Stats at a glance
Last Updated on December 13, 2022
Set some 500 years into the future, Anachrony depicts a post-apocalyptic world and human civilization in its darkest hour. The survivors formed four radical groups around the contested Capital.
Players will take charge of these groups and compete for control of the capital and preservation of the human race, for another asteroid is on a collision course with earth!
To achieve this goal, players will use everything at their disposal, from exosuits that are necessary to explore and salvage to even time travel technology.
Brief Overview of Anachrony
Anachrony is a worker placement game with a high degree of complexity with a BGG weight rating of 4.01/5. The barrier of entry and the learning curve may discourage you from trying Anachrony, but it’s well worth the effort!
The game can be played by 1-4 players, with the fan-favorite being a 3-player setup. Games generally clock in around 2 hours, but they can also be shorter due to a variable number of rounds.
Anachrony is a content-packed game so there is a ton to go through. I’ll split the content into several segments and give you my thoughts at the end. The short of it is — Anachrony has a lot going for it, but it’s definitely not a game for everyone!
The game box is massive and contains the following pieces:
- 1 Main Board
- 4 Player Boards
- 80 Resource Cubes
- 30 Water Tokens
- 50 Energy Core Tokens
- 56 Building Tiles
- 10 Anomaly Tiles
- 15 Superproject Tiles
- 45 Breakthrough Tiles
- 11 Recruit Pool Cards
- 11 Mine Pool Cards
- 3 Dice
- 15 Dual-Sided Hex Tiles
- 8 Hex Unavailable Tiles
- 77 Worker Tiles
- 4 Dual-Sided Path Boards
- 24 Exosuit Markers
- 36 Warp Tiles
- 8 Markers for Morale and Time Travel
- 28 Path Markers
- 8 Leader Cards
- 4 First Player Markers With Standee
- 4 Player Aid Cards
The first thing to note is that Anachrony comes in a big box — one that is significantly longer than your standard square board game box.
Underneath the lid awaits the rulebook, which is well illustrated, formatted, and with a large font. I usually won’t give the rulebook too much attention, but given the complexity of the game, it’s important to have an easily-understandable method of learning the rules.
The majority of the volume comes from the plates and plates of cardboard. The punchout pieces use a variety of colors but the pieces are clearly readable from across the table.
I quite like the design of the boards; the game board features a futuristic landscape that is clearly dystopian, yet it doesn’t remind me of any other work of art with a similar premise. Player boards are color-coded and have unique artwork that fits the factions’ ideology.
The theme is reflected in most of the pieces, with some favoring function over form, something that I’m always okay with. The only art I don’t like is the one found on the leader cards.
For a post-apocalyptic game with ideology as the driving force of factions, I expected something more akin to Fallout and Warhammer 40k than what’s depicted.
The Path of Salvation leaders are the only ones that look kind of creepy, but the rest look like your average heroes. Honestly, given the theme, I expected them to be schemists, tyrants, and cultists, rather than appearing as well-balanced individuals.
In terms of the quality of the components, there’s nothing I’d complain about. From the few games I play, I didn’t notice that any of the cards or tokens beginning to chip or crease, though I would recommend card sleeves anyway.
How to Play Anachrony
There is quite a lot that makes a game of Anachrony, so I won’t even attempt to cover every detail. Instead, I’ll give you a general overview of the mechanics so you can form a picture of how the game is played and whether or not it’s fitting for you.
At the start of the game, players pick one of the factions and one of two leaders that provide different benefits. The A side of player boards is the same for all factions, but the B side significantly alters the viable strategies players can take. The evacuation plans (victory conditions) will vary between players.
The rest of the setup involves sorting a variety of tiles, resources, and other components. The more notable mechanics are the timeline tiles, placed in order from left to right with the impact tile between the fourth and fifth timeline tiles. Above them are superprojects, which provide a large boost to victory points if achieved.
Anachrony is played over a series of rounds or eras as the game calls them. There can be up to 7 eras per game, each tracked by the timeline tiles. The eras consist of the following phases:
- Refill phase: The superproject tile is revealed for the current era; resources and supplies are refreshed.
- Paradox phase: Roll for paradox (time travel penalty).
- Power up phase: Activate the exosuits (needed to perform actions).
- Warp phase: Time travel action that brings assets from the future to the present.
- Actions phase: Everyone takes actions on the game board and the individual player boards.
