Growing Frustrations with the T.I.M.E Stories Franchise

The base game of T.I.M.E Stories is one of my all-time favourite board games. It took us on an incredible adventure that was wildly creative and unlike anything we’d ever played. We were so excited that the game already had more story expansions to play through.

Over time, our excitement in the franchise cooled. I spoke to this phenomenon in a video where I talked about the expansions. Ever since that original game, each expansion that followed has generally trended downward in terms of quality. The latest one we played, Estrella Drive, is the worst one yet.

This isn’t meant to be a review, so I’m not going to go in-depth on this expansion. I will say though, that even relative to the other sub-par expansions, this felt like a low-stakes affair that was disappointingly straightforward and incredibly short. T.I.M.E Stories campaigns usually take us about six hours to complete, but this one was wrapped up in three. I’d be okay with a short run-time if it was an amazing three hours, but it was the worst of the bunch.

Besides the quality of the first campaign, what got our group so excited for more T.I.M.E Stories was that the game’s framework is open-ended enough to tell almost any type of story you want. The makers of the game have gone to great lengths to change the settings and mechanics, but they’ve gradually gotten worse over time. I thought Marcy Case was good, if a bit too reliant on combat. Prophecy of Dragons was oddly-paced, but picked up by the end. But the ongoing trend of campaigns going downhill has now carried across six different expansions, with the latest one being straight-up bad.

There are a few more expansions left in the “white cycle” of T.I.M.E Stories to play. I really hope they can close it out on a high note before kicking into the new “blue cycle” era with lessons learned from the past. It hurts my heart to see the quality of these expansions go south, as the framework of these games would allow for incredible gaming experiences to be shared. Been burned at least six times now, but I think I have to at least finish out these final few before finally giving up the ghost. Fool me six or more times: shame on me?

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