February Review: Timeline

This month’s review is taking a rather different direction than last month, but my goal is to introduce you to as large of a variety of interests as possible.  That being said, February’s highlighted item is a card game called Timeline.  I was introduced to this game by a cousin at a family gathering when I walked out into the garage to find about four feet of itty bitty cards stretched out in a row.  Each card was an event in history and the string of cards was a timeline, hence the name.

Timeline Blog Highlight

The object of the game is to be the first player to get rid of all of your cards by correctly placing them in chronological order compared to the other cards that have already been played.  The concept is as simple as that, but the game itself is really just a catalyst for discussion and guesswork and a fair bit of learning along the way.

Conversation Starter:

If there is anything I love about this game, it is that there is never a loss for conversation.  And it isn’t the usual everyday sort of conversation that it inspires either.  Rather than politics or economics, gossip or confrontation, etc. Timeline sparks stories about history and culture.  How and why and when certain things came about.  What life would be like and must have been like without them.  For example: did you know that the trash bin wasn’t invented until 1875?  Can you even imagine life without them, because I can’t.  Or at least, I would rather not.

You get to listen to people tell stories about how they knew something or let them ramble on in what they hope is a right direction for an answer.  Sometimes, when there is nothing to do but guess, it comes down to a comical five-hundred year miss.  Which of course starts a whole new round of more common conversation we usually like to call smack talk.

How You Like It:

Timeline is not by any means a static game.  The whole point is that you can completely reconstruct it and, depending on your choices and the dealing of the cards, end up with an entirely new game every time you play.

One of the most obvious ways to vary it up is to use all sorts of different expansions and versions of the game.  There are all sorts of categories from Historical Events, to Inventions, to Music and Culture, to focused locales and global history.  You can mix them all together if you want to, or choose the oddest pairing or the one that nobody has a clue about, just for laughs.

If history is not your thing, you are not confined to a droning litany of who killed whom to start what war and prompt what invention.  You can make it into just a guessing game, because I can promise that even for history enthusiasts like myself, there is always at least an element of confusion to one degree or another.  And you can stick to the topics that are more interesting to you.  Like film?  There’s a set for that.  Want to up the ante for your trivia skills?  I promise, the “Diversity” set has all sorts of random knowledge that matters in exactly zero contexts for ordinary daily life.  The game is yours, through and through.

Challenge Balance:

As I mentioned, Timeline is a bit of a guessing game even for the proficients.  Because nobody in their right mind spends time learning when the baguette was invented.  But we are all pretty sure it happened after the appearance of dinosaurs.  That’s the thing: as the game progresses, those distinctions become more and more difficult to puzzle out as the gaps between dates close ranks crowded with more cards.

When the game starts, there is only one card beginning the timeline and you have a fifty-fifty shot at placing the next event.  Fast forward a few rounds and you are struggling to decide if it is a better mistake to play the card in a ten year gap or a hundred year gap.  By the end, it really is a challenge to squeeze the events into their neat little gaps.  But it isn’t the kind of challenge that makes you want to give up; it is the type that makes you want to try all the harder.

A Pretty Picture:

Part of the appeal of the game is the artwork on the cards.  They all have little drawings describing the events.  I have to admit that some of them are pretty strange and laughable, but they are certainly a point of entertainment.  You want to talk about a conversation starter, you should definitely check out the invention of the hairdryer.  That one is good for a laugh.

The Cons:

I have mentioned a couple of times that you don’t have to know anything about history to play this game.  However, you do need to have at least a smidgen of interest.  If you don’t care one jot, you will have probably about the same amount of fun playing it.  But, nothing can please everybody and I think all in all this game does a pretty decent job of appealing to most.

Overall, I love Timeline.  Hopefully you get the chance to try it out and love it too!  Let me know what you think in the comments and if you have anything else you want to see me review please let me know so that I can do that for ya.  Have a blessed day friends!

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