Chrononauts / Early American Chrononauts FAQ

If you don’t see your question answered among these, please email us at:
FAQ@looneylabs.com

Questions pertaining specifically to ÜberChrononauts (the version combining original Chrononauts and Early American Chrononauts)

Questions pertaining specifically to Solonauts (the solitaire version of either game)

Q: Is it possible to use a Memo (or similar Items) to discard an Artifact/Item that another player has on the table?

A: No. Cancellations only work on cards as they are being played, not cards that are already in play.

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Q: When a player is allowed multiple plays on their turn, are there any guidelines for timing between plays?

A: TLDR: Officially, no… BUT, when playing in any of our games which include interrupt cards which cancel a previous play (Surprise, Memo From Your Future Self, Stop Time) it’s good practice to play a little slower if you happen to be executing multiple plays, so that your opponents have plenty of time to play one of these cards, should they so desire.

Deliberately playing super-fast, “shotgunning” as one fan put it, is just rude, and, rather than avoiding arguments about interrupts, actually ends up causing them. So if you have someone who insists upon playing that way, feel free to implement a requirement of a full one-hippopotamus silent count between card plays. We think those worried about their second-to-last winning play being foiled by an interrupt will find that others are not as psychic as they feared. Read on…

So here’s a typical Surprise situation, which can cause a bit of controversy:

I recently won when the rules called for Play 2. I played my first card, a Keeper, and then a moment later I played a Goal card that caused me to win. My opponent then showed me that he had the Surprise card in his hand that could have stopped me from playing the Keeper, and we had a brief discussion about whether I should have left him more time to consider playing it.

In my opponent’s defense, I didn’t leave him much time to play his Surprise card that would have allowed him to take my Keeper for himself. In my defense, he didn’t really have any reason to play the Surprise card and take the Keeper – until he saw that my next play was the winning Goal.

So… are there guidelines on timing between playing consecutive cards?

Slapping them down so quickly that no one has a chance to do anything doesn’t seem entirely fair – but it also doesn’t seem strategic after playing a card to wait and look around at other players to see if they have any game response before playing the next card.

(Related question: A player doesn’t have to “announce” or “report” their play out loud, right? They can just play their cards and if other players aren’t paying attention, that’s the fault of the other players? We all want to have good sportsmanship, but you know how games can sometimes get, in terms of either other players not paying attention, or in terms of being very competitive!)

Here’s our response:
While we don’t have any official guidelines about exact timing of card plays, We recommend a slight pause between a two-card play like this when the active player knows it’s going to make them win. It’s rarely the case that the person with the Keeper-stopper will intuitively know that the necessary Goal is coming… until it gets there (or vice-versa: if they had the Goal-stopper, and you’d decided to play the Keeper last, they couldn’t know you’d have the winning Keeper to play after the innocuous Goal), so playing slow is often to your advantage, as the player who’s about to win.

In fact, playing casually, even pretending you don’t know what you want to play next, can be a great move. Playing slowly enough to allow a possible Surprise doesn’t have to mean broadcasting your impending win. (For example, looking significantly around the table as if expecting a challenge). Of course, announcing your your play is in no way required, but could even be part of your nonchalant act, depending on how you do it. (“Hmm… Well, there’s this Small Moon… and… let’s see… That’s No Moon, for the win!”)

That said, one often doesn’t have the presence of mind to think about deliberately hesitating. In real life, you’re usually just taking your play, and winning, at regular game speed.

Here is where the question is really about what your opponent was thinking, and they have to be honest about it: did it only occur to them to play the Surprise after you’d played the winning Goal? If you’d just accidentally played the Goal first, and then the Keeper, their Keeper-canceling Surprise would have gone through and prevented your win. But just as they couldn’t know your next play would be the end of the game, you couldn’t know they had a Surprise. For all you knew, they had the Goal-stopping Surprise, and it’s just chance which order you chose to play those two cards in. It’s not as though you deliberately played in such a way as to deliberately thwart a Surprise on your first play.

