Stone Age, by Bernd Brunnhofer, is a worker placement board game for 2 to 4 players. Over the last month, my wife and I got a few chances to bring it to the table, and quite enjoyed it.
As I've been building up my collection of board games, I've noticed that I seem to have a preference for the worker placement genre. Continuing with this preference, my most recent addition to my collection is Z Man Games’ Stone Age.
What drew me towards Stone Age, was that I heard it was a lighter weight game, but had enough complexity to keep enthusiasts happy. Therefore I thought it would be a fun game for my wife and myself. I'm happy to say, after playing a few rounds, Stone Age is a great fit for us.
The Gameplay of Stone Age is pretty simple, especially so, if you have played a worker placement game before. Each round, players take turns assigning their tribesmen to various areas on the board. Depending on where you assign the members of your tribe, you can perform a number of activities.
A few of the possible choices on the board allow you to improve your tribe over the game. By placing workers on these places, you can create additional workers for future turns, make tools to help collect resources, or increase your agricultural level to automatically give you food every turn.
Alternatively, you can assign your workers to collect resources, or build developments/civilization cards for victory points. Of course, in order to obtain developments or civilization cards, you will need enough resources to purchase them.
So far, Stone Age sounds like any other worker placement game on the market. So what's the twist? Unlike other worker placements, where once you place a worker, you are guaranteed a specific result, in Stone Age, when collecting resources, dice are used to calculate the result.
For example, when you attempt to collect a resource, you throw as many dice as you have workers assigned to collect it. You add the total of these dice, and divide the total by the value of the type of resource you are attempting to collect. So if you were trying to collect wood, which cost three each, with two workers, and you rolled a seven, you would get two wood. Potentially, if you rolled a two, you would have gotten no wood, or alternatively if you rolled a twelve, you would receive four wood. If you have created tools throughout the game, you can use them to increase your dice total to help recover from bad rolls, or make good rolls even better.
This dice chucking adds some gambling and excitement to the traditional worker placement formula. Another nice twist is that you need to provide your tribe with food throughout the game. Therefore you need to plan your expansion carefully, as if you are not able to produce enough food for your tribe, you will lose your resources and victory points.
Stone Age plays well with only two, with a game length for us averaging out to about 40 minutes a game. I think it would play even better with additional players, as the rules slightly adjust depending on the amount of people playing. The balancing of rules keeps a nice balance no matter how many people are playing.
Components wise, I think you get pretty good value for your dollar. The workers are your traditional coloured wooden meeples, the resources are wooden as well, but nicely shaped and coloured. Stone Age’s board is quite nice to look at, but the art on development tiles, and civilization cards are a bit bland compared to the rest of the package. On a strange note, the dice cup is made of real leather, and kind of looks like something Buffalo Bill would make. I liked the wooden style of the included dice, and the box has an interesting divider system to help organize all the components.
I'd highly recommend a purchase of Stone Age, both my wife and myself really enjoy it. It's a reasonably priced, good quality game that can please a wide range of gamers.
I'd only recommend skipping it if you are not a fan of worker placement games, or the random nature of throwing dice isn't enjoyable for you. Additionally, if you group prefers heavier titles, they may find Stone Age to be a tad to light for their tastes.