Time Barons is a fast-paced strategy card game that pits two player against each other in a war across the ages. You are one of the time barons, shadowy figures who have shaped mankind's destiny since the dawn of time. People are simply pawns in your quest to defeat the other barons and become the ruler of a unified human race. The game takes about 30 minutes to play and uses an action point allowance system to give players a great deal of freedom on their turn. Tokens representing your followers are moved across various cards representing sites which lends the game both strategic depth and thematic grounding. The game is different every time and allows for surprising emergent situations such as playing a computer network on a church to automate the conversion of followers or using a medieval catapult to lay siege to a modern day radio station.
Time Barons was produced by Jon Perry and Derek Yu. Jon and Derek have known each other since grade school and started collaborating on indie games as far back as 1994. Together they created Blackeye Software and designed numerous freeware games of which the most well known is Eternal Daughter. Derek later went on to create successful games like Spelunky and Aquaria. Time Barons has been a chance for Jon and Derek to rekindle their creative collaboration and stay in touch while living in separate cities. Derek does all the art, while Jon handles play-testing, rules writing, and balancing. Game design decisions are made democratically.
Time Barons is a labor of love between two lifelong friends and collaborators. Although we have a history of creating digital video games together, Time Barons marks our first entry into the tabletop design space. Like many designers, we set out to make the game we most wanted to play ourselves.
The first major design goal was to achieve variety in a streamlined package. While a lot of modern card games, especially “collectible” or “deck-building” games, achieve variety through huge amounts of content and onerous amounts of setup, Time Barons instead creates its variety with just 50 cards (13 of which are duplicates). It only takes a few games to fully comprehend all the cards and start playing at a high strategic level. And yet we still see situations that surprise us every time we play.
The second major design goal was to give the players a lot of freedom. We’re proud of how the action point allowance system system supports wildly divergent play styles. This is perhaps best illustrated by the diversity of possible opening moves, which can vary dramatically between aggressive and defensive, short-term and long term. Individual player personalities definitely shine through in the playing of the game.
The third and final goal was to make the gameplay interactive and intense from the very first turn. Players often start off games by trading blows immediately, and one wrong move can knock you out of the game. Although games usually last about 30 minutes, if someone plays too risky, a game can end in as little as five minutes, and we love that this possibility exists. We find that people rarely play Time Barons just once in a sitting, as it is one of those games where people demand rematches.