The thing to point out here is that, had you stopped playing after the Keeper, would it even have occurred to them to use the Surprise? Probably not, if they’re being honest. It’s extremely rare that one’s opponent is prescient or observant enough to realize that this play might be your second-to-last. People rarely want to squander a Surprise on the off-chance that your next play will be the winning one*. In the kind of situation you describe, the Surprise-having player usually just shrugs, and says “Darn! I had [the Surprise that would have prevented your second-to-last play], and I could have stopped that play, but it’s too late now… Oh well. Let’s deal again…”

Because, in the end, if they didn’t get that Surprise in after the applicable card, that’s the way it goes, and that’s the official ruling if people get – ahem – unruly.

*I mean, imagine it. If they’d canceled your Keeper before you’d played the winning Goal, your best reaction is probably simply to shrug as if mildly confused by such a powerful play, apparently for nothing, and make them feel like they just wasted their Surprise on a random Keeper play… heh heh. You don’t have to let them know they totally blocked your win. Meanwhile… you don’t have to get upset about missing that chance… it’s just Fluxx, and victory is snatched away at all the time in the course of any given game – usually completely by accident. Or you can let them know their spidey-senses were working, or congratulate them on how observant they are. It’s up to you.

Now let’s return to that “shotgunning” player who’s deliberately playing quickly so that nobody can slip a Surprise in on that penultimate play… It is, as the fan above pointed out, not entirely fair, and, moreover, it invites the argument “But you didn’t leave me enough time to play my Surprise!” If, on the other hand they had played it slowly, as described above, their opponent has no excuse to challenge the win, on the claim that they “were going to play a Surprise.” The opponent had plenty of time, but in the vast majority of cases, they won’t play the Surprise, because they have no idea what’s coming next. That’s part of the beauty of Fluxx!

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Q: Does having the Jade Statue mean you always get the maximum bonus no matter what Artifact you Sell or perform a Miracle with, or is it only the Jade Statue itself which gets this bonus?

A: It’s the Jade Statue which gets the bonus… not the player who owns it. The quality of always getting the full bonus only happens when you use the Jade Statue to do it. Possession of it does not confer this quality on the player when they use any other Artifact.

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Q: Can I use a Memo From Your Future Self to stop an Artifact/Item ability?

…To review: The Memo From Your Future Self (and its variants) occurs in Chrononauts, Early American Chrononauts, and the Back to the Future Card Game. They can be played out of turn to cancel another person’s play as it happens.

A: Basically, yes. In cases where you’d discard that card from play in order to use its power, you could target that card with the Memo, causing it to be discarded without effect. That’s pretty straightforward.

For Back To The Future (BttF) only, note that if a Time Car is being memo’d it’s that card which would go into the discard pile without effect, but any required fuel item would remain (Plutonium, Lightning Prediction, Overpowered Locomotive, or the card discarded to use v4 would go back into the players hand).

Most Artifacts in Chrononauts don’t have powers, but a few that do would be affected: promo card Carl Sagan’s Joint, for example. In this case you’d normally give away the Joint and gain an Artifact from another player. If that forced trade is memo’d, the Joint would go in the trash (you were going to lose it to the other player anyhow) and the other player’s Artifact would remain with them. (I guess there weren’t a few puffs left after all…)

More complicated are Items/Artifacts/Gadgets whose power is passive. These include the (BttF) Gray’s Sports Almanac, Mr. Fusion, The Jade Statue of Tirade, any and all Gadgets. In these cases, you cannot stop the usage of their powers. If their power allows or involves the play of another card, THAT card may be targeted for cancellation via memo, but those cards already in play are not themselves affected by memos.

For example, when attempting to “feed” Mr. Fusion a card from your the table to gain two cards in your hand, it’s that card which would be targeted by the memo, and discarded with no corresponding benefit, and Mr. Fusion would remain on the table.

