Monday, 11 April 2016

My First Stone Age Review from Z-Man Games

My First Stone age is a game designed by  Marco Teubner, and issued by Z-Man Games.  It is a children and family version of the game Stone age.  I have never played Stone Age before, so this is my first dip into the world of it.
It recommends player ages of 5 and up, and I played it a always with Olivia who is 7, and she grasped it in seconds, so I do not feel 5 and up will be a problem at all. 2-4 players are the recommended number, we played it with 2 players and it worked perfectly, then tried it with 4, and it still went nice and smoothly. It states playtime at about 15 minutes which is about right, maybe a bit quicker for 2 players, which is good, as it does not go on to long for younger children who may not have such a long attention span.  It also means another game can be played quickly afterwards, which Olivia always asked for, so you can get plenty of play troughs of it, as the setup time is short, and clear up time is quick. 
 
The Art on the box is charming, and it grabbed Olivias attention straight away, and mine as well, its not completely "kids" art, but is a nice compromise where the game doesn't look like a normal "childrens" game such as snakes and ladders, or junior Monopoly, so this can still sit nicely with your collection of other games.  The production quality of it is nice and high, a nice quality box that you know will last, as after only having this for a few days, the play count is already high, and will only continue to go up.

The back of the box gives you a nice overview of all the things you need to know regarding, age range and play time, and a nice overview of what's in the box, and breaks the game down into its most simple elements, so you know the kind of game it will be.

Lets take a look inside the box, and how it plays!



The box comes with plenty of goodies, there is not much to do to get ready for your first play, just some tokens to punch out, and players village trackers to build.  This should take you less then 10 minutes
 The manual is not long, and is very clearly laid out, with the rules easy to follow, and learn in minutes.  A special mention goes to the beginning pages that give players a story about the game, and a reason for why each of the things are being collected, complete with interesting facts.  This is a good read, and can help get younger players into the game, and explain why these things where important at the time, and give them a focus rather then just collecting items for the sake of it, it can make you feel like you are trying to help the village, and its also some subversive learning too!

 The manual is full colour, and as you can see stacked full of easy to follow rules and pictures.
One read through was enough for me to be playing straight away and teaching, so if you are going into this from an unopened box, give yourself 20 minutes, to read the rules, and punch the tokens and assemble before play and you will be fine.  The rules are simple enough I did not need to refer to the rules at anytime during play and it all went smoothly.
 The board is again nice quality, and folds up for storage.  Its not a big board, so will not dominate the table meaning you do not need a massive amount of space to play.  The art on the board is again lovely, it really keeps in theme, and is full of things going on.

You can look anywhere on the board, and find little elements of story going on, so that will be fun to find them all, and Olivia was making up the stories of what they where doing there when she landed on the space.
Another nice touch, is that on the back of the board is a clear picture of the board with all the game markings removed, and its  lovely scene to enjoy, and spend time with the younger ones going through.

 For tokens we have the huts you need to collect, the player score markers, and the movement tokens.
 All nice quality card, the huts show on them the resources you need to collect to obtain that hut.  The first player to 3 huts wins.
 When you have assembled your player score base, each player gets one, and a tiny nice touch again, they each have different coloured mammoths on them that match up to the player tokens.  Each time you buy a hut with your collected resources you add one to your tracker.  They stand up nicely to make a 3d element to the game, and allow you to hide your resources behind them if you wish.
 Lastly we have all the wooden "meeples" these are again very nice quality, and painted well.  You get one different coloured little person for each player, and 4 of each of the 5 resources.

They are really nice little pieces, these are my first experience with wooden components instead of plastic, and I like them, they all fit the game perfectly, and wood fits the theme and era nicely.
 You set the game up like this, with 3 of each of the resources in their corresponding resource zones, and one of each goes into the "Market" space.  The huts go face down (apart from the top ones).  Your players start in the town centre.  The movement tokens are mixed up and placed face down around the side of the board. 
 To collect the hut on the right, you will need to trade in one berry, one fish, and one pot.  Each time you land on a resource space, you take a resource that you can store and then use to purchase the hut you are aiming for.  The dog token can be used instead of ANY one resource, so if you had the pot and the fish you could spend the dog to be the berry, representing in Olivia's mind anyway the fact she has sent her dog of to find one, and he has then gone back to sleep in his space.
 To find out how you move, you flip over one of the tokens around the side.  This could either be a number like this, in which case you move the number of spaces described.  Or it could be a location, in which case it will have a picture of the resource location, a fish, or pot for example.  In that case you move straight to that space and pick up a resource if there are any there.  If you end up ont he market place, you can trade your resources for the ones there, so you may wish to trade a fish for a tooth, or two fish for a tooth and an arrowhead.  This can be a very useful resource to get those last bits you need.  When a player reveals the town centre movement token they move to the centre, and may then purchase a hut if they can afford the resources.  If they do they gain the hut, and the hut below it on the board is flipped over to reveal its cost.  The player then adds the purchase hut to their player track and returns the resources to their starting space.  You then turn all the movement counters back over, and mix up 2 of them.  It gets really important to keep an eye on the village centre icon so you can always go back when you have the resources to build your hut.  £ huts and you win.  This adds a memory element, as you try to recall where the fish tokens are, or the pots to grab that bit you want.
 You can also see or try to recall what resources people have, so you can get an idea of what huts they are after, and try to maybe grab them first if you can, or switch your efforts to something else in the marketplace.
 Olivia mastered the game in minutes, and had a great time playing it, with around 15 plays over the weekend.  As the game does not last that long, or take long to set up it never outstayed its welcome.
 Some strategic thinking from Olivia here, as she begins her resource conquest.
 As you play the movement tokens they stay face up, so it narrows things down, so it can get quite exciting as your are looking for those last locations you need, or maybe the village centre to build that winning hut.  You also need to think, can you push it for more resources, or do your opponents have enough to pounce, and do they know where the village centre token is?
 Olivia basks in her victory after collecting 3 huts!
 She does want another game though straight away/
 Planning what token you need to pick up is a challenge, but it never takes long to decide, so this game moves along nicely.
 

could this be the town centre? or not...... time to gamble and see!

 This game is full of nice little touch's, such as the inlay in the box that tells you where to put everything.
As you can see it packs away nicely, with the board and rules on top and its ready for next time in minutes.

So what do I think of this game? well this will come in a few parts,  I think it looks lovely, the quality of the parts, the artwork, the nice wooden components, it just makes this a charming game, and a pleasant experience to play.  The rules are fast and simple for you, and easy to teach in minutes.  #with the story elements, and facts it s a great learning game, as it helps thinking as you must aim for resources, and match them on the cards.  Its not just a game for kids though, I could happily break this out for a quick blast with my friends, and I think they would enjoy it as a quick filler game, though they would not get the same pleasure as younger players I think, but it is still very much viable.

I asked Olivia what she thought, and she said "I love it! its so much fun, and it looks nice too.  I like to collect the wooden bits so I can build my village, and I like to look at the board to see the pictures.  Its fun to play, and I like remembering where the tokens are, though sometimes I get it wrong, but its still fun and it can very close to who will get the huts first and make the best village.  ITs a very good game and I will play this lots I give it 10 out of 10!"


She love this game, I really like the charm of it, and its an excellent way to get younger gamers into the hobby, or even other adults as this is so easy to learn and play.  A group of adults together and this can get quite cut throat, as they fight for resources, providing a different play experience.

With its quality parts, charming looks and fun simple game it will be a good addition to your collection.

My First Stone age has an RRP of £31.99, to find your local game store check here and grab a copy, you will have a great time with it.

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