This game kind of came out of nowhere for me. Timeline is a series of (literally) small card games that is about putting things that happened in history in chronological order. I bought the Cinema & Music edition. Since I am an avid film geek, I thought it was pretty cool. Sorry for not being modest, but I was too good at it because I am have a knack for remembering movie years. I never had to turn the card over, because I knew the correct year on every movie card. I won every game and that’s no fun for anybody. I did think that if I got other versions of Timeline (like Inventions, American History, etc.), that it could be more fun for everyone I play with, since I’m not an idiot savant when it comes to those other subjects… heh.
And then just a few weeks ago, Asmodee announced Timeline Challenge. “What could that be?”, I thought. I discovered that it was a board game version of the Timeline card game. What would it be like? How different is it from the card game? Let’s find out!
Timeline Challenge can be played with 2-5 players, or up to 10 players with teams of 2. The box says it’s for ages 10 & up and plays in about 30 minute, and I’d say that’s on the nose.
The game is played over a series of challenges. Every player (or team) picks a player piece and places it on the start place on the board, which is a spiral. Then place a stack of time cards face down (face up shows the answer).
There are 5 different kinds of spaces, each of which representing a different challenge. Whichever player piece (or pieces) is in the lead, the challenge on their space is the challenge that every player will participate in. Take the top card(s) from the draw pile and place it (them) in the corresponding challenge space. Whoever wins that challenge will move a number of spaces (depending on the challenge). There are also 2 special showdown challenges that happen when the lead player crosses them.
Each player also has their own board which have dials for which they can make their guess for each challenge. The first person to reach the checkered flag space in the middle of the board wins the game.
Here is an overview of each challenge:
- The Right Date – Each player must guess the exact year and will move one space on the track for each number they get correct.
2. Timeline 4 – Out of the 4 cards placed, you must guess which era they are from. At the top of the board is a numbered timeline that you must pick a number from:
Then on your player board, select a number for each card placed in the challenge. You move one spot for each correct guess.
3. The Combination – You must guess in chronological order of the 4 cards placed which happened first. Use your player board to select a number (1 through 4) for each card. You move one space for each correct guess.
4. The Bet – For the card placed, you must pick a number from the timeline at the top of the board for which you think that event happened in. You can guess more than one number if you’re not 100% sure. You move one space for every correct guess.
5. The Split – For the 2 cards that are placed, you must guess how many years are between the 2 events. Whoever is the closest moves 4 spaces.
And finally, the special showdown spots:
The first is sudden death, which is exactly like the original timeline game. You place a card with the year showing, then each player in turn places cards in front or behind cards, attempting to make the line in chronological order. Play proceeds until one player remains. That player moves three spaces. (In a 2-player game, only if the player furthest behind wins moves three spots, otherwise the lead player doesn’t move at all).
The second showdown challenge is called More or Less. The first player takes a card and looks at the answer. The other players (in clockwise direction) guess the year. The first player will say “more” or “less”. Play proceeds until someone guesses the date and they get to move three spaces. (In a 2 player game, this challenge is replaced with another round of “sudden death”)
And that’s the game!
How does this compare with the other Timeline games? Well, the other games are just a simple card game of placing cards in chronological order. This is still simple, but it takes that main concept and turns it in to a grandiose production of a board game, making it more like a trivia pursuit-type game.
The board itself is huge! The artwork is gorgeous and the player pieces look great!
I thought the original game was amusing entertainment, but Timeline Challenge is a very solid board game. Instead of it being a fun activity, the designers have turned Timeline into more of an actual board game. The results are fantastic! I had a lot more fun with this than the original, which wasn’t bad at all. This just feels more complete to me.
I love games that have a variety of challenges to participate in, and that’s probably a good reason why I responded so positively to this. Having 5 different kinds of challenges make the game interesting throughout. And I think it balances out the game too. If one player is not so good at one challenge, they may be great at another. I feel like in this game, you don’t have to know exact dates as much as you did in the original. Having the challenges where you’re guessing the eras from the timeline at the top of the board really opens the game up with who you can play this with. I love trying to figure out when shampoo was invented. And sometimes the answer turns out to be much different than you think.
The replayability is pretty good here, only because of all the timeline editions you can buy that are out there. The game comes with 110 cards. I bought Music & Cinema and the Diversity editions as well, and just mixed them into the base game. I think they’re about 8 different sets out there you can grab, and they’re not that expensive.
If you play this often enough, eventually you will have played with all the cards. Some you may remember the dates, and some you will forget. I think it’s still pretty replayable, and also could be fun to see if you retained any of the knowledge that you learned from previous games.
My only negative thing to say about this is that the player boards have been coming apart on me. They have these plastic fasteners that you put them together with, and while at first they snap right together, I had a few of them come apart. Fortunately, Asmodee have included extra fasteners, but it’s still a pain in the neck.
Apart from that, this is an excellent production. If you loved the original Timeline games, this is a must-have for your collection. It turns an amusing filler into a solid board game. It’s running time of 30 minutes goes by very fast, and I guarantee that you’ll play at least one more game after your first. It’s that fun!
For those who haven’t played the original Timeline, if you like trivia games but want something other than just a bunch of cards with questions on them, definitely check this out. This was a very fun experience. A big recommendation from me!