- Clean up phase: Gather workers, check the game-end conditions and reveal new buildings that can be constructed in the next era.
The worker placement part of the game works more-or-less like any other game in the genre, with the exception of exosuits. To take actions, you must first power up the exosuits, and then have the right type of worker to execute a specific action.
The Warp and Anomalies
Anachrony has a time-travel system that allows players to bring in resources from future rounds and use them instantly. It’s also possible to send resources from the present to the past and achieve a certain goal that wasn’t possible at the time.
However, messing with the space-time continuum is not without its risks, and the more this power is used, the greater the risks of a paradox appearing. Paradox leads to anomalies, which act as a blocker and point penalty, but can be removed before the end of the game.
Once all the phases of the fourth era are resolved, the asteroid hits Earth and has significant consequences for the rest of the game in terms of tempo and strategy.
The evaluation plans are set in motion and the number of actions players can take becomes more limited.
From this point on, during the final phase of each round, players must check for game-ending conditions. In the event of all the infrastructure collapsing in the capital the game ends prematurely. Otherwise, it goes on until the end of the 7th era.
Before the game can end properly, players must solve all the issues caused by time travel. Warp tiles have to be resolved, and those that cannot do so incur negative points.
The scoring partially relies on the endgame condition cards that are available from the start of the game. The majority of the points come from buildings, anomalies, superprojects, morale, and time travel. The victory point tokens and timeline penalties are also accounted for.
Your First Game of Anachrony
I would usually use this section to provide you with some first-time player hints, but honestly speaking, I don’t think I’ve figured out the game to the point where I can give you a sound strategy guide.
Given the complexity of the game, I suggest that you and your group of friends read the rules at least once before you get seated. Otherwise, you may spend 3-4 hours on your first game and form a bad impression of the game.
Given the number of different paths toward victory, I suggest that you try out every mechanic in the game and see what it does. Time travel is not as punishing as it may seem, and even if you overdo it, at least you’ll learn where the limit is.
Pros & Cons
- Strong Narrative
- Interesting Combination of Mechanics
The post-apocalyptic theme has been done so many times that you’ve likely already got a few comparable settings in mind. What Anachrony does differently in the board game industry is the level of dedication to the development of a story.
On the official website, you can find a set of dates depicting historical events that predate the present-day story, along with detailed explanations of what happened. The in-game mechanics are thematic as they can be — from the use of exosuits to how time travel is executed.
I’ve never been all that big on the story aspect of board games, but even I noticed how many things Anachrony gets right about it.
The mechanics deserve praise of their own. Complex at first, they really click after a game or two and give Anachrony another way to separate from other games in the genre. The whole future time travel essentially boils down to a loan, but the way the game handles it really complements the theme.
- Barrier of Entry
- Potential Balancing Issues
One of the main things to keep in mind with Anachrony is that it’s not a simple game to figure out. Having tried it with a more casual crowd, I can tell they’d need at least 2-3 more games to figure the core gameplay out, and by that point, it’s too much of an effort.
I personally have not experienced this problem, mostly due to the limited number of games I’ve played, but some players are reporting balancing issues. Certain general strategies seem to work better than others, which significantly reduces the number of paths you can take, at least if you want to win.
Anachrony Review (TL;DR)
Anachrony is a post-apocalyptic worker placement game with time travel, exosuits, and an impending doom situation. This alone gives its own little spot within the genre, but the game also plays out great and has quite a lot of depth to it.
If you like the premise and are in the market for a new 1-4 player worker placement game, then Anachrony presents a solid option. Just be aware of the initial barrier of entry, and plan for a couple of games where you’ll learn how to play.
Versions & Expansions
Anachrony: Exosuit Commander Pack Expansion
Anachrony: Classic Expansion
Anachrony: Future Imperfect
Anachrony: Fractures of Time
I feel like I’ve covered Anachrony as best as I could, and now I can give a brief personal opinion on the game.
Despite there not being anything wrong with it, Anachrony just didn’t click all that well with me. I have to admit that I was a bit tired when I played it and that most likely contributed to the weak impression the game left on me.
I can definitely see why so many people like it, and despite not being hooked on it, I can wholeheartedly recommend it. It’s got a ton of replay value, especially with the B-side of the player board, so you can get dozens of sessions out of it without getting bored.
We hope you enjoyed our Anachrony review! Have you tried this complex board game before? What did you think? Drop a comment below and let us know! We’d love to hear from you.