What Ancients Begat is a complete (~15 hour) game of family generations surviving the rise of western civilization. Survival is the ultimate goal. The sub-goals, you choose, build their story.Experience an abstract telling of the lives of our earliest recorded ancestors.
User reviews:
Mixed (417 reviews) - 59% of the 417 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date: Jun 7, 2013

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"An engaging combination of board game mechanics and pure storytelling, 7 Grand Steps is an addictive telling of one family's journey through history."

"...it’s so clever that you can’t help but love it."
Indie Statik

"7 Grand Steps hides a deeply strategic experience behind its deceptively simple and charming graphical appearance, ...immersive and engaging gaming."
GGS Gamer

"...entirely apart from the hundreds of games that have passed through my PC..."
Rock Paper Shotgun

"...I walked away from it as though I was telling a story that reached through time."

"It's a simple looking game, but -- I found myself unable to stop."

About This Game

What Ancients Begat is a complete (~15 hour) game of family generations surviving the rise of western civilization. Survival is the ultimate goal. The sub-goals, you choose, build their story.

Experience an abstract telling of the lives of our earliest recorded ancestors. Part board game, part machine, part nod to computer games of yore, it begins with a simple mechanic. Spend tokens to traverse the wheel of life. Earn tokens by tempting the jaws of death. Then, like layers upon a pearl, game play expands, introducing fresh tactics and strategies which, turn by turn, drive a sophisticated, emergent narrative. How you play defines the lives of one family's generations through the changing ages.

An enormous tableau of ancient western culture awaits your exploration:

  • Core Mechanic - Back and forth tactics, across four social boundaries, to win legend points.
  • Family Strategy - Romance. Raise children. Rite of Passage.
  • Family Drama - Tales in the life. Sibling rivalry. Failed branches. Graveyard of ancestry.
  • Grand Legends - Earned over generations, they strengthen your family: Discoveries and Invention. Social Advancement. Heroics.
  • Ruling Games - City Administration. Warring Kingdoms. Imperial Senate.
  • The Challenges of an Age - Special for each social level. Survive and overcome, to enter a new age.

System Requirements

Mac OS X
    • OS:XP
    • Processor:1GHz
    • Memory:1 GB RAM
    • Graphics:1024x768
    • Hard Drive:200 MB HD space
    • OS:XP
    • Processor:1GHz
    • Memory:1 GB RAM
    • Graphics:1024x768
    • Hard Drive:200 MB HD space
    • OS:10.5.8
    • Processor:1GHz
    • Memory:1 GB RAM
    • Graphics:1024x768
    • Hard Drive:200 MB HD space
    • OS:10.5.8
    • Processor:1GHz
    • Memory:1 GB RAM
    • Graphics:1024x768
    • Hard Drive:200 MB HD space
Customer reviews
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Mixed (417 reviews)
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Most Helpful Reviews  Overall
92 of 102 people (90%) found this review helpful
8.7 hrs on record
Posted: November 26, 2013
When it comes to games of chance, I would normally stay away. Slot machines at the casinos are a prime example. However, with 7 Grand Steps, there's more at stake. Your coins are steps to improving oneself in the world. In this case, a coin operated Ancient Egypt. You have coins that denote the 'skills' you can adept yourself in as it pushes you forward into time. If you decide to excel yourself in the society, you move up in the social hiearchy. You can find new techs (skills) or become a hero through its adventure-story style of narrative.

However, once you get to the ruler class, it becomes a challenge and that is what I admire: a game that is actively trying to push you back if you screw up. It is telling you to learn the mechanics again and come back when you are ready. That is why I am recommending this game. It is a game that is responding to your choices, your shifts and your play of the coins. Who knew a slot machine would be this fun?
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132 of 163 people (81%) found this review helpful
Not Recommended
7.5 hrs on record
Posted: January 12, 2014
7 Grand Steps is an interesting concept: board game meets chose-your-own-adventure-meets (very light) civilization. You begin the game as a couple of poor workers and must build a dynasty, trying to climb the social ladder. Since 7 Grand steps is very much the sum of its parts, I'll describe each one, as it's quite difficult to understand the game based on existing reviews.


