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Put aside your smartphone and your tablet computer. How well would you have survived in a more primitive era? Well, MAGE's game Hoyuk is hardly a simulation, but it'll give you a flavour of the struggle for existence in a harsh and unforgiving world...

Set in the Stone Age players place three buildings out on the board each turn. Two of these will always be houses but the other will be either another house, an animal pen, a shrine, an oven, cattle or villagers - as determined by an action tile. Houses must either start a new settlement or must be adjacent to an existing house. Pens must be adjacent to a house. Shrines, Ovens and Villagers are placed in houses and Cattle are placed in pens. Settlements are only scored when they contain houses belonging to more than one player, so players are forced to co-operate. Don't be fooled, however. Hoyuk is more cutthroat than co-operative because scoring goes to those with the most of a specified element within each settlement.

Life in the Stone Age was beset with trials and tragedies. Hoyuk represents this by inflicting on players a Catastrophe card each turn. This will affect either the settlement with the most or fewest of a specified feature; for example, one of the Fire cards specifies that all residents in the settlement with the most ovens must dismantle half their houses.

The Catastrophes introduce considerable randomness into what is otherwise quite a strategic game, but an easy house rule is to reveal the upcoming Catastrophe at the start of a turn, or even during the turn ahead, so players can try to use their actions to mitigate its impact.

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