Encino Man Liveth – A Stone Age Review

23 10 2012

– by Jeremiah

I went to game night to find Stone Age was set up and ready to play. I was informed that I “probably wasn’t going to like it…” Thankfully for all of us at the table that prognostication was incorrect.

Stone Age at its core is a resource-management/workforce-allocation game set in…well, the Stone Age.

The Setup – Players are given a player board and 5 of 10 meeples of their selected color, and 12 food tokens. The board is set slightly differently depending on the number of players with a certain number of structures and civilization cards. And then resource pieces are placed in their respective areas—lumber, brick, stone, gold and food.

The Players Turn – Gameplay consists of rounds more so than turns; there are three phases to a round: placement, production, and nutrition. A player is handed the first player/caveman/king looking thing token and gets to decide where he will allocate his first meeples. Aside from the resource areas players can stake a claim at 3 special areas: the field, the hut, and what I like to call the tool shed. These are highly sought after spots and very limited, only allowing 1-2 meeples (the hut require 2 meeples from the same player) to be placed there, as opposed to the other resource areas allowing for multiple meeples. The field allows you to accumulate 1 food each round, moving your counter up the food track—you’ll see why this is valuable shortly. While going to the hut, also known as “The Love Hut,” allows players to bring in an extra meeple from their supply. (Now you see why you have to put 2 meeples there.) Going to the tool shed yields one tool; tools help add to your rolls during the production phase. You can also place a meeple on a civilization card (which allows you to purchase it during the production phase) or a structure chip (which you also can purchase during the production phase). Cards give you special abilities during the game and can score points at the end of the game. Structures score you points immediately but give no special powers.

The Production Phase – Once each player has placed all of their meeples, players go in order making all of their production checks and purchasing anything they may have dibs on. This is where the game gets dicey, literally. For each meeple you’ve placed in a certain area, you get to roll one d6, add the total, optionally modify that total with your tools, and then divide by a certain number depending on the resource you’re going for. (Food/2, Lumber/3, Brick/4, etc.) The three special locations don’t require rolls; they produce just by having placed a meeple there. You gather resources, because they allow you to buy your civilization cards and structures and in turn score victory points. And that’s how you win the game.

The Nutrition Phase – After everyone has gathered resources, bought things, etc., you gather all of your meeples back to your player board, and then pay 1 food token for each of them, minus the number your counter is at on the food track—the higher you get your counter, the less hunting you need to do!

The Game Ends – When all of the civilization cards are depleted, or when one pile of structure cards are depleted. You then add up any final points awarded by the civilization cards and whoever has the most points wins.

The Cup O’Stink – About 25 minutes into game play there was an awkward exchange of sideways glances at one another. We discovered that the foul smell at the table was not due to any of us lacking in personal hygienic aptitude. But it was in fact due to the the cup which was included for rolling the dice. It was made, apparently, out of real rawhide, or some form of leather. Thematically it was cool. But in essence it just stank. Otherwise the packaging was great; Rio Grande included lots of baggies, and perfect compartments for all of the pieces and components to fit into nicely!

The Bottom Line – Stone Age, was really enjoyable. There are some timing questions that took a little digging to resolve and in fact do have a pretty substantial impact on the game itself. But once you get the nuances hammered out, it plays smoothly and is a lot of fun. If you hate games that rely heavily on dice roles, you may be in for a rough ride, as gathering resources + bad rolls can = a bitter experience. But if you think out your turns a little in advance you can hedge some of the randomness. Thematically, the game is fun. If I’m riding a hard-line Christian view of it, yes, the “Stone Age” really wasn’t what games like this, and TV/cartoons make it out to be, neanderthal men living in caves, grunting, and beating each other with large clubs. I view it as a historical fiction game, just as I would look at Battlestar Galactica as a science fiction game. By the way, there is no beating of each other with large clubs in this game; that was pure hyperbole. The “Love Hut,” as it were, will cause some Jr. High-ish giggling, but there is nothing lewd about it at all.

Thanks for reading! And as always we love to hear your thoughts on the games we review!


Alien Frontiers Hits the iPad

22 10 2012

If you haven’t played Alien Frontiers yet, it’s one of the slew of dice-Euros that have come out in the last couple of years. It’s got a science fiction theme, and is a sort of worker placement/area-control. It uses dice, but in a pretty neat way—you use them to get resources, build ships, build settlements, and so forth. My biggest problem is that the end-game is swingy and prone to bang-on-the-leader. There’s an expansion out, and it may have fixed my concerns (I haven’t played it yet).
But the point of this post is that it’s available on the iPad now for $4.99—which is WAY cheaper that the actual board game.

