Updated: Sep 10, 2019
The 100 Club is a series of articles about games which I have played 100 times or more. For a game to reach this vaunted status they will either have been in my collection for a long time, i.e. The Settlers of Catan or they will have an expansive range of content, for example, Marvel Legendary or The Lord of the Rings the Card Game.
Today’s entry falls into the latter but that is not the reason I have racked up over one hundred plays of Timeline. Sure, I own four or five editions of this tiny, tin based, trivia game but that is really just because I like variety and Timeline is a cheap way to bulk out a big game order to ensure free postage!
There are two major reasons why Timeline has earned its place in the heady heights of the 100 club. It’s short and it’s simple.
Timeline takes 5 minutes to play, quite literally, even less, probably, if you’re actually good at the game. Quite soon after first owning the game I decided that it wasn’t really challenging enough to play with the rules as written where each player gets four cards and decided with my normal play group of three that we really needed more cards and upped the initial hand size to six. And even then, the game is still done and dusted in less time than it will take you to read this article.
Every Sunday we play our traditional game of Marvel Legendary and when we’re done there are usually 15-20 minutes left before I need to catch my train home. Timeline is the perfect filler to slot into that timeframe. The set up for the game is open the box, deal out 18 cards and flip one face up in the centre of the table. If you flipped a coin you could be set up and playing before the coin landed.
Turns are fast too. You look at the timeline on the table, pick one of your cards to play, decide where it fits in the timeline, determine if you were right and if not you draw a card to replace the one you played.
Obviously just because a game is short doesn’t make it good or worthy of repeat plays. Timeline, however, offers a fun challenge, a mix of memory and deduction that allows you to feel clever or even learn something. There’s luck of the draw, obviously. If you know the cards you get dealt you’re more likely to win than the player who needs to work out when Europeans Discovered Peru and whether it was before or after the Discovery of the Ballpoint Pen and the debut of Rambo First Blood.
But the game is so short it doesn’t really matter, if you lose you just push the cards to one side and deal out the next hand.
Timeline can be explained in a single sentence. "Play cards to the timeline so that the dates line up in chronological order, the first player to get rid of all their cards wins". That makes this game universal. There are no caveats, no asymmetrical player powers, no fiddly bits or moments when players might need to sing or play with their eyes closed. This means that I can play this game with non-gamers or with family members without causing a frisson. You can play it on a train, in a bar or even sat on the floor of a convention hall.
Playing Timeline is like eating comfort food. If you did it all the time it would probably be unhealthy but when you only have five minutes for a snack it’s going to hit the spot.
End of the Line? Time for a Change?
Timeline has been in my collection for three years and the frequency of plays has perhaps diminished more of late, for example it didn’t hit the table at all between November 2018 and May 2019 but it certainly isn’t going to be leaving my collection any time soon. It is merely taking a back seat and allowing some other games to have the limelight for a while, but when I need it, Timeline will be there like a faithful old sheepdog.
I really like Timeline and the amount of variety that is out there for the game at this point. I have all my expansions mixed together giving us a game that is infinitely replayable, time, after time, after time. I have no doubt that Timeline will cross the 200 mark, whether that be in three years or maybe even a decade, I don’t know, but this is a firm family favourite and we’ll be playing it again very soon.
The 100 club currently contains 4 games but others are banging on the doors demanding entry. Which game will be next, here’s a list of the current contenders. But maybe it won’t be any of these and a newcomer will leap and bound in an unprecedented manner across the finish line.
Tok Tok Woodman 98
Rhino Hero 92
Star Wars: Imperial Assault 88