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The Pillars of the Earth» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Why Pillars of the Earth will always Dominate Stone Age in my Book rss

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Chris Wood
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How is PotE compared to Agricola?
 
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Nick
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joshsmith80 wrote:
So I picked it up not expecting much as the game is not even ranked in the top 100.


I used to fall into this trap. Now I have have fallen into another trap of having realised that most games in the top 500 (and quite a few outside) are worthy of investigation...
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Doobermite
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Quote:
The problem lies in the dice rolling. For a strategic game like this one too much hinges on what you roll. Often times the game is decided by what you roll rather than how you play.


This simply isn't true. If a beginner plays Stone Age against an experienced player they will lose. There is strategy in determining how much luck you want to go for. From the cards you collect to the number of dice you roll there is quite a bit of control.

I also love Pillars but I'm not sure you can really compare these two games. You only roll one die for taxes and the cards are all luck. But once again, a beginner will lose to an experienced player and not just because of the random cards or die roll. If you have all experienced players in either game then a particular strategy is key. Rarely do I ever feel like the dice ruined my game.

I like Pillars better because I feel like I'm playing a story. On the other hand, I think Stone Age has that "it's-going-to-be-a-classic" feeling. Stone Age is a game of strategy and luck that's put together so well it deserves a 10.....same as Pillars.
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Erin Sparks
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Stone Age comes off as mediocre to me because there's no arc. The last turn plays exactly like the first turn, except you have a few more people.
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Chris Wood
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Well, how does Pillars stack up to Stone Age from a 2 player perspective?
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John Herrera
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joshsmith80 wrote:

Stone Age is fun until you roll like a donkey.


Great review, this is my favorite part.

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Klaus Brune
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johnhe0414 wrote:
joshsmith80 wrote:

Stone Age is fun until you roll like a donkey.


Great review, this is my favorite part.



Donkey discrimination!

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John Lopez
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dbmite wrote:
Quote:
The problem lies in the dice rolling. For a strategic game like this one too much hinges on what you roll. Often times the game is decided by what you roll rather than how you play.


This simply isn't true. If a beginner plays Stone Age against an experienced player they will lose. There is strategy in determining how much luck you want to go for. From the cards you collect to the number of dice you roll there is quite a bit of control.


I find there are two points where you can talk about luck in a game. Comparing an expert to a beginner is what I call "beginner's luck": luck that exploitable even to a beginner. If a game has a high "beginner's luck" factor, even a novice can win against the master.

The second point where luck impacts the game is what I have termed "master's luck" or "intrinsic luck" (for lack of a better term). This is the amount of impact luck has on a game between two experts at the game. I think the poster is finding Stone Age is impacted by this kind of randomness.

As an aside, "luck" doesn't prevent enjoyment by many: at the highest end of the poker tournaments the skill levels are nearly equal, so the results are quite dependent on the luck of the draw. Yet the game remains fascinating to many (and I would argue it is exactly that tension of *not knowing* the outcome that appeals to a large part of that crowd).
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Max Jamelli
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rockhpi wrote:
Stone Age comes off as mediocre to me because there's no arc. The last turn plays exactly like the first turn, except you have a few more people.


I actually find the opposite about Stone Age and Pillars. First off, I enjoy both games - but with Pillars, if you're using the base game you have the same craftsmen cards in each round. Granted some are available for purchase, others are available for Master Builders - but that's the only variance. If it's round 4, you know the round 4 craftsmen are coming out.

In Stone Age, the entire deck of cards and huts are shuffled and the order can make a big difference in the way you allocate your cavemeeps. This is especially true in a two player game.

The way I look at it:

2P Pillars is not as good as 4P Pillars.
4P Stone Age is not as good as 2P Stone Age.
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Klaus Brune
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I definitely agree and prefer Pillars to Stone Age, for largely the same reasons.

Rather ironically, I traded for my copy of Pillars with a previous owner who didn't care for the game because he felt there was too much luck, especially in the drawing of the master craftsmen from the bag.

And I could sort of see his point there... no matter how much you're WILLING to pay to get your craftsmen in play FIRST, it's just not going to happen if it doesn't get drawn. And that's game-changing luck that can't be mitigated.

Complaints about this is, I think, the main reason they changed the mechanic somewhat in the expansion. That, and if you're playing with 5 or 6 and drawing last, it can be as frustrating as a game of Catan gone wrong.
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Guy Riessen
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Gruumsh wrote:
I definitely agree and prefer Pillars to Stone Age, for largely the same reasons.

