Prehistories is a light but very enjoyable family game from The Flying Games where players are racing to be the first to place out eight Totem tokens, representing their tribe's achievement in meeting the game's various objectives for the prehistoric art in their cave. It's another of the French games distributed in the UK by Hachette Boardgames.
The setting places each of the 2–5 players at the head of a prehistoric tribe. You have an individual deck of 12 hunter cards – two each of strength 1-6 – and you have an individual player board representing your tribe's cave. There is a central board portraying the area of the hunt. The board has spaces designated for the various polyomino tiles of your prey. For each, there's an indication of the minimum strength needed to hunt (take that tile) while suffering a wound and the higher number needed to hunt without taking a wound. In addition, you'll use 4 or 5 objective cards selected randomly from the nine double-sided cards supplied.
Players start out with three hunter cards drawn from their deck. They decide how many they want to play to go hunting. When players simultaneously reveal, the lowest total value played goes first. Tiles taken are not replenished until the end of the round. When you successfully hunt a tile, you place it in your cave as a cave painting. You'll be using your placement to contribute to achieving objective-scoring patterns. If you don't take any wounds, you get to draw two hunter cards into your hand. If you took a single wound, you pick up just one card. For two or more wounds, you don't get to pick up any hunter cards at all but you pick up three if you didn't collect any tiles.
There's usually a push-your-luck judgement to make about which cards to play. It's good to have a high total strength because it lets you take larger tiles that are likely to help you more towards the Totem-scoring objectives but a high total is likely to mean that others take their turns ahead of you and there could be less available for you to hunt. It can be frustrating to see a tile you are after snatched from under your nose by a rival player but the hand replenishment rules build in some balance and opportunity for catch up. It can even be a potentially winning strategy to forego hunting altogether for alternating turns in order to amass enough cards to snatch the Totem-scoring Legendary Animal tiles.
In parallel with the card play, the options for positioning tiles in your cave offer a pleasing optimisation puzzle game. Tho' there are some objectives that are always equally available to all (collecting a Legendary Animal or completing a row or column), the randomised objectives always give an extra bonus for the player who is first to meet that objective - so you'll want to keep a weather eye on how other players are placing out their cave art.
With Prehistories, Alexandre Emerit and Benoit Turpin have come up with a game with largely intuitive rules and one that can be played and enjoyed by all the family. And the cartoon art by Camille Chaussy further adds to the game's appeal.
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