The board game. That part is an almost direct port of the board game Cartagena. You almost always control two playing pieces (husband and wife). You advance the track by paying a token that makes you advance to the next location on the track that has a symbol matching that of the token. You can also move backwards to the next space that is occupied by another playing piece (either your spouse or one of the shadow pieces that are controlled by the AI). Doing so earns you tokens. How many and of what type depends on your skill level (more on that later). Here stops the Cartagena comparison.

Whenever you land on a space occupied by your spouse, there is a chance that you'll get a child. Children must be educated, so it's best to feed them tokens as often as possible. Doing so increases their skills, which will be used when the child becomes an adult (you can chose which child to play as in the next generation, a choice you have to make when the current one reaches the end of the track). Remember that the skills increase the number of tokens received when making a move towards the back.

There are 4 different tracks on the board, one for each social strata. With few exceptions, you're confined to your own social status's track.

On some spaces, beads are found that you can collect if you are among the firsts to reach the space. Collecting enough beads will trigger an event of one of three types: discovery (which changes one of the symbols on the track to a new one, and gives you a boost in skills and tokens for it, therefore giving you an advantage over shadow playing pieces), heroic, or social advancement.

Heroic and social advancements trigger a short choose-your-own adventure. A narrative is presented to you, and you'll typically have to make 5 choices. If you make "good" choices, you earn rewards: assorted rewards for the heroic events, or climbing one step of the social ladder for social advancement ones.

When you reach the fourth and last social class, you must make civ-style ruling decisions for your city each turn. You'll typically start as a sort of secretary of agriculture, but you'll get more power later on, on financial and defence matters for example. Most of those decisions are actually sliders to set (how much grain to distribute to the people, how much to store, what level of corruption do you tolerate/encourage, etc.)


Regarding time spent on each section, 7 Grand Steps is actually about 90% board game, 7% choose-your-own-adventure, and 3% civ-style ruling.

Meaning you'll spend the bulk of your time (I guess about 15 hours per game) playing the board part. Now ask yourself this: are you comfortable with a 13.5 hours-long game of Cartagena? No? Me neither! Cartagena is fun as a 45 minutes affair, but it's not meaty/varied/strategic enough to warrant 10+ hours a pop. It gets boring quite fast, actually.

The choose-your-own-adventure part is unfortunately not better. It feels completely random, gives incredibly weak feedback (to the point where the text describing the resolution will leave you scratching your head: "is that good or bad?" ). It's also repetitive and lacks drama. The board game part might be boring, but at least it's something solid. You feel like you have some control on the outcome. Not so with the adventure part.

About the civ-style part, I must admit I have not spent a lot of time with it (more on that later) and I certainly haven't seen all it has to offer. What I've seen is something pretty abstract, and relatively basic, but it made sense and gave me control, so probably the best part of the three. Too bad it's also the one you'll play the least.

So why did I spend so little time with the ruling part? Of course, partly because, as I said, it's only accessible once you reach the top of the social ladder. But also because, when certain conditions are met, a "challenge of the ages" is triggered, which is another choose-your-own-adventure that ends in an age advancement (from the copper age to the bronze age for example). It's as random as the others, but the consequences are much more dramatic. After my first "challenge of the ages", my character died and I got to play a distant sibling in the next age. The problem is, that sibling was only on the second rung of the social ladder and had of course no access to the ruling game. And that's actually the moment I quit this game: I didn't want to spend another 3 or 4 hours to reach the point where I could play the only part of the game that was at least mildly satisfying. yuk


I don't recommend 7 Grand Steps. It's much too repetitive, long and random. in short, it's very boring. That's a shame, really, because the basic concept is interesting. This game is apparently the first of the 7 grand steps (full title is 7 Grand Steps, Step 1: What Ancients Begat). IF (capitalization intended) the developer manages to correct its many flaws, I think there's a possibility of making a very good and original game out of the concept. I therefore wouldn't rule out playing step 2, if it ever sees the light of day. But until then, I'd avoid the game entirely.

If you're desperate for playing a game with a similar concept, there are two alternatives I can think of:
* Zafehouse Diaries, about Zombie apocalypse survival. Not excellent, but much better than this.
* King of the Dragon Pass, which I haven't played yet, but sounds similar with a stronger emphasis on the ruling part (it also has much better reviews).
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45 of 54 people (83%) found this review helpful
27.3 hrs on record
Posted: November 25, 2013
While this may look like a traditional board game, the depth on hand is remakable. In using cards/events to tell your characters story the game allows you to create a much more vivid tale of your own.