Rather ironically, I traded for my copy of Pillars with a previous owner who didn't care for the game because he felt there was too much luck, especially in the drawing of the master craftsmen from the bag.

And I could sort of see his point there... no matter how much you're WILLING to pay to get your craftsmen in play FIRST, it's just not going to happen if it doesn't get drawn. And that's game-changing luck that can't be mitigated.

Complaints about this is, I think, the main reason they changed the mechanic somewhat in the expansion. That, and if you're playing with 5 or 6 and drawing last, it can be as frustrating as a game of Catan gone wrong.


This could easily have been me trading you Pillars--it's built entirely of random luck. Will an experienced player beat a novice player...usually, but only because the novice won't understand the card interactions. But the only determinant between experienced players is luck--the paths to victory are narrow and confined, so the game becomes determined solely by the draw of the craftsman bag.

The game was played out for us once everyone learned the strengths of the cards. Stone Age, with its higher luck, but much broader range of routes to victory, remained playable much longer, as those two elements remained in balance. Will an experienced player beat a novice...usually, as a result of the novice not understanding the relative strengths of the different board positions. But between experienced players that understand the interactions, there is a push-your-luck element, as well as a desire to find alternate routes to victory which run complimentary to your rolling luck, which keeps it interesting much longer. And while Pillars felt "played out" and we had no interest in returning to it, Stone Age's luck-determines-your-choice-of-path keeps it in the collection. Not because we want to play it all the time anymore, but because there is enough lingering freshness inherent to that luck to allow it to still come out to the table once or twice a year.

Now keep in mind, we'd played out Pillars long before the expansion came out, so I'm not speaking to any of the things that changed as a result of the expansion.
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Chris Wong
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Great review! I absolutely concur. I don't dislike Stone Age and I'm okay that other people love it, but to me Pillars is a richer game experience. I feel like a story is being told throughout the game with very strategic choices to make, whereas racing for huts and cards in Stone Age is a bit bland for me.

It's unfortunate that Pillar's ranking has dropped so much - I don't care where it places, but a higher ranking would get more people to try this game.
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Sheldon
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Ha, I sold my copy of Pillars because I had Stone Age which gets more play and A Castle for all seasons which has a somewhat similar feel but plays way quicker. I still like Pillars but I've decided to go for a much more compact collection and it and Egizia were the ones to go up on the chopping block.
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Jennifer Schlickbernd
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I would not play Pillars without the expansion, it becomes a much better game.
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Marijke
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jschlickbernd wrote:
I would not play Pillars without the expansion, it becomes a much better game.


Glad to hear it! I've recently bought the expansion but haven't gotten around to trying it yet. I like Pillars, but it needed some more diversity. Stone age on the other hand has plenty of diversity (but I'm not a huge fan of the dice-rolling).
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Bruce Schlickbernd
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I love them both - but I would say that luck is the dominant factor in PotE without the expansion, not Stone Age. With the expansion it becomes a much better game. I even found I can get the entire game into the slimmer expansion box - an added bonus! And read the book - I highly recommend it.

Stone Age's advantage is that it is quicker to teach, learn and play, yet the depth of strategy remains. And as to luck crippling a good player - I haven't found that to be the case: (insufferable braggart mode) I've won every tournament I've been in except one, where luck did shoot me down. Not by the dice rolling (though rolling hot dice is an extremely good strategy), but by the four cards I needed being the last four cards in the deck and the game ended. So I finished a few points behind in second. Yes, luck can shoot you down on any given turn, but overall good play is rewarded.

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Matt Smith
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I enjoy both games, but feel no need to own Stone Age. The Pillars expansion is one of those "must have" expansions, because of how it fixes the two main problems with the base game:
- Too much luck in the Master Builder draw process
- Predictable craftsmen

To the OP: If you wife has read the sequel, World Without End, you should check on that game too. While it doesn't have the craftsmen development arc that Pillars has, it's thematic and very approachable. It plays a little quicker too.
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Roger
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Exactely, and add to this tools and there is little luck in Stone Age.

~J
 
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John Clark
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joshsmith80 wrote:

Stone Age is fun until you roll like a donkey. I won my first game of Stone Age against some decent players. I came last to some players who were pretty bad or newbies in my second game. I hated this game. It took way too long and the dice gods were severely against me!


