We built up civilizations over the course of human history in the next game of our A-Z game shelf play-through, The Flow of History.
In the Flow of History, each player builds up a civilization from early history to the edge of the future in a closed economy using a price-setting mechanism where players can snipe advancements out from each other.
Players start the game with a primitive government and four resources. These starting resources represent the entire available resources for all players – additional resources can be added later through player actions.
The “market” is set up with five beginning advancements, one of each type except Government – Construction, Knowledge, Military, Leader, and Wonder. The civilization deck is set up with The Future on the bottom, The Internet next and then the shuffled decks of each different age placed in descending order.
On their turn, a player can take one of several actions – Invest, Complete, Snipe, Activate, or Harvest. The first step of acquiring a new advancement is to Invest in a card in the market; this is done by placing the player’s marker on the card and a number of resources. If their marker is on a card at the beginning of a player’s turn, they can Complete the investment by returning the resources to the supply, taking an investor bonus, and placing the card in their civilization on top of any previous cards of the same color. The card may also activate, if there’s an immediate effect on the card.
If another player has their marker on a card the player wants, the active player can Snipe it by paying the other player the number of resources they had bid. The sniped player also gets additional bonuses for trade icons in their civilization, and gets money from the reserve. One of their cards in their civilization can be Activated for its special ability. Finally, the player can Harvest, which brings in additional resources from the reserve into the supply and gives the player half of the supply.
As new ages come into play, some cards from earlier ages may be discarded from the market. Play ends immediately after the turn in which The Future card enters the market or is directly obtained by a player.
Players add up their culture points from cards and game-end bonuses, and the one with the most wins.
I backed The Flow of History on Kickstarter after watching Rahdo’s play-through of the game. We don’t have many civilization-building games, and I thought this would be a good addition.
I’ve only gotten this to the table three times, though, and each time with just 2 players, so it’s a little hard to review yet. I do like the gameplay, but I suspect that with more players there’s going to be a lot more “take that” with players sniping others’ investments. Of course, the sniped player gets some bonus resources, so it’s maybe not all bad.
I really love the style of the art in the game. And while there are a lot of icons to figure out, they are perfectly clear after you encounter them a few times. If you can’t figure them out? There’s a handy quick reference to all of the cards in the back of the rules.
How is it as a 2-player game? The Flow of History is fine as a 2-player game, though I haven’t tried it at higher player counts, so I don’t have a basis for comparison. There is one change for the 2-player game to keep the game moving along – a “banker” (non-player) claims one of the cards using half of whatever is in the resource supply. Players can snipe from the banker as usual, but if they don’t, the banker’s card gets discarded at the end of each turn.
How about the art and component quality? I really like the style of the art in this game – it’s not necessarily my typical taste, but it looks great. The components are really good quality, too – the resources are nice medal coins, the cards are a nice heavy material, and the player markers are very good-looking.
Will this stay in my collection? This will definitely stay in my collection long enough to get several more plays in, especially with more players. I suspect it’s a keeper, but need more plays to determine that.