When comparing Splendor vs Stone Age, the Slant community recommends Splendor for most people. In the question“What are the best board games for beginners?” Splendor is ranked 3rd while Stone Age is ranked 8th. The most important reason people chose Splendor is:
The basics of the game are very straightforward and easy. You can start playing in a matter of minutes, which is great for absolutely everyone – young and old, experienced and new. The game begins from the youngest player and continues clockwise. In their turn the players can perform one of three actions: take three different gems, take two gems of the same color, reserve a development card and take a gold gem, or purchase a development card. All development cards give permanent gem bonuses for later buys and some cards give prestige, which is required to win. Prestige is also gained from nobles, which can be attracted if specific conditions are met. The game enters the last round when a player reaches 15 points. The game is won by the player with the most points after this round.
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Pro Easy to learn
The basics of the game are very straightforward and easy. You can start playing in a matter of minutes, which is great for absolutely everyone – young and old, experienced and new.
The game begins from the youngest player and continues clockwise. In their turn the players can perform one of three actions: take three different gems, take two gems of the same color, reserve a development card and take a gold gem, or purchase a development card. All development cards give permanent gem bonuses for later buys and some cards give prestige, which is required to win. Prestige is also gained from nobles, which can be attracted if specific conditions are met.
The game enters the last round when a player reaches 15 points. The game is won by the player with the most points after this round.
Pro Can be played aggressively or peacefully
The game is suited for both playstyles mostly due to the card reserving mechanic. This is great because you can adjust to the company you are playing with, whether they want to be fully competitive and try to deny each other’s plays or laid back and just watch the empires grow without interfering.
You can reserve a card to use it later or, even better, so your opponents can’t use it. You also get a “wild” gold piece, which can substitute any color required in buildings. You can have a maximum of three cards reserved at once.
Pro Good for beginners
The game’s rules are easy to grasp, but Splendor also features quite a bit of depth and strategy, which makes this a great gateway option for people just getting into board games, even children.
Pro Scales well
The game plays very well in the designated 2-4 player range. It has some nuances that depend on the number of players, for example, the amount of coins and nobles in play.
It’s possible to go past the 4-player maximum by getting another copy for more coins. Another solution would be to add something like poker chips or other types of coins to the game.
Pro Fine-looking artwork
Splendor’s artwork is follows a Renaissance theme and is quite detailed and beautiful. The cards of the game feature depictions of ships, gem mines, and shops from the era. The coins are colorful and have stickers on them representing the type. There are also portraits of historical figures on the noble cards, for example, Henry VIII, Isabel of Castile, and Elisabeth of Austria.
Pro Satisfying to see progression
It’s enjoyable to watch your trading empire grow. The game starts slowly with you gathering gems to create some basic buildings and futureproofing yourself, by the end of the game there’s quite a lot of cards on the playing surface. You can also get points for attracting nobles to your side by getting a specific combination of gem cards, which gives you a building direction and a goal to work towards.
Pro Easy and accessible
Stone Age is a game suited for people of all ages and gaming backgrounds because it’s easy to learn and it provides quite a bit of strategic depth. The basic gist of Stone Age is easy – there are three phases in a round: placing workers, resolving actions, and feeding the tribe.
Players take turns placing their workers on empty spaces on the gameboard, signified by circles. There are resource areas, special areas, civilization cards, and hut tiles. There can’t be more workers than circles in an area.
After all the workers are distributed, players resolve actions in any order they choose. Depending on where you placed your workers, you either roll dice for resources or receive other bonuses in from special areas – tools, civilization cards, buildings, food generation, etc.
When all actions are complete, players must feed their tribes. This is done by returning the food resource to the pile. You pay one food per worker. If you generate food from the agriculture area, then you subtract that amount from the total.
Pro Beautiful aesthetics and theme
The visual design of Stone Age is very detailed and thematic. Both the artwork and the components look great and highly compliment the gameplay.
The gameboard and the player sheets feature stunning artwork of prehistoric scenery, the first player token is a silly drawing of a sitting chieftain, and the cards have some thematic nuances – stone tablets, figurines, prehistoric boats, etc. The resource tokens resemble what they’re supposed to be – food, wood, gold, bricks, and stone. The player tokens are colorful and patterned meeples.
Since dice rolling is a big part of the game, the components surrounding this have been made to look amazing – the dice are wood, and the pips are engraved. There’s a leather dice cup, which is a really nice thematic touch.
Pro Highly replayable
Each game of Stone Age will turn out differently. Obviously, your dice rolls are going to lead to different results, and the buildings and civilization cards you draw are going to be in a new order.
There are many paths to victory, you can always try a different strategy. Best part is, no strategy is superior, you get points from many things, so don’t be afraid to experiment.
Con Very poor component quality in newer editions
The game used to be widely complimented on the great overall quality of the coins and other pieces, but the materials changed in 2014. All the printings since then have reduced quality – chips are very lightweight and sometimes the color seems off, and all the components have a cheap feel to them.
Con Luck of the draw
The building cards that are drawn from the decks are random, which means that the game can often boil down to top-decking a building that’s either very valuable or completely worthless to you or an opponent. The nobles are random as well, but they won’t impact the game as critically – they are there just to direct you to a goal.
Con Luck dependant
At its core Stone Age is a dice rolling game. You choose what you’re rolling for and how many dice you’re going to use when sending workers to a resource gathering space, and your roll will impact what you get. Some civilization cards also include dice rolling to decide which players get what resource.
The number is always rounded down, for example, if you sent two workers to gather wood, you’d roll two dice. One piece of wood costs 3. If you rolled 8 in total, then you’d get only two pieces of wood and you’d be missing one more pip.
Con Can be quite long
Depending on the number of players, the game can take 1 to 2 hours to play through, which is alright for more experienced board gamers, but it can be a big turn-off for new players or children who might lose their enthusiasm as the game progresses.
The game has been out of stock for a few years. Wherever the copies of the game are available, they cost quite a lot. The price varies from $40 to $70, depending on the seller.