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Subject: Stone Age: A Review rss

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Kristen McCarty
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Pennsylvania
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Agriculture was an important breakthrough in human history. We no longer needed to spend all our time hunting and gathering. Humans could focus on other trades, develop art and pottery, and look beyond the small family unit. This unique period of human history is captured in the game Stone Age, a fun worker placement game. Best of all it works well with two to four players.



Components:

Stone Age is first and foremost a beautiful game. The art on the game board is outstanding and the quality is top notch. Even the back is decorated. To me, this just shows the pride some game publishers put into their games.



Back of Board


The wooden components that come with the game are 68 wooden resources (gold, stone, brick, and wood) and 40 wooden stone age meeples in four player colors.

You also receive 28 hut tiles, 36 civilization cards, 1 start player figure, 7 wooden dice, and 4 player boards.

The one component that has caused some trouble is the leather dice cup, while this is thematic, many people don't like it, or have had trouble with the smell. My cup never had a smell to it. I have never used it to play the game, but it is a nice addition for people who like dice cups. I do believe that the company has corrected this issue in reprints.



Set Up

Set up is easy, due to another plus for this game. The wonderful rulebook has a helpful two pages set-up directions. Not only is this great when you first start playing the game, it is also very beneficial when you haven't played for awhile, and want to do a quick check to make sure you are setting up correctly.

Goal of the Game:

You win by scoring the most victory points. Points come from building huts during the game and the civilization cards you collect throughout the game.

Game Play

There are three phases of play:

1. Players place people
2. Players use the actions of their placed people
3. Players feed their people

Phase 1: Players Place People

Players start with five people at the beginning of the game. These workers are placed on different sections of the board to gather resources, build huts and collect cards.



The start player begins and must place one or more of their workers on one place of the board. The worker must be placed in one of the rings. If there are no open rings, a worker can not be placed. A player may also not add more workers to an area where they previously placed people this turn.

The first player chooses one area to place their workers. They may place as many people in the area as there is space available. The next player in clockwise order then places. This continues until all players have placed their first workers. Players with workers remaining continue to place in order until everyone has placed all their workers.

There are ten different areas where players are able to place people. All are all beneficial, but you may be blocked from an area you really want. The only area with no limit is hunting. Players may place as many people there as they wish.

Phase Two: Players use the actions of their placed people

Again, the start player begins. He uses all his placed people. When finished, the next player, in clockwise order, may use his people. You can use your people in any order. Sometimes the order is crucial, so one does not want to rush through phase two.



Each area offers a unique resource or scoring opportunity. I'll briefly explain each area.

Tool Maker: You may take one new tool and place it on your player board. You start with a one tool until you have three then you may take a two tool all the way up to a four tool. Tools are used once per round to add to a die roll. Once used it is put sideways to show that it can not be used again that turn.

Field: If you place your figure here you may move your marker up one on the food track, increasing your food production. This means you get to pay one less food in the third phase.

Hunt: Here is where the dice rolling begins! For each person you have placed in the hunt area you take one die and roll it (use your dice cup if you wish!). Count up your dice and divide by two. You get that much food from the supply. Use a tool if you need to here!

Forest, clay pit, Quarry, & River:
Get those dice out again and start rolling! For each person placed in the area the player roles that may dice. You can use a tool again as well. Wood is the easiest to harvest so players divide their number by three. Brick is by four, stone five, and gold, the hardest, by six. If you have trouble remembering your player board has a handy reminder.



Civilization Cards: Civilization cards serve multiple purposes. They give you resources, immediate victory points, tools, food, or even an additional food production. But they are also saved for the end of the game to give victory points. Only one person can be placed on each card. The player must pay the number of any type of resource to acquire the card. If you do not have enough to pay, you do not have to take the card. You may even decide to not take the card, even if you have enough resources.



Buildings: Building huts earns a player points during the game. You must pay the resources indicated on the hut card. Then you move your scoring marker up the indicated number of points. You place the hut on your player board. Some huts list resources - two brick, one wood that must be paid. Some list the resource symbol and a number. This means you may pay any resource but must pay the indicated number. You source points based on the resource you paid: 3 for wood, 4 for brick, five for stone, and six for gold. Some show a number range such as 1-6 and the resource symbol. This means you may pay any resource and you may pay up to six resources. You score points based on how many, and of what type you pay.



Hut: The last available space makes me blush a little. I said that you start with five people but can get more during the game. Well here is where the magic happens. You place two people at the hut and then take one person from the supply. You get to use the new person during the next round.



Phase Three: Feed Your People!

At the end of each round players must feed their people. Each player pays one food per person. You start the game with twelve food so the first few rounds are easy. For each number on the food track you may pay one food less. I've been able to get my food production up in some games so that I didn't have to worry about feeding my people at all, which is just pure satisfaction. If you do not have enough food you may pay one resource for each missing food instead. The idea being that you people traded their resources for food. If you can not pay, you lose 10 points for each food not paid.

New Round

Now, the start player hands the start player token to his left neighbor. The civilization cards are moved to the right and filled in, and any uncovered hut is flipped up to start the new round. Repeat until end conditions are met.


Start Player Token


Game End

The game ends in one of two ways. If there are not enough civilization cards to refill the display the game ends. Also, if at least one building stack is empty at the end of a round the game ends. Players still must feed their people at the end of the round and then proceed to scoring.

Scoring

Scoring is probably the most complicated part of Stone Age and luckily it is not very complicated.



Players should sort their civilization cards into piles with green and brown backgrounds. I like to start with green background cards. You count the number of different civilization cards that you have. There is writing, healing, pottery, art, time, transport, weaving and music. Then you times that number by itself. So if you have three different background you times 3x3 and get 9. If you have duplicates they count for one point each.

