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Subject: Fun Factor Review: Stone Age rss

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Mac Mcleod
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Lately, I've been focusing on the minutes of fun to play a game over the amount of time it takes to play a game. For example, I would choose to play a game that has 30 minutes of fun and takes 31 to 45 minutes over a game that has 30 minutes of fun and takes 91 to 150 minutes to play.

The fun is based on the theme (humor), the rules complexity, novelty, a heavy weighting on how long before the end that you can see who is going to win, and setup time.

rules
The rules for stone age are well organized with plenty of pictures. More importantly, the rules are well written. For example, a recent play of "Small World" lead us to the computer several times for FAQ's and rules clarification- mainly due to ambiguously english sentence structures.

setup time
Stone Age sets up very quickly. A picture of the setup board is provided along with clear instructions. This is a critical area some games lack. For example, Dominion is hard enough to set up that there is a tendency to avoid a full "choose 10 stacks random" setup.

The components are very distinct and not overwhelming in numbers.
theme
The caveman theme works well with the game. Hunting and eating make sense. I'm not so sure about cavemen panning for gold tho.

There is not a lot of humor in the theme. On BSW it has a few funny sound effects but nothing in face to face play.

So the theme fits, but doesn't add any temptation to roleplay or trashtalk.

novelty
The game has few novel new ideas. You gather resources, you buy things with them. You collect secret card sets for secret end game scoring and buy huts for visible end game scoring.
You can upgrade your tribe in various ways (better tools, farms, people).
First player rotates as in Puerto Rico, San Juan, and other games.

who will win?
This is a strong point of the game. It is quite difficult to determine who will win. An apparent loser could gain enormous amounts of victory points at the end game. Multiple strategies for winning exist and all are viable. Despite this, there is very little king making opportunity and yet the game does not feel like parallel solo.

fun factor
Stone Age plays in a variable but set amount of time. If you are losing without hope, there are ways to force the game to end fast. Competition is light- but above "parallel solo" level.

I feel that Stonage has 45 minutes of fun in it. It takes about 45 minutes to play. So that's about a 100% fun factor. As a result, I'd be happy to play it if someone asked-- even wasn't in the mood to play it. I would be likely to play it multiple times per year and perhaps 2 or 3 times in some gaming sessions.
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Chris Ferejohn
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Quote:
Stone Age sets up very quickly. A picture of the setup board is provided along with clear instructions. This is a critical area some games lack. For example, Dominion is hard enough to set up that there is a tendency to avoid a full "choose 10 stacks random" setup.


Dominion seems an odd choice to call out here. You need to make sure your cards stay fairly organized, but Dominion is pretty damned easy to set up. I could see this being a complaint with something like Puerto Rico or Agricola, but not Dominion.
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Craig Liken
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cferejohn wrote:
Quote:
Stone Age sets up very quickly. A picture of the setup board is provided along with clear instructions. This is a critical area some games lack. For example, Dominion is hard enough to set up that there is a tendency to avoid a full "choose 10 stacks random" setup.


Dominion seems an odd choice to call out here. You need to make sure your cards stay fairly organized, but Dominion is pretty damned easy to set up. I could see this being a complaint with something like Puerto Rico or Agricola, but not Dominion.


Yes my thoughts as well - I think the first editions came without the helpful insert so perhaps more of a gripe for those without the insert.
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David G. Cox Esq.
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maxo-texas wrote:

The caveman theme works well with the game. Hunting and eating make sense. I'm not so sure about cavemen panning for gold tho.



Think of it more as any process to extract minerals that may be helpful in the process of becoming civilized.





 
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Gordon Adams
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Dominion does not take long to set up. Infact, Stone Age takes longer, imho.
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Dann May
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I must concur, Dominion has a short set-up and Stone Age has a medium to long set-up and pack-up really in the scheme of things.

I do like Stone Age though. I agree its a good length and complexity, especially if you want a resource mangement type game, but dont want anything too over the top and more family friendly.
 
