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Trials of Tempus

Itching to play Dungeons & Dragons but don't have a Dungeon Master to run the game? Trials of Tempus might just scratch that itch. Of course it's not the first 'dungeon crawler' tabletop RPG board game to carry the Dungeons & Dragons imprint. It's not even the first from WizKids! However, Trials of Tempus comes closer than most to deliver an open 'sandbox game' playing experience where players have quite wide options and so aren't necessarily forced to follow a rigid narrative path.

Trials of Tempus is designed ideally to be played as a team game where teams of players are competing to earn the most points. With two players, it'll be player vs player, with each player controlling two heroes; with four players you'll play as two competing teams of two. You can take the player count up to eight players (four teams of two). The game is played on a large two-sided board which you'll customise on set up.

The game is card driven, so hand management is important. You'll start tho' by building your character; adding sub-classes to determine the cards that will be available to you. You'll be able to upgrade cards during the course of play, so it'll feel like your character is levelling up. Trials of Tempus is a team game so in your build you'll be looking to create characters that synergise well with each other.

Every game is different because it will focus around three randomly drawn Quests. These vary widely: a big plus because often in dungeon crawlers objectives can all feel much the same. In addition, an Event card is drawn each round. These can include more ways of earning points.

There will be monsters spawning on the map board; you can fight them or you might try just to avoid them to focus on non-combat Quests and looting treasure chests. Your team will be in competition with one or more others, however, so you might perhaps try to provoke monsters to attack your opponents. Likewise, you may choose to charge into combat and attack the other team; particularly if this might prevent them from completely a Quest. Tho' you have a lot of choice over your actions, you can't entirely avoid combat: games end with a boss battle against one of several tough monsters; for example, the Hill Giant that you might spot in our Board's Eye View has a whopping 100 hit points!

WizKids have published two versions of Trials of Tempus. Both come with 25 minis (including some that are not-so-mini!) for the heroes and monsters; in the premium edition, they come pre-painted and in the standard edition they are unpainted. Either way, it's an impressive package, with various tokens used for varying set up and marking Quests, and a ton of cards. Indeed, the sheer quantity of cards that you end up with as you build and equip your character means that there's a lot for players to initially take in. The game runs smoothly, however, and the two hour playing time on the box is a reasonably accurate estimate for a 2 vs 2 team game, even on your first play. If you play 2 vs 2 vs 2 vs 2 with eight players and all eight characters, you can expect the playing time to extend to around three hours. Once you become familiar with your card-driven actions tho', you'll find turns are quick and there isn't much downtime.

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