RPG meets board game, and I cannot wait for the follow up.
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53 of 67 people (79%) found this review helpful
Not Recommended
8.3 hrs on record
Posted: June 28, 2015
The game is okay, but the price is absolutely ridiculous. I got this in a bundle and paid less than a dollar for it, and it's been worth that much. But there are literally thousands of other games I would buy before this one at full price.

Essentially, you control a family from ancient times as they make their way throug the ages. The entire game happens in this weird wheel segment, with tokens representing your husband and wife moving around on it. The game mechanics boil down to spend coins to move clockwise on the game board, and collect "legends", points that go towards earning discoveries, which can give you technological advances, earning you big chunks of coins, or help you move to the outer rings of the wheel, where you have more movement options. You have children, and spend coins to boost their skills. These skills help them earn more coins when they take over the family line. But as far as I can tell, that's about it. It's an endless cycle of earning and spending coins. The story elements aren't compelling at all, as they come in tiny fragments and don't seem to affect anything visibly. Like I said, mildly distracting, but far from addictive and not worth twenty bucks.
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45 of 58 people (78%) found this review helpful
Not Recommended
13.3 hrs on record
Posted: March 8, 2014
7 Grand Steps is an ambitious game. It provides a single-player boardgame experience against computer-controlled AI characters set amongst the classic ages of history. Unfortunately, the experience is enormously crippled by the random elements of the game. Progress often feels the benefit of luck, and the frequent impediments to your progress are frustrating and feel beyond player control. While the various storylines you'll encounter are somewhat engaging, they are often hopelessly vague. Character choices that work for one individual utterly fail for another. While training children is an important part of the game, the parents can reproduce beyond their means, such that nurturing each child becomes impossible. Should you choose to dote on one child, rivalries will develop which hinder progress down the line.

While progress is exciting, especially from Age to Age, due to the strange and random nature of the game, you could be forced to play one Age for a great length of time. As you are forced to make the same choices again and again, the tedium weighs the experience down, such that slogging through the wheel becomes a chore. While you may find the game has an instant surface appeal, it doesn't ultimately hold up. The lives of the characters in the game feel beyond any meaningful influence, and each turn eventually feels mechanical.

The initial wonder of the experience was greatly muted after a few hours of play, to the point that I couldn't explain why I continued to play. The structure of 7 Grand Steps is intriguing, but sadly, it is a flawed creation. "Winning" the game is an empty achievement: the end result of many hours of token creation in a blind universe.
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26 of 28 people (93%) found this review helpful
12.1 hrs on record
Posted: August 18, 2014
Slow to develop, and maybe a bit too repetitive after a bit, but plays nicely, and is not trivial to survive. Some neat long lasting effects from real decisions meant to represent daily struggles in ancient times. One for board game lovers, especially on sale.
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23 of 26 people (88%) found this review helpful
8.9 hrs on record
Posted: July 15, 2013
Can't say enough just how much I love this game. Very easy to get into, and it truly does play like an engrossing game that is writing a book, where the subject is your family's history. A very original and fantastic game!
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27 of 33 people (82%) found this review helpful
24.6 hrs on record
Posted: September 3, 2013
Honestly, I wishlisted this on the basis that additional features were pending and I would buy it when it was more fleshed out. The trailer and associated screenshots make it look simple, but I can assure you; it is not. Installed it Sept. 3rd, in the afternoon, and played just about 12 hours straight almost. This is one of the best sims I have played in a LONG time, and easily justifies $15. It gets its hooks into you early, and quickly turns into one of those "just one more turn" games. It is unique, has a seemingly infinite amount of depth, and one play through is REALLY long if done correctly. I'm still on my first family, after this initial 12 hours. One of the best purchases I have made all year, easily.
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22 of 25 people (88%) found this review helpful
2.6 hrs on record
Posted: February 15, 2014
Life's all about the right and wrong choices that have been made, are made and will be made. Not only in your own life but choices made in past generations can even trouble the life of your fututre siblings.
A game you never have played before, a new kind of strategic thinking. Don't take life and luck in life for granted because this can change in an instance when you make 'that' decision in life.
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18 of 20 people (90%) found this review helpful
Not Recommended
3.1 hrs on record
Posted: August 28, 2014
I kind of have mixed feelings about this game. I would give it 5/10. Good, playable, but with serious drawbacks.

