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 (307 reviews)
Release Date: Jun 7, 2013

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Recommended By Curators

"Multiple-choice interludes with long-term effects on your in-game family. Recommended for fans of choice and consequence."

Reviews

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

"...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."
G4TV

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

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

Windows
Mac OS X
    Minimum:
    • OS:XP
    • Processor:1GHz
    • Memory:1 GB RAM
    • Graphics:1024x768
    • Hard Drive:200 MB HD space
    Recommended:
    • OS:XP
    • Processor:1GHz
    • Memory:1 GB RAM
    • Graphics:1024x768
    • Hard Drive:200 MB HD space
    Minimum:
    • OS:10.5.8
    • Processor:1GHz
    • Memory:1 GB RAM
    • Graphics:1024x768
    • Hard Drive:200 MB HD space
    Recommended:
    • OS:10.5.8
    • Processor:1GHz
    • Memory:1 GB RAM
    • Graphics:1024x768
    • Hard Drive:200 MB HD space
Helpful customer reviews
4 of 5 people (80%) found this review helpful
4.0 hrs on record
Posted: December 23, 2014
Some interesting ideas and mechanics. Unfortunately, it quickly becomes repetitive. It's just a matter of applying optimal strategy and repeat the same process over and over again. And then something horrible happens - lady luck wants your skin. And gets it. And then you realize you've spent hours trying to see what else, if anything, this game has to offer.

Not worth the money and the time, IMHO.
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4 of 5 people (80%) found this review helpful
7.9 hrs on record
Posted: May 23
This is... a game.
Well, I just don't know what kind of game this is to be honest.
I like the graphics by judging the well done in-game-art, but this is not really meant to be an graphic based visual-novel. It is more like an tabletop for the family evening and that is where this game is going wrong. It is well done in the way you interact with it, but it feels like it should come in an nice wrapped up cartonage with the picture of an family playing the game on top of it. Than go fold the tablet get the dices and the event-cards and play some nice 7 Grand Steps.
The big flaw of this game is, that it comes as an singleplayer, meh.
And after 12 times of "There is an old man who tells tales if you give him some tokens." you kind of feel as if the writers of the game want to abandon you as well.

4/10 Is anyone out there?!
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3 of 4 people (75%) found this review helpful
12.8 hrs on record
Posted: December 29, 2014
STRONG POINTS: elegant and steeped in metaphor. The game tells a story while you play. The actions from one generation build upon (and perhaps hamper those) of the next. Lots of interesting strategic decisions: when to marry (and gain an additional pawn), which pawn to move first to maximize your chances at points. The game expands impressively the further you advance, and when I first landed in the ruling class my jaw dropped.

WEAK POINTS: Those who dislike randomness will become frustrated with the inscrutable child-bearing mechanics. Sometimes you try and fail every time, sometimes your pawns won't stop having kids no matter how many you already have. :)

TO SUM UP: An epic strategy game that doesn't end up overwhelming. You stay focused on the here-and-now, even though the ramifications of the player's actions stretch beyond the immediate.
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3 of 4 people (75%) found this review helpful
0.6 hrs on record
Posted: March 23
It's a bit boring. I think I got this in a bundle and I tried it out just now for the sake of it. It's not very fun and a little confusing/pointless. Not my taste.
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4 of 6 people (67%) found this review helpful
18.8 hrs on record
Posted: January 10
Worth playing if only for the interesting game mechanics alone. It does strangely manage to capture the feeling of a family struggling to survive and prosper across the ages. Having your only child die is heartbreaking. Having two spouses who both love each other feels incredibly rewarding. But I don't see how they could sustain this across another game, let alone a total of seven.
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2 of 3 people (67%) found this review helpful
0.3 hrs on record
Posted: February 13
Game nr 2 of 633 in my library on steam!
Started this game and got bored almost instantly, guess it has some interesting boardgame features but I didn't have the patience to really give the game the time it demands.

The storytelling with the evolvement of your familytree is a nice touch (well the whole game is about this) but the coinsystem feels overly complex.

The good
- Well.. interesting storyline

The bad
- coinsystem (and thats the whole gameplay system)
- Fullscreen is not widescreen...

