Stone Age is not, unfortunately, a game built for the iPad – if you have a newer generation, it will not be the most shiny-looking game. However, the game play is solid and if you can look past the graphics, you should be able to enjoy it.
The core mechanic of Stone Age is worker placement. Each player will have a team of stone age meeples that they will allocate in turns on various actions. Then in a specific order, those actions will play out when you take back those meeples into your pool; as this happens, the abilities of a given location is triggered which will contribute towards your success. The core strategy of game is to try and select the best action across the board, whilst also strategically blocking your opponent from their optimal placements. It often becomes a matter of fine judgment trying to make cost-benefit assessments of each placement, the probability of what may or may not be available when your next placement comes around, and which options not to leave open.
Your options for placement are one of three different huts, fields for resource collection, and various boats with specific rewards. The village has three different huts: the Farmhouse provides and extra field for more food; the Mating Hut produces an extra worker for the next round; and the Tool Shed crafts tools that become useful in harvesting. The resource fields provide food (the hunt), wood (the forest), clay (the clay pit), stone (the quarry), and gold (the river). Each is more labour intensive than the previous one, and so extracting those resources more difficult, but more rewarding. Finally, there is a sequence of boats that are placed in a linear order; those at the start of that line are cheaper, while those further up more expensive At the end of each round, there is a feeding phase where food and resources must be used to ensure that the workers are feed. Lacking sufficient food will require you to expend resources, and lacking that will incur great penalties.
I must say that I am pleasantly surprised by this game. I am often turned off by games with a high amount of randomness; on a first glance, I figured that this game was far too random to really enjoy much strategy. However, the mitigation of that risk is a central and engaging mechanism, which has made me seriously contemplate acquiring the real version.
Despite the fact that this is an iPhone game that is maximised, you will barely notice the difference. As you can see from the images captured, the graphics are quite sufficient to enable immersion into the environment. Undoubtedly a version geared to an iPad would make much better use of the real estate, but what we have here suffices.
Beyond this, the range of features included into this game are broad and numerous. The developers have gone to lengths to code these features into the game with great care. Despite the fact that there is a large variety of objects and points of interaction on the screen, they are intuitive and easily navigable. The tutorial, and the written rules, are clear and should easily instruct new players into how to play.