There’s an occasional knock on the door from the outside that reminds us that the realm of modern tabletop is a fairly smallish type of place. Not every game that is out there has come from the marketing zone that is crowdfunding, not every game is designed by someone who we follow on social media and more importantly, not every game is going to have a twenty three page rulebook, a Rodney Watch It Played or a Slickerdrips live play through. We’ve become occasionally snobbish in our old age and can be easily accused of turning up our nose at something just because it doesn’t make our eyes squint when we are trying to learn it.
Take A Race in Time from History Heroes. There’s a good chance that this review might end up being longer than the rulebook itself. It would be easy for me to line this up at the end of the street before I take a run up and kick its ass with a running jump, cackling with glee about the simple movement track and race to the finish. When you take a step back and take a look at its intention, then you can be far more forgiving. This isn’t a game designed for me to play, its more like a game designed to help me learn. This is less a pure exercise in throwaway fun and more an exercise in hoping that some of the knowledge that A Race in Time has will hopefully work its way into my brain as I play.
You have simple aim, which is to get from the dawn of time, all the way to the future and the moon, by moving your own historical figure along a track through four ages. Surprisingly there’s no dice here, which I was kind of expecting as a given, but shows I’m wrong to expect and assume when the board track is a curling snake. This is when A Race in Time takes it’s first sideways step. The player to your right picks up a historical figure card and you decide how many spaces you want to move, to which the player then reads out a fact about a historical character. Guess who it is and you get to move that number of spaces. Get it wrong and play passes on to the next player. As you pass along the path you’ll pass into different ages and also pick up event cards that will either effect you or other players.
For those who struggle with their historical figures, there is a wonderfully illustrated poster that details the different figures and what they were famous for. You’ll probably struggle with some of the lesser known earlier figures which is why when you first start playing it will really come in handy. It is good to see they’ve not just taken the famous white person route and there is a cast of diverse characters from different backgrounds and no genocidal Christopher Columbus. To be fair, everything in this game is beautifully illustrated with loving care and attention. It’s designed to entice as well as educate, and with that in mind it does well.
I would suggest you play the more advanced version from the start if you can. The simpler game is an excellent introduction to how the game is meant to be played, however you end up collecting historical figures for no real reason. Playing the advanced game opens up the interesting final objective, where based on the historical figures that you’ve collected, you then have to argue why your team is the best fit for the objective. The objective present a potential world problem that you can argue how you can solve. I can see this being an excellent teaching tool for anyone interested in history looking to teach it in a fun way.
That’s the main thing about A Race In Time. If you were measuring it up against the collection you have on the shelf, then it’s going to fall short in terms of depth, mechanics and difficulty. This isn’t a game that’s going to potentially shine when compared with other simpler family games. This isn’t another Go Nuts For Donuts or KingDomino. However, when you ask the question of whether or not it fulfills the objectives of being an educational game that will work well as a history lesson, be that at home or even in the classroom, then I would argue that in that regards it serves its purpose extremely well. Altogether charming and probably necessary..
You can find out more about the game by going to https://www.historyheroes.co.uk
This review is based on the final retail version of the game provided to us by the designer and publisher. We were not paid for this review. We give a general overview of the gameplay and so not all of the mechanical aspects of the game may be mentioned.