Prehistories Is A Gorgeous Tile-Laying Board Game For Anyone Who Loves Competition

Prehistories Is A Gorgeous Tile-Laying Board Game For Anyone Who Loves Competition
Image: Kotaku Australia
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Prehistories is a game all about hunting wild creatures and creating tile-based cave paintings of your hunt. It’s backed by phenomenal art, a very easy to learn gameplay system, and a whiff of strategy that’ll spice up the competition between any players.

If you’re in the mood for a tile-laying adventure or a board game you can just setup and dive in with immediately, Prehistories has you covered.

Setup

how to play prehistories
Image: Kotaku Australia

Setup for Prehistories is super easy because everything is colour or number coded. To kick off, you lay out the game board (there’s two sides which can be used, depending on how many players you have) and each player (2-5) grabs a cave board, a deck of cards, eight totem tokens, a hunter painting and two totemic animals of one colour.

Then, you lay animal tiles on the game board in each ‘hunting area’ of the map (the shadows will show you what kinds of animal tiles to place). This forms your basic hunting grounds where all players will be vying to gather tiles to ‘paint’ them on their cave walls.

From there, you draw 4-5 objective cards (based on the number of players), and the action is ready to begin.

Gameplay

prehistories board game gameplay
Image: Kotaku Australia

Prehistories is all about gathering animal tiles to form a pattern on your cave board. These mark the ‘hunts’ your tribe will go on over the course of the game. You begin each round by drawing one or more cards from your deck (secretly) and sending them out on a ‘hunt’.

Whichever player’s deck has the lowest score (found in the top left corner of the card) will go first — but where you can hunt is determined by how high your score is. So you’ll want to balance power with speed to land on your chosen hunting ground and claim the cave painting best suited for your cave wall.

When you arrive in a hunting spot, you can gather the tiles placed there and relocate them into your personal cave. By forming particular patterns (determined by the objective cards and game goals), you’ll be able to discard your Tokem tokens, with the ultimate goal of the game being to discard all of your supply.

Goals change each game (based on cards drawn), and players will need to pay attention to the set rules to ensure they discard as many tokens as possible while they build their cave art.

The first player to meet card-based goals will be allowed to discard two tokens, while everyone else can only discard one — so there’s advantages to being quick, spotting the fastest way to create the winning patterns and paying strategic attention to which hunting grounds you visit.

This system means the game can be highly competitive, as well as frustrating when other players claim animal paintings before you’re able to get to them. But hey, if you’re the one dishing out the punishment it’s a very satisfying time.

Speed is key here, and if you’ve played other tile-laying games like Azul you’ll have an advantage here. The strategy for Azul is quite similar to Prehistories, but there are small quirks like the hunting ground system which makes it more engaging and more exciting from a narrative perspective.

Like Azul, it may take you some time to master the art of the game and find the best ways to build out your cave painting, but once you’ve got the knack for it, Prehistories can really heat up.

It’s also worth shouting out the art here. This is one beautiful board game, and every tile feels solid and well-finished. With some board games, you may get loose cardboard edges or cards that feel scratchy, but everything here is top-notch quality. The artwork is stylish and vibrant, the boards are well-designed, and every part of the game just works.

While this doesn’t directly influence gameplay, it does mean Prehistories is a very pleasant game to play and look at, and one that’ll look attractive on any board game shelf.

Final Verdict

prehistories board game review
Image: Kotaku Australia

Prehistories is a board game with a simple but interesting main mechanic — and there’s plenty of replayability in the box. It means every time you set up the game, there’ll be new and interesting quirks to conquer. It does mean relying on a single strategy is impossible, but it also shakes up gameplay in a way that makes every round feel fresh and exciting.

Games can go for a long time if you get stuck making decisions (you’ll want to place your tiles in an exact order) but if you’re hanging out with the right group of people, it can also be a fast-paced, wonderfully cutthroat time.

Prehistories requires you to think deeply about all your moves, and as you play you’ll find deeper strategies emerging. There’s something here for competitive players, and plenty for those who prefer a more relaxing adventure. It means everyone should have fun with Prehistories, whether you end up winning or not.

The gorgeous artwork and engaging gameplay will soften the blow of any losses as you forge your path to victory.

This is one board game that deserves a place on your shelf.

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