Thursday, January 8, 2015

An educated guessing game

I am usually attracted to a game either by clever game mechanics, a compelling story or theme, or ideally both. I tend to particularly enjoy theme-heavy games that transport me to another world, like Fortune and Glory or the Star Trek CCG, but I can also appreciate an abstract game like Ingenious if it has compelling game mechanics. I don't particularly like Set because it has neither.

Timeline: Diversity is extremely thin on game mechanics, being really just a guessing game. Each player is given four cards depicting particular events in history, such as important inventions or the publication of important works of literature. In turn, players must choose one of their cards and try to guess whether it falls before, after or in between the cards already played to the center of the table. A correct guess is added to the timeline, but if a player guesses incorrectly, their card is discarded and replaced with a new one. The first player to get rid of all of their cards is the winner.

Other than knowing your history, the only real strategy that I've been able to discover is to try to get rid of the cards you're not sure about first, saving the ones you definitely know for last. It's a very simple game.

Timeline does have a few things going for it. The artwork on the cards is great, making the game fun to look at. There are several different versions of the game, which narrow the focus to things like Music & Cinema, Historical Events, Inventions, or Discoveries, so you can pick the subject you're most interested in. It's also very easy to play, so it's a good game for distracting situations such as parties, pubs, or waiting at the airport. Plus, the different moments in history depicted on the cards can be a great conversation starter.

Rating: 3 (out of 5) Timelines is more engaging than the simple gameplay and broad theme might suggest.

Date played: November 22, 2014

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