Wednesday, March 23, 2011

About Time Board Game Review

About Time review
History is one of my all time least favourite categories to get on a quiz game. Whether it be - an event that you forgot about in school, something which was only relevant to people older than you, or a recent cultural event you missed - questions on history can be really hard if you have no idea what event they are referencing. About Time is a board game that takes this hard category, and bases an entire game around it. Can it survive on such a hard question type alone?

To start with the creators have made the game easier – or at least levelled the playing field – by ensuring that you are asked just one question throughout the game: ‘Guess the Year’. Based on that question you are then told about various events from history which you then have to pinpoint. You don’t have to be exactly right, and the player with the closest guess will get the point, so that actually helps ensure someone will win the round. With this set up even two players who are clueless on dates can enjoy the game, and have a chance of being correct.

Questions in the Friends and Family Edition are split across six possible categories which are based on the coloured space you land on. Those categories are:
  • Innovation
  • The Arts
  • Everyday Life
  • State and Nation
  • World and Thought
  • Heroes and Villains 
This is quite a diverse mix, and although the game has one question throughout, the categories add variety and allow players the chance to have their favourites. Interestingly there’s no sports category, which you’d assume would be a given, but that’s probably because it would be hard to find an event in 1820 that players would have any chance of guessing.

 Questions cover everything from Back to the Future, to Ant and Deck. The iPhone to George Orwell’s 1984. There’s two question decks included in the game; Starter, which is more modern questions, and Classic which covers a wider range of times. You can mix the packs together for a challenge, or pick the deck that you feel will best suit you. I preferred Starter, but could see how those who enjoy history could enjoy Classic, or a mixed deck.

With one deck there’d be a lot of questions, but the two decks means you have 1,600 possible questions, and given that you only choose them when you land on the colour, the number of possible questions before you get a repeat is staggering. Clearly longevity was in mind when the creators made the game and it shows.

Then we come on the board game itself. Although the ten page instruction book can seem intimidating, the game is also summed up on a single card. You win tokens by getting closest to the year on a question, and the winner is whoever has the most tokens when the game ends. You get the same number of tokens for each correct answer, but I created my own game variant based on this principle. I gave all the chips out at the start of the game and then players could bet if they thought they had the correct answer. They could raise the stakes to win more, and like poker, other players could pull out if they felt they had no idea. It worked well as a twist on the format, if you want another way of playing.

About Time Board Image

You pick a historical figure at the start of the game, from Mozart to Gandhi, Queen Elizabeth I to Cleopatra and as they go around the board various fates from history can befall them. So you could catch the plague, have a duel, storm a castle or face a highway man. These squares distribute tokens around and move your character around the board. They mix things up a bit, and although there are a few possible outcomes the reference card sums them up nicely.

The final part of the game comes from Time cards, which you can play during the game. There are three types:

Clue cards – let you see another event from the year you are trying to guess.
Joker cards – Collect half of the other teams tokens if you win the round
Digit cards – The other team has to tell you a digit of your choice from their answer year

For all its attempts to add variation to the gameplay, About Time excels on the basis it has interesting events and a solid concept. You can strip away the time cards, tokens, and board and still play a very enjoyable guessing game. Although I don’t enjoy history, it doesn’t feel like a history lesson, more a game that contains interesting facts. If that sounds ideal, then with such a wide range of questions it’ll stand the test of time for you.

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Every product on this site has been received for free, and given to me by the product manufacturer or their associated PR organisation in return for a review.

I have no other personal or business association with these companies, and all reviews are written truthfully and based on my own experience. If I hate a product I will say so (and have done on many occasions!).