History of the World House Rules – Help the Little Guy Variant

As I previously mentioned in my Games I Play post our group has some problems with History of the World and yet lately we’ve played it a lot.

One of our problems is that there is too much of a chance of a person in last ending up with the worst Empire because while they get to pick a card to either keep or pass, if they draw a bad one and pass it they often end up with whatever is left over in the end (and that left over Empire could easily be pretty horrible or even the worst of the bunch).

I tend to talk to myself a lot and often wonder what exactly this implies. I don’t really do it when other people are around (though sometimes I get ignored pretty badly so it’s kind of like talking to myself) so I figure at least I have not passed that juncture yet. I do find that it helps me to reason things out sometimes, however.

Also over the years I have had a number of jobs that left me alone for hours at a time. I worked alone in a convenience store on the overnight shift for years and then I worked a job where I had an office by myself and had about two and a half hours of driving per day. Currently I only drive about two hours per day but my office is even more solitary since I work an hour away from my closest “co-worker”.

So, I thought to myself, how can we fix this? And after a bit of muttering to myself about possibilities I came up with an idea.

(Please note that we have only tried this once and the reviews on it were lukewarm at best. It needs further testing before anything can truly be determined.)

Help the Little Guy – Rules Variant

This variant centers around two rules changes to keep players at the low end of the totem pole from getting dumped on too harshly.

Distributing Empires

Instead of drawing one Empire card the player in last place draws two cards and chooses one. The card that they choose can either be kept or given to another player as normal. The card that they did not choose is shuffled back into the deck. Then the player in second to last repeats this process and so forth.

The idea is to avoid players in last getting the worst Empire by giving them more of a chance to get something good.

So far in play it has resulted in more players keeping their Empire card unless they draw something mediocre and something very bad. In those cases the “very bad” card was passed to the player in the lead.


To go along with this we changed the way Preeminence Markers work. In the normal Hasbro version of the game Preeminence Markers are given out to the player in the lead at the end of an Epoch with numbers between 3 and 6, there being more 3s than 6s.

In this variant we are experimenting with two sets of Preeminence Markers. One set is number between 4 and 6 with an equal number of each value. The second is numbered between 1 and 3, also carrying an equal number of each value. The player in first place gets a large marker and the player in second gets a small marker. If the players are tied the player with the weaker empire for that round gets the large one and the other player gets the small similar to breaking ties for winning the game (in fact if there is still a tie use those rules to break it).

The idea behind this change was that too often people did not want to be in first place before and it was feared that with the change to the way Empires were distributed there would be even less interest in being in first.

Has the Jury Reached its Verdict?

We haven’t made any decisions about the changes for this variant but are still playing around with it. One of the reasons I wanted to do this was that I am considering making a History of the Galaxy Game/Variant. It would essentially be a new game that steals from History of the World and would thus not be at all commercially publishable. Still it might prove fun for people to try if the rules are distributed for free.

If anyone tries my variant rules please send me some feedback or post it here! Also if anyone else has any variants or house rules I would love to hear about them.

Other History of the World Variants

    Matt Says:

    The only part I liked about the pick two empires variation was it made for more interesting decisions, although most people made the same choices (pick the best one of the two and keep for themselves). However while it seemed to keep the person in last from getting boned as much, it did leave the person in first unscathed most of the time by the end of the process. Meaning that they were able to pick two and keep one as no one had given them something. Again we’ve only done it once so it’s a limited observation.

    The additional points for 2nd was nice because lately I’ve been pretty consistant saying close to the top most rounds. However it seems like being in 2nd in a round would be worse then any other position. If you are in first at least you would get some bonus points with the markers, but in second you wouldn’t get that and you’d get handed a crappy empire (if first was passed one already) and of course being in last gets you first pick (more or less). There have been games where I sat in second more rounds then not and I felt like that I was getting nothing for it.

    The game we played with the additional markers I ended up with 6 markers total (3 big, and 3 small) meaning I only missed one round. It gave me a boost for playing a good consistant game, and ultimately became the reason why I won in the end. Basically it made being in second in a round worth something. You get some bonus points for playing a decent round and it offsets the possible crap that’s coming your way with the next round of Empire selection.

    I think the everyone pick two empires rule needs a tweak. For instance in a 4-5 player game have only the last place person pick two and the rest the standard one. In a 6 player have last, and second to last pick two and the rest pick one. I think with that you allow the person in last to have more opportunties to catch up (the reason why that system is in the game in the first place), while not giving the people up top that same advantage (which giving everyone the pick two method seems to do).

    FC Says:

    Here’s a suggestion but it may make it extremely sucky to be first. After shuffling the empires take out randomly a # of cards equal to 7 – the number of players. These empires are not available this turn. Give the rest to the last player. Now he has to pick one to keep or give one to another player. When he’s done he passes the rest to the next player in line. Repeat except the last person (first in place) won’t be choosing anything, he’ll have to take whatever card remains unless he was already given a card in which case he’ll have to hand over the last card to whoever is missing an empire.

    This means players will have to choose carefully between picking a strong empire for themselves or smacking the leader.