Kickstarter Tabletop Alert: Time Travel Fun in ‘Trekking Through History’

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Wouldn’t it be incredible if there were a way to travel through time? As a history teacher, I have often thought about how great it would be to witness historical events in person. I am not alone. There are many books and movies about time travel, and even several games. However, soon there will be a new way to go Trekking Through History

What Is Trekking Through History?

Trekking Through History is a game for 2-4 players, ages 10 and up, and takes about 30-60 minutes to play. It’s currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, with a pledge level of $50 for a copy of the game. Also included are two Kickstarter Exclusives which will not be included with retail copies of the game. These include the Time Warp Expansion as well as Solo Mode. Trekking Through History was designed by Charlie Bink and published by Underdog Games, with illustrations by Eric Hibblerer.

New to Kickstarter? Check out our crowdfunding primer.

Trekking Through History Components

Note: My review is based on a prototype copy, so it is subject to change and may not reflect final component quality.

  • 1 Neoprene Playmat
  • 108 History Cards
  • 12 Ancestor Cards
  • 1 Clock
  • 4 Pocket Watches
  • 4 Scoring Markers
  • 80 Experience Tokens (5 different types)
  • 16 Time Crystals
  • 4 Crystal Tanks
  • 24 Itineraries
  • 1 Rulebook
  • 4 Reference Cards
history cards
Two of the history cards you will find in the game. Image courtesy of Underdog Games.

The history cards  are collected a played into sets called treks. The top of the card contains the name of the even and its date. On the bottom are listed the amount of time during the day it takes to visit that historical event as well as the experience tokens you gain for playing them. 

itineraries
Itineraries with experience tokens. Image courtesy of Underdog Games.

Experience tokens you collect by playing history cards can be placed on your itinerary in order to earn victory points or time crystals. There are 24 different itineraries, each with different ways to earn points. 

How to Play Trekking Through History

You can download a copy of the rulebook here.

The Goal

The goal of the game is to earn the most victory points by the end of the game.

Setup

Setting up the game is fairly quick. Place the playmat in the center of the play area with the supply tray containing all of the experience tokens and time crystals nearby. On the playmat, place a stack of ancestor cards, the number of which depends on the number of players. Now separate the history cards into three decks based on the Roman numeral on the top right. These represent Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3. Shuffle each deck of history cards. Place the Day 1 deck face up in the history deck space at the bottom left of the playmat and draw five cards from the top and place them in the five empty slots to the right of the deck. The top card of the deck and the other five cards form the departures row. Place the Day 2 and Day 3 decks aside to use later. 

Next shuffle the itineraries and deal four face down to each player. Players choose one of their itineraries at random and places the other 3 near them face down to use later. Each player then takes a crystal tank and places one time crystal on it. Players also each take a reference card. Place the clock board near the playmat. Players pick a pocket watch and stack them in random order on top of one another in the 12 o’clock space. Finally, each player takes a point marker of the same color as their pocket watch and places it on the zero space on the scoring track of the playmat. You are now ready to play Trekking Through History.

playmat
Playmat setup for gameplay. Image courtesy of Underdog Games.

Gameplay

The game is divided into three days. During each day, the players can take a number of turns. The pocket watches on the clock board determine turn order. The player with the pocket watch on top of the stack at 12 o’clock goes first. Then the next player in the stack and so forth. After everyone as taken their first turn, the player whose pocket watch is furthest behind goes next. In case of a tie, then the player whose pocket watch is on top goes first. It is possible for a player to take multiple turns in a row if they continue to be the furthest behind. 

During a player’s turn, they must follow five steps in order: choose a card, move the pocket watch, collect benefits, place a card in the trek, and slide and refill the history cards. Let’s take a look at each step in greater detail.

A player starts their turn by selecting one of the six history cards from the departures row. History cards are how you earn points during the game. Instead of selecting a history card, a player may instead select an ancestor card. Like history cards, they can be placed into a trek. However, ancestor cards do not have a date, which makes them easier to visit in chronological order. 

After selecting a card, look at the number in the lower left corner of the card. That is the number of hours you must spend at that historical event. Move your pocket watch that may hours on the clock board. If you land at a space with another pocket watch, place your pocket watch on top of the stack. At this time, you can spend time crystals to reduce the time you spent. For each time crystal you spend, you can subtract one hour from the total. You can spend more than one time crystal, but you cannot make any card cost less than one hour. Also, you cannot spend any time crystals you might earn from the current card. 

history cards
Each history card shows the amount of time spent at the even and the benefits you receive. Image courtesy of Underdog Games.

