I Really Don't Know A Lot About History - Timeline Review

Board games with the family started off great when I was younger but then degenerated into the same old boring stuff time after time again. And it got worse in recent years as the only games that they felt like playing together before I got back into board gaming were the pub quiz and similar trivia games..........yawn!! Hate them!!

It essentially seemed as if the only games they would play at the time were either simple party games (Taboo was a good favourite but the cards got stale quickly) or games that tested general knowledge. I got lucky when I showed them Dixit but again you can only play that so often. So I had to find something that would not only be appealing to them, but also be worth my time to play and I tend to go for thematic games so "intellectual" or "historical" games don't feature much with me.

But then I came across a reprint of a game I'd heard mentioned on The Dice Tower called Timeline - a simple card game that tested your knowledge of dates - when items were invented, when historical events happened or when scientific discoveries were made. Now this sounded promising - it's intellectual so it appeals to them, it's short and it's a subject area that frankly most people aren't actually experts at - could you tell me right now when the sextant was invented.............I think not! So does it fill that niche? 

"Asmodee's logo means you're getting quality - not sure I approve of the tin though"

Designer: Frederic Henry (2010)
Publisher: Asmodee
# of Players: 2-8
Ages: 8+
Play Time: 15-30 Minutes
BGG Rank/Rating: 603 / 6.84
Dice Tower 2014 People’s Choice Rank: n/a
Category: Educational Card Game

The More You Know........

Yes I know I said I wouldn't explain rules again but feedback suggested I should continue to do so albeit not in a detailed manner! The game is very simple, each player will start with 5 cards that each have an invention on them (or event or discovery, it depends which set you bought but I'm going from the Inventions one) and one card will be in the middle showing a particular date on it.

Players will take it in turns to place one of their cards out in the middle among the cards that lay there saying whether they think it was invented before, after or in between those other cards. If they are right, they have gotten rid of a card, however if they are wrong, it stays there and they draw a new one. The object of the game is to get rid of all of your cards - simple as that.

Doesn't sound like a difficult task, but if like me your history knowledge sucks, it's harder than you think. To begin with there is very little in the timeline so some cards will be easy to play, but with every turn, the timeline gets more and more crowded with time spans between cards getting very thin. Once that happens suddenly the game gets tricky as you're desperately trying to make educated decisions about whether the locomotive was invented before or after denim jeans.

"As you can see, some inventions are clearly harder than others - same goes for each other set"

It forces you to think carefully, but not to the level of brain-burning and at times you will have to make a blind guess, but you'll learn something after every move when the dates get revealed. The game is very quick unless you go mad with the player count. It can go up to 8 players but don't do this, no REALLY don't do this! The timeline is insanely crowded at this level and you'll find that the game will just not end unless you have a brainbox in the group. 5 players is probably the max you will want to try.

The difficulty in the dates will also result in a few "swingy" victories from time to time, but as the game is just a filler at the end of the day and a teaching tool, that's not a big issue. For example it's a lot harder to figure out when the microscope was invented then it is to work out the taming of fire so the luck of the draw plays a part. 

Convuluted Timelines

There is an issue with longevity in this game. Each set only contains 110 cards, which at first glance is a lot, but in a 4-5 player game it's not uncommon to go through half of the cards in the box in a single game. if each player starts with 5 cards each, then that's 25 right off the bat. Now you WILL get answers wrong, that's a fact. So let's assume that you get at least 5 wrong each. Well there is 50 cards already in a 5 player game. And multiple plays will mean that you start remembering dates out of habit. Now if you intend to use this as a teaching tool for children, that's good, it means they are learning but if you want a filler for the family or around gamers, that's a problem.

Now this can be solved by purchasing one of the other sets in the series. There is a good range though I've heard that the Music/Cinema set sticks far too closely to the modern era meaning that it wouldn't gel well with other sets. I started off with Inventions and I find that Historical Events and Science/Discoveries go very well with that. Once that 110 limit becomes 220 and 330 and so on, suddenly the longevity of the game increases dramatically. However it's £13 a set and storage isn't so straightforward any more.

"Storage for the game on its own is great, you can see the issue when a second set gets introduced"


At its core the game is fine - it's a simple, quick card game that pinches at the brain cells but not to a degree that's going to cause brain burn. You're generally on a level playing field with other players as very few people can remember when all of these events too place, but it's about making educated guesses based on what the timeline looks like or what you know about historical periods.

However the game can drag out with too many players so keeping a cap at 5 is usually best, that being said the game is over too quickly with only two of you. Also you really should only consider this if you intend to expand it with at least one more set. There's plenty to choose from so variety is high here, but if you play this to often with only one set, the cards will get stale quick and as a result despite its low price tag of £13, it's not the best value for money when compared to more involved games.

You Will Like This Game If:

  • You want a game that could be used for educational needs - you can learn a lot here.
  • You need a card game that's simple and quick (at least with most player numbers)
  • You are thinking of expanding the game further.

You Will Not Like This Game If:

  • You don't intend to purchase more than one set - with only 110 cards it can get stale.
  • You are looking for something more meaty - this is quick and simple
  • You're looking for a 2 player game - I feel this game is best played with more people.