When “using” the Jade Statue of Tirade to get the extra bonus for Sell and Artifact or Perform A “Miracle”, it’s those Action cards which would be targeted and discarded, and the Jade Statue would simply remain in play, unsold, or unused as a “Miracle”.

The only time these cards with passive powers could be targeted by a Memo is when they themselves are actually being played to the table, in which case, instead of going into play, they’d go into the discard pile.

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Q: Can I use the power of a Gadget the same turn I play it?

A: Yes.

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Q: I’d love to add historical points to my timeline! Do you make Chrononauts blanks?

A: Unfortunately, we don’t make blank Chrononauts cards. While there may be lots of room for creativity, it’s actually much harder than you think:

For every new Ripplepoint you make, you need a Patch, which would necessitate a blank deck card in addition to a blank timeline card. If you wanted a blank Linchpin, that’s yet another type. And adding points to the timeline would have little effect if there weren’t any characters who needed them, so that’s yet another type of blank needed.

We consider balance quite important, so that there are always people fighting for both sides of a given timeline point. That’s a game design issue, and we just don’t feel the average fan is up to that level of tweaking. In short, it’s quite a small audience for a rather complex little layout and print job.

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Q: When using the Really Fast Time Machine, do I get an extra card for a Patch play AND an Inverter play, or only for the Patch play?

The basic rules dictate that Patching gives an extra card, while playing an Inverter doesn’t. The Really Fast Time Machine (RFTM) lets me play an extra Patch or Inverter, and draw an extra card. So does this mean:

a) If one has the Really Fast Time Machine and uses it to play an Inverter card one can draw an extra card, and if one uses the Really Fast Time Machine to play a patch card, one can draw an extra card.
-or-
b) If one uses the Really Fast Time Machine card to play an Inverter card, one does not draw an extra card, but if one uses the Really Fast
Time Machine card to play a Patch card, one can draw an extra card.

A: Actually, neither of your scenarios is quite correct. Here’s what’s happening:

When you play a Patch, you get an extra card in your hand as a reward for fixing the timeline. Your hand should end up one card larger than it was before you started your turn. This should happen no matter what the circumstances that allowed you to play that patch, whether it was your regular turn, or a patch played using the Really Fast Time Machine (RFTM).

Now, the regular turn action is meant to be a zero-sum equation: you draw one card, and play one card, and your hand will end up the same size as before you drew (unless you patch, in which case it will increase by one). The RFTM lets you play an extra card out of your hand after that. Regardless of what card you played, that would decrease your hand size, and the intention is that it should stay the same, i.e. it should be a second zero-sum play. It’s a little like getting to take a second turn, except you play before you draw, and you are limited to only Inverters or Patches for your second “turn”.

So, if you use your RFTM to play an Inverter, you draw one to replace the Inverter in your hand, so that your hand size does not decrease because of the RFTM.

If you use your RFTM to play a Patch, you draw one to replace the extra card you played out of your hand, to restore it to the correct size, and THEN you draw a second card as your patch-reward card, for fixing the timeline. So your hand size should increase by one because of the repair, as intended.

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Q: What happens if you Perform a Miracle, but you cannot play any of the cards you draw?

For example, you draw all patches for Ripplepoints that don’t need patching.

A: You can Kill Time. As it says in the fine print on Fast Forward, “Killing Time (discarding an extra card and drawing a replacement) is a valid option any time you choose to discard a card instead of playing it”. This means you can discard two of your three unplayable cards and draw one back with your first Perform a Miracle play. If the redraw is, itself, also not playable, you may Kill Time once more, discarding both duds, and hope the one you draw back is playable. Andy has ruled that, in this case, though you have Killed Time twice, which would seem to use up both your plays, you may still play that last card if it comes up playable for you (and you want to play it).

Likewise, if you’re only drawing two and playing one of them, you can discard both, and hope the one card you draw back will be playable. It’s the same as if you’d started the process described above at two cards, going down to one with your one Kill Time.

