|My First Stone Age||Marco Teubner|
|Playing Time||15 minutes|
The children’s game My First Stone Age combines memory and set collection as players journey across the prehistoric landscape, gathering resources to build their village.
Expert children’s game designer Marco Teubner has successfully reimagined the now classic gateway game Stone Age as a game for preschoolers – this game is perfect for four and five year olds. Winner of the coveted Kinderspiel des Jahres in 2016, My First Stone Age provides young players with just enough agency to feel empowered by their choices, without overwhelming them with difficult decisions.
Players race to build three huts, using combinations of resources hunted or gathered from the different spaces around the board. Pick berries from the orchard, catch fish in the river, collect mammoth tusks from the plains, or trade goods in the market place. The resources required for building are randomly generated by shuffled tiles at the beginning of the game, and new ones revealed as the others are built.
Player movement between spaces is via tiles laid out around the board – each tile shows a dice face or corresponds with a location on the board. Flip a tile, arrive at a location, take the resource from that space. There are two wolfhounds who serve as ‘wild cards’ – thematically I guess they gather up whatever it is you need to complete your current hut. This element includes a ‘memory’ game element, that is likely to be familiar to young players.
Finally, there is the ‘construction space’ – which you have to be on in order to claim the hut. This also serves to reset the tiles – they are all turned back over, a couple of tiles are swapped around, and play passes to the next player.
The largely persistent location of the movement tiles means that the game moves from a fairly random selection early on to a calculated choice in the latter part of the game as players begin to memorise where the key tokens are. Even young players will begin to make careful selections, and develop ways to move with greater efficiency.
Games last a maximum of 20 minutes, and work best with four players so that the resource scarcity is highlighted. The dog mechanic has a mild ‘take-that’ aspect to it which may be difficult for young players to handle.
Component quality shines in the chunky resources – from mammoth tusks to berries, and the thick cardboard pieces. The cartoon artwork provided by veteran board game artist Michael Menzel is gorgeous and is immediately recognisable as the same board from the Stone Age. No surprising perhaps, given that Menzel did the art from that one also. There is glorious detail in the illustrations and game baord, and importantly the art serves to both delights and demonstrates the logic of the game in the setting.
The game rules also includes a short story about Jonon and Jada, two stone age children, who are effectively the game’s protagonists. We try to read the story each time before we play to refamilarise the rules, but also as a discussion starter about life in prehistoric times.
This game is short, fun and has the right amount of tension to sustain the attention of the preschool crowd.