Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age (Eagle-Gryphon Games)

The Bronze Age occurred began in the 3000s B.C. It was characterized by the use of bronze, early writing systems, and the early features of urban civilization. The Bronze Age is considered the second major period of the three age system (Stone, Bronze, and Iron). Matt Leacock (Pandemic master) took this concept and created the game Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age. This is the second game in Eagle-Gryphon Games "Bookshelf Series." This series of games stand up on your shelf and look like one of those nice hardcover books you used to buy through the mail. This specific game is designed for 1-4 players, ages 8+. It takes 30-45 minutes to play, and it retails for $39.99.

Setup
1. Give each player a score sheet, peg board, six pegs (one of each color), and a pencil.
2. Each player sets his food peg to 3 and the five other pegs to 0.
3. Randomly determine a start player, and have that person put a star on their score sheet, so you can keep track of who gets the last turn in the game.
Game Play - The game is played over a series of rounds, with every player taking a turn each round. On your turn, you may perform all of the following steps, if your dice roll permits you:
1. Roll Dice and Collect Goods or Food - Roll 1 die for each city you possess. (Note: You start with three cities.) In Yahtzee style, you may roll your dice up to three times, but if you ever roll a skull, that die is locked and you cannot re-roll it. After your rolls, you collect goods and food by moving pegs, according to the table in the rule book/on the score sheet.
2. Feed Cities and Resolve Disasters - Each city requires 1 food, so you must subtract 1 food on your pegboard per city. If you can't feed your people, that counts as a disaster and is checked on your score sheet. If your dice show more than 1 skull,  you then resolve this according to the disaster table in the rule book/on your score sheet.
3. Build Cities and/or Monuments - For each worker on your dice, check off a box in a city or a monument. Once you have checked off all the boxes of a particular city, you unlock an extra die/mouth to feed. If you are the first to finish a monument, you get the larger point value for it. For example, the Great Pyramid would be worth 12 to you and 6 to everyone else.
4. Buy a Development - You may purchase one development per turn by spending coins (each coin on the die is worth 7) and/or goods equal to greater than the cost on the score sheet. If you use goods, you have to use all of the goods, not just move the peg back one or two. Also, no change will be given when buying.
5. Discard Goods in Excess of 6 and Pass the Dice - You may only keep six goods total. Example: At the end of your turn, if you are 4 pegs up on wood, 3 on stone, and 1 on pottery for 8 total, you have to bump some combination of your pegs down 2 spots. Play then passes clockwise.

Game End - The game is over at the end of the round (meaning everyone gets the same number of turns) when someone has built five developments or each monument has been built at least once by any of the players.

Scoring - Add points for every development and monument. If you bought Architecture, add 1 point per monument. If you bought Empire, add 1 point per City. Subtract every box checked in the Disasters section. Highest score wins.

Review
This is a very fun civilization building game that uses dice as your tools. The game has an old-time feel to it, because the components are wooden pegboards. This makes the box and the game heavy, but not unwieldy. Because it's a pegboard and there are no cards, you'll have to use your imagination a bit if you are the type who needs art and theme to make a game come to life.

The game play is very simple to learn, teach, and play, but there is a level of strategy and push your luck involved with every roll of the dice. Do you go for extra food this turn or try and build a city to get an extra die to roll? Be careful getting too many cities too quickly, because you're going to have to feed them. I personally prefer to buy building developments for those added bonuses and the protection they provide against disasters. I'm not very lucky with dice rolls, so if there is an ability I can buy that will mitigate bad rolls, you know I'll buy it! Speaking of disasters, it's not all bad news for you if the dice don't fall your way. If you roll three disasters, it will leave you alone and only mess with your opponents. Therefore, if you roll two disasters, it might behoove you to aim for three. You just better hope you don't end up with four.

The biggest complaints about this game are the downtime, lack of player interaction, and a a feeling that the games start to feel the same after so many times playing it. Luckily, there is an expansion, which you can buy for $5 or download for free here. It is called The Late Bronze Ages, and it adds four new developments; makes trading between players a base rule; and puts all the monuments in play no matter how many players there are. These changes took a very good game, and made it into a great game. If you're interested in a civilization-building game with a Yahtzee-style game mechanic, then this is a game, you'll want to check out. Be sure to check out the sequel Roll Through the Ages: The Iron Age.

This game was provided to me for free by Eagle-Gryphon Games in exchange for an honest review.