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Stone Age Review: Does It Pass the Colorblind Test?

Updated on March 20, 2017
Stone Age by ZMan Games
Stone Age by ZMan Games

My husband and I are board game enthusiasts. Our collection totals more than 120 games. When considering a new game, we prefer that it plays well with two people. It must have a theme and a mechanic that we both enjoy. Because my husband is colorblind, our board game purchases are also guided by how well a game plays for people who are colorblind. The rest of this article will focus on that.

Understanding Colorblindness

For the unfamiliar, colorblindness is more like blurry vision than the ability to not see any color at all (except for a small percentage - monochromacy/achromatopsia). Generally, for those who are nearsighted, a small letter “E” far away is hard to discern, and a giant letter “E” up close is easy to discern. Similarly, someone with red/green deficiency (deuteranopes) may have a hard time discerning a small red swatch far away, but close up it can be clearer. There is a wide spectrum of blurry vision problems, as there is also with color blindness. This review will discuss how colors are used in the game Stone Age, and how much colorblindness (deuteranomalous) affects gameplay.

Stone Age - A Strategy Board Game

In Stone Age, players collect wood, break stone, wash their gold from the river, trade freely, expand their village and so on to achieve new levels of civilization. With a balance of luck and planning, the players compete in this pre-historic time. Let’s take a look at the components and discuss how being colorblind affects game play.

Player Pieces

Each player begins the game with 5 active villagers and the potential to grow their clan by 5 more. In addition, the player has a score cube and an agriculture cube that stay on the main board. The player colors in Stone Age are the standard blue, yellow, red, and green.

Stone Age Player Pieces in Blue
Stone Age Player Pieces in Blue

The game works by placing your active workers onto ovals on the main board. Once the ovals in and area are full (a maximum of seven), then no more can be placed. After each player has placed all of their active workers on the main board, players take turns (in turn order) completing all of their actions. A color blind player will minimize most issues with the game if they select a color they can distinguish from the others. Someone with severe red/green colorblindness that selects red could have issues determining if the pieces on one spot are green or red. They would need to remember exactly where they placed their workers each round. The easiest way to avoid this is to give the colorblind player the blue pieces.

Stone Age Player Pieces on Action Spots
Stone Age Player Pieces on Action Spots

Agriculture & Scoring

Stone Age has a scoring track on the main board that is used throughout the game. A colorblind player may mistake which player has which score. If green scores 15 points, they could move the red cube. The easiest solution is to allow other players to man the scoring track. During the game, it’s helpful to know the score for each player, but it is not super critical. From our experience, a great deal of the points come from end game bonus cards anyway. It seems more important for the player to play their game, than try and catch up to a specific color that is a few points ahead of them.

The Agriculture track is used to determine how much food you don’t need to pay at the end of the round. It's like a discount. A player primarily needs to know what their own level is. Having trouble separating the other players’ pieces should not affect an individual player"s game play.

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Stone Age agriculture trackStone Age scoring track
Stone Age agriculture track
Stone Age agriculture track
Stone Age scoring track
Stone Age scoring track

Resources

There are five main resources in Stone Age: wood, bricks, stone, gold, and food. Food is represented by round cardboard chips with numbers and won't be confused with the wooden resources. Each of the other four resources are dramatically different shapes, and a player would be hard pressed to confuse one for the other, even if colorblind. The resources are also represented on cards and huts with symbols that are not too difficult to discern.

There is a wild symbol in the game that represents any one resource. It has colors that match the resources, but the symbol is unique enough that not having a direct connection to the resource shapes does not present a challenge.

Resources in Stone Age
Resources in Stone Age

Summary

Stone Age is a fun worker placement game that works well for two players, as well as three or four. Unfortunately, the player pieces are all the same shape and are only discernible by color. Despite that, colorblind issues seem to primarily affect score keeping, rather than game play. The only way the game designers could have improved the game for colorblindness would be to use black and white instead of red and green for the player pieces. Overall, though, the game can be played pretty easily even with colorblindness.

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