Historia

Historia

Recommended to me by Ralph Mazza​​​​​, this is a pretty interesting title! It’s an abstract civ-building game in the style-ish of Through the Ages, but it’s fixated on your position in that beeeeeg colorful chart you see there on the table. Going left-to-right is your technology level; going up-and-down is your military level. They only advance. As they do, the intersection of your military and tech equals what government type you are, which in turn provides ongoing victory points. 

Gameplay is quite simple but it requires you internalize a bunch of icons, Race for the Galaxy style. You have a hand of basic actions, and those never change (although you pick up a couple extra as your tech advances). You also have a random Advisor character, who basically acts like an action card; the game is subtly asymmetrical in that each color has a different set of advisors. 

So, anyway, you start out by playing an action. Everyone reveals at once and then you play it out in turn order. You spend cubes to do stuff and to note where your civilization has expanded to on the world map way at the bottom — each region has a randomly assigned victory point value for holding it as well. Eventually you play a couple cards, and then at the end of the game three cards.

The vibe of your turn felt very Dominion like, in that you end up with an elaborate tableau of cards that are tapping and untapping and moving cubes around and then untapping again and then triggering thus and such effect. Kind of fun to build a big engine! And it can take a while to resolve what would otherwise be a pretty quick turn. Given we were playing a learning game, it wasn’t bad at all. 

Four players finished the game in maybe 3.5 hours, again learning as we went. 

There were some quibbles and some rough translation problems, but no show stoppers. I think we found only one place where the iconography — or the lack thereof — was disappointing: when you advance your tech to Navigate, it opens up some options that are explained only in the rulebook and not anywhere on the cards or the board. We lived.

I came in DFL as a super-belligerent barbarian society; a couple consumerist cultures ended up neck-and-neck at the front. 

Pretty fun, and I think I’ll play it again with my less-facestabby crowd.

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12 thoughts on “Historia”

  1. I played a (partial) demo game of this with the authors and Flavio Mortarino in Lucca, last year (I think?). 

    I remember it as pretty clever in its mechanical construction, but terrible in the information layout/design: too many symbols (far, far too many… like 40+) mean that yes, you don’t have to translate the board or cards, but you end up referring to the cheat sheets constantly. One of the symbols is two crossed swords, another is a cannon: now you tell me which is “advance military technology” and which is “wage war”.

    Pity, because as said the game wasn’t half bad.

  2. Ugh so many icons. I get the idea behind doing that as a way to save space and make the game more universal. But it also means unless you play it so frequently that you can memorize them every game is like playing again for the first time.

  3. Hah. I found that same icon gaff with navigation. We were both wrong. They very cleverly realized it wasn’t needed, although our pattern recognition brains are trained to look for it. Hint: check out the advanced actions for the cards that change due to navigation.

    And the icons are super well done. I had the same fear, but there’s a hand out for every player that lists them, and after a refresher they become very obvious. Really some of the best thought out iconography I’ve ever seen in a game. Cannon vs sword is pretty easy to differentiate. Because every time you actually need to differentiate it in play, its obvious from context. Both the pictures on the card, and the symbols for what the card does tells you what the card is. I’m a huge eye roller when it comes to icons vs. Text. But this was seriously the best done one ever. The icons that represent the tech can be hard to decipher, but you never need to decipher them. All references to tech have a number as part of their icon, so whenever there is an icon with a number, you know that means tech and since you gain them in order, you know which one.

    I was really surprised how the different advisors made each people play rather dramatically differently despite most of the cards being identical.

  4. Keith J Davies: Me too. 😀

    This sounds pretty cool! Though, G+ is messing with your formatting. I’m trying to remember how to get dashes to display correctly, but you may just want to edit around it.

    Pity there’s no escape character for G+ formatting.

  5. Ralph Mazza​​ not on emigrate: that’s straight memorization that Navigate lets you cross oceans.

    Yanni Cooper​ I bought it on CSI. It was maybe a Kickstarter?

  6. Andy Hauge -strikethrough- is a hyphen (minus sign) on either end of the text to be struck through.

    The only solution I’ve found — such as it is — is to double up on the hyphens. They’re usually okay about mid-word hyphens – I think — but not always.

  7. Yeah I have no idea what happened with the post. It looked fine when I posted it! And it looked fine when I shared it over to the board games community. At some point a few extra dashes got inserted.

    I swear, I must spend hours a week going back and polishing posts and replies. 

  8. Keith J Davies: Yep, I’ve had it happen to a few of my posts. I would’ve suggested double hyphens but that didn’t really suit the instances in Paul’s post. Hyphens with spaces around them seem to work okay.

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