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Hans im Glück Returns to the Stone Age with Paleo

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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Board Game Designer
On January 29, 2020, the day that the Spielwarenmesse trade fair opened in Nürnberg, Germany, publisher Hans im Glück finally revealed what it has in the works for 2020:

Board Game: Paleo

While filming video overviews of new and upcoming games at Spielwarenmesse 2020, the BGG team visited the HiG booth only to discover that the publisher would prefer not to record an overview of Paleo or even have pictures taken of the materials on display. That said, HiG's Frederic Diebold ran me through the basics of gameplay, so I offer my summary of this Peter Rustemeyer design here:
Paleo is a co-operative adventure game set in the stone age, a game in which players try to keep the human beings in their care alive while completing missions. Sometimes you need a fur, sometimes a tent, but these are all minor quests compared to your long-term goal: Painting a woolly mammoth on the wall so that humans thousands of years later will know that you once existed. (Okay, you just think the mammoth painting looks cool. Preserving a record of your past existence is gravy.)

What might keep you from painting that mammoth? Death, in all its many forms.

Each player starts the game with a couple of humans, who each have a skill and a number of life points. On a turn, each player chooses to go to one location — possibly of the same type as other players, although not the same location — and while you have some idea of what you might find there, you won't know for sure until you arrive, at which point you might acquire food or resources, or find what you need to craft a useful object, or discover that you can aide someone else in their project, or suffer a snakebite that brings you close to death. Life is full of both wonders and terrors...

At the day's end, you need food for all the people in your party as well as various crafts or skills that allow you to complete quests. Failure to do so adds another skull on the tote board, and once you collect enough of those, you decide that living is for fools and give up the ghost, declaring that future humans can just admire someone else, for all you care.

Paleo includes multiple modules that allow for a variety of people, locations, quests, and much more during your time in 10,000 BCE.
Paleo does not come across like your typical Hans im Glück design. First, a search of the BGG database turns up only one other co-op release from HiG: 1994's Waldmeister from one Andreas Seyfarth. Second, the box size (while preliminary) and the artwork (same) doesn't resemble anything released by HiG in recent years.

Third, all of HiG's titles that we've previewed in the near past — Hadara, Marco Polo II, Lift Off, Race to the New Found Land, Valletta, Dynasties — have a certain similarity to their DNA, a similarity that dates back to the first of their titles that I played after diving deep into hobby games: Amun-Re, Attika, In the Shadow of the Emperor, and Goa. Paleo feels like something different, a more open-ended game with more chance elements and more unknowns along your path of potential actions — but of course I had only an overview of the game, so I'm open to being wrong.

Diebold said that the current plan is to debut Paleo in Q3 2020, so look for more details about this game closer to that time period.
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