Once you have moved your pocket watch, you now collect your benefits. Look at the lower right corner of the card you chose and see which types of experience tokens or time crystals you collect. You also collect benefits shown on the playmat below the space where your card was located. Place any time crystals into your crystal tank. Then place experience tokens onto your itinerary. Tokens are placed in the uppermost empty space of the column matching the token. Wild tokens can be placed in any column. If you place a token on a space with an icon on it, or completely fill a horizontal row with an icon at the end of it, then earn what the icon shows. If it is a time crystal, collect a time crystal from the supply and add it to your crystal tank. If it is a victory point icon, then move your point marker along the point track that many spaces. 

Next you must place your card into a trek. A trek is a series of events visited in chronological order. The more events in a trek, the more points you’ll score at game’s end. On your first turn, just place the card in front of you to start a trek. On subsequent turns, if your new card’s year is chronologically later than the last card in your trek, then stack the new card on top so you can see all of the dates of the previous cards. If the new card has an earlier date, you don’t add it to the trek. Instead, collapse the cards in that trek into a single stack and turn it over to show that it is completed. Then use the new card to start a new trek. If you selected an ancestor card, then place it on your current trek. Its date them becomes the same as the date of the card immediately under it. You cannot start a new trek with an ancestor card. 

Finally, slide the history cards in the departures row to the right to fill in any empty slots. Slide the top card of the deck to fill the leftmost empty space in the row. 

When a player’s pocket watch reaches the 12 o’clock spot, they must stop there. If the history card and any time crystals used brings your pocket watch brings it exactly to the 12 o’clock spot without any extra time, the player scores a punctuality bonus of 3 victory points. If your time would move you past 12 o’clock, then you still stop at 12 but don’t get the bonus. Once all of the players are at 12 o’clock, the day ends. Discard the current day deck and all of the history cards in the departures row. Now take the next day deck and use these cards to fill out the departures row with the deck on the left slot. Players discard their current itinerary and all tokens on them and then select a new itinerary from their remaining cards to use for the upcoming day. Players continue on their current trek and keep the time crystals they have in their crystal tank. Now begin the next day with the pocket watches at the 12 o’clock position. 

Game End

The game ends when all players are at 12 o’clock at the end of the third day. Players now calculate their final score. Some of their points are already on the score track from history cards and itineraries. Next, players score one point for each time crystal they still have in their crystal tank. Finally, players score their treks based on the number of a cards in each trek. Use the trek scoring reference on the playmat to determine the points for each of trek. The player with the most points is the winner. In case of a tie, the player with the longest trek wins. If there is still a tie, then the tie players compare their second longest trek, then subsequent treks until their is a winner. If there is still a tie, then they share the victory. 

Why You Should Play Trekking Through History

Trekking Through History is a great game. The artwork on the history cards is incredible. It reminds me of the classic posters for Disneyland attractions and the text on the front of the cards offers an invitation to visit those historical events. Plus the backsides of the cards have a description of the events. This is a great way to learn some history as you have fun playing the game. While the materials of the game are not final, past products by Underdog Games which I have played have always had quality components. It looks like Trekking Through History will be no exception. I like the fact that the experience tokens are plastic and not cardboard counters. 

back side of history card
The back side of each history card contains a description of the event. Image courtesy of Underdog Games.

While the game looks amazing, I am even more impressed with the gameplay and mechanics. Choosing which history card to draw during your turn involves quite a bit of thinking. Not only do you need to consider how it will fit chronologically into your current trek, but also consider the time on the card as well as what benefits you gain. I really like the time management aspect of the game. The clock board with the pocket watches is a great way to allow players to modify the turn order and even take more than one turn in a row. Time crystals become very important in that they allow you to decrease the time requirement on a history card. I enjoy the challenge of balancing time with gaining experience while also trying to create treks with as many cards as possible. 

Trekking Through History is a challenging and enjoyable game which is great for families as well as for game nights. I really like what I have seen so far with the game and can’t wait to play the final product which will ship out later this year. I highly recommend Trekking Through History and encourage you to visit their Kickstarter campaign.

For more information or to make a pledge, visit the Trekking Through History Kickstarter page!


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Disclosure: GeekDad received a copy of this game for review purposes.

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