Timeline Inventions is a card based trivia game, which was released back in 2010 by publisher Asmodee. Designed by Frédéric Henry, featuring artwork from Jérémie Fleury and Gaël Lannurien, this standalone set – sometimes referred to as a blister pack – is made up of 55 cards themed around inventions. Inventions, such as the first automobile or stone cutting. Lasting around 15 minutes, the game sees 2 – 8 players, playing cards to form a Timeline. However, is this a title players will be glad was invented? Let’s find out!
Gameplay wise Timeline Inventions is identical with the rest of the series. While it can be played on its own it is also possible to integrate this deck with others by simply shuffling them together. For those unaware of the Timeline series here’s a quick overview, though for more details check out our review of Timeline Events.
Each player starts the game with 4 Timeline cards, each being “facedown” in front of them. These cards are double sided with something, in this case an invention, listed on both sides. The difference is the “face” side has the year in which the thing was invented in. On a turn the player must choose one of their cards to add to a central timeline. Correctly doing so sees play more on. Incorrect guesses see the played card discarded, with the player forced to draw a new card from the deck. At the end of a round the only player to have managed to get to zero cards wins, with a sudden death tiebreaker otherwise played out.
As a set on its own I slightly prefer Inventions to Events, the previous blister pack we reviewed. The inventions theme just triggers more of a connection to me. This can partially be attributed to a slight American skew in the Events deck, while Inventions are more universally known. Another angle of this, that certainly helps the Inventions deck, is that the Inventions deck is completely new to be, bringing in a way of fresh newness to a familiar experience – something not possible for the much played Events deck.
No matter how good it is in comparison, combining the sets is the way forward. Doubling the cards strangely doesn’t feel like it has only doubled the replayability. Before after only a few games the cards started to repeat, and this is the same if playing with just the Inventions deck. Combined players can play a few games with cards never repeating. Returning to the game again and the same can occur, with the rest of the combined deck there to play through. Only at this point do players need to reshuffle the deck, giving more time for exact years to be forgotten.
It is a negative of the series that for extended play additional sets are needed. Getting a second set though not only gets it played but also the old ones back to the table. In contrast to what I said about the sizing of a single Timeline blister pack (being great for portability), it is frustrating that the blister pack tins are the exact size they are. At 50% bigger, or square instead of circular, their portability wouldn’t be massively decreased. Nor would it take up an unnecessary amount of shelf space. Yet, it would allow two sets to be stored in one tin. This adds a little awkwardness when packing up, with a decision to be made of splitting the deck in half between the two tins or splitting out the different sets.
From looking at the shuffled deck face down players aren’t able to tell the difference between different versions, at least between the Inventions and Events decks. Even if you could I doubt it would negatively impact the gameplay. Knowing which deck a card comes from does little to tell you anything about the year something occured in. When playing shuffling them together is ideal, though some will want to split them back out after playing. This is possible. Almost unnoticeable until pointed out, the years box background colour on the cards matches the set colour – allowing them to be separated with ease.
Timeline Inventions reaffirms my thoughts on the series. Alone this set provides enough entertainment to warrant playing. Alas, over time it’ll get slightly stale as players learn the years of the cards in the deck. Combining is simply the way to go, allowing previous purchases and a new set to get to the table – massively increasing the replayability. Overall, if you’re unsure about Timeline give a variant a go, with Inventions being a great starting point. For those that enjoy the simplistic, somewhat educational, gameplay a second set – if not more – will allow the experience to thrive.
[Editor’s Note: Timeline Inventions was provided to us by Asmodee for review purposes. The game is currently available on 365 Games for £11.99. It is also available from local board game stores, find your local store here]