Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de



Andrei Novac & Agnieszka Kopera

NSKN Games

No. of Players:
1 - 5



Gamebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

The Romanian publisher NSKN GAMES with his lead designer Andrei Novac has provided us with quite a few promising games and fresh ideas over the last three years. This resulted in the amazing result that their games were sold out at SPIEL '14 fair at Essen. NSKN has run out of all their games on Saturday, one day before the fair had closed. So, this seems to be the right moment to check what is behind this success and review some of their new games.

Progress - Evolution of Technology was the result of NSKN's first Kickstarter-campaign, and it was a quite successful one. So I chose this game for my first try-out, not least because it is a civilization game, one of my favourite themes over the last years.

Different from most other civilization games, Progress - Evolution of Technology solely concentrates on the evolutionary part of history. No military confrontations, no problems in feeding your population, no political decisions. Can this work? Is this enough for a game? After playtesting the game, I would say that the answer is a clear yes. It is almost like the designers have cut the evolution chart out of the computer game Civilization and created a boardgame around it. You will admit that this sounds intriguing, because one of the most interesting activities in Civilization is to keep an eye on this chart to look and decide what technology you could research for your next step in evolution.

Progress - Evolution of Technology comes in one of these standard, square-sized game boxes which a lot of publishers use nowadays. It is slightly oversized, because what we find inside are some small player boards, some wooden cubes and a lot of cards. Additionally, the box offers a lot of free space, but who knows: maybe - after this year's success - we will get the one or other expansion in the following years... Something which immediately will draw your attention is the good artwork of the cards. Each card represents an evolution (invention) and comes with a unique illustration. Also the player boards are designed in a quite clever way. On these boards the players keep track of different skills, and to prevent the wooden cubes used for tracking to slip out of place, the board has holes wherever the wooden cubes can be positions. So even in the phases of frantic activity the players easily can keep track of their current positions on the different scales.


The scales on the player boards determine how many actions we can perform in a turn, how many cards we may draw and hold in our hands, how many technologies we may have under development and our level at three different methods for drawing new cards. Accessible to all players we can also find so-called Power Board on which all players keep track their achievements in prestige, population and military. Other than the player boards, this public board does not have holes for player markers, so it should be set aside to a safe position.

During set-up all cards are sorted according to their ages. In Progress - Evolution of Technology we have to master four ages, beginning with the Stone Age and ending with the Modern Times. So you can find the evolution of the wheel in Age I and aviation or the automobile in Age IV. However the fourth age is only designed as an expansion for a longer game. It is not necessary for the standard game and I also recommend that you should not use it before you have played the standard game several times. Otherwise, new players could get a wrong idea of the game, because it is easy to get lost in the evolution tree if there are too much cards in the game.

Each deck of cards is shuffled and placed separately in the middle of the table. Of course the game begins with only cards of Age I accessible. Concerning deck composition, each deck features specific cards that - once developed - let the player enter the next century. As a result the next deck of cards becomes available. To finish preparations, 5 to 7 cards of Age I are dealt to every player for a starting hand (depending on the number of players).


During our turn and depending on our skills we can discover or research new technologies. For this we play one of our hand cards to our playing area. The difference between the two possibilities is that researching a technology takes several turns. So, by researching we play a card to our research area and - depending on our current research skill - place a specific number of markers on this card. Beginning with our next turn we remove one marker each round until the technology card is free of markers and becomes active. Discovering on the other hand lets us play and use the new technology card immediately, but we have to pay a specific price for it. The price can be paid with knowledge tokens which we can get as a result of a discovery and by discarding cards from our hand. For this, next to the technology progress, each card has also a specific value. Alternately, most technology cards also have prerequisites you can use for developing instead of paying the full costs. So it can be clever to develop the prerequisite technology first to get the new technology cheaper or even for free. As you see Progress - Evolution of Technology is mainly a game of hand management.


As a result of discovering or completing the research of a new technology, you get a benefit as declared on the technology card. Apart from advancements on the different scales on your player board (improving your skills) and the Power Board (for competitive achievements), you also can get new knowledge tokens or victory points for the final scoring. Knowledge tokens are flipped after each use, but they are refreshed every new turn, so they are quite useful for later discoveries.

Of course, you must also have a possibility to get new cards to your hand. For this reason the game gives us three different kinds of actions to get new cards. Two of these actions can be performed during your turn, whereas the last one ends your turn, regardless whether you still have actions or not. The latter option lets you draw more new cards than the two other methods, but if you have many actions in your turn because your developed this skill, it is wise to use one of the two other methods. One lets you draw a small number of cards during your turn, while the other gives you more cards but you also have to discard some cards after drawing. I made the experience that in most situations it is not very important which method you chose, it is more a question which one you have developed further, you need to draw a lot of cards.


The game ends if enough specified technologies of the last Age (III or IV) have been discovered. Then it comes to a final scoring in which victory points for the positions on the Power Board and the levels of the scales on the player boards are added to the victory points on the discovered technology cards.

I really loved the idea of developing my technology level in Progress - Evolution of Technology. It is a very interesting and challenging procedure to look for your next possible evolution steps, considering the different prerequisites and the best outcome which may be achieved. The game is very fast-paced and in a lot of games you are pushed forward hard by your opponents or by the game itself (in the solo variant). On the other hand this is also one of the few points of criticism: with progressing time the game gains complexity, and so some players tend to lose track of their discoveries and their possible next evolution steps. In addition to this, you just do not have the time to search and circle the deck for a specific technology you need as a prerequisite to freely discover another technology you want to explore. So, you often have to pay for a discovery or you must spend more time for researching it. Of course, this is intentional, but it is a little pity that you often cannot fully pursue the path you have chosen on the evolution tree.

As far as the rest of the game is concerned, I have absolutely no reason for complaint. As said, the artwork and the quality of the game material is very good. I must confess that I felt that I was back at playing Civilization on my computer during my time at University, and so I played quite a few games of Progress - Evolution of Technology in close succession in order to fully explore the game…


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Copyright © 2015 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany