Chronology is a game with a long history. First published in 1996, it has appeared in various editions over the years, culminating in the recent release by Buffalo Games, which combines plenty of well-written, accurate card content (over 850 events and facts included) with simple rules that can be learned in less than one minute. Simply put, the game is a challenge to build a "timeline" of ten event cards, by correctly guessing in turn where each event fits. When it's your turn to read a card for the person on your left, read out the event but don't reveal the year it happened. Your opponent must correctly place it in the order (from earliest to latest) amid their previously acquired event cards. If he misses, the next person to the left gets a try, and so on around the table. The first player to get 10 events in their timeline, wins. The events are mostly pleasantly obscure yet roughly guessable. The game moves quickly and is fast to play (under 30 minutes) and it's an enjoyable pastime with friends or family.
Casual players and non-historians will appreciate that it's not necessary to know the exact date of any event - you just have to find the right span of years to fit a given event into, like a puzzle. (I am somewhat reminded of another "approximate" party trivia game, Wits and Wagers.) This makes for interesting decisions. Do you strategize and go for the larger time span, playing the odds? Do you "go with your gut" and try to feel what makes sense? Or do you use brute brain force and reason it out based on your personal life experience, what you know of history, and the other events on your timeline? Many outcomes will be surprising and players are sure to learn something before the game is over. I enjoyed the interesting, mildly tense decisions I was faced with when given an event to fit into a tricky series on my existing timeline.
What my players liked:
A wide range (and a good mix) of topics are included in the events. We did not encounter many sports-related cards, which made us happy.
There is an intrinsic "Catch-up" feature that is automatic to the game - the more cards a player has gained, the tougher the game gets, since it's likely the time spans between the cards are smaller (unless the person lucked out and got cards that present a wide range of dates. It's always possible that by random chance, a leading player will get a card from ancient times, or from a year ago, and have an easy guess. But this randomness is expected in a party game.)
What my players critiqued:
"I worried that if I got something wrong, I'd feel like a moron... in high school, my friends would quiz me on the dates of historical events... I still find this sort of thing intimitating. I had fun when I warmed up to the game though."
"As this is a party game, I would like to see more silliness in the event cards. The game engenders intriguing discussion, but I'd like more laughter. What year was the whoopie cushion invented?"
Chronology is a classic and much-loved game (older editions go for big bucks on ebay!) made even better in the new edition. Cheers to Buffalo Games for bringing it back.