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Origins: How We Became Human» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Stumbling through the Stupid Ages rss

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Holger Hannemann
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Another gloomy English afternoon, just right to get together for a game of human evolution. It was Sylwia's and mine fifth game of Origins, and Tania's and Erik's second, but it was our first four-player game ever. And it was quite a while ago since I played, and I totally forgot what an ordeal it is to play this game. We were all really excited to get it to the table. We played using the most current Living Rules, and 3 house rules: climate changes take one complete round to go into effect, voluntary slavery when a society is reduced to the last map unit, and no animal/plant extinction.
We dealt the starting hominids randomly. Sylwia got Neanderthal, and she wasn't happy about it. Tania drew Cro-Magnon, Erik Peking Man and I ended up as the Hobbit.

Era I “My club is bigger than your club”

The Hobbit tribes soon felt that the Philippines got a little bit too crowded and set out for the continent to meet the Peking Man tribes. The meeting didn't go very well, and the Hobbit gave the Peking Man a good clubbing over the head. Then the Peking Man tribes gave the Hobbit a good clubbing over the head with an even bigger mammoth bone. This went on for a couple of rounds, until the forest grew too dense to pass, and the Hobbit wandered from the islands to give himself to Peking Man, accepting any fate. Both of them evolved very fast, losing a Brain Unit every turn. Eventually, Peking Man plunged into Era II, and the Hobbit tribe was freed from slavery, fleeing North into Siberia.
Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon got on quite peaceful, meeting in Northern Africa but agreeing on fixed borders. Both tried to establish cities, but to no success. After a couple of botched Stability Rolls they suddenly found themselves in the Era II dark ages, too, without really knowing how they got there. No need to mention they weren't really prepared for that.

Era II “The Stupid Ages”

Lucky card draws allowed Peking Man to establish 2 cities very early in Era II (on Oxen and Rice), went into the Era II Golden Age and plunged into the Era III dark ages within 3 turns. The Peking Man society thought that Tally Sticks were the greatest invention since toilet paper (if they would've known toilet paper). All thought and genius was violently suppressed by the tribe shaman. How did we ever ring in the Iron Age?? Ugh-ugh, we not know....
The Hobbit tried to establish cities on his own but the animals didn't cooperate. He managed to build Ziggurats, a last attempt to appease the gods. Everything was ready for Urbanization around the holy temple, but someone forgot to establish a government first. The end result: Revolt, bloodshed and the end of the Ziggurats. Remember next time, my dear Hobbits: first the socks, then the shoes....
On top of that cholera spread from the Peking Man cities, and the Hobbit sank into insignificance for the next 5000 years. Wandering to the Middle East with its last men and women, the Hobbit tribe embraced the Codex of Hammurabi, a turning point for the disaster-stricken Hobbit tribes.
Cro-Magnon was able to settle down in West Africa domesticating millet, and Neanderthal domesticated wheat. It is worth mentioning that the Neanderthal society was the most developed, having 2 Innovation Actions (Two.... really?? Thoose Nenderthels most be REALY smaart). All in all it was a good time for Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon besides the fact that neither society had created something great to withstand the test of time.
Cro-Magnon rang in the era of seafaring (Maritime II), and the invention of ships quickly spread through the world. Peking Man saw his chance and set sails for the Americas. This should be his save haven for the endgame, but I'm getting ahead of my time. Development of Metallurgy I and II in Africa gave rise to warfare and raids between the Neanderthal, the Hobbit and the Cro-Magnon tribes. In the midst of that, Cro-Magnon reached the Era III dark ages, and too set foot onto the Americas.

