# Removing the Luck from Stone Age

Stone Age is one of my personal favourite games. The game dynamics are excellent and requires plenty of skill and strategy to win, with the only exception of the dice roll when determining resource.

Has anyone modified the rules to make the game less dependant on the luck of the dice? I find it a shame to lose a game due to luck, rather than skill.

## 4 Answers

Sure, visit the Tool Hut. Tools are explicitly there to negate the luck factor.

Another option is to get more people. There will still be luck in the rolls, but if you put two people on a space instead of one, you'll produce more each time.

I think this thing of skill in games tends to be a little of too much pride and taking the game a bit more serious than it should.

In general I think it's best just to take a high risk once in a while if you think that 'luck' is not going your way; if you loose laugh about it and enjoy the game :)

Onto the house rules to modify results:

• Die result for resources tend not to surprise much because you roll plenty of them; you may have a crazy roll once but if you complete the game it may have not decided it

• The die results that have HUGE variance are the card rolls, where you roll N dice with N being the number of players. That's because you don't roll many of this (4 sets per game?)

For instance if you are 4 players one of you may buy this kind of cards two times in a row and roll 6,1,2,3 then 5,1,2,2. Or better consider 6,5,1,2 and then 6,5,2,2

That seriously affects the game because one or two players get two tools or agriculture level in a row while the other players get one resource. In particular the second player in the later case gets an edge over the other two players for free! (the first player is the one who buys the card)

To lower the variance we have sometimes agreed that in 4 players game the person who buys the card rerolls if two pairs of the result have a difference of 3 or more:

If you roll 6,6,3,3 = reroll because = > 6 - 3 = 3 , 6 -3 = 3. If you roll 6,6,3,4 = don't reroll because => 6 -3 = 3 , 6 -4 = 2. 6,5,1,2 = reroll => 6 - 2 = 4 , 5 -1 = 4.

That way the card MAY STILL be decisive, but with less likeliness. But I have to say that for our games it's still a minor thing

As I was playing it many times with two players only, I wanted to remove as much luck as possible. The tools hut may help, but it hardly does in the first few turns, which might be the most important ones.

I could eliminate most of randomness using this rule:

For resource production use one die only. For each two workers simply count 7 pips without rolling. So for five workers, you get 2*7 pips plus one roll.

I really love this alternative, but it makes the game take longer, since there's a lot of planning involved. But the planning is fun (if you're like me) and using the dice much more rarely saves some time.

I also made two other modifications described on BGG.

• Are you comfortable with quoting those two other modifications in your answer? Link-only content is not reliable in the long term, as that link becomes useless if the link breaks for whatever reason. Aug 4, 2014 at 3:26
• @doppelgreener I'm not sure, if it's a good idea as the other two modifications are unrelated to luck. I added the link as an additional information, that's all. But feel free to quote it if feel like this. Aug 4, 2014 at 5:50
• The first modification described on that BGG link is somebody trying to "fix" the fact that they read the rules wrong. Aug 4, 2014 at 13:27
• @bwarner No, it's just that at the time of posting I didn't recall the rule. And yes, it's no fix. It's just an alternative I really like as it gives you more possibilities while the decisions are still hard. That said, the other two modifications are simpler and more important. Aug 4, 2014 at 14:46

The accepted answer, while correct, is overly brief. Luck can be reduced in several ways in Stone Age, especially when you think in terms of reducing wasted pips (a pip is 1 dot on a die):

When you have no tools, try to concentrate your workers on a single resource each turn. For example, on forest you'll waste 0, 1, or 2 pips on each roll. Your waste per die rolled is 1/7 as much with 7 workers on forest as it is with just 1 worker there. If you spread out your workers with no tools available, you will on average waste more pips.

Once you get to 2 tools, the tactics for minimizing waste change. With 2 tools, you can now split your workers between forest and hunting and never waste more than 1 pip. For example, you can have 1 worker on forest and 1 on hunt. If you roll a 1 or 4 for wood, you use 2 tools. If you roll a 2 or 5 you use 1 tool. If you roll a 3 or 6 you use no tools. So on wood you don't waste a single pip. On the roll for the hunt, you will either waste 1 or 0 pip, as you use the rest of your tools. This logic extends to more expensive resources as you acquire more tools, though you lose tool flexibility once you get past 5 tools because you'll no longer have the option to use just a single pip worth of tool.

In addition to the above, you can acquire temporary tools from civ cards, which also reduce luck for the same reason as tools do.

Combining the above, it is possible to pursue a "tools strategy" where you never increase your population beyond the initial 5. This is the most predictable strategy in Stone Age because you are not relying on more die rolls from population growth, but rather more automatic acquisition of resources from an ever increasing number of tools.

Note that alternative strategies that rely on high population or concentration of civilization card multipliers can rack up very big scores in long games that will easily beat the tools player. So it's important for a player concentrating on tools to try to force the game to be relatively short by drilling down one of the huts before an alternate strategy gets an unstoppably large economic engine.