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Q: Can someone Memo a Memo?

i.e. can you stop someone playing a “Memo to Your Future Self” by playing a Memo or using the Cake card’s Memo ability?

A: Yes, a Memo can indeed be used to stop another Memo. And it’s mighty satisfying when you do! This also applies to the similar cards found in the Back To The Future card game.

“Looks like I Got There First to your dinosaur trap, and captured that Stegosaurus you thought you had.”

“Oh no you didn’t, because I sent a Memo to myself, telling me that you’d get there before me, so I got there 15 minutes before you, so actually, I still have Steggy.”

“Oh yeah? Well I sent myself a Memo telling me that you were going to get there 15 minutes before I got there before you, so I got there 15 minutes before you got there 15 minutes before me getting there before you, so actually, the dino is mine…”

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Q: During the UberPararadox, when “the future is inaccessible,” can players still alter history after 1962?

(in hopes of reaching a winning condition after restoration of the timeline)

A: During the Uberparadox, that history doesn’t exist, so it cannot be altered. (What history?) You must clear the Uberparadox before making changes.

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Q: During the UberParadox, do paradoxes after 1962′ count towards the 13 paradox limit?

A: No. Any Paradoxes after 1962′ are counted as part of the one big paradox that is the UberParadox — but keep in mind that any paradoxes showing after 1962 will again become individually counted as soon as you fix the UberParadox, so be careful!

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Q: During the UberParadox, when “the future is inaccessible,” does history still get altered after 1962 if the relevant linchpin is before 1962?

or do we wait until the timeline is restored before flipping those cards back and forth? For example, in the following sequence:

1. 1974 is paradoxed and patched (implying that 1865′ and 1963′ are the case)
2. The World War 3 patch is played, and 1974′ becomes part of the inaccessible future.
3. Abraham Lincoln is re-assassinated
4. Abraham Lincoln is saved again
5. 1962 is restored
Was 1974 flipped twice in the non-existent future during this sequence, thus discarding its patch and leaving it as a paradox, or do we check the future for consistency only after World War 3 is prevented, thus leaving the patch in place?

A: The Patch stays in place until the Future can be accessed again. All inaccessible cards stay exactly as they are, even if they don’t make sense, since it’s like you can’t even see them.

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Q: Can Voluntary Re-assignment be used to replace ChronoFRED’s mission?

A: Yes. You can also make the Head in a Jar’s Parents Never Meet.

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Q: Can you make the Head In A Jar’s Parents Never Meet?

A: Yes, and Chrono-FRED can take a Voluntary Re-assignment to replace his mission as well.

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Q: When you play Rewind or Quick Trip, and you look through the pile, can you choose not to play those if there’s nothing you want to play?

or do you have to go ahead with choosing and then playing the card you select?

A: This would ultimately be your call: how lenient do you want to be about letting people take back plays? You should form a house rule about this that everyone is clear on before they start.

But for perspective, this is how we usually rule it:

We have always played that, since anyone may look through the discard pile at any time (as it says on the Rewind card), one should check before playing a Rewind, and not play it if there isn’t something you want there. So we’ve always been lenient if someone played it, checked and realized there wasn’t what they needed, since it’s no skin off anyone’s back that they just looked through the pile after playing the card instead of before. They can retract their play, since looking through the pile is an action that made no difference to the game (except they revealed they have a Rewind, which is only bad for them – the cost of any play retraction “oopsie”).

Looking through the draw pile, however is hidden information, and we’ve always ruled that once you look through that, which you can ONLY do if you play a Quick Trip, then you DO have to choose _something_ and immediately play it. You can’t take back having seen what cards remain in the draw pile – so you can’t take back that play.

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Q: If someone Memos my Really Fast Time machine extra play, do I get to draw to replace it?

In this case it was a Patch, and obviously I would not get to draw an extra card as a reward for patching the timeline, and the card I’d attempted to play (whether a Patch or an Inverter) would be discarded, not put back in my hand, but we couldn’t agree on whether I could draw a card to replace this second play given by the Really Fast Time Machine. Since the attempt to play a card had been canceled, would the resulting draw to replace also be canceled? We didn’t think a Memo should decrease the size of the targeted player’s hand, but we weren’t sure.

