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Board Game Review

Trekking Through History Review

Easy to learn, hard to stop playing

Trekking Through History box shot

Having recently returned from a 10-day getaway, I can say with authority that organising a holiday can often be an exercise in frustration and stress. Booking flights that don’t have you sitting in an airport for six hours contemplating another coffee and muffin, coughing up an exorbitant amount of cash for hotels that you’ll only see the inside of while you’re sleeping and trying to find activities that’ll please both you and your fussy travel companions are only a few considerations when planning a ‘relaxing’ escape. Imagine, then, the logistical and emotional nightmare of planning a vacation involving time travel. To make that process fun and exciting would be nothing short of a miracle. Bringing that enormous task to the table in a fun and digestible way, Trekking Through History is a family-friendly game with an exciting hook that’s easy to recommend to players of any skill level.

Designed by Charlie Bink and published by Underdog Games, Trekking Through History casts 2–4 players as time travelling sightseers, competing to see who can potter through the past with the most efficiency. While a semi-educational board game about history might not strike your fancy, stay with me because Trekking Through History is a tabletop game that can be played and enjoyed by just about anyone.

Players are given three itinerary cards, one for each round played, either by random or by taking four cards and discarding one. Each of the cards shows four differently coloured columns filled with empty spaces that, when covered, award that player with points. The four columns represent experiences that you can have on your journey: Person, Event, Innovation and Progress. That might sound like we’re headed into deep mechanical water, but it’s just some fun thematic context to explain why you’re collecting four different coloured resources and slotting them into their corresponding columns.

Trekking Through History board layout

The game has a great presence without taking up the entire table

The resources needed to fill your itinerary are collected through History Cards. These beautifully illustrated cards are laid out in a six-card departure deck for players to choose from on their turn. Each card will award the player with one or more Experience Tokens, along with an extra reward depicted below the card on the game board, which in this instance is a high-quality neoprene mat.

Alongside the colourful and stylised artwork, insightful description of the depicted event and the all-important Experience Tokens, every card has two more vital components: the year and the time required to collect it. Games are played in three rounds, with turn order and player progress tracked on a separate, circular board shaped like a clock. Once you choose your card and collect its resources, move your coloured piece around the clock to match the depicted hour cost. Your round ends once you’ve gone around the twist and hit the 12th hour. Instead of moving clockwise around the table, turn order is determined by your placement on the clock, with the person at the rear taking the next action. This adds a cheeky bit of strategy to your choices and prevents the dreaded checkout, where players disengage and check their phone when another player is taking their turn.

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Not only do you have to weigh up whether it’s worth collecting a low-cost card to stay at the back, giving yourself another turn, or just jump to the front by grabbing that “March with Joan of Arc” card because, damn, it gives me three resources, you’ll also need to keep an eye on where and when you’ve been and where you’re going. The final piece of your tactical trip is your Treks. When collecting cards, you’ll attempt to create a run in chronological order from earliest to latest, incentivising you to snatch the ancient occurrences first to give you some breathing room, even if the resources that card offers don’t immediately benefit your itinerary. Once you’re inevitably forced to collect a card out of sequence, you’ll end your current Trek, scoring points depending on how long it is, before beginning a new one.

Trekking Through History components

When my major gripe is that resources slide about on your player card, you know it’s a good time

The combined turn and card-collecting mechanics make for some fun and engaging moments, where players will be forced to decide if it’s better to stick to their plan and focus on their itinerary or grab that card that another player needs to end their current Trek before it gets too long and scores them a bucket-load of points. None of these systems are particularly complex or hard to understand or teach, even to a group of people new to the hobby, yet they introduce concepts that are far more advanced than rolling a die and moving that many spaces.

Helping to round off the experience are Ancestor cards and Time Crystals. A separate deck of Ancestor cards is set away from the Departure Row and can be collected in lieu of a card from the current line-up. These don’t have a depicted year, instead acting as a wild that can be used to extend a Trek that would otherwise end by collecting an available card, though you can’t play two back-to-back. They offer a single wild token that acts as any resource and pushes you forward three spots on the clock. Time Crystals, which can be earned like the other resources, can be spent to reduce the movement cost of a card, allowing you to preserve your round or even sneak in an additional turn if you’re tricky.

Trekking Through History close up

I spent most of my turns just admiring the beautiful artwork 

Lastly, a small deck of Time Warp cards can be opened once you’re comfortable with the basic rules that add communal abilities that all players can use. While they don’t drastically change the gameplay, the abilities alter rounds enough to keep repeat playthroughs fresh and interesting.

Final Thoughts

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Board gaming is a tricky hobby. You have your basic Monopolys and Cluedos that everyone knows how to play but are ultimately a bit shallow, but then you’ve got impenetrable engine-builders and RPGs that take two hours to set up and ten hours to play. Trekking Through History does what many fail to do by being a bridge between the two extremes. A colourful and lightly educational theme keeps engagement high while the game introduces several basic mechanics for players to juggle in an unbelievably simple and effective rulebook. Trekking Through History is an accessible and entertaining board game I’d happily take to any table.

Review copy supplied by the publisher

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Trekking Through History box shot
Trekking Through History Review
A Historical Hit
By combining several easy-to-understand mechanics with a whimsical theme and high production values, Trekking Through History becomes a light tabletop game that’s recommendable to just about anyone.
The Good
Excellent production value
Simple yet strategic mechanics
Great, easy to understand rulebook
Beautiful, vibrant artwork
Immediately appealing theme
The Bad
Itinerary cards aren’t double layered

Trekking Through History box shot
Trekking Through History Review
A Historical Hit
By combining several easy-to-understand mechanics with a whimsical theme and high production values, Trekking Through History becomes a light tabletop game that’s recommendable to just about anyone.
The Good
Excellent production value
Simple yet strategic mechanics
Great, easy to understand rulebook
Beautiful, vibrant artwork
Immediately appealing theme
The Bad
Itinerary cards aren’t double layered
Written By Adam Ryan

Adam's undying love for all things PlayStation can only be rivalled by his obsession with vacuuming. Whether it's a Dyson or a DualShock in hand you can guarantee he has a passion for it. PSN: TheVacuumVandal XBL: VacuumVandal Steam: TheVacuumVandal

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