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Friday, 25 July 2014

Online Game Review - Stone Age

This is my first attempt at reviewing an online board game. I see a lot of people wondering where they can play board games online and I think there is a lot to be gained out of the experience. But this is not a post to try and convince you to get your gaming fix online, instead I am going to review Stone Age on BoardGameArena and talk about the pros and cons to playing Stone Age online vs in person.



Objective:
Be the player with the most victory points at the end of the game. There are two main ways to score victory points:

Acquiring buildings during the game for either a fixed or variable amount
Acquiring Civilization cards during the game that give extra points at the end of the game

How to play:
Stone age is played over a series of rounds, each round offers a set of buildings equal to the number of players and 4 civilization cards available for purchase. At the start of a new round any purchased cards/buildings are replaced with new ones from their respective draw piles.

On your turn you simply hover over the area you wish to send your workers to and click once for each person you wish to place.

stone age place a worker


You can only place workers at one location per turn but you will have the chance to place all of your workers each round.

Once everyone has had the chance to place their workers you will take turns activating your workers at each location. You activate your workers by clicking on the location they were placed.

Once you have chosen a location you will see the results of your roll and then have the option to use any tools to increase the total value of your roll before gaining your resources.

stone age tool mechanic
Should have gotten a damm tool already


Pros to playing Stone Age online vs in person:

Lots of the mathematical calculations are done for you allowing you to spend more time thinking about your overall strategy and what your best move is.



The time required to play is cut in half, on BGG Stone Age has a length of 60 minutes, and on BGA they list 27 minutes. This is mainly a result of no set up time, dice rolls done instantly and the resulting calculation is done automatically telling you how many resources you gain.

Your opponent's stock of supplies is listed clearly to save you from either not knowing, not caring and doing an uncomfortable lean over the table to count their wood / clay / food etc.

Less fiddly, in any game where you gain resources and then have to hand them back in in order to pay for things there is going to be a lot of fiddling. You won't have to reach across the table to grab from that pile of wood, instead all your resources are automatically counted and added to your supply.

Easy way to play an old favourite.

Cons to playing Stone Age online vs in person:

Overall less satisfying feel, throwing dice is one of my favourite parts of board games mostly because of the touch/feel they give but also I appreciate the anticipation caused once they leave your hand.

Also less satisfying to collect things online. Civilization Cards, Buildings, Resources are all collected in stone age and build towards your sense of accomplishment. I find this feeling doesn't translate well from most board games to their online counterparts but I find Stone Age translates even worse than other games.

Much easier to do things in the wrong order when playing online than it is when playing in person, partially because most people allow a take backs as long as it is still your turn, an online portal does not. I find myself activating workers in the wrong order, resources before tools and cards and have seen lots of people place on hunting (food) before other resources.

Whenever the card comes up that gives everyone the opportunity to gain something I find there is a fair amount of table talk and interaction, when playing online this is entirely lost and rarely does someone say "darn I really needed that gold" or "dam another free agriculture level you sure are lucky"

Conclusion 

I have found after playing Stone Age at least 10 times online that it is a solid substitute for playing the physical game with your friends around the table.

Most of the cons are also pros which to me means it still scratches mostly the same itch although it is a bit less satisfying. The main reason I can see to playing Stone Age online is it cuts the time in half. Considering the game gives mostly the same feel when played online, I find it is a great way to satisfy the itch to play this light euro in a time space where you might not usually be able to even fit in a game.

If you are a fan of Stone Age and have trouble talking people into playing, or if you were not apart of the hobby when Stone Age was more loved or any other reason you haven't tried Stone Age before I would recommend giving it a play on BoardGameArena.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Guide to Teaching Board Games - Streamlined Explanation - Rialto

This is part two in a in a series I am writing to help people become better board game teachers in the hope that we can scare less people off and change the attitude that the games we play are "way too complex and have so much to remember". Below I will cover how to explain Rialto, a medium weight Area Control Game by Stefan Feld, in an easy to follow manner covering only the need to know information.



You can find the first part by taking this link where I explain my five steps to explaining any board game in detail. Guide to Teaching Board Games = The Five Steps