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Historical Conquest Game Review by Kirsten West

Peter Salem Starter Decks
Confucius Starter Decks
Queen Boudica Starter Decks
The First Crusades Expansion Pack
Wild West – Marshals vs Cowboys Booster Pack
World War I – Dawn of the Air Warfare Expansion Pack
Himeji Castle Play Mat
Burning Mat (Original)
Historical Conquest

Historical Conquest is a rollicking card game for the whole family, ages eight and up. Children can play this game easily, teenagers will add strategic skill to their play, and adults will have fun as well.

We reviewed three of the types starter decks (Confucius, Queen Boudica, and Peter Salem), three expansion booster packs (The First Crusades, Wild West – Marshals vs Cowboys, and World War I – Dawn of the Air Warfare), and two play mats (Himeji Castle and Burning Mat).

You begin the game by removing your cards from the starter pack deck ($16.99 and available in seven different designs) and opening up the enclosed playing mat. The mat includes all the instructions you need to play the game. The full-color cards in each pack are of superior quality and coated with plastic so that you can clean them off and they will not bend or crease during game play with younger children. 

The design of the game is perfect for playing in a larger group with multiple ages. You need at least two people to play the game, but all you need to add a player is an additional card pack. We also had two very nice, rubber-backed, game mats to place our cards on which is well worth adding if you purchase this game. The game mats are available in six different designs and are priced at $19.99 each. They hold the cards without slipping around and each mat is printed with a beautiful design. We had one with a world map printed on it and one with the Himeji Castle in Japan. If you do not have these mats, however, the instruction sheet in each card pack opens up and the back of it is printed with a basic card mat design.

Each pack of cards includes historical figures and artifacts (like documents) and technologies and events from a variety of time periods and places. This mashup allows each game you play to be different as you and your children explore new combinations. When you combine the huge variety of possibilities with a relatively small number of possible lands upon which to build your civilization, the game becomes one of strategy.

There are also expansion, or booster, packs, each of which give you an additional twenty cards to add to your game. The expansion packs cost $6.99 each and there are nine different time periods available currently. Each expansion pack focuses on a different event in history, like World War I or the wild west. You could easily add these expansion packs to your game set to coincide with history lessons you teach your children.

Each land card represents a country or section of a country and has attributes that match its geography. For instance, an island nation has a boosted defense since it is surrounded by water and easier to defend, and China can sustain a higher number of characters as it is much larger than most countries and places.

The game is like a card game version of a strategic war board game, but much more depth provided by the addition of historical figures and events and technologies. You take turns first choosing a land and then building up your characters and other cards on that land and others, if you have the cards that allow adding additional land cards. Once you and the other players pass first the first two rounds of play, building your strength and morale, you enter into the final round of play. The term 'round' might be a bit misleading here as the final round of play could take many, many turns as you place more cards, build new lands when you can, and attack your opponent's land when you build enough morale. You need eight hundred morale points to initiate an attack and these points you accumulate by playing cards that add morale, like a jazz singer or a politician who united large groups of people. The game ends when you capture all your opponent's lands or when one player looses enough morale to accumulate negative one thousand points. We found that most games between two players take forty to sixty minutes, but that is a leisurely game with plenty of time to read and discuss the historical context behind each card.

There is a definite world view in Historical Conquest. The creators of the game have a viewpoint that places positive attributes on conservative and Christian figures and provides negative descriptions of governments and figures that are traditionally viewed as enemies of American freedom.

One feature I particularly like, as a homeschooling mom, is the way certain cards with connected historical context add features together when you play them together. For instance, the bill of rights and the constitution are two document cards that you can play separately, but when they are both played in the same land they combine to protect your land from attack by any land that is ruled by a king or queen. For me this aspect is a great reminder for children and help them to cement in their minds the history that you have taught them.

There is also quite a bit of math in this game. Each player needs to know their defense and attack strengths by adding points accumulated by the various cards added to each land. During a battle, your children will review number sense as they compare their attack points to their opponent's defense strength. These numbers are generally in the thousands, so I think for that reason your children get most out of this game when they are at least eight years old and understand addition and subtraction of four and five digit numbers, and can also read well enough to understand the vocabulary on the cards.

This game is also a great opportunity to review your children's history lessons. You could even slow the game play when relevant cards come up, so you can remind your children of the history surrounding a particular card. A brief description of the historical figure or event is conveniently added to each card, which allows everyone to remember and learn a bit of history from around the world during the game. Finally, the game is a wonderful opportunity for your younger child to develop vocabulary and learn to follow directions.

I played this game with my teenage son, who loves strategic games. It only took him a short while to figure out how to master the game. His strategy was to stockpile cards until he knew he could win a battle. Unfortunately for me, he managed to get the Chernobyl card in his hand the first time we played, and devastated my last remaining land, winning handily. If you are playing with older children or adults you may find that the game does not use deep strategy, but it is still great fun and the level of strategy is perfect for younger kids.

Overall this is a fun and unique strategy game that teaches some history, uses some math skills, and hones your child's ability to follow directions.

-Product review by Kirsten West, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, November, 2017