help you with your destiny. Other times you might scan a card is if you’re using an item for an action.
Certain actions will require a skill check. Roll your two main dice, and any number of your available effort dice. (Effort dice are then set aside until refreshed.) Total up the sum of all your dice, and compare the result to your player board. For each token on the track equal to or lower than your sum, you get one success. The effort dice also have one face that is a success. Add up your total successes, enter them into the app, and confirm. The interesting thing about this being app-driven is that you don’t know ahead of time how many successes you’ll need in order to pass the test—you only find out the result afterward.
Some items will allow you to add skill points to your player board—for instance, the axe has a “Power 7” at the bottom of the card, so you add a token to the 7 on your power track. If you discard or lose the axe for any reason, that skill token is removed. Also, some encounters will give you experience tokens. You can spend these tokens at any time to add a skill marker to your board on any track—but you need more tokens to put the skill markers on lower numbers (and thus make the success easier to achieve).
After you’ve run out of options or have decided to stop, you hit “end turn” and it’s the next player’s turn.
Occasionally, there are events that will occur at the beginning of the day. For instance, NPCs may move around to different locations. In the sample scenario, which was about a werewolf, the app also indicated when the full moon arrived.
To avoid spoilers, I don’t have any screenshots of the end of the game. Each character has two ways to fulfill their destiny—usually requiring you to gather certain items, talk to specific people, or visit particular locations, and then you can attempt to complete your personal mission. When you do so, the action icon on the app will have a “D,” which will trigger your epic finale: it’s a series of events, sometimes multiple skill checks, sometimes scanning item cards, that play out how your character tries to fulfill their quest. As soon as you start down the epic finale track, you cannot return to the regular map, so you will continue attempting to finish the quest until you succeed or until another player finishes their quest instead. It is possible for one player to start their finale, but then get overtaken by another player. (And, I suppose, it’s also possible for you to fail your epic finale if you manage to get there without the right preparation, though I haven’t seen that happen yet.)
Whoever finishes their quest first wins the game! The app provides a short epilogue about the various characters.
Why You Should Play Time of Legends: Destinies
Time of Legends: Destinies is a fascinating hybrid—it has a lot of the feel of a role-playing game, with each player taking over a character, exploring the world, and looking for clues about how to fulfill their quests. You can upgrade your character using items and experience points, and the choices you make can have lasting consequences. Because of the app, the game does not require a game master to run it, so everyone gets to play as a character and there’s no prep. However, unlike most RPGs, it is a competitive game, with players racing to reach their destinies first. That’s one of the things that really sets this game apart for me, because I don’t think I’ve played many other competitive RPGs with a heavy story element.
Playing Time of Legends: Destinies does feel at times more like playing a video game or app than a board game, since so much of what you do is tapping a screen and reading what it says. The physical components are there primarily as a human-readable source of information: you can look at the entire map and everyone’s character boards and items all at once, rather than having to switch between screens. The only components that aren’t just displaying information are the dice, but even that could have been reproduced on the app. There is, of course, something board gamers love about tangible objects (particularly rolling physical dice), so I can see the appeal, but there is definitely part of me that wonders whether it would be easier to play this game purely on my iPad instead with less fuss.
Mechanically, I like the way that the skill checks work: the more markers you have on a skill track, the more potential successes you could get for that skill. However, if you have a lot of markers on the high end of the scale, you’ll have to roll extremely well to get those successes. The main dice only go up to 4, and the effort dice go up to 3 (though there’s a potential success on them), so your averages aren’t great, and you may not even hit a “7” or “8” on your skill track without rolling a few extra effort dice. Knowing when to exert yourself and roll those effort dice can be crucial, and finding certain items or encounters that can refresh your dice faster than the one-per-turn rate is also important.
When you earn experience points, you can use those to add more skill markers to the tracks. It seems like a good idea to just save up until you have 4, because then you can start filling in from the start of the track, giving you some guaranteed successes. However, earning experience points takes time (and a bit of luck, figuring out where to get them), so you may end up wanting to spend them a bit earlier. My daughter, playing as the Deserter, managed to make herself really impressive through a combination of experience points and a collection of items, until she was nearly unstoppable at skill checks.
But it’s not just about rolling well—fortunately for players like me who may have bad luck with the dice. It’s also about figuring out what to do. Your character has a story and a goal (two potential goals, really), and it’s up to you to figure out how to get those to happen. I don’t want to get into details because that spoils the story, but it takes a combination of talking to characters, visiting different locations, and looking for the connections. One character might make a vague comment about the well, or Town Hall, or some other character, but you don’t know immediately where those things might be. Or perhaps you came across the well, but you didn’t know the story behind it yet. Piecing together those clues, and figuring out whether they’re going to get you closer to your destiny, is a really fun exploration.
One nice touch is that the app also remembers your past actions, so there are times when your decisions may open certain doors for you and close others. For instance, do you help other NPCs, or do you act selfishly? Your choices matter beyond just the present moment.
There was one thing that felt a bit strange thematically: although there are up to three characters running around on the map, interacting with NPCs and locations, they never actually interact with each other. The Deserter can’t ask the Innkeeper about the Herbalist. You might even be in the same location as another player, but you can’t strike up a conversation with them (or just strike them). Equally odd is that all information—except what’s printed on your character card—is public knowledge. So if the Maire overhears some juicy gossip at the inn, the Herbalist and the Deserter immediately know as well. I suppose you could play so that each player hides the app from view and takes their turn in secret, but the game isn’t designed to be played that way, so it would be frustratingly difficult to complete tasks, and it would also be incredibly boring because you wouldn’t be interacting at all. At least with the shared knowledge, everyone gets to share in the revelations, and cheer (or boo) as you take your actions.
I do wish the game handled more than 3 players, simply because I often have 4 players at game night, but I do appreciate that the game can be played solo. In that case, there isn’t the danger that other players may take items that you’ll need for your mission, but you still need to puzzle everything out to win.
As far as replayability goes, I’ve played the sample scenario twice now, and although I enjoyed it both times, I certainly had some knowledge about locations and items from the start, which gave me an unfair advantage against the new player. To balance things out, I spent a lot of time in my second game exploring places that we never got to the first time. I think if you have the same group, you could play the same scenario together, but eventually everyone will know the solution, and it’ll become more of a race to complete a list of tasks. I would venture that you might be able to play each scenario perhaps 3 or 4 times before you might exhaust most of the exploration and story responses.
Of course, that’s why the game will come with multiple scenarios to play. The base game will come with 5 scenarios. One is a “one-off” that’s meant to be played in a single session and is a complete story. The other four are a single story arc, and are intended to be played with the same group of friends. The expansions (available in the higher pledge tier) will include a 3-scenario arc and 3 more stand-alone scenarios. With each scenario taking 2–2.5 hours to play, that’s a pretty good amount of total play time, though whether that’s worth the $49/$79 price tag is up to you and your gaming group to decide. The publishers will also release a scenario editor so that fans can create their own scenarios using the existing components. That may be a source of more material to play, though of course the quality may vary.
Overall, I enjoyed my experience with Time of Legends: Destinies. I liked the storyline and gradually discovering the motivations behind the three characters, and I really liked the exploration aspect of watching the map and the story unfold as we played. I think my primary concern would be the limited number of plays, so I hope that the publishers have plans for additional content in the future if the game is successful. I’m excited to see what else is in store.
For more information or to make a pledge, visit the Time of Legends: Destinies Kickstarter page!
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Disclosure: GeekDad received a copy of this game for review purposes.