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Subject: Stone Age Loophole? rss

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bryden
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I have had the Stone Age game for about 8 months and have enjoyed it as a quicker playing Settlers/Agricola game that both my wife, kids and other new players seem to grasp quickly and have fun with.

I have always had good success working out the feed, expand family, grab cards and an occassional hut strategy which usually provides a 200+ score. The cards would provide a good chunk of points. Fast forward to a GameFest event ...

I was buffed and waxed by someone who did not grow and made no attempt to grow from the initial 5 meeples and just drilled through one of the hut stacks. Game over in about 35 minutes and a loss by 40 points (winner scoring a mere 140+ points). This was a 3 player game. Most 3 player games that I have been in have taken about 90 minutes and results in the winner getting over 200 points.

I tried this approach and it provided the same result. (4 player game) I noticed that the cards lose a good chunk of value when you don't have time to get a number of symbols or a good grouping of modifiers (3x or better of 1 type - at least 5 symbols). The goods you get are fine but I use the multipliers to "pad" my score. I was unable to stop this strategy and when I performed it, I could not be blocked either.

Has anyone tried to perform the same trick? What defense would you take other than joining into another stack and trying to do the same? The 1st time the player simply jumped over to "my" stack and took the hut I exposed and continued to drill to the bottom.

He had no trouble feeding since he had only 5 food and no trouble aquiring the resources since the "roll for resources 1-6" were coming up often. He would fill in his needs based on what he received from someone else's roll.

I have seen posts here that note that the cards do not provide a good return, especially with the symbols (I had not experienced this before) and in this case it is confirmed. I can tell you that it sure shortens the game into a race to build 7 huts.

I have not played this on-line and at this point have no desire to do so. I prefer games with a little more going on. Is this a common strategy?

Just knowing that this strategy is there is a bit disconcerning because if this becomes a regular strategy, the fun factor is gone from this one.

I would appreciate your comments.
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Tim P.
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Is it a loophole or just a different strategy ?

Burning through a stack of houses shortens the game, the card scoring does benefit from a longer game.

If someone is burning through one stack of houses and you have a spare meeple then block them by grabbing the house, but do not buy it. That's one extra turn for you to get points elsewhere.

When another player has lots of stone or gold, and there is a house that will allow a big score, then I try to block them by getting it myself.

devil

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Dave Eisen
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No idea if this works. Have not dedicated the time to try it.

But if it does, this is not a loophole. This is increased strategic depth and another path to victory. Presumably the game was playtested to make this approach viable with the provided 7 huts per stack, but to make it so it is not gamebreaking and the only viable approach. And that the best balance is with exactly 7 huts per stack.

I would like to hear other experienced players and their analysis of this approach. But for now, I regard this as a positive.
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Nathan Morse
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Keeping my population below my agriculture is my standard strategy, and I win more than my fair share. On a whim and/or based on the situation, I choose whether to plow through huts or cards. Usually huts with enough cards to score for my improvements carries me.

I hope that helps!
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Daniel Corban
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Yes, you do know that you can place a man on a hut and not build it?

Going for the civ cards is already a weak plan. I usually avoid them regardless of the speed of the game. The other cards and huts are guaranteed points.

Going for extra men is always risky. It relies on a long-term plan. I am willing to bet that the strategy of getting extra men, burning through huts and completely ignoring food would be equal, if not better than what your opponent is doing.
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Tim P.
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The civ cards (the ones with a green graphic on the bottom) cannot win the game on their own, but they can be a good source for some bonus points. Unless you have a really good memory of what civ card types you already have, which I do not, then I look for the immediate top of the card bonus when deciding if I want to acquire that card; it is as important as the end of game bonus.

Unless the bottom of the card is very enticing i.e. a good scoring multiplier then I avoid acquiring the cards where all the players benefit, and instead I am thankful for the spoils of another players choice.

In my estimate that end of game card scoring provide more than half of the total points scored in an average game.
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brian
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I wouldn't call it a loophole as that implies a surefire way of exploiting something consistently. Just sounds like a solid strategy option. The best way to bust it is to mimic it. Or block it like other have said. hard to burn through the huts if you take the one they need or prevent them from getting the resources.
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Patrick Sullivan
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I've heard similar complaints about Puerto Rico on how a corn-shipping strategy is 'unbeatable.'

You just have to adjust to someone tearing through huts. You basically have two choices and I would recommend a mix of both:

1) Realize that this is going to be a quick game, so maybe give up on expanding your tribe size and definately try to focus less on some of the longer-term civ cards (green backgrounds for sure)

2) If you are already committed to a long-term strategy (or don't feel like playing a short game), then start blocking the hut in the short pile everyturn. In a 2-player game, this is money. In multiplayer, if other players are also going for a long game, hopefully they will adjust and share the burden or blocking the short hut pile. That should extend the game.

