Michael Tummelhofer
(aka Bernd Brunnhofer)


No. of Players:
2 - 4

G@mebox Star



A quite likable looking game from Michael Tummelhofer will be brought to the stores by HANS IM GLÜCK in spring 2008. The new title Stone Age comes in the traditional big-sized HANS IM GLÜCK box, and already upon opening the box the players can discover the rich equipment which is included with the game. So, the game naturally contains a nicely illustrated gameboard and player tableaus, but also a good quantum of wooden playing pieces (figurines and differently shaped resources), cards and markers and even a leather dice cup. All in all, the unpacking of the materials kindles a hope that the high expectations hopefully will be met by the rules!


Stone Age is a typical resource management game in which the players compete to gain most technological Advancement Points (victory Points). The points can be collected in different manners, and although a few scorings will be made already during the game much is left to a big final scoring round in which all the possessions of the players will be evaluated.

The playing tableau of each player offers an overview of the different resource values and some numbers which will be used in the final evaluation, but otherwise it mainly serves as a display on which the players put their playing materials. At the beginning, each player has a tribe of five figures which he puts at his mat, and in addition each player receives a starting stockpile of 12 units of food. All other material is prepared at the main gameboard, where the players will chose their actions during the course of the game. Stocks of the four available types of resources (Wood, Bricks, Ore and Gold) are put at the corresponding Resource Sites, all food markers are placed at the Hunting Grounds, tools go into the Workshop and four piles of Hut-Markers a placed face-down (with the topmost markers revealed) at their respective spaces. Also, a deck of Civilization Cards is shuffled and the four top cards are openly placed at four available market spaces. Apart from the Workshop, the central village on the mainboard also shows a Farm and an Outbuilding, but no additional markers need to be placed there. Finally, each player puts markers of his colour onto the starting spaces of the track for Advancement Points and Agriculture, and then the game may start...

Taking turns, each player now is allowed to place one or more of his tribe figures at one place on the gameboard. The Resource Sites and the Hunting Grounds offer space for several figures (which may come from more than one player), but all other places (the buildings in the village, the Civilization Cards at the market, the new Hut-Markers at the display) only may be occupied by one or two figures belonging to just one player. So, the players take turns placing figures at different places, but their choice of available places gets more and more restricted due to the placements made by the other players.

When all players have placed their tribe members, the action phase begins in which each player uses his tribe members to perform the actions which are prescribed by the positioning of the figures. Unlike the placement phase, the action phase of a player is performed continuously, so that a player first finishes all his actions before the next player performs his action phase. The different available actions are as follows:

  • A central element of the game is the gathering of resources at the four different resource sites. A player uses all the tribe members he has placed at such a site in search of resources, and for each figure one dice is rolled. Depending on the type of resource which is sought after, the total then is subdivided by a factor ranging from 3 to 6, and the final sum (rounded down) then shows how many resources of the corresponding type the player will have found.
  • The Hunting Grounds are dealt with in quite similar fashion, with the players rolling a dice for each tribe member, dividing the sum by 2 and taking the corresponding number of food.
  • The places in the village are a bit different: The player who has placed a figure at the Farm may rise his Agriculture level by one, the player with a figure at the Workshop receives a Tool and the player with two figures at the Outbuilding receives an additional figure for his tribe. The tools which a player produces will be displayed on his playing tableau, and each tool may be used once per turn to increase the results of the dice rolled when searching for Resources or hunting.
  • Figures placed at a Hut-Marker give the player a possibility to purchase the Hut-Marker is he desires to do so and if he possesses the right Resources. The Huts have different requirements in terms of Resources, so that some of them can be purchased for a fixed composition of Resources whereas others can be taken for a varying amount. When the Resources are paid, the builder of a hut receives Advancement Points corresponding to the value of the Resources used.
  • Finally, a player can place one of his figures onto a still unoccupied Civilization card. The price for each card is determined by its current position at the card market, and it ranges from one to four resources. If a player spends the required amount of resources he is entitled to take the card, and at the end of the round the cards remaining at the market will be moved to the cheapest empty market spaces. Afterwards, the now empty expensive spaces will be filled with new cards from the Civilization deck.

The clever choice of Civilization Cards is important for each player's strategy, since each card offers the players an immediate benefit and additionally a scoring option which will be evaluated at the end of the game. So, the immediate benefit usually means that the purchaser of a card will receive some food or resources or that he may rise his Agriculture level or his Advancement Points, whereas the scoring option will have no direct impact on the game.

After all players have performed their actions, the final phase of the round required the players to pay upkeep for their tribe members. Each tribe member consumes one unit of food, and here the players first may deduct their current Agriculture level from the food total they need. The rest then must be paid either by discarding food tokens or other resources (on a 1:1 rate). If a player cannot afford to pay upkeep for his full tribe, he looses all food and resources he has and an additional 10 Advancement Points are deducted from his current score.

The game continues with new rounds until either one pile of Hut-markers or the deck of Civilization Cards is exhausted, and after one of these conditions is met a final scoring round is made to calculate each players' final score of Advancement Points. This final scoring starts with a player's current score of Advancement Points on the scoring track, but additional points will be added for different accomplishments. Here the Civilization Cards collected by a player need to be taken into account, since the time has come to evaluate their scoring options.

  • About half of the Civilization Cards shows one of 12 different technological discoveries like Medicine, Music etc. The number of different technologies a player has collected during the game is multiplied by itself, and this sum is added to a player's score of Advancement Points.
  • The other half of the Civilization Cards shows one or two people who may have the professions of Farmers, Hut-Builders, Tool-Makers and Shamans. A player adds up his total score for each of these professions, and then multiplies each of these scores with its corresponding counterpart in the game: Farmers with the Agriculture level, Hut-Builders with Huts, Tool-Makers with tools and Shamans with tribe members. All scores are added to the player's Advancement Points.
  • Finally, each resource left with the player counts for an additional Advancement Point.

Perhaps the german subtitle "Das Ziel ist dein Weg" which freely translates to "Find your way to win" is a bit too pretentious since it actually suggests a freedom of action which the game does not really offer. While it first might seem that a player might develop a strategy and chose one of many ways to win, it is quickly revealed to the players that their choice of a "winning way" is somewhat predestined by the Civilization Cards they can lay their hands on. Thus, it would be fatal for a player to concentrate on gathering tools and tribe members when he has collected a high quota of Hut-Builder cards. On the other hand, a some basic increases of the size of the tribe and the Agriculture level and the possession of some tools is important to successfully face the different situations in the game, so that it's also no real strategic option just to focus on one kind of civilization benefits.

So, Stone Age cannot compete with titles like Through the Ages or Agricola in terms of complexity and playing options, but to my mind this does not disqualify the game for seasoned hobbyists. Quite the opposite, the playing duration remains relatively moderate once the players have learned the rules and playing mechanisms, and this gives the game its own attractiveness since it can be played with beginners and cracks alike. While it is true that a lot is decided by rolling a couple of dice, the fact that each player has to resort regularly to tossing the dice means that luck and misfortune are spread fairly equally. Also, the possession of tools and the choice of Civilization Cards with fitting immediate benefits even reduces the luck-factor, so that the strategic impact of the game remains a palpable counterpart to the needed luck.

To my mind, the game is one of the strongest strategic games which has been published by a major publisher of family games in the last years, and since the nice and entertaining gameplay is also well-reflected in the rich outfit and design of the whole game I can recommend Stone Age without reservations for many evening of entertainment.

Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games!

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Copyright © 2008 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany