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Saturday, November 28, 2015

Boards & Brews at Home: Stone Age

On this segment we return to the tribal days of great trials and tribulations through survival to play Stone Age.  In this 2 - 4 player worker-placement game of strategy and dice rolling, you are trying to grow your tribe to be as sustainable and efficient as possible.  Ultimately this will reward you with more points as you progress throughout the game and whoever scores the most points by the end of the game, is the winner.  Join us as we gather what resources we can manage, hunt for food in the fields, and evolve our tribes the best that we can in order to survive the Stone Age.

In Stone Age, you have several different resources such as lumber, stone, clay, and gold that you are trying to attain and properly utilize to build up your tribe.  Each round is divided into 3 phases: 1) Placing their figures on specific locations on the board, 2) Performing actions that are associated with the figures on those locations, and 3) feeding their tribe, represented by their figures.  For example, you may place a single figure on the tool maker provided it is not accompanied by another player.  This will help you advance your tools which increases your die rolls per turn.  Another option is to place two people from the same tribe in the hut.  This is for procreational purposes and once the round is over, you receive another player to add to your tribe which you must start feeding immediately with your remaining players.  Another option is to place a single player (per round) on the field marker and this will advance your agricultural marker which can enhance your amount of food points per round.  The hunting grounds are completely open and unlimited for however many players wish to place all or none of their figures out to hunt for food.  Since each tribe member has to be fed, you'll need to keep an eye on your food per round and consider how to ration what you have and when to get more.  Players can also fit up to seven figures from different tribes into the forest, the clay mound, the quarry, or the river to gather lumber, brick, stone or gold.
You can place a player on the civilization cards to gather additional resources which are also used for scoring more points at the end of the game.  You can also pay resources and place your players on the building tiles which can also assist in scoring more points and moving around the board.  This is a very simple run down of the game, and by no means covers more detailed explanations about each of the tasks.  Like most worker-placement games, you have a number of options and strategies to execute and each option generally has a lot more to it than what I have explained here.  That's not to say that Stone Age is overly complicated.  Claire and I have played this game many times and I would say it's a lighter weight worker-placement game.  However, the primary thing that has brought us back to verifying the instructional booklets, is the scoring mechanics at the end of the game.  You have to consider 6 different categories that you will be tallying up, and that's not necessarily hard to score your points, it's just very tedious depending on what all you have gathered by the end of the game such as civilization cards, building tiles and resources.  There's no shame in reaching for a pencil and paper for this game, because it is a lot to keep track of and it does vary depending on how many players are at the table.  The game itself moves relatively quickly and after a couple of times playing through, Stone Age can be played in 60 - 90 minutes, which is a well rounded time for a worker-placement game.  It can take a little longer if you are playing with 4 people and not everyone is aware of how the game is played, but I feel it carries a very straight forward approach to a worker-placement game.  As far as worker-placement games go, we've played Stone Age quite a bit over time and to date, it still remains to be within one of our top 3 favorite worker-placement games of all time.  The theme is well implemented, and the amount of strategy will definitely fill the void for you without going overboard.  The artwork is very nice and carries some good depth.  Component quality is good, and the instructions are very well written and presented.  We've played this numerous times with two people and we've played it a few times with 4 players, and it scales really well between either number of players.  During gameplay, there is enough variety of options that the players will really feel engaged while executing their individual strategies and if you like worker-placement games, your game library should not go without this one.

Stone Age
Overall Meeple Rating: 8/10

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