You can learn how to play Timeline in, what, three minutes?
You’ve got some beautifully illustrated little cards on the table in front of you (109 0f them). Each card shows a different invention, like, you know, a transistor, a toothpaste tube, a laptop. The actual date when each item was invented is written on the other side of each card. Which is why your cards are on the table rather than in your hand – so you can’t see the dates. In the middle of the table is one card, date-side up. You take one of your cards, invention-side up, and slide it next to the date-side up card. If you put it on the left side, you are claiming that that particular invention took place before the date showing on the date card. And if you put it on the right side, after. And that’s just about it, rule-wise.
From then on, players take turns, trying to get rid of their cards by placing them in the correct position (sequence) in the growing time line. As the game progresses, it gets more difficult, because there are more dates, the timeline growing evermore finely graduated. So you really have to know increasingly more precisely when that thing was actually invented. If you are wrong, you put your card back into the box and take a new one from the deck. If you are right, often enough, you get rid of all your cards, and you, ha ha ha, win!
The whole game feels like something special – 109, small, unique, beautifully illustrated cards fitting ever so perfectly into the velvet-like-lined insert into the ever so metal case. So easy to learn and teach. And yet, so very challenging. In a good way.
It’s probably true that the more you play, the better you get. Unless your memory is like mine. If you suffer from near-eidetic memory, you will eventually run out of people who want to play with you. The only version of Timeline currently available is about Inventions. Fortunately, the next set, Discoveries, is scheduled to come out this Fall, so: 1) you won’t have to wait too long, and 2) you’ll be able to put both sets together and have 218 beautiful little cards with which to demonstrate your historic memory.
On the other hand, it only takes maybe 15 minutes to play. It’s not a game you’re going to take, like, seriously. But it’s seriously fun, and, for the rest of us, it’s a great opportunity to learn some things, surprise ourselves and each other with our knowledge and lack thereof, and it will occupy a welcome and happy place in your game collection even when you aren’t the one who gets to play.
Timeline can be played by 2-8 players. Though players can be as young as eight-years-old, it’ll probably be more fun for them if they play with kids of more or less the same age. For players of every age, the fun of Timeline is timeless.