Unfortunately games like Puerto Rico have more mechanics to slow down a corn shipper than Stone Age has to slow down a builder.
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Chris Linneman
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oi_you_nutter wrote:
Unless you have a really good memory of what civ card types you already have


There is nothing in the rules that prevents you from looking at the cards you already have.
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Philip Thomas
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I saw something like this strategy when I played last night. They person playing it picked up some cards as well as huts- concentrating on cards which gave points for huts.

Standing on a hut and not buying (which I did) will get you an extra turn at the end (if you happen to be ahead on the turn order). If you're very lucky you can fool your opponents into thinking you are buying it and leave them bereft of food going into the final turn, but as the hut-driller probably feeds most of his 5 workers from the farm by then he probably won't care.

Anyway, a single turn is almost certainly not enough to turn cards into a viable strategy, especially when you have to use an early meeple to block huts (the other players will take the good cards).

Of course, you could spend several turns standing on huts without buying them, but I think you are now letting yourself lose to the other players who are using the meeeples more effectively.

So, what to do? I think choosing the farm when possible is important in the first few turns- over the extra meeple place. If your oppponent is a hut-driller he won't use the extra meeple place, but the farm allows him to operate at peak efficiency. You may already be doing that of course.

Secondly, all you need to buy cards is wood. Building huts usually requires a scarcer resource. In theory this means there is an efficiency saving available to the card-buyer, as long as his return from the cards is equivalent to the value of the wood he spends.

Thirdly, as others have mentioned, the cards which give something to everyone are not good news. This is particularly true at the beginning of the game when people don't have scarce resources. By picking a card and allowing Mr,Hut-Driller to get a Stone (for example) you may well be allowing to buy his first (or second) hut a turn earlier than he would otherwise be able to, making the game even shorter. Unfortunately this aspect is the one you personally can do least about in a multiplayer game- if the 3rd and 4th players are merrily giving out resources this way your parsimony may not matter. Still, you can at least try not to buy such card unless (and until) the other players have sufficent spare resources that it won't matter much.

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bryden
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All good information.

Follow up:

I have not considered the block a good option unless I have grown my group at least to 7 (6 if is progressing too fast) and even then do I block. I usually can get more points through another action. The issue has been that the "hut-builder" was to my right. Unless I was first, I was unable to do anything about it because he was not taking the farm, the tools nor the "consumation" hut. His turn consisted of hut first, resources or card here and there if it gave material and hunt if necessary which really wasn't. The other players were resistant to "teaming" up to prevent the runaway.

It caught me by surprise for sure because it was out of the norm, which is good.

As noted, this is more likely to be done with more players (and it was) and is much more easily blocked with only 2.

I don't know if I would call it a strategy more than an opportunity (some may argue that that is a strategy too).

His comments after the game: "I saw that you were committing heavily to more meeples (I had 7) so I needed to end the game quick because you were gaining ground too quick."

When I executed the same strategy, I did not look to see what anyone was doing and went right after the huts after I had the food plan in place (turn 3). What concerned me was that the player to my left, who was the most experienced, was in my position the 1st time I saw this and could do nothing to stop me. The huts were too various and he couldn't be in all places at the same time. He tried to grow the family and made 1 block but after that there was little that he could do. Once everyone in the game saw what was going on, they all started jumping on the huts for points and this only excellerated the game's end. Since I had punched the ticket 1st, it was an easy run.

Who knows, maybe the next time an approach will be made that will reduce the effectiveness of the "plan". I certainly will table talk to drum up support to stop the "hut flow".

As a result, it has given me a different perspective on the game and something else to watch out for.

Thanks for your comments
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tim
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oi_you_nutter wrote:
Unless you have a really good memory of what civ card types you already have, which I do not,

I believe the rules to state explicitly that you can look at them.
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Mishie
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As commmented by many.. nope, not a loophole but a strategy :)

Sometimes it may pay off to focus on a few specific things rather than trying to compete with everyone for the same things. If your opponent is aggressive on getting the cards, you may want to pickup more end game scoring points for cheap and build your multipliers that way.

