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Time After Time is a children's card game for 2-4 players ages 6 and up, in which players try to be the first to place a series of time cards in chronological order.
Components: Time After Time contains 72 cards. There are 28 time placeholder cards (7 for each player) with a question mark on them, 4 start cards labeled 5:00 AM (1 for each player), 4 end cards labeled 11:00 PM (1 for each player), 34 time cards from 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM (2 cards per hour), and 2 mouse cards. Time cards show the time both in numeric format (e.g. 7:00 AM) and on a clock face, with AM cards colored orange and PM cards colored blue. My family finds the mouse cards very cute.
All cards are sturdy, bright, and with easily-read text. The game also includes a rulebook including instructions in English, Spanish, and French. The entire set comes in a small, sturdy box.
Setup: Each player is given a start card (5:00 AM), a row of seven time placeholder cards with question marks on them, and an end card (11:00 PM). The two mouse cards are set aside, while a certain number of time cards are counted out (13 for 2P, 19 for 3P, 26 for 4P). In a two-player game, one mouse is added to the pile for a total of 14 cards, which are then shuffled and dealt 7 to each player. Two mouse cards are included in the stack for three or four players, and then those cards are shuffled and dealt to the players 7 each. The remaining time cards are placed into a draw pile.
Gameplay: During a player's turn, they draw a card from the hand of the player to their right, announce the time drawn, and place that time card somewhere along their own row of time placeholder cards. Cards must be placed with the hours getting later from left to right. (The orange color for AM cards and blue color for PM cards is helpful here.) Players cannot place one card on top of another, and cannot have identical cards in their set.
Each player follows this sequence, drawing blindly from their neighbor's hand, announcing the time, and choosing where to place that time along their timeline. If a player cannot play a time (because they already have that time in their set, or because there is no card available at the right point in their timeline), the player must ask the other players if they can use that time. If so, the player keeps the card in his/her hand and does not get to place a card that turn. If not, the player puts that time card into the box and draws a card from the draw pile, but still does not get to place a card that turn.
If a player draws a mouse from the hand of their neighbor, they keep the mouse in their own hand and are not able to place a card that turn. A player cannot win with a mouse card in their hand, even if they have successfully filled all time placeholder cards in their timeline with time cards in the correct sequence. They can only win when another player draws the mouse card from their hand (hoping that no one else has completed their timeline in the meantime!).
Our experience: Unfortunately, this game has fallen completely flat for us. My six-year-old daughter plays games frequently, but absolutely never asks to play Time After Time.
First, I think the theme is not particularly engaging to her. (Obviously, I was hoping that the game would be a fun way to address concepts of time.).
Perhaps more importantly, I don't think she finds the mechanics all that interesting. She has complained about other games not having very many choices, and in Time After Time, there's the luck of the card draw and a single (not very compelling) choice of where to place the drawn time card.
Finally, there's very little player interaction. There's no threat of another player taking advantage of your action. I'm finding that my six-year-old enjoys a bit of "Take that!," which this game lacks entirely. Now that's generally wise where children's games are concerned, and I'm not saying that my daughter always delights in being the recipient of "Take that!" But she's mischievous, competitive, and, after quite a bit of coaching over the past two years, capable of both winning and losing fairly graciously. So Time After Time doesn't offer enough to engage her, and I don't find it interesting enough to press the point.