It does give you a strangely epic feeling - you do feel like a part of history itself, looking at stories of families not at the level of each individual, but ultimately, for the entire family bloodline, as a whole. I would say that this epicness is the most unusual part about this game, which no other games I've ever played offers.
The graphics and music is also not bad for a game of its size.

The biggest problem is the disconnect between player's choices and their consequences, and the lack of any coherent logic as to how and why to make decisions. For example, when your family is facing a crisis of the age, you are given 4 questions, each with 4 choices - and after you choose all 4 answers, you kind of get a "score" on how you did. But there is absolutely no prompts as to why one answer may or may not be correct - and the worst answer kills your character outright, and the previous 2-3 hours of your gameplay is wasted. What the hell?! This happens in other places too...

To make this even worse, there's no SAVE functionality in this game - just Pause/Continue. I understand that history cannot be rewinded, and that decisions are decisions. It makes sense, but this is a game, for people to play. It is not meant to punish the player harshly. If the character you control dies, you lose your previous 2-3 hours of progress; If all you characters of the current generation dies, you are dead. Your game progress is completely erased. What the hell?!

Overall, I like this game for what it's good for, but I hate it for what it's bad for. I'm not playing it again.
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Recently Posted
4.1 hrs
Posted: October 16
Slow but surprisingly addictive. It may have changed since I played - I don't remember picture backgrounds to the game board. Not a game for everyone, but I enjoyed it enough for a thumbs up.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
9.8 hrs
Posted: October 13
Not worth $20 at all. Less than $10 or else I would definitely feel ripped off. Early game is fun, but it gets real grindy and super repetitive.
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Sgt. Dweebus
0.2 hrs
Posted: October 8
Helpful? Yes No Funny
15.9 hrs
Posted: October 7
Fun and original game.

Its dinamics are very simple, as well as the graphics; at the begining you can be suspicious about its looks but it turns into a quite fun and adictive game, in my opinion.

Buy it when it is on sale.
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0.9 hrs
Posted: September 30
It's an interesting and fairly unique game in both game play content. Unfortunatly I just did not find if fun.
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Travel Tech
12.7 hrs
Posted: September 23
Fun with one or two playthroughs, after that you've pretty much gotten all you can get out of the game. It's a game of chance where you build the story of your family over time and it has a few interesting mechanics.

I wouldn't suggest buying at full price, but if it seems interesting to you then grab it during a sale.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
13.1 hrs
Posted: September 20
Yes, it is a board game. Many negative reviews here seem to be holding this game's mechanics against it, but the simplicity and chance are the point. Watching your dynasty morph and rise and fall depending on the drop of a coin or the unexpected outcome of a cyoa choice is what makes it such a joy.

This game manages to create the feeling of passing through an enormous and tumultuous swathe of history with grace and simplicity thanks to the well-designed mechanics and some well placed, but not overwrought, pieces of flavor text. The writing isn't showy, and there isn't too much of it, but it is just the right amount to keep this epic story of a family's progress through the generations feeling vivid. The slot-machine mechanic may seem strange at first, but it models feeling of being desperate for food with too many children, or feeling driven to climb the social ladder to avoid being crushed beneath the wheel of history, incredibly well.

Basically, this is like Crusader Kings II except you roleplay the peasants. CK2 gives you a map of the world and armies to place throughout. 7 Grand Steps gives you a coin and a wheel. You provide the luck and determination.
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2.2 hrs
Posted: September 16
I wanted to buy this game for a long time but It never went on sale. It seems that the game maker is arrogant and this reflects in this game, which is a real shame. Gameplay is boring and repetitive. Do yourself a favour and skip this one.
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3.0 hrs
Posted: September 13
Very neat concept and it looks well put together. If you take the time to learn the rules you will enjoy this game. If you blast in you'll end up quitting very shortly after you start if you didn't read the directions.

It's a good game, not for me, but I'd still recommend it to others.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
11.2 hrs
Posted: September 9
Addictive, fun puzzle game.
Helpful? Yes No Funny