The first worker placement game I ever played was Lords of Waterdeep from Wizards of the Coast. I thought it was a good game, but was not great when playing 5 players, which is the only way I’ve played it. My first encounter with Stone Age was on Tabletop, but what really peaked my interest was when watching an old Dice Tower top ten list for games that murdered other games. Stone Age, according to one of the three lists on the show, murdered Settlers of Catan, also known as Catan.
This game has been on my shelf for a while, and only came off because I had it, so I used it to get to 30 games for July in this event. As you can tell I wasn’t too excited. Why did I buy it if I wasn’t excited? I wanted to play this game very badly. Right up until I read the rules. The two player game, which is how I play most games, cuts off certain spots before someone is placed there. I understand why this is, and I do believe it is needed for the sake of balance, however, I’m never a fan of mechanisms that change the game with no regard to theme. For example I’m not able to place workers in the hut, to increase my population, if there is someone in the agriculture spot, and the technology (tools) spot. Why does one effect the other? I’m not sure… Anyway here’s what happened:
Here’s an explanation and play-through of the game by Richard Ham on Rahdo Runs Through. A quick overview though: players take turns placing one or more workers at a location to either, gain resources, build huts, increase tools/people/agriculture, or gain benefits from culture cards. In a two player game, only one person can go to a place, instead of being able to place up to 7 meeples in certain spots, and only two of three places can be use to increase your agriculture/tools/people. When one of the stacks of 7 huts is completely empty the game is over and scores points. Highest point total is the winner.
As the youngest player, Cortnie started the game, and choose to increase her tribe by one person. I chose to start working on tools. This continued through the rest of the game where the first two moves were almost always tools, agriculture, or breeding. I got tools more often than not, until I was maxed, however Cortnie blocked my out of agriculture almost entirely.
We had completely different play styles. I picked up as much wood as I could first turn, then focused on culture cards and huts, gaining benefits and points keeping as few resources on hand as I could. Cortnie spent the first few turns building up stone and gold, which are the two most challenging resources to gain. She also liked to stockpile food, which is required to feed your tribe at the end of each turn. I would go hunting as little as possible, gaining only the minimum amount that I needed.
By the end of the game, there were only a couple of points between us. We had been leap frogging one another and I had ended up ahead. Then we scored the culture cards. I had many cards that scored me points based on the value of my tools. This is where the separation happened. I ended up WAY ahead of her, and I think that was my fault. I didn’t go over how the game scored at the end until half-way through the game. I learned a lesson about teaching games that I’ll not soon forget. Also unused resources score points, but food does not, and she had been stockpiling food, another detail I glazed over in an effort to get the game over with.
It was a very fun game that I would play again, but if pressed to make room in my collection, I think this would be one of the first to go. I’d like to play it again with four players, and re-evaluate the game.