Publisher: Underdog Games
Player Count: 2-4 Players
Solo mode: No
Game Length: 30-60 Minutes
Trekking Through History is the latest in the hugely popular Trekking series from Underdog Games. Each of these games is marked with its family-friendly mechanics, quality production and beautiful artwork. In this time traveling installment, players are taking a trip through thousands of years of history, visiting some of the world’s biggest moments and bringing back souvenirs.
Taking place over 3 rounds, each player will participate in an open card draft, compete for set collection bonuses and manage their limited supply of time available to earn the most points.
As with Trekking the World, this production team proved they can pair a light set of rules with some interesting decisions all encompassed in an immersive and engaging presentation to scale the competitive gateway game market. Do they have enough in the tank for another hit? Here’s our thoughts on Trekking Through History:
ON YOUR TURN
One of Trekking Through History’s appealing features is its simple rule set and easy accessibility.
On your turn you choose a moment in history card from one of the board’s 6 spots. After a card is chosen, a new card is revealed and the remaining cards slide to fill in the empty spot. Both individual cards and spots on the board feature an assortment of “souvenirs” you collect on your travels. When a card is chosen, the player gains the souvenirs on the card and the bonus on that card’s space. These souvenirs are then added to your personal itinerary board. The game comes with a number of unique itinerary boards requiring a pattern of itinerary tokens to fill in sets earning players points and bonuses.
Concurrently, players move around a giant time clock with 12 spots. Each spot constitutes 1 hour and will be used to purchase cards. Card time costs will vary depending on the value of the card and will force you to carefully manage your available hours. The player last on the clock track will always have the next turn meaning you could potentially go multiple turns in a row.
Drafted cards are placed in columns in front of you called treks. Each trek can only feature cards in ascending date order. Drafting a card out of order will close the previous trek and start a new one. At the end of the game players will score points for the number of cards collected in each trek.
Time crystals can be earned throughout the game to negate time costs. There is an optional time warp deck that serves as an expansion creating additional bonuses and challenges throughout the game.
The player with the most points at the end of the game is the winner.
ARTWORK & COMPONENTS
Trekking Through History’s production is top-notch! It all begins with an amazing storage solution that creatively packs everything perfectly into the box… it’s a delight to unpack. The cloth playmat is a pleasant surprise since this could have easily been substituted with a cardboard board or no physical area to play on at all. On par with the previous Trekking releases, the artwork throughout is colorful and beautifully done. I really enjoyed the historic illustrations and the cool historical flavor text providing context. Each souvenir is represented by plastic coins… again, something that could have easily been substituted with cardboard tokens. The game’s production as a whole is evidence that the creative direction and development are in touch with the gaming world and understands what it takes to build a more satisfying experience.
PROS & CONS
➕ The game is incredibly easy to learn and play
➕ I love the game’s fun decisions—both challenging and engaging for either a beginner or advanced player.
➕ Everything about The production from the box insert to the components and illustrated cards is just beautiful
➕ You’ll enjoy the history represented in the game. Each card not only illustrates an interesting moment in history, but also provides a brief write up on the back.
➕ The amazing insert not only provides a great way to store the game, but it also dramatically reduces setup and clean up.
➖ It would be nice to be able to clear the cards off the playmat. As cards cascade down, less appealing cards have a tendency to sit there blocking spots with valuable bonuses. This wasn’t an issue at 4 players, but you could get stuck at 2.
➖ Some elements of the theme seem tacked on. I’m still waiting for the game that perfectly integrates a time travel theme.
WHY WOULD YOU LIKE THIS GAME?
This game is for you if you’re in the market for a very polished, vibrant, family-friendly game that works for the entire family, but still has some really interesting decisions. I think this really works well for younger children (8-10 years) who are getting into gaming. The rules teach will be quick and they’ll “get it” pretty fast. Game time does depend on the players involved, but overall it plays pretty quick.
THE BEST THING ABOUT THIS GAME
While there is a lot to like about this game, the best thing is the choices you make each turn. The time cards rotate through the playmat stopping at different places earning different souvenirs (in addition to the cards souvenirs). I really enjoy that point when you have to consider the date on the cards, it’s time cost, the resources you’ll receive and how it’ll impact your itinerary needs. It might seem like a lot to consider, but it really is a sweet spot that works really well.
Earlier this year I had the opportunity to play Trekking the World for the first time and was immediately drawn into the smooth mechanics and enchanting experience. I was surprised how far clean mechanics and a great production can take a game while not necessarily doing anything revolutionary from a gameplay standpoint. Being the eternal pessimist that I am, I felt it was a high point for the publisher that would only lead to—at the very minimum—a misstep with any follow up. This typically seems to be the course of action for many game designers. Which is why I’m pleased to say Trekking Through History not only met those lofty standards, but exceeded them in nearly every way possible.
Trekking Through History isn’t nearly as sprawling as its predecessor, but it brings an entirely new experience full of interesting decisions that originates from a similar place. It’s clearly focused on engaging the family gaming experience with a rich, similar tone. The similar vibes extend to the impressive production standards—now clearly a staple with this line of games.
It’s easy to gush about the beautiful artwork, cool playmat and great box insert, but Trekking Through History defines itself through the player’s choices. As I mentioned above, History creates a sweet spot where challenging, yet not quite overwhelming choices provide truly satisfying results. It’s a pleasure to play a well oiled machine like this one. The game never overstays its welcome, feels good even in defeat and always leaves you with the hope that next time you’ll be able to achieve just a little more.
With Trekking Through History, I would encourage you to come for the aesthetics, but stay for the substance. This is a real crowd pleaser that works both for the gateway player and the seasoned gamer. It succeeds in almost every way possible and will easily be considered a candidate for one of the best games of the year.