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Subject: Neolithic, more like Neoterrific! Please stop hitting me! rss

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Reed Dawley
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Delmar
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I wish I could play more games.
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I will admit that I have been on a Clowdus kick lately. Two player games that come in a small box and contain some fun little games. Small box games can be great, they don't look intimidating to an outsider, they are usually relatively simple to teach and they usually have a small footprint for play. The other day I had to go to work in an hour and I set Neolithic on the table and asked Twitch if she wanted to play a small box civ building game. She loves civ building games and so she was in.

The game setup is simple, set up four decks of cards that are different colors. You have Procreate(tannish), Hunt(orangish), Gather(greenish) and Innovate(bluish). Then you give each player a Founder Card, a Procreate card and three Innovate cards. Next you take the top two cards off the four decks and make a fifth deck and put the Forage card on it. So now you have a hand of five cards and five decks in front of you. Sound easy? It is and I love the super quick setup time for when you have just enough time to get a game in but not enough for anything big.

Each turn you get to either place Villagers out to an unused location (both players can Forage, though) making sure the cards have the matching icons needed to activate and you do what the top card says. This is where the decisions start. Here are what the decks do:

Procreate: You need a man and a woman symbol which can be either both on the same card or one on each of two cards. When you play that you get to look at the top two cards of the deck, take one into your hand and put the other at the bottom of the deck.



Hunt: Play a card with a spear symbol. Reveal the top three cards of the deck and you can either add all identical hunted animals to your village or take one of the cards into your hand.



Gather: Play a card with a wheat symbol. Reveal the top three cards of the deck and either add two different gathered resources to your village or take one card into your hand.



Innovate: Play card(s) with two stone symbols. Look at the top two cards, take one into your hand and put the other on the bottom of the deck.



Forage: Play either a spear or a wheat symbol then search the deck for any card you want and put it into your hand.

If all spots are taken or if you just want to you can also take a Village Turn. When you do this all the villagers you have sent out come back to your hand and you get to take one village action for each villager that came back. Your village actions are as follows.

Play one Animal card from hand, either domesticated or hunted to the village.

Play one Resource card, either as a developed resource or a gathered resource to the village.

Play one Innovation card if you have the icons needed to play it to the village.

Play one Culture card to the village.

Discard up to one Ritual card from their hand to use the ability.


So mechanically it is a relatively simple game. Again something I like in a small game but the choices become important. All of the cards have two ways of using them, one is usually quick and gets you more icons or a one use power the other is either a permanent power or icons/victory points. You can hunt and get some meat and/or pelt symbols or take it into your hand to domesticate later for a special power. For example a Goat card on it's hunted side gives you a Meat and a Pelt symbol and if you happen to draw two from the Hunt deck you can grab both and have two Meat and two Pelts for one action which is great but if you take it into hand and use a village action later to domesticate it you get a Goat symbol and a power that says when you Innovate you can instantly use the Ritual power of that card instead of putting it in your hand. That could be great, don't have to waste a Village action if you know you are not going to develop that particular Innovation later. So the choices are interesting. Plus you may have another Innovation that you develop that gives you a victory point for Goat symbols, so that becomes a win/win. Gather some resources and get barley, you get one Barley symbol during your Gather action but if you develop it as a Village action you get two Barley symbols and Grain Storage symbol, from these can come Innovation of beer and scoring on a Culture - Agrarian card. Basically each card can be used two ways each of which may fit into your strategy.

The game ends at the end of the turn when two decks have been emptied. Then you score your Village, whoever has the most icons gets a bonus five points and you go from there. I may make a spreadsheet to ease scoring, it isn't hard but I think a little automation would speed it up just a little and I want speed in a game like this.

All in all I enjoyed the game a ton. I like that each card has two uses and one is quick and the other may take a bit to get out but will be worth more points. I knew I was going to score points for meat at the end of the game so I tried to hunt a lot. The choice of when to start developing Culture is an interesting one because each Culture card you add to your Village is one less Villager to send out. I managed to add a Culture card and was super thrilled then I realized that was my other Villager that had the Stone icon so I only had one and needed another villager with that icon to use Innovate again. The Forage deck may have some good stuff early on but it gets quickly picked over and you get left with a barren wasteland of cards neither of you want, which seems thematic. Blocking an opponent out of a space you know they want is fun but you know with limited villagers that you will have to have a Village turn at some point and then your opponent can use that deck. It was fun and had meaningful decisions without inducing AP, there are interesting decisions but not so many that you have to think too deeply. Playing with a gamer made it super easy to teach but I think a new gamer would catch on after a game or two. I highly recommend this game for what it is, you aren't building sprawling metropolises but instead you are a Village trying to make it all work. I look forward to playing it more and think that I will not have trouble doing so.

[Pictures used from the Neolithic BGG image section]
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I'll be getting the basic game and the advanced cultures expansion when it ships in Dec. Can't wait to play!

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Reed Dawley
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Delmar
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lucky henry wrote:
I'll be getting the basic game and the advanced cultures expansion when it ships in Dec. Can't wait to play!



In that Kickstarter I ordered a new base copy and Advanced Cultures, I know I will want a separate copy that lives in my bag.
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