Depending on what his desired hut is.. you may also consider taking up all the spaces of whatever resource that he might need and don't have if you have enough meeples to do so (7 or more). This may work better if you have three or more players and they are potentially willilng to work with you to slow things down :p

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Nathan Loden
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My first game of Stone Age went like this. The 4 player game was over in 35 minutes. I had picked up 4 or 5 of the huts, with the two others being picked up by another inexperienced player. The more experienced player could not believe what had happened. I didn't realize it was so unusual. Come to think of it, I think there were a lot of cards that shared resources with everyone and that helps fuel the hut strategy ( not that I was implementing it at the time)
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Chakroun Karim
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eightbit wrote:
oi_you_nutter wrote:
Unless you have a really good memory of what civ card types you already have, which I do not,

I believe the rules to state explicitly that you can look at them.


couldn't find that in the rules on RGG site; I only found

"Each player stacks his acquired civilization cards face down on the designated space on his player board."

we played it as you can't look at them (face down)
 
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Sarah Allen
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carthaginian wrote:
eightbit wrote:
oi_you_nutter wrote:
Unless you have a really good memory of what civ card types you already have, which I do not,

I believe the rules to state explicitly that you can look at them.


couldn't find that in the rules on RGG site; I only found

"Each player stacks his acquired civilization cards face down on the designated space on his player board."

we played it as you can't look at them (face down)


We got the game Friday and the rules do say stack them face down, and say nothing about being allowed to look at them.

However, it's not expressly disallowed and we were looking at our decks without even discussing it as a rule. I think it's quite harsh to play so you have to remember which cards you already have. Also defeats the purpose of the cost of the civ cards system. If you're going for the 8th symbol, it's worth paying 4 resources for as soon as it's dealt. But you're not likely to do that if you're not 100% sure it's what you need.

I just assumed it was face down so that other players couldn't see what you had.
 
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Daniel Corban
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I guess I can see how people strictly reading the rules would think you couldn't peek at your cards, but I feel this is just an omission. This isn't a hard game. I don't see why the designers would have made a rule against it.
 
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carthaginian wrote:
eightbit wrote:
oi_you_nutter wrote:
Unless you have a really good memory of what civ card types you already have, which I do not,

I believe the rules to state explicitly that you can look at them.


couldn't find that in the rules on RGG site; I only found

"Each player stacks his acquired civilization cards face down on the designated space on his player board."

we played it as you can't look at them (face down)

I couldn't find it in the rules either, but if you play on BSW, the cards you have collected are visible to you. I'm guessing they specify face down to keep them hidden from the other players.
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Bill Gallagher
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I will block someone from using a hut or card if I can take advantage of it. This will most often happen if I will be going first in the next round. One possible scenario: A card that gives me substantial VPs (due to multipliers or being the 7th or 8th in a set) is available, but is expensive. I'll place one person on it, knowing that I'll be able to grab it for a lot less next round.
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Harald Torvatn
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One way to block somone from buying a hut is to keep him out of the resource space which produces something he needs for that hut. That way you can dalay the purchase of that hut without it costing you much. Of course he may have the resourses neccesary, in which case this cant work, but there will be times when he does not have all those resources. Since he has to buy huts from the small pile for his strategy to work, you know which hut he want, and you can cout his resources. If all players does this, it can keep him from building a particular hut in up to three turns.
 
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Pasta Batman
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Yuglooc wrote:
I will block someone from using a hut or card if I can take advantage of it. This will most often happen if I will be going first in the next round. One possible scenario: A card that gives me substantial VPs (due to multipliers or being the 7th or 8th in a set) is available, but is expensive. I'll place one person on it, knowing that I'll be able to grab it for a lot less next round.

I'm not too sure about the value of this maneuver. You're spending an extra meeple to save a couple of wood, plus missing the chance to use that 2nd meeple to get a farm/meeple/tool.
 
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Dylan Shakespeare
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I have only one comment to this discussion: The meeple hut is overrated.
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David Williams
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NoDicePlease wrote:
I was buffed and waxed by someone who did not grow and made no attempt to grow from the initial 5 meeples and just drilled through one of the hut stacks.


Tried it.

Got creamed.

Must have been doing it wrong.

Seriously, relatively few of the roll for resources cards came up. Perhaps that affected it.
 
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John Bandettini
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Abstractite wrote:
I have only one comment to this discussion: The meeple hut is overrated.


Not overrated by me, I don't use it.
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Dann May
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That's actually pretty much how we play the game. Personally I almost never expand my tribe until a handful moves before the end, once food is no longer an issue amd I can just chew through it.

It seems to me there are two major strategies. Huts and tools and chew through the game fast, or people and food production and take it slow. In my experience huts and tools with a small tribe tends to win most games, but you need to roll with the punches also.

My theory is if you build up people then you also need to build up food production, so you spread your opportunities thin in terms of adding to each. Whereas tools and huts can be built up independantly and directly as the opportunities present themselves.

That said, I still think you can win well with a slower method, but you need to take a more even handed approach and not overstretch. I think ultimately thats the best winning strategy, to know all the strategies and then work the opportunities that you are presented with to your best advantage. I think going in with any one blinkered strategy against a player who is working with what is presenting itself (re the cards, huts and available slots)and adapting their strategy to suit is probably going to come undone over numerous games. Perhaps some games the dice and cards will fall for you, but just as often they wont, and then being aware of other ways to win will come into play.
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