Next, score your brown cards. For the ones showing the food production symbol multiply the number of farmers on the card by your food production number for your score. Do this for each card you have collected. For the cards showing tools score you number of tools times the number of workers for each card. Then score the hut by the number of workers and the shamans by how many people you have.

Winner is whomever had the most points!

Changes for 2-3 Players

If you have two players for the game there are some changes. First, at the tool maker, hut,and field only two may be filled each round and one must be left empty. For three players only two players may place people at the forest, clay pit, quarry and river. This is the rule even if there are spots remaining. In a two player game only one person may place at each of these spots.



My Thoughts

As my husband and I were playing this game the other night he mentioned that "this is a game that I will always have in my collection, others will come and go, but Stone Age is definitely one to hold on to for a long time." I had to laugh to myself since he didn't know I was planning on reviewing Stone Age next,and he summed up by feelings exactly.

Stone Age is a good game, period. It easy to teach and easy to learn. It scales so well for many different numbers of players, and is probably one of the best two player worker placement games out there. Every time I play I think I have the strategy down to win, something happens during the game to change it. Once I focused on trying to get all the civilization cards, but lost because of not building enough huts, other times I try the hut route and lose because I can't get the resources. (I must lose this game a lot come to think of it!) But again, win or lose I always have fun.



Quick Stats:

Designer: Bernd Brunnhofer
Artists: Michael Menzel
Publisher: Rio Grande Games, 999 Games, Hans im Glük
Number of Players: 2-4
Play Time: 60-90 minutes

Photo Credits: Raiko Puust(binraix), Olav F.(olavf), Travis Cooper (monkeyboy157), Matthias Räwer(TomTube), Henk Rolleman (henk.rolleman)(2), SkoT StarK (TunaSled), Giovanni Messina (N3MO77), Ender Wiggins (EndersGame), (garygarison), Richard van Vugt (richardsgamepack), Matthias Räwer (TomTube)

Thanks for taking such beautiful pictures and sharing them with us!


**Note: This was originally posted in my Blog: A Game Built for Two"
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Kevin Garnica
United States
Buena Park
California
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Glad there are still people enjoying this game. I don't tire of it easily, and I still play it regularly with other people. In fact, this is (usually) the first worker placement game I introduce to new players who have never played a worker placement game before.
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Andy Andersen
United States
Ada
Michigan
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This is the first worker placement game I played, and my wife and I still bring it out frequently. Don't know what to make of the expansion?

Thanks for the review.
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Gareth Reynolds
New Zealand
Christchurch
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xcrun55 wrote:
...The start player begins and must place one or more of their people on one place of the board. The person must be placed in one of the rings. If there are no open rings, people can not be placed. A player may also not add more people to an area where they previously placed people this turn.

Once the first player has placed their people the next player in clockwise order places theirs. This continues until all players have placed all their workers...
This may simply be an error in how you've written it, but the placements during the first part of a round aren't as I read what you've written.
Player 1 will choose one area (Tool Hut, Wood, Card etc.) and then place as many workers there as appropriate, with the Cards/Huts counting as individual areas. Then Player 2 chooses an open area (or potentially the same if another player is allowed to use it, wood etc.) and places their workers. Each player chooses in turn what area they want to put worker(s) in until every player has placed all their workers for the round. eg. Placements could be 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 1, 1 depending on what areas are chosen and how many workers each player has that round.
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Steve Duff
Canada
Ottawa
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Avron wrote:
This may simply be an error in how you've written it, but the placements during the first part of a round aren't as I read what you've written.


He She has it right, when she's he's saying "placed their people", she's he's not referring to all of them, just the ones required for the given spot they chose.

The fact she he referred to how you can't add people to a previously placed group illustrates she's he's saying it goes around and around to each player multiple times.
 
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Kenny VenOsdel
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UnknownParkerBrother wrote:
Avron wrote:
This may simply be an error in how you've written it, but the placements during the first part of a round aren't as I read what you've written.


He has it right, when he's saying "placed their people", he's not referring to all of them, just the ones required for the given spot they chose.

The fact he referred to how you can't add people to a previously placed group illustrates he's saying it goes around and around to each player multiple times.


She Also said "one or more people...on one area."
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Steve Duff
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Whoops, didn't think to check that.
 
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Kristen McCarty
United States
Pennsylvania
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I think I fixed the confusion now. Both of you were right. I'll try to make sure to be clearer in the future. Thanks for reading and for helping in making my review better.
 
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Josh Malbon
United States
Santa Cruz
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Nice review Kristen! Pretty comprehensive.


I agree the stuff like the art on the back of the gameboard, the quality of the pieces through out...and the well written instructions make for a great game.
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Ron Gilbert
United States
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I hadn't played this game in a year, then I went to Prezcon and noticed the Stone Age tournament was one of the largest at the convention (I didn't get official counts, but it looked on par with Dominion and Puerto Rico for the most players). After playing it again, I now remember how much I like the game - lots of fun, and each game is completely different.
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MD Attila
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Nice review with good quality pictures thumbsup I totally agree, that this game shines with two players.
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Nathan Roberts
Australia
Katoomba
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Fantastic review! One of my favourite games

Its important to note that not feeding, the 'starvation strategy' is quite a viable choice too. You only lose 10 pts (total) if you don't feed, not 10 pts per food deficient.

'If the player cannot or does not want to do this, he immediately moves his scoring marker backwards 10 points on the scoring track. In such case, the player must return all food he has to the supply! When all players have fed their people (or not and lost 10 points), the round ends.'
 
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