Watch us play it here!
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1 of 2 people (50%) found this review helpful
34.7 hrs on record
Posted: December 25, 2014
A great board game-type RPG. It's easy to pick up on, and gets kind of addictive. The ending sucks though, but I want the sequel.
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1 of 2 people (50%) found this review helpful
3.6 hrs on record
Posted: December 26, 2014
7 Grand Steps is an emergent narrative game about family generations surviving through the ages. Its story is driven by a core, board-game mechanic. The experience is like Civilization crossed with Oregon Trail. Beatiful graphic, immersive music and innovative gameplay! This is a must buy.
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1 of 2 people (50%) found this review helpful
7.7 hrs on record
Posted: December 27, 2014
this is a mmust own game for anyone who loves reading and board games!!!! it is incredibly fun I AM SO HAPPY I GOT IT! super addicting; one of the few games you dont feel bad about losing!
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1 of 2 people (50%) found this review helpful
4.0 hrs on record
Posted: December 27, 2014
"7 Grand Steps: What Ancients Begat" is a remarkably difficult game to define. It's a board game, of sorts, based on a system of aquiring and spending coins to advance whilst attempting to increase your social standing. It is however, inexplicably addictive and you may waste hours of time before you realise it.

However, the game isn't worth £15. Personally I'm looking at its current sale-price of £5 and questioning it too. However, there is fun to be had at the right price. The £5 mark is probably reasonable if you're really in to board games, I'd wait until lower than that if you're just after a few hours of casual fun.
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1 of 2 people (50%) found this review helpful
7.4 hrs on record
Posted: January 2
This game hurts my soul. I understand the core mechanics and the point but man. The coins, just keep coming. And the need to put them in and collect beads, it's compulsive.

Overall, watch a video, read the description. There is not a lot to this game. If you enjoy slot machines and how the wonderous colors and lack of understanding make for compelling hours of time wasted, then this is totally for you. There is some strategy, there is some planning, but overall, it's just spin the wheel~spin the wheel~spin the wheel.
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1 of 2 people (50%) found this review helpful
5.2 hrs on record
Posted: January 5
Thumbs up for trying something new!
I loved the concept of this game, fun gameplay, awesome aesthetics and good unobtrusive music. However it does have a lot of downsides which stopped me wanting to play further.
The game is really punishing - there's no save, if you die you go back to the last generation which makes you so handicapped you might as well start again thereby negating the last 2hrs of play. The dialog is terrible and the "choices" you have to make have NO logic to them, it might as well be a coin toss - and that's the main problem with this game it's based too much on luck. All the time and strategizing you put in can all be undone by the roll of a dice.
Still worth playing but definitely not for 19.99
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1 of 2 people (50%) found this review helpful
1.6 hrs on record
Posted: January 29
This is a lot like a board game, in that it's pretty much a board game...I like playing it once in a while, never finish an entire game (unless I die), and it can become very repetitive, especially once you learn the rules.

That being said...
It's lightweight, turn-based, isn't stupid "new" old school graphics, and allows the player to make a lot of choices. Nothing bad to be said of it really, I haven't encountered any glitches or bugs. So hey, if it's on sale definitely pick it up; if you get bored, you just put it away until next time.
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1 of 2 people (50%) found this review helpful
7.4 hrs on record
Posted: March 15
Not a very complex game - good for playing during slow times at the office or when multitasking. Don't ever purchase at full price or you will be sorely disappointed.
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1 of 2 people (50%) found this review helpful
17.6 hrs on record
Posted: April 21
A quite unique game with a strange combination of tactical board game and roleplay & story-telling. As first side, the game seems like a "Monopoly": you start by moving your character-token and gathering ressources (token and achievement points). But you'll quickly discover that the gameplay mecanism has quite some depth: how to optimize your itinerary by minimizing ressource-token used and by maximizing achievement points gain, how to use "boost" of movement etc etc... There are a lot of tricks that can give you some tactical advantage over AIs.

However, this gameplay discover phase may take you 2 hours or so, and then you may start to feel some repetitiveness: the game has 3 main phases (copper age, bronze age and iron age), all of them have absolutely the same gameplay mecanism. The only thing that changes with the ages is the "ruling game", which you gain access by uplifting to the highest rank. Honestly for me, the ruling game is the true shining point of the game, they are kind of "management & simulation" like mini-games. I found them pretty well thought, as they fit very well to the historical aspects of each age.

One major default is that the "random side stories" you can encounter. The problem is that... well they are random, but the pool of available events are extremely low... If you chain several "heroic deeds" quests, it's very likely you'll get the same story twice or more. For a game which is supposed to centered on developping a story of a clan/family, I found this very annoying.

Overall, I rate this 7/10. Repetitiveness and the lack of variety in "random events" are the major default, but it is still worht playing if you seek an unique game with an enjoyable board-game gameplay and interesting story.
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89 of 98 people (91%) 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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117 of 146 people (80%) found this review helpful
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.

Description

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.)

Comments

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

Conclusion

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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43 of 51 people (84%) found this review helpful
26.3 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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41 of 52 people (79%) found this review helpful
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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24 of 26 people (92%) 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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