The Settlers of the Stone Age
English language edition of Abenteuer Menschheit
List Price: $49.00
Your Price: $44.10
(Worth 4,410 Funagain Points!)
from 9 customer reviews
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The cradle of modern humans, called "Homo sapiens" by scientists, was located in Africa more than 100,000 years ago. The first branches of this family began a journey that spanned thousands of years, eventually leading them to Australia and America. The enormous difficulties of this journey could only be overcome because of Homo sapiens' unique ability to adapt to its environment. Their highly developed brains and their mastery of crafts enabled them master even the harshest conditions.
In this exciting game, you will guide the journey of one of these branches. You must struggle to spread your people over the whole world. In order to expand your branch of humanity you must develop certain talents: advances in the preparation of food will allow your people to spread faster and wider, while new hunting techniques can protect them from dangers. And your people will need warm clothes to cross the ice deserts of the north and boats to settle in Australia.
Will your tribe journey far and fast? Will they surmount the dangers of this world? Will they bring you victory and survival? Are you ready to play this newest creation of Master game designer Klaus Teuber? Based on the award-winning Settlers of Catan game system, but presenting players with all-new challenges unique to the dangers & opportunities of the Stone Age.
I never played Settlers before, so the 'control-the-best-area' kind of mechanic was new to me, and I loved so much I just can't wait to play it again and again.
When I played we used the 'Deck of Dice'. It tempers down the random factor, which I think is beneficial for this game.
When I remembered the joys of trading sheep and grain in previous Settlers games, anticipation of playing the new Settlers game filled the air. Settlers of the Stone Age did not disappoint.
Two of us decided to play a four-player game with the pairing of colors: Orange and Blue and Red and White. We noticed immediately that considerable camps and two explorers were laid out on the African part of the map. Our job was to acquire victory points, specifically 10 victory points to win.
The game started well enough with both sets of colors vying for victory points. The roll of dice usually produced needed resource cards for meat, bones, flint, and hides. At two junctures in the game a throw of 7 produced nasty results where each player has to give up half of his cards if holding more than seven cards. Also, both players begin to notice they were running out of camp blocks.
At the beginning of the game each player is allocated five camp blocks, but most of these blocks are placed in Africa. It is the job of each of each player to explore new territory in Eurasia, Australia, and so forth. To place an explorer block requires one hide and one meat. Then, the explorer is able to move one of two spaces around the next. An explorer cannot end its movement on top of a camp, another explorer, or a blocked circle with a Neanderthal man or a saber-toothed tiger.
The object is to build new camps and acquire additional resource cards. Soon both players noticed they were running out of camp blocks. The Orange and Blue player had become particularly aggressive at acquiring victory points and was moving toward Roman numerals.
In the game one needs to acquire more movement to reach the other promised lands. To acquire more movement, the player needs to have marker blocks (four furnished to each player)placed on Clothing, Construction, and Food board tracks. When the player encounters a Roman numeral, say II, that person has to study the white 1 and black 3, for examples. That means the Orange and Blue player would have to have one marker in Clothing 1 and black 3 to acquire the Roman II tile.
Flint becomes so important in the game. That is why the review is entitled In like Flint. Neither player seemed to have enough flint. However, the Blue color acquired two flint mines in Africa and became quite wealthy with flint. To accomplish Level one, the player needs to play one flint card. For Level two the player needs to play one bones card and one flint. One cannot get on the first level of Clothing without paying these costs.
The game, then, took another nasty turn. The Orange and Blue player not only acquired more victory points, but also went after the Roman numerals in the northern part of Eurasia hexes. The first overturned tile was 'desertification.' The Orange and Blue fellow looked around for red and white camps appearing on one of the forest. That forest was 'desertified' immediately with a desert hex provided in the game.
Now, the Red and White player was faced with finding new forests. One feature of the game is to trade with the bank. The bank allows any player to trade in any three of the same resource card for one of another kind, such as one flint for three meat. Meat is the lifeblood of the game. A player cannot move one or two spaces without a meat card.
