Order of Invention
Designer: Tim W.K. Brown
Publisher: Breaking Games
2 or more players 15 minutes ages 8+
Bubble Wrap… Instant Coffee… Processed Cheese… The Zamboni
Do you know which came first? Can you put these inventions in the right order? The name of the game says it all.
There are 80 large and wonderfully illustrated invention cards.
The front of each card is red and shows the invention. The back of each card is blue and contains the year of the invention and some fun facts about it. The range of years spans from the 1890’s to the 1970’s.
Each player or team gets a set of player chips numbered first, second, third, and fourth.
A bank of scoring tokens will be used after each round.
Each round, four inventions will be on display, red side face up.
Your task is to place your first chip on the invention that was invented the earliest, following on in numerical order until you place your fourth chip on the invention you think was invented most recently.
Once all chips are placed, flip the cards to reveal the years for each invention and wait for the chorus of cheers and moans.
Now we score.
I like to put the cards in chronological order before revealing the chips to see who scores. It builds a bit more tension and prompts some discussion as you see the small timeline you’ve created this round.
Any player or team that has a numbered chip on an invention in the correct order earns a scoring token worth 1 point. If you’re wrong, sorry! Better luck on the next one.
If you’re feeling frisky, on the next rounds you can bet your scoring tokens in addition to your player chips. But don’t get too cocky. If you’re wrong, you lose those points!
The player or team with the most points after five rounds wins.
There are no lack of games, especially in the party game arena, that ask players to think about time and chronology.
Familiarity and context set Order of Invention apart from the crowd.
The inventions in the game are small and often eclectic things we know. They are not monumental items, but each in their own way has had some impact on the world. This is history on a small scale – a relatable scale, because the inventions are familiar.
The game asks us to place four items in context with each other.
“Processed cheese must be before bubble wrap, right? And the Zamboni must come later since it’s a gas powered vehicle… but later than bubble wrap? And what about instant coffee? Didn’t the astronauts drink that?”
The heart of fun comes from the conversations these items spur on between us.
And that dialogue is inspired by the fact that the items are part of our lives. We can place the inventions in our own frame of reference, in our own context, first. And that allows us to enjoy the game in a way that’s markedly different than games that focus on big historical events or famous people or inventions.
Order of Invention is most certainly Major Fun for groups of almost any size and players of all ages. But it can also be a blast with just two. Not many games can span that range and hold up well in both situations.
The subtle but important choice to focus on the eclectic flotsam and jetsam of our modern world makes the game shine. And, win or lose, it will bring players back to the table wondering what crazy mix of items you’ll get each time you play.
Written by: Stephen Conway
This review appears in the Summer 2019 issue of Casual Game Insider Magazine.
CGI publishes a wonderful selection of articles and reviews on a quarterly basis. In 2019, a Major Fun review will be featured in the next several issues.
The Spiel, Major Fun and CGI share a common goal: opening doors to the wider world of play. We hope this cross promotion will invite more people into the game community.