Having played 200+ games of Stone Age, the luck thing here is just wrong. A better player of Stone Age will beat a worse player 90+ per cent of the time - luck rarely affects the end result of who wins. As most Stone Age players will tell you, whatever luck there is in the game is actually in the order of the cards and hut tiles, not in the dice.

You played the game a whole two times before deciding that there was too much luck - this is a very common reaction to Settlers of Catan as well - people think that when they win its their skill and when they lose its their bad luck. Many times I have seen inexperienced players complain about their bad luck when I saw them make horrible decisions. The dice simply provide an easy excuse for losing. Two games of Stone Age is not enough to realise the poor decisions you make - maybe, just maybe, you played poorly in the second game and were lucky in the first game?

Go on BSW and play against a guy called Kipo - I have played him many times and lost every time - it does not matter if he rolls good or bad, he still wins because he is a better player than me. Likewise, at the Stone Age tournament I went to a while back, the pre-tournament favourite won the tournament easily - he was simply the best player and the luck of the dice make no difference.
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Larry Buckel
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I also prefer Pillars. I like the expansion cards but felt the game was too slow with 6 so the extra board issues arn't an issue with me.

Look in the Variants section if you want to try my variant Pillars of the Stone Age which adds dice rolling instead of cards to collect the resources (and you can use the tax die as a took kicker).
 
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Evan Stegman
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joshsmith80 wrote:
Maevre wrote:
jschlickbernd wrote:
I would not play Pillars without the expansion, it becomes a much better game.


Glad to hear it! I've recently bought the expansion but haven't gotten around to trying it yet. I like Pillars, but it needed some more diversity. Stone age on the other hand has plenty of diversity (but I'm not a huge fan of the dice-rolling).


Yeah the expansion is great as you get even more options and your workers get something to do if you luck out in the resource card stakes in a round (you get VPs by sending workers to the crusades).


I agree: play with the Pillars expansion but DON'T play Stone Age with its expansion if you don't like luck.

Twice I have lost because in the last round 3 of the 4 huts that end up being out were resource producing huts from the expansion instead of huts that allowed you to convert resources to points. Solely through the luck of the draw I lost because I had a lot of resources I couldn't do much with and, in effect, the winner was decided on the turn before the last. I won't play Stone Age with the expansion any more.
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Patrick C.
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Stefan Feld games are balanced and mathematically elegant while being obtuse, emotionally detached, and mechically inelegant. The most overrated designer of modern games. The King of JASE.
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Quote:
Actually I knew the whole game in two plays.


There are some games you can say this about. You can pretty much know, for example, Incan Gold in two plays. You can know Can't Stop! You cannot know the variability and percentages in Stone Age. Not unless you're some sort of savant. And I'm not saying Stone is that complex. It's not. It's just that your argument is presumptuous to the extreme. You can't say you know everything about most games of moderate complexity.
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Bruce Schlickbernd
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joshsmith80 wrote:

Actually I knew the whole game in two plays. There is not that much to it. I have some smart ppl in my gaming group and then some who are not so smart. The dice-rolling plays a massive part in who wins the game. My group also concurs with this assertion. When someone is rolling 6ers to 4s continually they are bound to win. How can you win when 1s and 2s come up pretty much all night? It is impossible when someone is having a hot night and you a poor one on the dice. I know the chances with each strategy one can take. You do not need to be a rocket scientist to work this out. Just the other day I lost to a friend who utilised stone for his building whilst I was the gravel man in PotE. He scored 65. I scored 63. I find most of my PotE games are really close whereas Stone Age can have people being lapped twice.


Two whole plays? And you are insisting on this in the face of people who have played hundreds of times (400+ for me) and find otherwise? You've likewise mastered the starvation strategy and the drill strategy in those two plays? Like I've said, I've found the exact opposite of what you are claiming: good players tend to win Stone Age on a regular basis.

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Steve Duff
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Corsair wrote:
Like I've said, I've found the exact opposite of what you are claiming: good players tend to win Stone Age on a regular basis.


Excellent post.

And seriously cool, I just started to play my copy of Wasteland today, then run across you here.
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Bruce Schlickbernd
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UnknownParkerBrother wrote:
[q="Corsair"]
And seriously cool, I just started to play my copy of Wasteland today, then run across you here.


Someone made the connection? Good heavens!
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