A: Yes, you would still get to draw to replace your Memo’d Patch/Inverter. Usually, on your turn, you draw and then play, to keep your hand size unchanged. Normally, if someone had memo’d a Patch/Inverter played as part of a normal turn, the target player would have already drawn the card that keeps their hand the same size. It’s only because this is a special extra action that you end up drawing after you play, and it’s done to maintain the correct hand size.

With that in mind, it’s the playing of the Patch/Inverter which has been Memo’d, and not the corresponding draw, which is more a function of the Time Machine. As you point out, memos should not decrease the hand size of the target.

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Q: Does Crazy Joe’s win condition always have to be within four consecutive rows of the time line?

In order for Crazy Joe to win, he must collapse the timeline. In UberChrononauts, this calls for 13 paradoxes within four consecutive rows. Does the same apply when playing regular Chrononauts with the Gore years expansion? There are five rows in the game, do the 13 paradoxes still have to be within 4 consecutive rows?

A: According to the laws of Temporal Physics, the “within four rows” rule applies any time there are more than four rows on the TimeLine. I realize this makes Crazy Joe’s difficult task all the more difficult, but ye cannot change the laws of temporal physics!

For details about how to figure out how many paradoxes per row counts if your rows are not eight cards wide, see:
In UberChrononauts, how many paradoxes per row…

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Q: When using the Really Fast Time Machine, do both my plays have to be Inverter or Patch plays?

The Really Fast Time Machine (RFTM) states that you may play an extra Inverter or Patch, and draw to replace it, after your normal turn action. Is it necessary that your normal turn action involved playing an Inverter or Patch?

A: No. You can play anything you want for your turn. In fact, if you have more than one Time Machine in play, you might not even decide to use the RFTM until after you’ve played your regular turn, in fact – you might decide to use a different Time Machine’s power. Using the RFTM allows you a second play on your turn, and it’s THAT play which is limited to timeline changes (Inverter or Patch) with a draw to replace (so that your hand size does not diminish from the extra play).

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Q: We think we broke the game. Are we doing it wrong?

See this answer in a video!
Little Answers

A: A good rule of thumb for any game is that if you find that you have several possible interpretations of a rule, the one that breaks the game is probably NOT the correct way to play.

See also: Does the total effect of playing a card…

Note that if you only see ONE way to play a card, and it seems broken, please do search our FAQ for known errata or clarifications*, or contact us. It could be a typo, or a new interaction that we have not considered.

*The fastest way is to search on the name of the card you’re having a problem with.

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Q: What does it mean when a card says its action is a “free play” or a “free action”? Does using a special ability listed on a Keeper or Creeper count as a Play?

Does it count as one of your plays for your turn to do this thing?

A: No. That’s the whole point of it being “free”. It does not use one of your plays. Depending on the game we’re talking about (there are cards like this in Chrononauts and Back To The Future, in addition to many in Fluxx editions), you might only be getting one play per turn, and whatever this thing does won’t use up your play for the turn.

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Q: In Über/Chrononauts, how many paradoxes per row will blow up the universe if I have my timeline laid out with other than eight cards per row?

A: Luckily for you, fan Ryan Hackel asked himself this very question, and did the math to find out the answer! See his answer below:

In UberChrononauts, the universe is destroyed if, at any time, there are 13 paradoxes within any four consecutive rows of the timeline. (This is especially important to Crazy Joe, the Lost ID who wins by crashing the universe.)

But, if your game table is like mine, it has a hard time holding all 64 timeline cards in the traditional 8×8 arrangement (69 with the Gore Years). More often than not, I have to arrange the timeline in a different configuration to make it fit conveniently, with 9, 10, or even 12 cards per row as the table size dictates.