What You Missed…

19 10 2012

Well, we’re not sure why it happened, but it was a record-breaking week here at Theology Of Games! And we couldn’t have done it without you. (No, seriously. That’s how it works.) Thanks for reading. Here’s the week’s wrap-up.

First we told you about the 2nd Netrunner pack that’s coming (we haven’t even seen the first one!).

We reviewed that great, cheap, fun, and easily-found-at-Target game Spot It!

We gave you a bonus interview, with the folks behind the Extra Life benefit.

Then we interviewed the folks behind the upcoming deck-builder Pixel Lincoln—both Jason Tagmire and President Lincoln himself!

We gave you the news that Looney Labs is launching an iPhone version of their popular card game Fluxx.

This week’s Kickstarter spotlight was We are Dead, a zombie game—from the zombies’ perspective…

And finally, we revealed that the GenCon exclusive adventure in the Lord of the Rings: The Card Game is now available as a print-and-play deck.

Again, thanks so much for giving us a chance. We’re doing everything we can to bring you fun, interesting, thoughtful, and useful posts regarding this crazy hobby of ours. Have a great weekend.

Lord of the Rings—The Battle of Lake Town!

18 10 2012

Fantasy Flight also announced this week that The Battle of Lake Town adventure pack for their living card game The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game, is now available as a print-on-demand title. The Battle of Lake Town was Fantasy Flight’s Gencon exclusive this year, and promises to be an exciting addition to the LOTR adventure. Players will have to work together to save Lake Town from the Hobbit’s main baddie, Smaug himself! If it’s anything like last year’s Gencon exclusive, it will be a brutal slugfest, with lots of action and not much questing! (My kind of adventure!)

You can order a print-on-demand copy of The Battle of Lake Town RIGHT HERE! And you can read Fantasy Flight’s full description of the adventure RIGHT HERE! As always, thanks for reading!

We Are Dead – Kickstarter Weekly

18 10 2012

In other news, someone has designed a zombie board game. I know…shock and awe. We Are Dead is a collaborative effort between a couple of very accomplished artists Mike Morris, and Mike Collins. Morris being a 5-year veteran animator for The Simpsons, and Collins, whose accomplishments are a laundry list of Cartoon Network series.

We Are Dead is a co-op play game, where players are actually not trying to survive the zombie apocalypse but you are actually inciting the apocalypse. Through co-op efforts and resource management you move through the mall infecting, and feasting, upon shoppers while trying to defeat any uprising heroes.

The game is touted as an easy-to-learn, fun romp, in a very stylized, cartoony zombie setting.  The game is completed, tested, and ready to go, Never Peak Games is simply asking for funds to send it to press.

This Kickstarter is one of the less expensive ones to get into on the ground floor; if you’re one of the first 100 backers, you can get a copy of the game for $30. [Update: This level is sold out, but you can still get the game for $35.] You can also—for $20—get yourself a We Are Dead t-shirt.

As always, we’d love to hear what Kickstarters you’re backing, or if you’re starting your own campaign, let us know!

Fluxx On Your iPhone!

17 10 2012

This just in: Looney Labs has announced that a mobile version of their hit card game Fluxx will be available on the iOS platform. The mobile version will feature local play (Pass and Play) as well as solo mode vs. AI, and asynchronous support for online multi-player support. Looney Labs has hinted at a streamlined experience, with most likely fewer rules in the “deck.” It appears that the game will be the original version of the game and not one of the themed decks. You can read our full review of the original Fluxx right here.

You can check out the official news from Looney Labs about the iOS version right here.


Hail to the Chief! An interview with Pixel Lincoln and Jason Tagmire

17 10 2012

It is with great pleasure, and an extreme sense of patriotic pride, that we bring you this week’s interview, with not only Jason Tagmire, designer of the Kickstarter smash hit “Pixel Lincoln,” but today he’s brought along his close personal friend the pixelated President himself, Pixel Lincoln!

Jason, Mr. President, thanks for taking a few minutes to answer some questions for us today.
Jason, could you explain a little bit about how you approached the President about creating a card game based on his adventurous life?

JT: I didn’t at first. I saw his shiny face on a penny and decided to use it as a token in a prototype. Eventually that penny became the main character, and I had no other choice. I made a few phone calls, pulled a few strings, and the rest is history.

