I Had That! #44: Doctor Who: The Game of Time and Space

(For today’s “I Had That”, I’m reposting part of a blog post from two years ago.)

A recent discussion on BGG had me thinking about the oldest game I own. That is, what game have I held on to for the longest? I no longer have my original copy of Illuminati and instead have a deluxe one, so it’s not that. Talisman and DungeonQuest are pretty old for me, but it’s not either of these. Nope, I’m pretty sure the title goes to:

Doctor Who: The Game of Time and Space, by Games Workshop. I probably haven’t played this thing in over 25 years, but I can’t see ever getting rid of it.

Oh, it’s not a good game. It’s simultaneously stupid easy and tediously dull. You are rival incarnations of the Doctor (I guess), traveling through the cosmos looking for the six segments of the Key of Time Chronos. There are 60 spaces, each with three counters face down on it. One is a monster, one is an item, and one may be a part of the key. You fight the monsters, grab the items (which are things that help you in the fight) and hope for a key part that you need. Over and over and over again.

The game is also notorious for its questionable Doctor Who references. Among the companions who can aid you are “Sara Jane”, “Vicki” (in her space leotard and thigh-high boots), “Susie”, and “Lyla”. Daleks and Cybermen look fine, but “Ice Man”, “Yeti”, “Giant Robot”, and others which actually have TV show counterparts are simply some generic space-fantasy artwork unrelated to anything from the program.

So no, it kind of falls down at both being a piece of Doctor Who ephemera and being a board game, but there’s something extra it has. At least, there’s something extra mine has.

I’m one of the few boardgame enthusiasts who’s never tried his hand at designing a boardgame. Oh, I’ve had ideas, but I’ve never even begun bringing any to fruition. The exception is the Doctor Who boardgame, which I didn’t design, but made a mini expansion for.

Behold, my additional rules for this game! I typed them up on the electric typewriter in my Aunt Shirley’s office, which had both a fancy centering thinger AND the ability to type in red ink! Since some of the tiles in the game were blank, I was free to add in some things I felt the game needed.

First, I added devices that gave you control over most Cybermen and Daleks because why not? Note that I had some sense of game balance — the stronger enemies couldn’t be controlled. Still, I should have made the player do something to earn these beauties. Oh, and here are the tokens:

(Don’t laugh! That artwork isn’t too far off from the game’s artwork.) I especially like how I said “screw it” to writing out “DALEK CONTROLLER” in red pen. I don’t know what the little box next to the Cyber-Controller is; I think I messed up and started to give it a strength rating.

Next I addressed the problem that, out of sixty green key counters, you were looking for six of them. I addressed this with a nice solution, a lump of key material that could act as a wildcard for any missing piece (this is also related to the show — In the “Key to Time” stories The Doctor at one point substitutes some material for a missing segment!) Also added to the green tiles was the “symbol of the White Guardian” — the powerful being who has sent you on this task — which, according to my rules sheet, has the effect of a “Cosmic Vortex”. A Cosmic Vortex seems to teleport an enemy or player away to a random location.

Some new enemies show up. To make the Cyber-Controller more useful, I added some more Cybermen and Cybermats, but also the Cyberleader, who is immune. I also added a Sontaran Warrior, Zygon, and Mummy.

That’s some fine, fine artwork.

Finally, I added some more current starter assistants: Romana (looks to be the second incarnation, according to my artwork), Adric, and Tegan. Yes, I let Adric be in the game!

Adric appears to be wearing Flavor Flav’s clock around his neck. I don’t know why Tegan didn’t get inked.

Did my additions make the game any better? I can’t imagine they did. But hey, I made little rules and artwork and even tried to balance things a little. Check me out!

The game came out in 1980 and near as I can figure, I bought my copy some time around ’81 or ’82. I got it from “The Book End”, a used books/comics/nerd stuff store where I worked part-time. (Old-school New Orleans geeks, this shop was run by Jim Mulé, who also ran Vul-Con.) It was one of the first places in the city to really get Doctor Who merchandise, and I bought a ton of it up. I remember this game being pretty expensive (relative to the times and my age) but I eventually got it.

I can also peg these additional monsters to some time after March, 1982. It might not appear so to the layman, but the Cyber-Controller artwork is based on the Cybermen who appeared in “Earthshock”, which came out then. I probably didn’t even see that episode until some time in ’83, but I would have seen photos before then. So I was around 14 or 15 when I did this.

(I swear I saw this game later with a Peter Davison cover, but that can’t possibly be. Not only can I not find any evidence this was ever done, someone on BGG pointed out how the board itself has Tom Baker’s face on it and surely they wouldn’t go through that much trouble for it. So I must be thinking of something else.)

So there you go, the oldest boardgame I own, along with a little look at my only attempt at game design.

When did I get it? 1981 or 1982, probably.

Do I still have it? I do indeed!

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