Timeline review

Trivial Pursuit may be the king of all trivia games, or at least the most recognizable brand in the genre, but we recently started playing a fun and creative spin on trivia games called Timeline – here’s a closer look.

In a nutshell, Timeline is about putting historical events in the right order by putting down cards. It’s a compact game as well, no bigger than a deck of cards, which makes it far more portable than “bigger” trivia games and perfect for taking on a trip. We may not have been traveling much in the past two years, but that’s always a plus in our book, as vacations are a great time to play family games like this.

At the start of a game, each player is given a hand of double-sided cards, each card denoting an important moment in history. This can be an invention, a discovery or any other kind of important moment in time. The other side of the card lists in which year the event took place, but players aren’t allowed to see that bit of information just yet.

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The game then starts with a first card being dealt to the center of the table with the year turned upwards. The first player then places a card to the left or right of this card according to where his/her event fits on the timeline you’re building together, and when the card is turned over we discover if the card is in the right spot or not. If it is, play turns to the next player, but if not then the card is thrown out and the one who played it has to draw a new card from the deck.

As you can probably infer, the aim is to play all the cards in your hand, and the player who is the first to successfully do so wins. But while choices are pretty safe at the beginning (you can select a card where you’re certain it’s way after or before the already placed event(s)), the margins get more narrow as you play and it’s no longer just a matter of “before or after” but also about where an event falls in between other events on the table.

timeline3

This is where doubt starts to set in, which turns out to be a great conversation starter as players can’t keep themselves from thinking out about where their next card should go. Before you know it, everyone playing is expressing surprise, personal memories and/or exchanging tips or knowledge. On top of being fun, it’s educational as well – though this also means that older players are generally at an advantage so it helps if you’re not too competitive when playing with younger players.

With over 100 cards in the deck, frequent play might result in memorization of years, although self-doubt is quick to set in once the margins grow smaller. We wouldn’t recommend playing Timeline all evening for this reason, but it’s a great game for two to four players that can be played in only 15 minutes, so a solid choice to start game night with or to play when you only have a limited amount of time. And if you really enjoy what you’re playing, then publisher Asmodee has a few expansions on the market that will make the memorization effect pretty much vanish as well.

As mentioned, a great alternate take on the trivia genre that, because of its guessing and reasoning elements, can also draw in players who normally don’t like fact-based trivia games.

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