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Mac Mcleod
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I think you are right- that setup out of the box is about the same.

Put away / Set up for a subsequent games are longer. It often precludes a second game for my lunch group. And when we get in a second game- it's usually based on only changing out a couple cards or playing the same set of ten cards.

I don't have the card insert so that is part of the issue to.

Not sure why folks feel the packup on Stonage is longer- it seemed trivial to me compared to putting away Dominion. Unless you are not including sorting out the cards from each player into the put away period.

Thanks for reading the review and your comments.
 
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Chris Schenck
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maxo-texas wrote:
I don't have the card insert so that is part of the issue to.

Just print one out from here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/36376


maxo-texas wrote:
Not sure why folks feel the packup on Stonage is longer- it seemed trivial to me compared to putting away Dominion. Unless you are not including sorting out the cards from each player into the put away period.

I don't know how other game groups handle putting Dominion away, but in my group everyone sorts out their own deck and puts them in the appropriate piles. Tear-down time for the game from table-to-box (regardless of the number of players) is about 2 minutes. Even if you can put Stone Age away in less time, I wouldn't think that teardown for either game would even be a minor consideration. Now, if you're talking about a game like Tide of Iron then it's a notable factor.


[i](EDIT: I enjoyed your review. Sorry for continuing to derail the comments onto the Dominion comparison...)



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Randall Bart
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maxo-texas wrote:
fun factor

The words that make grognards grogn. A game is not supposed to be fun. A game is a test of character. It's not a real game unless the pressure is so high that occasionally players are killed in boiler explosions.

Yeah, Stone Age is a lot of fun.
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Randall Bart
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maxo-texas wrote:
Hunting and eating make sense. I'm not so sure about cavemen panning for gold tho.

Actually it's pretty accurate for the theme. Gold was used in mesolithic, perhaps even paleolithic times. Gold nuggets were found in streambeds and other places. Gold could easily be hammered into any shape. Silver, copper, and lead came later. They started making copper alloys which we call brass. All this is considered the Stone Age.

Then somebody developed a furnace hot enough to work an alloy of copper with tin. That begins the Bronze Age.
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Matt N

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I thought gold was pretty worthless as far as tools go, at least compared to stone, and only gained value later for its decorative purposes. I personally think copper (or some other metal) would have been best as the top resource, with the ingots appearing as some other metal. Although that might have clashed with the "stone age" concept, it would make more sense.

That being said, the rest of the theme seems fine to me. It would be fairly easy to paste on a different theme, but I judge themes by how well the pieces and rules interact with respect to the chosen theme, and it works well.

Minutes of fun is rather hard to quantify; I'd go with "Who will win?" as a better measure. Generally, games with a runaway leader that drag on after that point are problematic; Stone Age typically does not have that problem unless someone screws up in a major way.
 
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Zev Neumark-Gaudet
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The problem that I have with Dominion is the level of fiddliness compared to the game time and fun factor. I find the fact of continuously shuffling the discard pile tedious. I did not enjoy the few games I played live because I spent too much time shuffling and drawing and not enough time actually thinking about the game.

Also, I like to string together multiple Dominion games and choosing 10 random kingdom cards. Thus, between games you have to sort out the players' decks, then choose new cards, etc...

Since a game of Dominion with players who know the cards lasts about 20-30 minutes and most of that time is spent shuffling, I find the fun factor slightly lower than that of Stone Age, where the set up it pretty quick, but the fiddliness is kept to a minimum.

Don't get me wrong, I really like Dominion, but I BY FAR prefer it on BSW, where all th set up, fiddliness is automated.

Just my 0.02$ (This was my first post, btw)
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Chris Norwood
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Nice review, but I diagree with the final conclusion.

Stone Age is the current Game of the Month for my game group, and most games are running more in the 90-minute range for 4 players. And normally, our group tends to actually play games faster than most other groups.

So with your "45 minutes of fun" assessment (that I pretty much agree with), our Fun Factor would be only 50%.
 
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