But wait, if I change the number of rows, it also messes with the number of possible paradoxes in each row. If there are more or less than 8 cards per row, the magic number 13 for timeline collapse is no longer valid!

So, I’ve done the math. For timeline configurations between 6 and 14 cards per row, I counted the number of Ripplepoints per row (always with the Gore Years included). Then I summed up the number of Ripplepoints per every set of four consecutive rows, and took an average. Then I compared the average Ripplepoint density against that of the usual 8-per-row timeline, and scaled the magic 13 accordingly.

Results:

6 cards per row = 9 paradoxes within four rows
7 cards per row = 11 paradoxes within four rows
8 cards per row = 13 paradoxes within four rows
9 cards per row = 14 paradoxes within four rows
10 cards per row = 16 paradoxes within four rows
11 cards per row = 17 paradoxes within four rows
12 cards per row = 19 paradoxes within four rows
13 cards per row = 20 paradoxes within four rows
14 cards per row = 23 paradoxes within four rows

Note that the number of paradoxes is approximately 1.6x the number of cards per row, in case you need a quick rule of thumb.

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Q: When playing Solonauts, do I deal out a hand of five cards for each ID, or just five cards total?

A: There is only one player in this game, and that’s you, so you only get one hand of cards, so you deal out five cards total, which is your hand to work with to get everyone home! Remember, if you get a patch you don’t need for one of those people, just discard it, and hope to draw something more useful!

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Q: In Solonauts, what do I do if all of the cards in my hand are unplayable, but also all necessary?

My example is I had five patches in my hand and none of their applicable paradoxes were available so I literally couldn’t play a card and all five of the patches were crucial in getting my people home. The rule book didn’t seem to describe what to do in this situation. What are you supposed to do in this case, quit or shuffle your hand in and draw five again?

A: Short answer: You lose.

Long answer: In Solonauts, it sometimes happens that you just can’t get all your folks home. Part of what makes it a genuinely challenging solitaire game, is that, like standard solitaire games, sometimes the cards don’t go your way, and it’s not possible to win. Unlike most other solitaire games, however, you can choose to keep playing Solonauts, to try to get as many people home as possible, even if you don’t get 100%.

So, you don’t get to shuffle your hand into the draw deck and try again. The challenge is to make it through the deck in one pass, without shuffling any cards back in for reuse or second chances on timing issues.

In the situation you describe, you just have to choose a card from your hand to discard, giving up on who ever it is that needs it, and hope you get a better card that will allow you to make forward progress in the game and hopefully get the rest of your people home. Or if you don’t want to go for an incomplete win, you can just scratch the game as a loss and play again.

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Q: In Solonauts, what do I do if two of my characters have mutually exclusive win conditions? Am I just screwed?

A: You will almost always find you have characters who conflict directly on one date or another. The trick is to get the person home first who requires the unpatched year, then flip it and patch it for the second person.

OR… Patch it for the first person, get them home, and then flip it back to the True History side, and lose the patch, since you no longer need it. It’s not required for you to maintain ALL characters’ win conditions at once.

The only problem is that, as I said, you’ll find MANY of your characters have conflicts like this, and you may line them up in the order you have to get them home… and find that it’s circular. In those cases there isn’t a way: if there isn’t one character whose conditions can clearly be satisfied first, clearing up a conflict for another, which then clears up conflict for the next and so on.

It is definitely possible to get them home if this is your only conflict. Of course, the deck may not play nice with you and give you the patches you need in the order you need them. It’s a solitaire game, and it’s based on a randomized deck of cards, and there has to be a real and fairly frequent chance you’ll fail, or there isn’t much challenge.

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Q: When playing Solonauts, does the game end when I can no longer refresh to a full five cards, or can I play out the rest of my hand?

A: Since you don’t really have turns in when playing solo, and your hand size is mutable, I can’t think of any reason the game would end before you’d won or lost it (i.e. when you can no longer draw). Keep playing until the last usable card in your hand. You’ll probably need it.

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