Origins: How We Became Human
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This game is a historical simulation, with the ambitious goal of describing, in three eras, the origins of everything human. Players start with a brain map of one of five pre-conscious hominid species, 115 thousand years ago. They also start with a Demography sheet and a single hunter-gatherer unit in the Old World, as it enters the glacial period of the Pleistocene Ice Age.
The maps of the Old and New Worlds depict various plants and animals, from coconuts and maize to mammoths and sheep, that they must try to domesticate to become herdsmen and agriculturists. They must expand their mind, as they learn the arts of language and imitation of competing cultures. Players who do poorly may become enslaved by other cultures, only to get a new chance as advanced civilizations go through cycles of chaos and renaissances. Global Warming may end the Ice Age and flood the coastal settlements, and deserts, jungles, and glaciers advance and retreat as the millenia pass. There are three eras in the development of the mind: The Age of Instinct (pre-lingual), The Bicameral Age (lingual but not yet conscious), and the Age of Faith (conscious with faith-based authorizations). An expansion (to be released in 2008) brings the game into the Age of Reason (today).
The 24 page rulesbook, in English and German, includes maps and 6 pages of historical background, a theory on the origins of consciousness, weather charts and historical maps. The historical backdrop of each and every card, from the Pleistocene to the Medieval Era, is described and illustrated.
This is a Euro-style boxed game, with two mounted maps, 110 cards, 120 wooden pieces, and 6 player aids.
Game scale: Each hex: 1000 miles. Each turn: 1000 years All components bilingual (English and German).
Origins is a complete gaming experience dealing with the rise of man and his subsequent accomplishments. More strategy and decision making than any boardgame I currently play. There is a steep learning curve but the actual mechanics aren't hard to grasp once you've been over the rules a couple of times and after the first game. I would recommend a solo run before any f2f play. Each player has one of 5 different precursors to humanity (Cro-Magnon, Peking Man, Neandrathal, ect.) and each has a different Brain Map with animal instincts that must be purged before they can go on to develop language, build knowledge of immunology, master the secrets of gunpowder, and other like accomplishments. There's a lot that goes into a successful winning strategy, dealing with the ever changing world presented in Origins:HWBH can alter things but not to the point that it takes you out of the running. Heavy boardgames aren't my thing but in the case of Origins: HWBH I'll play as often as I can. I've always been a fan of anthropology (strange as that might sound) and the designer has gone to great lengths to explain why elements of the game are the way they are compared to actual anthropological data. Besides being thematically rich this is a challenging and deep strategy boardgame.