The Red and White player desperately tried to find new hexes and tried to explore close to Australia. At that point the third 'Desertification' tile was found under Roman III. Immediately, the Red and White player placed this tile on the Orange and Blue and explained payback had occurred. A rules interpretation then ensued about whether the hex for 'desertifying' was actually in Africa. The pictures in the rules book did not yield an answer, and a house rule had to be invoked to go ahead and place the tile. Certainly, the colors of Africa and Eurasia and their borders should be clarified in the rules.
All in all, the game proved rewarding playing. Even though the Orange and Blue player easily took the game (called at eight victory points), the playability and sheer fun of game make replaying a possibility. The White color had acquired two victory points, and the Red color had acquired two victory points. The game moves in Like Flint.
Let me reveal my bias at the start, I am a huge Settlers fan. I own and enjoy most of the games and expansions in the series. (In my opinion the two-player card game is the only dog in the series, and even it is saved by the expansion cards.) That having been said, Settlers of the Stone Age is another very well done variant.
The successful Settlers system of acquiring raw materials, and trading is kept intact. New mechanisms are added to the game to keep it fresh. Africa, where all players start, becomes a desert one tile at a time, forcing players to expand. In 'Stone Age' it costs meat to move explorers instead of building roads. Tribes move up progress charts by spending the appropriate resources. Exploration leads to acquiring victory points in multiple ways.
Even after years of playing it I prefer the original 'Settlers of Catan' to all the spin-off games, this one included. The simplicity and depth of the original is unmatched. But, as long as Klaus Teuber is putting these games out I will be looking forward to them. This variant costs $5-$10 too much for the components it offers (closer to $10), but so do the rest of the games in the series.
A good game for Settlers fans.
In this addition to the [page scan/se=0041/sf=category/fi=stockin.asc/ml=10]Settlers of Catan series, players roll the die to produce resources on hexagons adjacent to their camps. These resources--meat, flint, hides, and bones--are spent to explore the world beyond the initial African homelands.
Expenditures let you move or add explorers, convert explorers to camps to gain a continental marker worth one point (the first to acquire a marker from each continent earns further points), or advance a level on one of four progress charts. Gain a point for reaching the highest level. Intermediate levels increase your mobility, or enable you to explore distant regions to acquire their facedown tokens. Tokens earn points or render African hexes barren.
A prowling Neanderthal and saber-toothed tiger, which are relocated whenever a seven is rolled, prevent a hexagon from producing and permit the roller to steal resources. First to reach 10 points win. We give Teuber 10 out of 10 for this primordially challenging adventure.
So another year, another Settlers variant. We've had historical scenarios in Troy, China, Greece and Egypt, moved from earth to space and specialty maps have graced Nuremberg and Canaan. Where next? It turns out that "when next?" is a better question to ask. Each of the previous games has had a fixed map, and so it comes as no surprise that the latest version has one also, this time of the world in early human times. The essence of the game is the same as in previous versions, roll the dice, gather resources, trade, build more cities, but this one has a few changes which makes it fresh.
The map board is a large one depicting the world in early human times. Britain is part of Scandinavia (or is it France?) and there are land links to continents that no longer exist. Players start by playing tribe markers in Africa (like settlements in basic Settlers). Placement of these is limited to the black dots on the board, which surround the hexes of Africa and are 2 hexsides apart from the next one, so as to preserve the same distance apart as basic Settlers for settlements. Once 3 of these are played by each person, a nomad marker is added. These represent the wanderers associated with that tribe and are used to explore the map. When they encounter one of the people chits, which are laid out on the intersection of three tiles in the initial set-up, the nomad may be converted into a new tribe. Just like the ones used at the beginning of the game, these will produce resources when the dice roll matches the number on the adjoining landscape. The final set-up is completed by placing two large cardboard figures on the map. The Neanderthal man and Carnivore are initially placed on the link between Eurasia (eastern Russia) and North West America (Alaska?). Their general purpose is to block, but see later in the review for more details.
