Most people who play civilization games expect to lead a great civilization from ancient to modern times, carving out its own unique path through history. Who would not want to command the Roman legions as they battle savage barbarians, fight off medieval crusaders as the Arabs, or lead French charges as Napoleon attempts to conquer Europe? In A Brief History of the World, you can do all of this and more in a single play through.
A Brief History of the World is a shortened and streamlined version of the classic 1991 board game History of the World. In both games, the players each turn control a civilization as it rises to power and conquers nearby lands. After all the players are finished with their turn, the game advances several hundred years and players pick new civilizations to command.
A Brief History of the World is strictly a game about military conquest, so anyone expecting cultural or diplomatic victories will be disappointed. Each civilization has a set amount of soldiers that they can use to invade a neighboring land. The battles are resolved with dice, with the attacker generally given the advantage. Players will receive points at the end of their turn based on how much of a region (for example, the Middle East or Northern Europe) they have conquered, so it usually pays off to try and focus on a certain area. The point value of the different regions changes depending on the time period. Like Small World, a player’s older civilizations count towards scoring as well. There are also some special effect cards which can be used to add dice to attacks, make barbarians invade enemy land, or even give the player control of minor civilizations, like the Aztecs.
The game is fun, though feels a little outdated when compared to more modern board game design. There is quite a bit of luck in not only the dice rolls, but also in which civilizations and special effect cards are available to pick. Still, gamers that enjoy games like Small World or Risk will certainly get their money’s worth out of this game.
Though I have not played the physical version of A Brief History of the World, I can pretty safely say that this is probably the preferable way to play the game. Because of the long turns, there is a lot of downtime in the board game, which thankfully isn’t a problem thanks to a quick AI and asynchronous online multiplayer. The AI plays the game quite well, and I still have yet to beat it at a game on the medium setting.
The interface is nice and crisp, though like most Condito games, the color scheme is a bit bland. The tutorial explains the game very clearly, and I only had to look at the manual once during all my play throughs. I experienced some crashes on my ipad 2, though luckily the game saved on the turn before it happened so I didn’t lose my progress. Hopefully these stability issues will get resolved in a future patch.
A Brief History of the World is an enjoyable light war game, especially for those who like games like Small World and Risk. The iOS implementation is very well done, and is probably the best way to experience the game.