Time Bomb Evolution by IELLO
Players: 4 to 6
Playtime: ~15 minutes
Perfect for: Families and groups who enjoy quick social deduction and bluffing games.
Time Bomb Evolution is all about deduction and diffusion! Players divide into teams based on their loyalty: Professor Moriarity’s followers, whose aim is to destroy London with some strategically placed bombs; or Sherlock Holmes’ apprentices who must stop him before time runs out!
To begin Time Bomb Evolution, four to six are randomly (and secretly) assigned to one of the two sides. The main deck is assembled comprised of bomb cards (five bomb cards for each color, and number of colors equal to players), and wire cutting cards also equal to the number of players. Each player then gets five random cards from the deck, reviews them privately, then places them facedown in front of them.
Players then (honestly or deceitfully) say what cards they have. The active/first player chooses one card from another player and it gets revealed. The person who just had one of their cards revealed then does the same to someone else and so on until a number of cards are revealed equaled to the number of players, at which point the round concludes. At that point, the unrevealed cards are recollected, shuffled, redistributed, and a new round begins. If at any point during a round: a) four cards of the same bomb color are uncovered, then Moriarity’s team wins; or alternatively b) all of the bomb-diffusing cards are revealed; then Sherlock’s team wins. Note, this is identical to the gameplay in the original Time Bomb or Don’t Mess with Cthulhu.
Time Bomb Evolution includes a brand-new variant that adds a distinct level of complexity. In this version, a) only one wire-diffusing card can be played per bomb, and b) each bomb revealed has a special effect that affects gameplay. For example, if two pink bombs are revealed in a row, Moriarity’s team wins immediately, a blue bomb allows a diffusing wire to be removed, and green bombs only need three cards to explode. This means that Sherlock’s team must be more thoughtful about which bombs to target as more and more cards get revealed.
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What works in Time Bomb Evolution is the lightning-fast and engaging gameplay. Reading social cues is the name of the game as players must quickly decide whom to trust as misinformation swirls around them. Learning the rules of the base game takes a matter of minutes, and an entire playthrough is speedy which means high replay value. Furthermore, the Evolution variant includes enough freshness to give seasoned players something new to enjoy—the additional bomb-related rules add a wonderful level of intensity and risk to the proceedings, making the overall experience even more exciting.
Players who feel uncomfortable with lying/bluffing will likely not enjoy Time Bomb Evolution as much as others. Indeed, the main component of the gameplay often involves purposely tricking opponents. Furthermore, there is a strong degree of randomness and luck within Time Bomb that could prove frustrating to players who prefer more control over their actions. For example, even if one player trusts another and decides to pick a card from them, typically there is still an element of probability at play.
Time Bomb Evolution is a lot of fast and fun play in a tiny box—the value of this title is incredibly high. The updated art and added variant make this a great game to stick in a bag while going camping, something to kill a few minutes, or as a late-night option for something simple to wind down.
Recommended if you like: Bang! The Dice Game, Secret Hitler, Decrypto
Final Grade: A
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SOURCE: Korea Media Rating Board (via Batman News)