The resources in this game are the prehistoric versions of the basic settlers ones -- skins from woods, meat from highlands, flints from mountains, and bones from steppes. These are required to move your nomad, convert nomads into settlements, create new nomads (next to an existing settlement) and progress your tribe in a variety of ways.
There are four progress tracks located around the edge of the map and these indicate the level each player's tribe has made in each of four specialist areas -- clothing, construction, nourishment, and finally hunting and fighting. There are five levels to attain on each track, paid for in different blends of resources, with the cost in resources rising on each level. The fifth level is only reachable by one player who earns a victory point for doing so.
So what do these do? The first two, clothing and construction, have a black and white background (respectively) on their spaces. When a player wants to move a nomad over certain areas of the world, there are criteria to be met. These are shown as condition boxes and contain two numbers. The first is the level of clothing that a tribe needs to have progressed to and the second is the level of construction that has to be reached. For example, in Northern Europe, there is a box showing 1 white and 2 black, so a player must have reached level 1 in clothing and level 2 in construction to pass along that hexside. Once you pass, you receive a discovery chit. This is a kind of "longest road", as the person with the most discovery chits gets a 2 point victory bonus, shown by placing the reconnaissance card in front of them. It is also possible to get this from the current owner by receiving more discovery chits than the current owner.
As a player makes further progress along the nourishment track, his nomads may move one extra hex side. Initially nomads move at 2 hexsides per turn, so this is an important bonus in speeding up the rate of exploration across the map.
The final track allows a player to move Neanderthal man or a Carnivore. These act in a similar way to robbers in basic Settlers, by denying resources to a player whose tribe marker borders a landscape when the dice roll matches the number on that landscape. In addition, nomad movement is blocked along the hexsides of that landscape. The Neanderthal only moves in Eurasia and Africa, while the Carnivore only prowls across America and Australia.
[Funagain Editor's Note: The rules for The Settlers of the Stone Age / Abenteuer Menschheit say nothing about blocking movement. What they do say is, "They [the Neanderthal and sabretooth tiger] can block the terrain hexes that they are on. Any blocked hex does not produce resources, even when its number is rolled." This is a very important rule, and misplaying it may affect your enjoyment of the game.]
The discovery chits have specific actions as well as providing a route to getting the reconnaissance card. The three actions that come with them are:
Plague in Africa: one landscape tile is replaced by a desert tile. This landscape no longer produces resources. The type of tile is dictated by the picture shown on the discovery chit.
This has a devastating effect and eventually all of Africa will become a desert. This forces the players to seek new areas for their tribes to gather resources. Needless to say, when there is a choice this will be played on a landscape detrimental to your opponents!
Move the Neanderthal or the Carnivore (into the areas that are allowed).
Besides the blocking benefit, a player gets a resource from a person whose tribe borders the Neanderthal or Carnivore. As a game benefit, the blocking value can be pretty useful, as a player will have to either create a new nomad (and you only have 2 of these as a maximum) or more likely, be forced to spend resources down the hunting and fighting track.
The final benefit is to receive a victory point card which shows the colour of one the tribes.
As this is worth one victory point straightaway, there is a strong incentive to earn discovery points as soon as possible.
The game proceeds in the same way as other versions of Settlers, so you build more places to get more resources, but in this game there is a greater urgency to make new settlements, as the original ones will not produce resources once the plague chits are discovered. The game system encourages you to move your pieces across the board, in order to earn more victory points and to continue to get the appropriate resources. As an addition to the Settlers series, I think that it has added to the set and provided sufficiently more options to generate a new type of game, albeit one that regular Settlers player will recognise. If, like me, you're still enjoying those Settlers moments, I'd urge you to add this one to your fold.