Mr. President, tell us about your first meeting with Jason.

PL: He came into my office with a prototype of his game, Pixel Lincoln. Now, this was not the deckbuilding game that we all know about. This was a terrible little card game where you roll a die and move a penny around the cards. I told him to give it another shot and we would talk about it.

Jason, so Pixel Lincoln is a deck-building, side-scrolling card game; how does that work? And what’s different about this deck-builder than the others out there?

JT: It’s deck-building in that all players start out with the same basic cards in their deck, and throughout the game the players will obtain new cards, making a better and better deck.

It’s side-scrolling in that you have a meeple that moves throughout the cards that are available, simulating a side-scrolling video game.

And it’s different in that it takes a very different approach to the style of game, and will probably be compared to Megaman before it’s compared to a game like Dominion or Ascension. I designed it to first and foremost feel like a video game. The cards that are available for purchase are only available for a certain amount of time before the screen scrolls, or they are purchased/defeated by other players. There are checkpoints and boss battles that come in after so much time passes. Players can switch between levels for a different experience, with completely different cards available.

Mr. President, can I call you Link? Nevermind… Did you sign off on the game, and if so, how historically accurate did you find the game play experience?

PL: The game is 100% accurate. This was the story of my life that I always wanted people to know, but the government is pretty good at covering things up. I signed off without hesitation, and I can’t wait for the truth to get out there.

Jason, you’ve been creating games for about 5 years now, which of your previous releases still holds a warm spot in your heart?

JT: Famous Missions. It’s a game where one player provides a mission (“Dismantle A Bomb”) and the other players choose their 3 best celebrities to complete that mission. Some celebrities may be helpful in these scenarios (Chuck Norris, Albert Einstein, Mr. T.) and others less so (Paris Hilton, Donald Trump, Carrot Top). After players choose their teams of three, they get to argue on their behalf, and the judging player chooses the best team for the job.

The game is always a good time, especially with a creative group. After a few years of self-publishing it, I listed it on Kickstarter in Sept 2011 and it failed miserably. There are a few reasons why, and I’ve learned so much since then, that it turned into a very positive experience for me. But as for Famous Missions, I’m not going to give up on it. It’s too much fun to forget about. Plus it was my second game with my good friend Lincoln in it.

Mr. President, do Mary and the boys know about the game? What do they think of your pixelated adventures? I bet the boys think it’s cool that you’re also going to be the star of a video game too!

PL: Shhhhhh. I haven’t told Mary yet. She is not a big fan of the video games. But the boys are very excited about it. Although you can’t get their hands off of Borderlands 2, they do love the classics. Battletoads is a big hit in our house. That level 3 is impossible!

Jason, speaking of the video game version: What format will it be available on? Am I going to have to break out my old NES system for it? (Because I will!)

JT: It was originally being developed for DS, which was as close to NES as we could get, but we’ve switched over to Steam. It will initially be PC and hopefully Mac will follow, because I do not have a PC and I want to play! If it’s successful, we can make the transition from Steam to PS3/Xbox 360 to 3DS.

This question is for both of you. What are your top 3 games right now?


Alien Frontiers
Cosmic Encounter
Battle Beyond Space

I guess I’m going through a space phase right now.

Food Fight
Junta: Viva El Presidente

Jason, outside of designing games what inspires you to “carpe diem”?

Definitely my family. My wife and I have a 4 year old daughter, and 2 year old twins, and they are all crazy. We’ll play and make games together, but more often we’ll just take off and see where we end up. It’s not unusual for us to drive 3 states away just to go to some silly little burger stand.

The next set of questions only requires a one word (or phrase) response!

Jason –

Favorite time travel movie?
12 Monkeys

Favorite snow creature: Wampa or Bumble?

Who wins in a fight: Iron Man or Hulk?

Best sandwich EVER?
The Primanti Brothers in Pittsburgh.

Favorite A-Team member?
It’s hard to top Mr. T, but I do love B.A. Baracus.

Mr. President –

Favorite non-confederate state?
New Jersey

Favorite Gilligan’s Island castaway?
Thurston Howell III

Favorite vampire slayer?
Simon Belmont

Favorite campaign slogan?
Where’s The Beef?

Captain Kirk or Captain Picard?
Captain Kirk

Thanks again for taking time to answer our questions! If you want to check out Pixel Lincoln the game you can visit their Web site right here! And while you’re there you can pre-order your copy of Pixel Lincoln, which is due for release this year! Thanks again for reading!

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