Players: 2 to 8
Game Length: 15 minutes
Best enjoyed: With 3-5 players who want a quick and educational trivia game
The Timeline series is a collection of cards that challenge players to put historical events into chronological order. It is a light and quick educational and general knowledge game that starts off fairly easy (did the invention of beer come before the microscope or after?) and gets more difficult as the game progresses and more cards are on the field (was the toothpaste tube invented between the invention of the safe and the motorcycle?).
Players will start with a hand of cards and a single card on the table. One side of each card depicts an event, while the other side depicts that event with the date printed at the bottom. The card on the table will have its date revealed, and players will take turns attempting to place one card at a time on the table in the correct chronological position. After placing a card, they turn it face up and check whether they’ve placed it correctly. If it’s wrong, the card is discarded and the player draws another card, and if it’s right, the card stays where it is. The first player to have successfully played all their cards will be the winner.
Those familiar with history will be racking their brains trying to remember when particular events occurred, and there are some things you can try to infer from the revealed cards – it might follow that the discovery of an American species of plant came after the discovery of America, for example – and with each attempted card placement you’ll learn something new about the development of the world. A game of Timeline will finish with a long line of historical events, and it can be fascinating to look back down that line and see the development of human history in a snapshot.
There are a number of Timeline sets covering different categories of events, and depending on what you’re most interested in you should be able to find a set that covers it. Each set contains 110 cards, and there’s nothing stopping you from mixing together several Timeline sets. These can be easily separated after playing by the colour used to indicate the date. The currently released sets are Inventions, Discoveries, Historical Events, Music and Cinema, Diversity (that is, general interest), American History and Americana; feel free to pick and choose which of these sets you think you would enjoy!
Timeline does not lend itself overly well to repeat play, unless you mix in a number of different sets. 110 cards in a set is not all that many when you will see a few dozen in each game, and if you play the game several times in succession you will start to memorise the dates on the cards. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, given that Timeline is supposed to be an educational game, but it can cause the game to lose its appeal as a game after you’ve played it a handful of times.
Despite this, Timeline makes an excellent educational game and is more interesting and compelling than typical trivia or general knowledge games by virtue of how the players will assemble a timeline of historical events during play. It’s particularly well-suited for families, as it can spark an interest in and discussion of historical events after play, and if you are after an educational general knowledge game, Timeline comes highly recommended.