It does not seem like a coincidence that the first three letters in history are “his.” Most history is written by men and about men. However, there are countless women who played important roles in history. Recently the stories of their lives are coming to light, and many universities (and even some high schools) offer courses in women’s history. As I look at my own family history, I have learned that I am descended from many strong and courageous women. My great-great-grandmother walked over 1,000 miles across the American plains in 1856. She was only 3 years old at the time! Her mother pulled a handcart along with her children that great distance, suffering during an early winter, to meet up with her husband who had traveled ahead of them. Other female ancestors helped settle the Plymouth Colony, raised her children and ran a farm after her husband died as a soldier fighting in the American Revolution, or raised two young daughters as a widow during the Great Depression. Therefore I am excited to learn about other important women as I play the new tabletop game Her Story.
What Is Her Story?
Her Story is a family-friendly strategy board game for 2-5 players, ages 8 and up, and takes about 30-60 minutes to play. Players take on the role of acclaimed authors who are each writing a book telling the story of remarkable women in history. The game is currently available from the Underdog Games Store on Amazon for $50 a copy. However, for a limited time, you can use the coupon on the site to save $5! Her Story was designed by Nick Bentley, Danielle Reynolds, and Emerson Matsuuchi and published by Underdog Games, with illustrations by Eunice Adeyi and Cristina Arctor.
Her Story Components
Here is what comes in the box:
- 1 Neoprene mat
- 5 Player boards (desks)
- 5 Wood pushpins
- 120 Chapter cards
- 52 Research tokens
- 1 Drawstring bag
- 5 Library cards
- 5 Player aids
The mat is the idea board where the chapter cards and research tokens in play are placed. It is made of neoprene with stitched edges. The cushioning of the mat makes it easy to pick up cards and tokens. Wooden pushpins are used to keep track of the score using the track that runs along the border of the map.
Each player gets a player board which acts as their desk. Here they can place chapter cards as drafts and then stack them to write their book. Research tokens collected are placed in the slots along the right side of the board.
The 120 chapter cards each feature a unique and remarkable woman. The front side shows an illustration of the woman and a number showing how many victory points the chapter is worth in the upper left corner. Along the right side of the card are the research symbols you need to spend to complete that chapter for your book. Any special abilities are listed at the bottom of the card.
Research tokens are used to complete chapters for your book. Each has one or more types of research symbols on them in different colors. The symbols represent reading, thinking, interviewing, and searching. The tokens are stored in the drawstring bag from which they are randomly drawn.
Each player gets a library card that allows them to reset the research tokens on the mat. Player aid cards provide reminders of the actions players can take during their turn and other rules.
How to Play Her Story
You can download a copy of the rulebook here.
The goal of the game is to do research, draft chapters, and then complete chapters to create the highest-scoring book by the end of the game.
Start off by placing the idea board (mat) in the center of the play area. Shuffle the chapter card deck and place it next to the idea board with the illustration side of the cards up. Draw five cards and place them face up on the idea board. Next, place the research tokens in the drawstring bag and shuffle them. Draw six tokens and place them on the idea board in the appropriate spaces. Each player takes a desk board and a pushpin of the matching color. Place the pushpins next to the start space of the score track on the idea board. Give each player a library card and a player aid card. The player who last finished reading a book will be the first player. You are now ready to play Her Story.
The game is played in rounds in which each player takes a turn. During a turn, a player may perform one of three possible actions. They can choose to Research, Draft a Chapter, or Complete a Chapter during their turn.
When you choose to research, you take one of the tokens from the idea board and place it on one of the empty slots on your desk. If you have no empty slots, then discard one of your tokens so you have room for the new token. Discarded tokens are placed in a pile to the side of the idea board. Once you take a token, draw a new one from the drawstring bag and place it on the empty slot on the idea board. If the bag ever runs out of tokens, then place the tokens from the discard pile into the bag and shuffle them. During this action, if you do not want any of the tokens on the idea board, you can flip your library card over and discard all six tokens on the idea board and draw new ones. Then take a token as usual. The second time you use your library card, discard it to the side of the idea board. You can only use it twice during a game.
Draft a Chapter
If at least one of the draft areas on your desk is open, you may take a chapter card from the idea board and place it in a draft area on your desk. You also score 2 points, so move your thumbtack two spaces on the score track. Finally, draw a new chapter card from the deck and place it on the idea board so there are once again five cards there. Drafting is a good way to get a card you want before someone else takes it, even if you don’t yet have the research requirements for it.
