WBG Score: 8
Player Count: 2
Published by: One Stone Studios
This is a final version copy as sold at Essen 2023. A wider reprint is coming to Kickstarter soon with additional content. You can find out more about the game here.
This is a free review copy. See our review policy here
Seeker Chronicles is a fascinating card game developed by a team of scientists and game developers who love games, STEM, and science. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The team behind this game states, 'We believe in the power of science and of games beyond gaming.' However, this is not a game that feels like you are doing school work. Rather, it's a game that plays fast and fun, but you may just learn something as you go. Let's get it to the table and see how it plays.
How To Set up Seeker Chronicles
Separate the deck of cards into the 6 Seekers and their 6 associated Chronicles. Each card is identifiable by the symbol in the top left of the card. Each Seeker has 10 cards linked to it. Roll a die, and the person with the highest roll then picks one of the six piles. Alternate picks until both players now have three piles each: three Seekers and 30 Modules. Each player then identifies their three Seeker Module cards, one for each Seeker. This is identified by the Seeker Chronicles logo in the top left of the card. Place each Seeker Module with their relevant Seeker and leave two of these to the side. Place the other one, of your choice, face up in front of you with the Seeker placed above the Seeker Chronicle so the bottom of the Seeker Chronicle cards is visible under the main Seeker card. Shuffle the rest of your deck of Chronicles and place them next to this in a face-down deck. The player that picked Seekers first draws three cards to form their starting hand. The other player draws two cards and becomes the starting player. You are now ready to play.
How To Play Seeker Chronicles
Players will now take turns. First, draw a card from your deck. In later rounds, if you have any exhausted Modules, you can flip them from horizontal to vertical to ready them again for this round. Next comes the main round where you can play one module from your hand to your Memory. This means placing a card on the table face up in front of you, ready to be used as a resource, or ready to be linked to a Seeker. Players can then Link or Hyperlink as many cards as they like, paying the resource cost to do so. Cards in your Memory can be Linked, while cards in your hand can be Hyperlinked, typically at a slightly higher cost as it is a shortcut avoiding the need to be played to the table first.
When you Link or Hyperlink a card, you need to pay the resource cost, shown on the top left of the card by rotating previously played Modules to exhaust them. Then, you must slide the card you are activating under the Seeker card you are adding it to, keeping the bottom part of the card visible to show its power when Linked. Now, resolve this ability. Doing this also increases the Power of each of your Seekers. Linking Modules to Seekers in this way adds the Module's power, shown on the bottom right of the card, to the Seeker. This is important for the next phase. But also for adding new Seekers. When a current Seeker reaches a power of seven or more, you can add another Seeker into your display of cards. When you add another Seeker this way, their Seeker Module card goes into your hand. Not tucked underneath the Seeker as in set-up for your first Seeker.
Next is the Research phase. First, your opponent can Challenge you by producing resources to Link or Hyperlink Modules of their own. Players then calculate the differences in Power between their Seekers, combining their first Seeker with the other players first Seeker, then their second with their opponents second, and so on. Each researching Seeker with higher power than your opponents' Seekers allows you to Archive a number of cards equal to the difference. Players want to do this because the player who cycles through their deck three times by archiving cards in this way first is the winner. The idea is you are increasing your scientists' knowledge by enhancing their understanding of each Module of science. To Archive means simply taking the top card from your deck and flipping it face up in a separate Archive pile.
Play then moves to the next player, who will go through these steps in turn until one player has cycled through their deck three times. That player is then declared the winner.
Is It fun? Seeker Chronicles Card Game Review
The game is much more of a race game than you first realise. Activating cards to power up your Seekers at first feels more of an Engine builder, with some clever Tableau building. And this is all true. But as you play through more rounds, you will realise this is actually a race game. Its not about who can build their Tableau the best. It's all about who can build it the fastest. Now of course, these are interlinked because you will not be able to build it the fastest if you have not also built it the best. But it will be this pressure and tension from the race that will encompass your as you play.
The interplay between the cards is very clever. It feels like there are so many ways to combo certain cards together to create more powerful turns. Linking more cards, activating more powers, and archiving more cards each turn. It feels great.
As only one card can be played as a Memory each round, you need to think carefully about the order you play cards. However, having the ability to Hyperlink cards directly from your hand means you can bypass this phase if you have the Resources to do so. And some cards have the Hyperlink cost set as the same as their Link cost. Efficiency in your card choices is very important.
The game has a lovely arc to it. As you play more Modules, and build up your Seekers, you will feel a significant increase in the power of your turns. This increased power ramps up for both payers, and increases the feeling of tension in the race to archive your deck three times first. However, one card may be a little over powered in your first few games as you learn the deck. The Hawking Radiation card has a power of six, and a Linked power to triple that cards power that turn. There are other cards that allow you to unlink cards, so if you use this card a few times in a game, its pretty hard for anyone to catch you. In fact, every time I have played, the person who had this card won, and by a fair margin. It feels unbalanced in the early games as you learn how best to counter this sort of move.
However, this is a real anomaly. The rest of the cards feel perfectly balanced and work well together, offering both players an equal opportunity to carry out exciting, varied, and powerful turns. I have enjoyed learning each scientist unique powers and how they can combine in different ways to work with each other to provide an entirety varied gaming experience.
I would recommend this game to anyone who enjoys clever little card games, and who is either interested in the area of science it covers, or would enjoy discussing it as they play with their children. I have had some fascinating conversations with my son as we played this game. It has sparked his curiosity into what all these new words and things mean. Requiring a serious amount of googling from my part to answer accurately!