The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

History of the World

We just did the SABG Top 50 List (Geeklist) and History of the World made #21. At today’s game day, we pulled it out and played a five player game.

There’s plenty of luck (plenty) in History of the World, but some strategy and tactics, too. It’s a game that I’ll play “twice a decade” or so, and I’m happy with that.

Luck in a long game is always a touchy subject, although I think there are enough dice rolls to balance out. The real issue is how nations are assigned. The player in last picks a card, then keeps it or gives it away. Players then go in order, drawing a card and keeping it (if they don’t have one) or giving it to someone without a card. So the leader probably gets a poor country, and deep trailers will likely wind up with good things.

But this encourages sandbagging. To be fair, other games have this issue. Power Grid being the most notorious. Much like Power Grid, History has a problem in that “Whose winning” is scored by strict VPs (cities in Power Grid), but other factors may be more important. I’ve no doubt that one of the key skills in HotW is playing your nation correctly to set up long term scoring, while just sneaking under other players on the VP track (at least in the early/mid game).

The new Hasbro/AH version actually tries to fix this, in that the scoring leader for each round gets a 3-7 VP point chip that stays hidden until the end of the game. Good for them.

So you have a long game (30-40 minutes per player) and quite a bit of the final score is decided by the simple nation drafting. If HotW shortened to half the current time, but kept that issue, I’d think it was pretty good.

You could remove players (always a good idea in a fixed-fun game), but then as countries disappear so does the skill. If I’ve heavily invested in China and the next Chinese empire comes out, my score will suffer. If it doesn’t, my score won’t. In a full game, 6 out of the 7 nations for each epoch show up, so while there’s the random nation missing, once you start skipping 3-4 nations a turn I suspect you get some odd swings.

Still, I should give this a try with 3 or 4 players. But I’m in no hurry.


Written by taogaming

October 14, 2007 at 10:33 am

Posted in Reviews

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  1. I’m a big fan of HOTW (H/AH version, thanks)… and it does work with 3 players, even with the missing countries.

    However, the best way to play with 3 players is for each player to have two nations per epoch.


    October 14, 2007 at 12:43 pm

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