When Sherlock Holmes drank his tea, did he use a tea bag or had it not been invented yet? What came first, eyeglasses or whiskey? These and many more are the pressing questions that you must answer in order to defeat your opponents at Timeline.
Timeline is a very fast game to learn. Each player has at least four cards to start, adding more as they desire a higher difficulty level, and a single card is revealed. Each card is two-sided, with a matching picture on each side, however; one side has a caption describing the picture like “The invention of the Electric Iron” and the other has the year “1882”. In order to play the game players must find the correct place on the timeline for their card without seeing the year printed on the back.
As the game progresses, it gets more and more difficult to place cards as there are many possibilities of spots they could fit in if you aren’t sure when they might have occurred. What happened first “The Domestication of Cattle” or “The Domestication of Cats” and where does “The invention of the oil lamp” fit in?
If you place your card correctly, it is revealed and becomes part of the timeline, if not, it is discarded and you draw a new card. A round ends when a player places their final card correctly. If any other players also place their final cards correctly that same round, a new round is played. Rounds are continued until only one player finishes a round with no cards.
Timeline is a quick play game, and the expansions can be stand-alone or added together for more difficult play. While the game does allow for a two-player game, playing a four card hand does not play well, it is somewhat uneventful, as most games are when played with the minimum players. To make it more interesting, I would suggest playing a minimum of 6 cards for a 2-player game and/or drawing 2 starting cards and placing them correctly for some real challenges.
Asmodee has rated this game as 8+, but it would be very easy to modify for smaller history buffs. Not only does this game teach the history of inventions, science, music and global events, it also teaches children about chronology and number line placement. Years prior to zero are represented as negative numbers, so that the reverse ascension of negative integers can be taught or reinforced (nearly) painlessly. Some reading is required, however; that can be done prior to the game starting and when questions are asked.
If your child is old enough to understand 4-digit integers, you can modify the play to allow them to “peek” at a date on a card. This takes the game from a historical trivia strategy game to a basic lesson in number theory strategy game. This way a smaller child can participate with the older members of the family without feeling as if they are cheating.
Once a child graduates to always getting the placement correct on the line by peeking, you can start to ease back on allowing it once per round or once per game until they can play fully on their own.
Timeline is a quick and easy to learn game. Each expansion depicts the same steampunk-styled character in different settings on a sturdy metal box. For a game that retails under $15, it is one of the better quality levels.
Outlived your copy of Timeline? Need to add more challenges? Check out the Timeline expansions:
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This looks pretty cool! Thank you for the advice on two player games. My husband and I love board games, but one of our biggest challenges is finding games that play well with two players. Alas, no Catan for us!
Actually, you can play Catan 2-player! The variant is to either double up on colors (so you both manage 2) or you limit the board space like this – http://nick.borko.org/games/Catan2Players.pdf
I actually LOVE to play Catan 2-player this way because it adds to the challenge, trade is limited, of course, but if you aren’t big traders it makes little different!