Stone Age Strategy: Handy Guide to Tools
Worker placement games are iconic within the board game world. Over the past few years, they have really taken off, with some fantastic entries into the genre. From Lords to Waterdeep to Viticulture, we have had worker placement games including everything from building your own village to building your own dystopia. It is a fantastic genre, and one that continues to be expanded upon with great games year after year after year.
Of course, for a lot of people, there are a couple of games that really stand out. For me, one of those game is the game we are going to be talking about today – Stone Age.
Stone Age is a game that has been around a while now, first being released in 2008, and it is a fairly simple game. You run a tribe, and you are looking to become greater and grander throughout the game. You can do this by collecting resources to build huts, you can get tools, you can go forth and multiply, you can improve your agriculture and you can improve your civilisation.
Improving your civilisation is done through cards, all of which have points multipliers on them in some way, shape, or form. Some are simply a multiplier per item (eg. 3x the number of huts or people you have), and some are through set collecting different forms of technology like writing, medicine, pottery, art, or music.
That is the very basic concept behind the game, the very crux of what Stone Age is about; however, now let’s dive a little deeper, for today we are going to talk about strategy.
Now, before we begin, one of the greatest things about Stone Age is that there is lots of strategies to choose from. You can mix together so many aspects to create a fantastic strategy that wins on all fronts. Today though, I thought we would look at one aspect of the game, zooming in, to explore how collecting tools can create fantastic end game results.
Stone Age Strategy: Tooling Up
Okay, so there is a story behind this article today, and before we go any further I thought I would just explain it a little bit. This strategy kind of became infamous in our group. After winning a couple of games this way, it become known and now (unfortunately) it is impossible to pull off. Everyone has become aware of “the tool strategy” and does what they can to get in the way.
The tool collection strategy, you see, revolves around some of the basic maths behind the game.
In Stone Age, there are four basic types of multiplier you can get, leaving aside collecting the different technologies. Those four basic types of multiplier are on buildings, people, agriculture level and tools. With each one of those, it is possible to get 10x the multiplier throughout the game by ensuring that you get the right civilisation cards.
So, what are the maximums you can get? Well, with your tribe, it is possible (through the hut on the board) to get up to 10 tribe members (or “figures” as they are so eloquently called in the rulebook). Through tending to the field, it is possible to also build your agriculture up to a maximum of 10.
You can, in theory, build a large number of buildings, and there is also a building modifier; however, huts are hard to get and maximise the multiplier strategy on. They are amazing in their own right, but getting the multipliers and the buildings can be very resource heavy. Not impossible, but difficult to optimise.
Buildings can form a massive part of a large number of Stone Age strategies; however, maximising building the buildings and the end game multipliers is not easy, especially in a game with four players.
Tools, on the other hand, are relatively easy to get. Like with all of the multipliers, within the civilisation cards, it is possible to get 10x the tools in points in the end game. The biggest difference is that, where you can get 10 tribe members and 10 levels of agriculture, you can get 12 levels of tools in a game of Stone Age.
That makes it a maximum of 100 points directly from the size of your tribe or the amount of agriculture you have. Meanwhile it means there are 120 points available from tools. Twenty points can make all the difference.
How do you get the tools?
I don’t know about you and what you have noticed in your games, but this whole strategy started being used because other players would always monopolise on the field and the hut during our games. This left the tools available most rounds. The very core of the strategy is to use the tool workshop as often as you can.
Of course, the tool workshop isn’t the only way of gaining tools. To use this strategy you also need to focus on picking up the tool multipliers on the civilisation cards, sometimes paying an extortionate amount for them.
The upside to this is that, through getting so many civilisation cards, you will get a large number of cards allowing you to roll dice equal to the number of players and choose a result based on those dice. Get a 5 on the dice and you can pick up a tool, making those cards incredibly useful. What’s even better is that there is also a chance of getting a tool when other players roll the dice as well.
The tool strategy works incredibly well with games with high player counts. Two player games tend to be higher scoring, so the role that the multipliers play on tools fluctuates. Where those 120 potential points are incredibly helpful in a 4 player game, they can be hard to get. In a two player game, those 120 points will be less impactful, but easier to monopolise on.
The Supplementary Tool Strategy
Of course, the tool strategy, if you manage to maximise it, is an incredibly powerful way to have an impact on the game. That being said, it is not the be all and end all. Looking at the app BG Stats (which is an app I highly recommend, if you haven’t used it, as it keeps track of all your plays) our past few four player games of Stone Age have had winning scores around the 240 mark. Needless to say 120 is only a part of that.
On average, focusing on tools will use around 2 figures (tribes people) per turn. This may fluctuate depending on the cards that are out or the availability of the tool workshop. This leaves the rest of your tribe to continue on with a secondary strategy.
The good news is that, by collecting tools, you will eventually get an additional +12 in tool usage on dice rolls, making building buildings or civilisation card collection both strong secondary strategies. Buildings give the added benefit of scoring points instantly, which is nice and works well if you can also get building multipliers for the end of the game as well. Alternatively, using all the additional tools it is possible to get a few high scoring buildings where players can choose the type of resource used. Lots of gold can mean lots of points.
Stone Age Strategy: Tools
A relatively quick strategy article for today to set the ball rolling again on regular posts. Stone Age is one of my all time worker placement games and I look forward to when I am next able to play. In the meantime though, let me know your thoughts? What do you think of Stone Age? What are your favourite strategies to use? Let me know in the comments below.