Era III “Show me yours I'll show you mine”

going hand in hand with

Era IV “Porsches and plowshares”

From that point on, Peking Man took the lead into pushing the technological progress further faster and faster. Although I told Erik that ending the game does not necessarily mean a safe victory for him, he insisted on the technological race because “The Lasagne will be done soon and we need the tablespace”. Who could argue with that kind of logic?
Cro-Magnon was able to follow the race, always having the Peking Man's tail lights in sight, but for a price. The Cro-Magnon tribes almost vanished from the map after reaching the Era IV dark ages.
This was the respite the Neanderthal and Hobbit tribes needed to push outward. Both tribes were not able to keep up with this speed of technological development, but a fruitful cooperation was established, trading their way up on the Infrastructure Tracks. A time of peace ensued, and slowly Neanderthals and Hobbits spread their cities and cultures throughout Africa, Europe and Asia. This gave both peoples the chance to increase culture, science and the arts. Sylwia and I sucked up almost all the Public cards, and before Erik could nuke us to high heaven 3 turns later he failed his Stability Roll, plunging into the Era V dark ages, and hence ending the game.

Our final scores
Peking Man 13 points, Cro-Magnon 7 points, Neanderthal 17 points, and the poor Hobbit won the game with meager 24 points.

That victory left me highly unsatisfied, and it felt wrong. I played the worst game and just exploited the victory conditions (which really feel tacked on in this game) near the endgame. I realized that in the 6 hours it took us to finish we could’ve played a great game of Through the Ages, 2 games of Sid Meier’s Civ or 8 games of Race for the Galaxy. There was a point in Era II where Tania and I shuffled the same plant domestication card four times back and forth between us, and I botched every single roll, leaving me in the exact same position as I started my turn every time. Then Eric got Metallurgy 1 and beat me down again. 1.5 hours of pure frustration, and I caught myself thinking “I’d rather be playing Munchkin right now”. The game got slightly more enjoyable after Sylwia and I decided to cooperate, and Tania’s and Erik’s tribes left for America.
I don’t know if it was just my 2 month old daughter who decided not to have one of her best days or if it was the game itself, but I think I never want to play this game again.
But it was a Sunday spent in great company with excellent food, we had lots of laughs, and isn’t that what gaming is all about?

Happy gaming!!
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Tania Pouli
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And there were cookies
Thanks for writing it all up!
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Holger Hannemann
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lbtori wrote:
And there were cookies
Thanks for writing it all up!


*facepalm* How could I forget the cookies???
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upandawaygames.com
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The MatrixCube wrote:
Sylwia got Neanderthal, and she wasn't happy about it.

Just curious: why was this? Something about this position's chance to win or the traditional associations with Neandertal or yet something else?
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Scott Muldoon (silentdibs)
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It sounds like you all did not value Innovation actions enough. If you've only got 1, you're doing poorly (unless, of course, everyone else is in the same boat).
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Holger Hannemann
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heli wrote:
The MatrixCube wrote:
Sylwia got Neanderthal, and she wasn't happy about it.

Just curious: why was this? Something about this position's chance to win or the traditional associations with Neandertal or yet something else?


In the five games we played before this one she drew four times Neanderthal. It's an OK starting position. The definitely worst is the Hobbit (if you play by the rules provided in the game you can basically be out of the game before you take your first turn), followed by Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal. Peking Man is definitely the strongest position to start.
I guess she was just bored with it.

sdiberar wrote:
It sounds like you all did not value Innovation actions enough. If you've only got 1, you're doing poorly (unless, of course, everyone else is in the same boat).


That's very true. Sylwia and I tried (probably because we played the game a little more often and know how well you can do with more than 2 Innovation Actions. But if you have 2 neighbours with higher Metallurgy who just club you over the head time after time you free that first "2 Actions" slot you can't gain anything in this game. Better to go with the flow and kill everybody else.

Besides, I don't think anyone of us took this game too seriously.
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Scott Muldoon (silentdibs)
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The MatrixCube wrote:
But if you have 2 neighbours with higher Metallurgy who just club you over the head time after time you free that first "2 Actions" slot you can't gain anything in this game. Better to go with the flow and kill everybody else.

It's actually better to submit to slavery than live under those conditions :-/ I've seen many winning games come from a position of early slavery.

Quote:
Besides, I don't think anyone of us took this game too seriously.

Can't help you there
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