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Books of Time

We've seen plenty of deck building and bag building games but Filip Glowacz turns a new page with Books of Time as it's the first book building game we've played! It's a light-to-medium weight euro game where the 1-4 players are scoring victory points by adding pages to their three books, activating them and triggering set collection objectives.

The standout feature of Books of Time is its use of ring binders as a core component. Each player has three books, starting off with just two pages and their covers: Trade (yellow), Science (red) and Industry (green). There's also a Chronicles book (brown) with 15 randomised pages. This is on its own lectern and it acts as a game timer, with a page turned each round. Whatever action you take on your turn in respect of your own books, you also get to choose as an extra action either of those displayed in the Chronicles book.

Activating one of your own books triggers the actions pictured on the open two-page spread. You take the indicated actions (often paying a cost in pens or paper - the game's two currencies) and gain the benefit. You then turn the page in that book. If that takes you to the end of that book, you go back through to the beginning and gain the benefits shown at the bottom of all of the right-hand pages; these are also the resource bonuses you get when you 'write' a page (add it to a book).

At the start, players get to add another page for free to just one of their books but in successive turns, writing a page will be one of the options open to them. The pages first have to be drafted from those in the 'offer' display or from the deck. When you draft pages, they go to your 'board': a grid that shows the cost in pens and paper of writing the page to a book. Taking the write action lets you pay the cost and take pages from your board to add them to your books, gaining the resources or victory points indicated in the box on the bottom right of the page.

There are tracks up which players can advance their tokens, either by paying the resources indicated or as a result of actions triggered in your books, and there are end-game objectives for each book. These involve having the qualifying mix of symbols on your pages, and in the case of your Trade (yellow) book, the symbols have to be in the right page order. Tho' they shouldn't be your primary focus at the outset, you won't want to neglect the objectives mid-to-late game because they offer the potential to rack up a substantial number of victory points.

Books of Time then is a resource management and optimisation game where you'll be looking to build books that work as an engine generating the pens and paper needed to write more pages, advance upon the tracks and meet the requirements of the objectives for each book. Tho' its components may be unusual, the game itself is relatively easy to teach and learn, and with commendably clear iconography that doesn't send players scrabbling for the rulebook and player aids whenever a new page appears in the offer display.

You only take one action each turn, plus the option of one of the two actions in the Chronicles book, and it's only the Chronicles pages and possibly the offer display from which cards are drafted that changes between your turns. That means Books of Time has the key plus of being a game where players can with some confidence plan their next turn before it comes around. It also means this is game that plays quickly, with very little downtime even with a full complement of four players. The corollary of course is that this isn't a game with a lot of player interaction; so in that sense it can feel like multiplayer solitaire.

The ring binders for each of the books are robust and they don't just add to this game's table presence; they also add a tactile element to game play. There's something peculiarly satisfying about clicking the binders open and shut whenever you 'write' a page to one of your books. Kudos to publishers Board&Dice for coming up with such a unique but effective design.

#BooksofTime #BoardandDice #bookbuilding #carddrafting #eurogame #setcollection #solo #solitaire

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