Humans are kind of dumb. They’ve gone and messed up the time and space with all their time traveling and meddling. As part of the crew of the last time machine, you must go back in time and fix as much as you can before you run out of fuel. Things aren’t going to be that easy, though. Some players may be machines or cyborgs who have their own goals to achieve. The Humans want time to be as correct as possible. Cyborgs kinda want to walk the middle road. Machines want utter chaos.
The number of players determines how many Humans, Cyborgs, and Machines will be in the game. It also determines hand size and the size of teams that will be working to get the proper cards in proper eras. There are 6 different Eras in the game, 4 of which will start with the incorrect beings in them. Play starts with the time machine traveling to an Era that doesn’t have a card in it. The time machine will always travel to the next Era without a card in it unless all Eras have a card. Then travel is decided by a die roll. The current pilot nominates a team of players to join the team to help in the current era. All the players then vote to approve the team.
If the team isn’t approved by the group a random card is drawn from the deck and played in the current Era. If the team is approved then each player in the team chooses a card from their hand and passes it to the pilot. A card is also drawn from the deck and shuffled into the mix. The pilot shuffles the cards, discards one, and places the rest face up in a stack on the current Era. Paradoxes are then resolved.
A Paradox is when the top card of the stack in any Era matches the top card in the stack of any other Era. The older cards are then removed from play, revealing the next card in their stack. This may cause chain reactions and Paradoxes must be fully resolved before play continues. Once this is done the score tracker is updated to reflect the number of Eras that have either only correct cards or no cards at all. Lastly, fuel is consumed and the next player takes the Pilot token to start a new round. The game ends when the final fuel card is removed from play.
So how does one win?
- Humans win if the final score of the game is 4, 5, or 6
- Cyborgs win if the final score is 2, 3, or 4
- Machines win if it’s 0, 1 or 2
There’s also a few instant-win scenarios in the game:
- The Humans instantly win if the score tracker ever reaches 6
- The Machines win if the score tracker ever reaches 0
- The Cyborgs win with the Machines if the score reaches 0 and there’s 6 or more fuel cards remaining
- If the score is 3 when there’s exactly 5 fuel cards left the Cyborgs win
There’s a bit more detail to play, but you can find that in the game’s rulebook.
So how does it actually play?
Really damn well. My only criticism of the game is that you need a large group of people to play, which is hard for me. It makes perfect sense for the type of game it is.
Human Era is full of humor and anxiety. It’s very simple to play but provides a real challenge with a guaranteed number of Machines and Cyborg players. Since players roles are hidden it’s tough to figure out who’s who at first, and even when you know what players are working against you it may not be enough if they can swing team votes.
Human Era is already funded on Kickstarter, and a pledge of $25 will get you a copy of the game when it ships. That’s a fantastic deal for an excellent party game. $40 will get you a deluxe copy with golden pieces. You know. For those of you who want those sexy Lay Waste metal components.
A prototype of Human Era was provided free for preview