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iPhone  header logo

Stone Age: The Board Game

For: iPhone

Modern cave men

Product: Stone Age: The Board Game | Developer: Campfire Creations | Publisher: Campfire Creations | Format: iPhone | Genre: Card/ board game | Players: 1 | Networking: wireless (adhoc), on one device | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0.1
 
Stone Age: The Board Game iPhone, thumbnail 1
If a boardgame is going to work on an iOS device it needs to be able to explain everything you need to know about it in its tutorial.

Some people will be willing to dig around in digital rule books to find out the more obscure ways to play, but most will be put off if things aren't clear after they've been walked through the basics.

That's something that Stone Age: The Board Game gets right. It doesn't unveil all of its many complexities in its tutorial, but it does give you a solid grasp of the fundamentals, leaving the formulation of strategy to the cogs whirring in your head rather than making them explicit.

Like all the best boardgames, it lets you create the experience yourself rather than dictating it for you.

Ug

The game itself follows on the wave of other worker-placement boardgames that have been converted for touchscreen devices, but rather than being set in the middle ages or built around the expansion of some city state it instead focuses on the birth of civilisation, giving you control over a burgeoning tribe of hairy cave dwellers.

You'll play against up to four opponents, either controlled by AI, online players, or friends in the same room using the pass-the-device option. It's your job to accrue the greatest number of victory points by steering the evolution of your tribe in the right direction.

To do that you'll need to collect raw materials, breed, trade with other tribes, buy buildings, and recruit new members to your swelling ranks. You start with five workers, and from there start to build your new cave empire.

The board is a reasonably simple affair. There are buildings to buy along the top, which give you victory points and other rewards; boats along the side, which change every turn, and can be bartered with for the right materials; huts in the middle where you can mate, build tools, and store corn; and areas along the bottom where you can attempt to collect food and other raw materials.

Evolved

Each turn sees you placing your workers onto the board. If you're after raw materials, every worker you place equates to a dice roll. Each material has a cost - food is two, while gold is six, for example - so the more dice you roll, the higher chance you have of getting what you're after.

Tools, which you build in one of the huts, can be used to up your score by one, meaning if you just missed out on another lump of mammoth meat you can spend a tool to add another point and make sure your tribe doesn't go hungry.

You add extra workers by letting a couple of your tribe get better acquainted in the mating hut. Other tribesmen, such as Shaman or Farmers, are recruited via the boats, and add multipliers to the VP you get from resources at the end of the game.

Golden age

It's a simple process to get the hang of, but once the tutorial is over and you're left to play on your own the depth of the game starts to reveal itself.

You bring back your workers in any order, so sometimes you'll need to gamble on being able to get enough goods to trade with the ships, bringing in your raw materials first to make sure you've enough clay to swap for that Shaman.

Throw in the machinations of other players, who'll try to block your expansion and facilitate their own, and you're left with a game that's simple to pick up but incredibly difficult to master.

Stone Age: The Board Game proves that boardgames can work wonderfully on iOS devices, and if you're of the right mindset you'll find an awful lot to enjoy in its tricky, player-woven tales of evolution and expansion.
 
Stone Age: The Board Game
Reviewer photo
Harry Slater | 4 January 2013
It won't be to everyone's taste, but Stone Age: The Board Game is a deep and entertaining multiplayer package
 
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