My First Stone Age is a one-two punch targeted for max appeal within the child-rearing segment of hobby gaming’s core audience. This game has both the heritage, inspired by the Euro-strategy classic Stone Age, and the prestige, sporting a Kinderspiel des Jahres nomination (with winner to be announced later this month). Surely, it will be catching the eye of those looking to raise young gamers.
Stone Age, often considered among the best introductory worker placement experiences, is a particularly interesting choice for a “junior” edition. Could My First Stone Age be the secret ingredient for deep strategy fun with your little one? No. But My First Stone Age’s avoidance of the worker placement mechanism should not diminish from your family’s enjoyment of this junior title, as it is an incredibly strong children’s game in its own right. My First Stone Age is one step above your average children’s game, linking two main game elements, memory and resource management, to provide a good primer for future strategy games.
The gameplay is centered around collecting resources by moving along a track, but this is no typical “roll and move.” Fourteen face-down tiles encircle the board, each containing a printed die roll or a “move directly to X space” symbol. Each player reveals one movement tile per turn, and these remain face up and out of play until a player reveals the starting space title. That player then has an opportunity to trade resources for a hut tile (one victory point), and ends their turn by flipping all movement tiles face down to refresh the supply. Hopefully, players have paid close attention to tiles leading to some of the game’s more important spaces.
The victory points are the closest tie to the original Stone Age game, as trading resources for huts was one of Stone Age’s main elements. Three such hut tiles are always in play, with a unique resource cost printed on each tile. Once a player collects three, the game immediately ends. However, none of the other elements of Stone Age have simplified versions in My First Stone Age: no dice, no feeding of workers, and no exponential scoring. Yes, that means no fancy leather dice cup. The artwork, however, is right on cue, provided by original artist Michael Menzel.
Compared to, say, Catan Junior, My First Stone Age feels more accessible to young gamers. The age recommendation of 5+ is highly accurate, although it wouldn’t be surprising to see four-year-olds play My First Stone Age with complete independence. There’s no need for an adult player to provide strategic hints, or to handicap themselves in order to create an even game. Those factors, along with an honest 15 minute play time, put My First Stone Age in the high tier of recommended children’s games. This is not one of those “the adults will break it out after the kids fall asleep” titles, but it surely deserves a place on your child’s shelf.