Complete a Chapter
Each chapter card has research requirements listed along the right side. In order to complete a chapter and move it to the center row of your desk, you need to pay the research costs using the tokens on your desk. Discard research tokens on your desk which contain all of the requirements. You can complete a chapter card either from the idea board or from your draft area. You can discard extra symbols on your tokens. When you complete a chapter, you score the points listed at the top of the card. Move your thumbtack along the score track. If you discarded the exact amount of research symbols as listed on the card, you score an additional 3 points. When placing the chapter card into the completed row, place it on top of the previous card so that the space below the character’s name on the lower card is showing.
Some chapter cards have powers listed at the bottom. Some have symbols that act as permanent research tokens. When using the symbols on a card, you must use all of them from a card. You can’t only use one of them. Other powers provide points during the game such as when you are in last place or at the end of the game.
The game ends when a player has written 8 chapters in their book (completed the 8th chapter card). Complete the current round so that each player has taken the same number of turns. Players then add any points they earn from endgame powers on their completed chapter cards. The player with the highest score is the winner. If there is a tie, the player with the most total points on their chapter cards wins. If there is still a tie, those players share the victory.
After scoring, each player collects their completed chapter cards into a pile and turns them over, placing the player aid card face down on top to create their finished book. Players then choose one of their chapters to read aloud so all players can learn about these iconic women.
Her Story is GeekDad Approved!
Why You Should Play Her Story
When I first heard about Her Story, I could not wait to play it. As a high school history teacher and history major, I try to include underrepresented groups as I teach the United States and World History. While I was familiar with some of the women included on the chapter cards in the game, many I had never heard of or did not know much about their lives. However, Her Story is more than just a history lesson. It is a fun and engaging game that is easy to learn as well as teach to other players.
While the rules may seem simple, there is quite a bit of strategy involved as well. At the start, you are wanting to select research tokens that will help you complete chapters. However, if there are high-scoring cards or those with good abilities, you may want to draft them to your deck before another player does the same thing. Trying to pay the exact amount of research symbols to complete a chapter earns you 3 extra points, which can really make a difference in a close game.
These decisions each turn as well as the need to do some planning ahead are some of the features I really enjoy about Her Story. It lets me focus on my strategy instead of having to worry about complex rules. In addition, since everyone is gaining chapter cards and resource tokens from the same pool on the idea board, it is important to watch what the other players are doing, thus keeping everyone engaged in the game. This becomes important towards the end as players start getting close to having eight chapters completed which will end the game at the end of the round. If the player who goes last in a round is the first to complete their book, then the game ends immediately.
I have always been impressed by the presentation and quality of the components in every game I have played by Underdog Games. Her Story is no exception. Few games come with a neoprene mat of good quality right in the box. They often must be purchased separately if they are available at all. The drawstring bag is also a nice feature for not only storing the research tokens but also drawing them randomly. Because of this, the research tokens are double-sided with the same symbols on each side so there is no need to flip them over to see what symbols they provide. The artwork on the chapter cards is also well done with an illustration of 120 different important women. I really like the backside of the cards as well since they contain a brief history of each woman as well as an interesting fact. Finally, all of the components store easily in the custom-designed insert in the box. For someone like me who likes to keep their game components organized for easy setup and cleanup, this is always a welcome bonus.
I am very impressed by Her Story. Not only is it a fun, quality game that requires some thinking, but it is also educational. I have shown my copy of the game to several of my fellow teachers and they are all fascinated that the stories of these incredible women are being told through a unique medium. In addition to teaching history, I also teach a game design course. One focus of the class is using what we learn to serve the community. Her Story is a perfect example of this. In fact, the game designers enlisted 12 female teachers, from pre-K to college, to help create a diverse list of both well-known and underrepresented women. In addition, student research assistants from a middle school researched these women and dug up the amazing facts included on the chapter cards.
As a father of three strong and independent daughters, as well as three sons who honor and respect women, I am so glad to see a game released that helps girls see people like themselves in history and how those important women helped make a difference. It also helps boys to realize the vital role women played throughout world history that is so often neglected in their school studies. Her Story is an incredible game for the many reasons I have previously mentioned. However, to me, it is more than a game. Her Story is also a positive message and an alternative to the way women are often marginalized or objectified in today’s media. For these many reasons, we are proud to award Her Story our GeekDad Approved status.
For more information or to make a pledge, visit the Her Story page!
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Disclosure: GeekDad received a copy of this game for review purposes.