Did you listen carefully to history lessons at school? That’s good, because today this might be an advantage for you! Rise and fall, you should learn all of this and not make the same mistakes. You will get hold of time machine and go through the whole history of mankind. Do you feel up for that?
Steven Kimball, Alexandr Ortloff and Justin Kemppainen invite you to such a lesson of History of the World as this game is called. However, they did not come up with a completely original idea, since it is a redesign of the classic game from 1991. This new version was supported by the Z-Man Games publishing house and it was successfully published in the first half of 2018. Esdevium Games is its European distribution channel.
Box shows a battle across centuries, that can involve samurai swords, crusaders, ships and airships. Nothing is impossible. The box has a square shape and for a large part of the weight is responsible a large square board, that must (what else) display a map of the world. But the first impression is deceiving. If you look closer, you’ll find that the map is actually pretty much altered. All continents are there, but not quite in the right place to fit it all and give you better maneauverability.
The setup itself starts by just putting this large board on the table. In addition to the plan, players place cards categorized into stacks according to epochs (I-V), divided more into events and nation cards. The other stacks are create by region tokens, that also have Roman numerals on their back. The rest of the common components are dice, catapult, cities and fortresses. A much larger number of parts is prepared for players, who have to choose their color, get a matching set of 25 figures representing their armies of allianced nationalities and place their color token at the start of the scoring scale.
The five Roman numerals also correspond to the number of rounds, that players will be playing. At the beginning of each such big round, they first have to place (or replace) region tokens on the map (each region consisting of multiple territories), which at the same time will show the reward for gaining control of the area. Then begins the second part of the round setup, which already includes the rivals themselves. From epoch deck, nation cards and events will be chosen by the players. The advantage of an earlier choice has the player with fewer points (chooses nation first) and the one who has the most (chooses event first).
Then the battle itself will begin and players will alternate in its progress. The active playr gets a cardboard catapult. And he will soon discover, that choice of the nation is not just for fun. This card determines not only the starting position (where he will place one piece of his troops), but also specific ability and above all the strength – the number of army starting figures, that the player has at his disposal that round.
This gives players space for the most important phase of the round – the invasion. With the help of his remaining troops allowed by the nation’s card, players can spread to the neighboring territory with those, where their army is already present. The best situation is, if such a place is free, because the player will immediately take control over it. But if the army of an opponent occupies a position, there is a battle.
An attacker rolls a pair of dice and selects the higher of his results. Surprised defender has only one die available, but still can roll higher value, if lucky. The defeated army is removed from the board, in the event of a draw both pawns are set aside and no one remains in the territory. In addition, the battle will damage or destroy buildings in the location. The number of dice can affect the presence of a fort or terrain of the battlefield.
Some areas on the map contain a symbol of raw materials. If a player currently has at least two of these symbols under his control, he must build a monument in a significant location (with the city) under his control. But for one round, a century has passed, that nation has reached its peak and now disappears in decline. All the standing figures on the map must be put on the side.
They still inhabit the region and are counted towards determining control and majority in the area. Players now determine their level of military presence for individual large color territories and, according to the currently revealed scoreboard, receive a lower or higher reward. It is enough to have at least one pawn there to get some points for presence, but the true amount of the victory points will only appear, if the player is the only one in the whole region. Bonuses are provided by cities and monuments.
The end of the round follows, and hence one great epoch of human history is starting. The players will do a new card selection and get new nation, which will eventually eradicate lying forgotten civilizations. The table on the board clearly shows, which regions will bring how many points in which round. After the fifth round, the players compare points gathered and only top leader with the highest score wins.
History of the World is a game of majority and related battles. But nations start in other positions, so the situation is very dynamic, overflowing with each round. In addition, the previous peoples of the map remain to be counted with in your plans. Points are present everywhere, you just have to take them.
If you read the rules, you immediately starting comparing this game with the very popular Small World. This refreshed novelty is, however, much more complex, so it could be referred to as Small World for advanced. However, the rules remain simple enough to teach it even to less experienced candidates.
Those advanced will have one major issue with the game. Although it is possible to prepare and influence the fight differently, the dice eventually have the last word. And with them luck. In the end, it will leave a strong signature on who will be at the top of the peoples’ scale. But betrayal is also waiting for newcomers. While gameplay is clear, when reading the rules or explaining them (it’s usually enough to begin by describing the basic rules), there is no end to the game. To complete battle and five rounds, you often need more than two hours!
The game is very conflicting and the rivals are constantly fighting each other. It is precisely in order for the map to be constantly crowded, that minimum number of opponents is set at three. In two, it just would not work. But even three players are not the perfect number, we recommend four or even five. This, at the same time, results in the above-mentioned length. However, since you do not know, what kind of nation you will get in the next round, it is not possible to plan in a longer-term perspective.
There are other interesting features in the game, such as monuments and, of course, event cards. We have not mentioned them at all. They can be played during turn. But among them, there are also cards of the kingdom, that bring players new subordinates of a smaller nation. Players can travel with units by sea, they can besiege their opponents and all that while maintaining simple principles.
Game variability is hidden in nations and event cards. Their combination and situation on the map will guarantee, that the individual matches will look and feel different enough. In addition, the nations themselves do not differ only from what we have already described, but also from their own functionality. Some are nomadic and do not even have their own capital at all. Instead, they try to conquer the others, and for such a successful collapse of the enemy walls, they get rewards – victory points.
History of the World is working exactly as you would expect from a game with this theme. Serious (maybe too much), but good. The game looks nice, rules are quite clear and nothing prevents you from enjoying the fun, that comes from the game. It’s enough, though the target audience is very specific. Random moments, long game time and conflict creates a mix, that does not suit everyone. Still, it’s good that History of the World has been reworked and is coming back to the market, because it certainly has a place on it.
+ variable games
+ interesting little rules
+ winning points for superiority
+ nations in decline
- long game time
- too serious processing