Living under a rock
Well, funnily enough, this is MY first stone age too. I came across Stone Age “prime” a lot when I was doing research on my top 10 gateway game article. Whilst I have never played it, a lot of people really rated it as a fantastic gateway game. So when I had an opportunity to 1: Play the game and 2: Get a game that my kids can play, I jumped at the opportunity. I think that there is a niche for adult board games being made available to children to get them into the hobby and it’s something which has not really been addressed by too many people yet, and I think that’s a shame. Kids need board games too!
I made the silly mistake of opening My First Stone Age in front of my 6 year old. Note to self- Do not ever do that again. He got so excited that he didn’t take the fact it was bedtime very well at all. Still, once I managed to shift him off to bed and then had an opportunity to look through the components I was quite taken aback with it’s simplicity. In the box you receive enough punchboard to make 4 settlements (used to fulfill the aim of the game, to expand your Stone Age settlements), forest tokens, dog tokens and the most child friendly counters and other game tokens I have ever seen. The meeples you use on the board are the best part of an inch thick and brightly coloured so they can be used and grasped well by little fingers. The counters for the resources you collect are also made of quality wood and are very robust, plus there’s really no mistaking what they’re meant to be.
Looking through the rule book I was in awe of the thought that had gone into making My First Stone Age accessible for children. Before you get to the set up section of the game there is a few page “story” about how different life was in the stone age and to give children an idea of why they’re doing what they’re doing to win the game.
This brings me to the set up part of the rule book. After I read through it, I thought to myself “My son could set this up”. So the following day I tested out my theory. I gave him the rule book and asked him to set the game up. Whilst it took around 20 minutes for the first set up, he did manage it on his own which I think reinforces how child friendly My First Stone Age is.
Is it quick and easy to get to Rock ‘n Roll?
To set up My First Stone Age, you need to take a settlement per player, with the corresponding mega-meeple, then you add all of the resource tokens to the corresponding places on the board and also put the dog tokens on the dog space. Next you shuffle all 15 hut tiles and put 5 on each of the hut spaces and turn over the top one to show what resources you will need to build your first settlement. Once all of the pieces are on the board, you need to put the forest tokens around the outside, 4 each on the top and bottom and 3 on each side. The forest tokens act as the dice to tell you where to put your meeple on the board. It will either have a dice pip symbol on it numbered between 1 and 6 or it will show you a picture of one of the resources, the dog or the construction site. This tells you exactly where you need to be. If you land on a resource space you can take one of the resource tokens, and if you land on the dog space you can take a token which counts as a “wildcard” when trying to purchase a hut for your settlement. If you flip over the token which has the hut on it you get an opportunity to build a hut for your settlement.
The aim of My First Stone Age is to be the first player to collect 3 huts for their settlement, and the pretty accurate advertised play time is about 15 minutes (enough to ensure your miniature gamer doesn’t get too bored). You can claim a hut by collecting the resources needed to build it (which are pictured on it) and then land on the building space; either by getting the correct amount of dice pips to land there while going around the board or by turning over the forest token with the building icon. You then pick up the hut token which you have collected the resources for, and put it into your settlement. Then you return your collected Stone Age resource tokens to their allocated board spaces and turn all of the forest tiles back over. At this point I have to offer a suggestion. Whilst the rules don’t say anything about it, once the tiles are turned back to the forest side, I’d strongly recommend shuffling them and replacing them on the board. If your mini Stone Age player has a good memory then they will know where every useful tile is if not. Although I suppose this does go both ways and if you don’t want a massive advantage you could do it to ensure you don’t make it too easy on yourself.
So, I discussed My First Stone Age with my son Eddie to get a gauge on how much he enjoyed it (spoiler: The game isn’t actually mine anymore) and he told me that he really wanted to review it himself and that also includes the title. Here’s what he had to say:
The Awesome Kids Zone
I like my first stone age a lot. I rate it *****.
I found it really easy to set it up. I think my friends could play it because it is easy to teach and learn.
The objective is to get three huts in your settlement. You build a hut by paying goods and landing on the building space. I like the game because it is a quick game to play. It takes about half an hour to setup and play.
Eddie Dunnings, Reviewer extraordinaire, Age 6.
Should it have been left in the Stone Age?
You may have guessed it already but I think My First Stone Age is a brilliant game. There are so few games which are aimed towards children with proper board gaming mechanics in them such as worker placement and set/resource collection and this shines out among the couple I have found. From what I have seen it is moderately true to Stone Age prime and serves as a great gateway game for kids to get into their parents hobby (assuming you want them to of course).
Apart from having to house rule shuffling the forest tiles once you have built a hut to stop your small gamer from cheating and from making the game too easy for the both of you, I think the rules are pretty age appropriate. Eddie was able to teach his school friends and also his 3 year old brother how to play and have a game with all of them.
A last point to mention is that in the process of writing this review, the nominations for Spiel Des Jahre and Kennerspiel have been announced. For those of you that may not know, Spiel des Jahres is the adult board game of the year award and Kennerspiel is the childrens equivalent. My first stone age has actually been shortlisted for the Kennerspiel award which is high praise indeed.
So, is My First Stone Age for you? Probably not if you’re of a certain age but if you have a budding board gamer in the house then it is definitely for them. Since the initial playthrough I had with Eddie I have probably played over 20 additional games and that’s not something I can say about every game I get. It has been great to be able to share in my hobby with both of my kids and also for both of us to have fun while we’re doing it. It means a lot to me.
Best of luck with the Kennerspiel My First Stone Age!
If you think that My First Stone Age could be for you or your little Troglodytes then some more information is available on Board Game Geek and of course is available from your always awesome Friendly Local Game Shop.
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I am just a regular guy that fell into board gaming. That's why I am no longer allowed in my local Toys R Us. I'm a huge fan of deckbuilding games and games with unusual themes or mechanics. OK, maybe I'm not that regular after all.