Timeline is a series of family-orientated and educational games by Asmodee. Christmas is coming, so for the last-minute stocking filler or an inexpensive gift for nieces or nephews, then this little game really fits the bill.
At its heart Timeline is a dating game- not as in Blind Date, but about historical dates and events. Players need to order key events from history in their correct sequence by playing cards from their hands. The first player to clear their deck is declared the winner.
The game consists of 55 double-sided cards. Both sides are virtually identical, depicting an event or occasion. However, on one side the actual date is printed. To start a single card is drawn from the deck and placed face-up in the centre of the playing area. Each player has a hand of cards [usually 3 for beginners]. In turn, in a clockwise fashion, each player selects one card and lays it next to the existing card or cards. If they think their event is earlier in history it is placed to the left; if it is later, then to the right.
When two or more cards have been played a timeline is developing. New cards may be added to the "gaps" between cards. Once the card is laid it is flipped over and the date of that event is revealed. If the timeline is still sequenced correctly then that card remains in place. If that player has made a mistake, then the newly laid card is removed to the discard pile. The player draws another card to their hand and the turn passes clockwise to the next player.
Depending on players age and experience the starting number of cards can be varied. Similarly, the rules for gameplay can be changed such that the starting player could have an additional card in their hand at the beginning. They may select any of their cards to play when initiating the timeline.
Thoughts on Timeline: Events
Timeline: Events has been provided to be reviewed. I will confess that I had not encountered this simple game before, but it is a lot of fun. It reminds me of one of the rounds on the TV show, Richard Osman's House of Games that is called "I'm terrible at dating". The concept is very straightforward. The game comes in a handy travel tin, a little smaller than Asmodee's other tinned game- Dobble. The small rule book is clear and easily understood. In fact, we established the rules of play just by reading the synopsis of the game description. Lift the lid and each card has a nice linen finish. The cards sit within the tin, held in place by a card insert. The printing and font are clear. The illustrations are colourful.
There are just 55 cards in the event deck. I do think that within a few games the more attentive children will have all of the dates memorised. This does mean a possible limit on replayability if only one deck is used. This seems to be the beauty of this simple concept. Asmodee has produced three other timeline decks, each of 55 cards. They can be combined in any combination. British history [red pack] covers all of the important events in Britain's fascinating past. The Classic Timeline pack [yellow] has particularly esoteric past events. Who knew that the first armed robbery from a bank occurred in…... [information withheld to avoid a spoiler!]. The fourth pack is Inventions [green] that include the telephone and even man-made fire.
So is There Any Skill?
After my first playthrough my initial impression was that this was "just" a memory game, but no. There can be strategy. Not only did I need to get my cards played first, but I needed to prevent others from laying their cards. As the timeline is created it is the small date gaps that are tricky. I knew that Rosa Parks was being harassed in the 60s, but this was before Woodstock, or was it? So if I think others have cards that are within the same era, if I can "clutter" that part of history then I will make it more difficult for others to play. If they place their cards incorrectly then they are revealing the event [and the year]. Perhaps this will provide a clue to other event cards in my hand and make them easier to play later.
An alternative approach would be to play the "tricky" event cards first, to at least get a few cards laid. For example, most will know that the destruction of Pompeii and the fire of Rome were both about 2000 years ago. But which was first? I would suggest getting Pompeii out on the table, and correctly placed, especially if only one event card such as "The Start of World War One" is in play. After another round, it is likely that there will be a large gap in years between the cards. Now there is a simple 50 - 50 probability that the fire of Rome was earlier or later than Pompeii. There are no other event cards [yet] to cloud the issue.
My wife and I have enjoyed this pocket game. Having played four times we immediately logged into Zatu's site to order the others in the set. This game is fun and we wanted to continue the experience with other random events.
Final Thoughts on Timeline: Events
Christmas is coming. We are looking forward to meeting the extended family. This game is perfect to play with all ages. Granddad might remember where he was when he heard JFK had been assassinated, but does he recall the Cloning of Dolly the sheep! You do not need encyclopaedic knowledge to enjoy Timeline. This game provides entertainment and education in equal measures. We have ordered a couple of other coloured packs to extend our game and will consider a few other packs as kid's presents and stocking fillers. Any game like this can fit in the pocket and will break the ice as a filler game at the start of any party.