Full disclosure: A review copy of Paleolithic: Seafarers was provided by Shepherd Kit.
Like I said, I had both expansions and the art’s super good, so here we are.
One last expansion (for now) for Paleolithic! Now you’ll take to the sea to find new sources of trade and whatever else you can find on the open ocean. Thankfully, some knowledge was exchanged as well, and you’ve learned how to upgrade your tribal settlements with new technologies: offensive, cultural, and economic. Will these help you gain an edge over your opponents?
Alright, so a few new things in this one. You’ll set up the game normally, maybe do stuff with the Dawn of Humanity expansion, sure, but let’s talk about what this brings.
First, there’s another new culture, the Shisanhang:
I neglected to mention it in my previous review, but it has its own Animal skill (which I think comes in Dawn of Humanity, sorry), as well as a new, mysterious Upgrade Card:
Lucky for you, every other culture gets their own Upgrade Card as well:
Have each player put three Upgrade tokens (one of each type) on the cards:
Set up the board as normal, but shuffle in the Shisanhang Artifact cards:
They are not very valuable. Oh well! Once you’ve gotten the normal stuff set up, add the new Trading Board:
Add the Ship Token to the end:
There are also Trading cards, all new, so shuffle those and keep them separate:
As usual, there’s another brand-new Legendary Character card, so you can use that as well, if you’d like:
Once you’ve done that, well, you’re ready to go!
So the game plays even more similarly to the base game than the first expansion, in some ways. The real thing that this adds is the Trading cards:
These can only be activated by moving the Ship to the end space on its separate board. How do you do that, you might ask? One of two ways. The first, simplest way, is that the Shisanhang’s Animal Skill is to advance the Ship four spaces, if you’re playing with the Dawn of Humanity’s expansion (adding Animal Skills). If not, well, you need to do something else. So let’s talk about Upgrades.
Your Upgrade Card has three Upgrade tokens on it. As part of the Enhancement Step (which you may or may not remember from my previous review of the Dawn of Humanity expansion), you may now both use an Animal skill and purchase a Tribal Upgrade. Now that’s progress. If you’re only using Seafarers, well, you don’t have Animal skills, so you only get Tribal Upgrades. You have three options, when you buy, and you may only buy one of each:
- Outpost: When another player’s token enters the space with the Tribal token with the Outpost upgrade, they must pay you one food. I assume if they can’t, they cannot enter, though it’s not made explicit.
- Market: After you buy this, you may move the Ship forward the same number of spaces that you roll on a turn that you roll and collect resources. If it lands on the end space, keep it there, but add the Trading cards over the top three Artifact cards. Until they are purchased, the cards underneath cannot be bought and the Ship stays on the end space. Also, you cannot buy a Trading card unless you own a Market Upgrade. Cruel, but fair.
- Hut: In a move that has finally alleviated my Personal Suffering, you can purchase this upgrade to gain the use of the third Caveperson token, which is wonderful news. Like your other Caveperson / animal tokens, you can move it around and gain resources from its presence in rings. That’s exciting!
Beyond that, the game plays as normal.
Player Count Differences
Most of it’s the same as the other two (especially if you’re playing with the Dawn of Humanity expansion).
The interesting interaction comes in with the Market upgrade, since all players can work semi-cooperatively to move the ship towards the Trading Post space. With more players it moves faster, but it becomes less valuable (since you cannot buy on the same turn that you advance the ship, so you might be contributing towards other players’ success if you’re not careful.
In general I tilt a bit towards the lower player count for this game, but I think having higher player counts is pretty interesting for the complex interactions, so, kinda knock yourself out.
Now I’ve got stuff to talk about! Didn’t really last week, but now I do, since this adds such a new major bit of strategy.
- If you’re the Shisanhang, you basically want to get to the Market as quickly as possible. The cards don’t have a particularly high cost, but they’re valuable and you get a bonus for them. Using the new Legendary Character’s ability to turn food into jade may be a helpful avenue towards doing that. Hopefully that works out for you, I suppose.
- A fun thing to do is place your Tribal token at high-traffic junctures and then add the Outpost, forcing your opponents to get food to move through. If they don’t have food, they can’t pay food to move through, and, well, it’s kind of annoying to have to try to get food in order to do other things, especially if your primary source of movement is blocked.
- If you can get the ship to the Trading Post as quickly as possible, then you can use that to lock out your opponents (or significantly reduce their purchase options). Remember: you can only purchase Trading Post cards if you have a Market upgrade. If not, well, then those cards (and the cards below them) are inaccessible until someone with a Market upgrade does purchase those cards. It’s a nice way to block opponents from picking up cards they need, provided that those cards are the top three Artifact Cards. If you wanted to be a bit more take-that-friendly, I imagine you could tweak it such that the player who moves the ship decides which three get covered (and I’d be kinda into that), but either way it’s aggressive.
- If you’re looking to get more food, it’s not explicitly a bad idea to go for the Hut upgrade. Having the extra caveman is nice because you can just … send them to a space and continually roll food, or you can use the extra to buff up a particular location. All good options.
Beyond that, though, the game is mostly the same, so kinda just … do what you normally do.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- I finally know what the third caveperson does. Seriously, it’s been bothering me for like, a few months.
- The new components are still very nice quality. I appreciate that everything is easy to find, pick up, and use, and that they’ve maintained their quality throughout the base game and expansions.
- Nice bit of extra strategic play in this one. It’s definitely an upgrade to the base game, but I like what it adds. Being able to leverage the Trading cards as high-value, low-cost blocking elements is really interesting, and I’m intrigued to try it more and see if there are any uses for it that I haven’t already seen or attempted in previous games. Also the new Legendary Character card is a nice way to turn excess food (which you may get via the Outpost) into useful resources you otherwise can’t get easily.
- The extra upgrades for Tribal tokens are a nice touch. They each add a different effect and while I’m not a huge fan of the Outpost, the others are really quite fun for me. I try to get different ones each game if I feel like they’ll help my strategy to see how they change the feel of it.
- Both expansions fit in the box! That’s so handy.
- I understand why this culture is expansion-locked, but it’s odd to already have the main board prepared for it. You can’t really fully utilize this culture without the expansion, but it’s super confusing when you’re opening up the base game and it has symbols for cultures that aren’t in the box (and a third caveperson token that you don’t know how to use).
- The Shisanhang start pretty far way from the heavy jade production spaces. I know it’s not needed for their Artifact cards but you need it for the Market, and it’s hard to get a Market up and running quickly for them (even though they super benefit from it). It may be worth spreading out pretty quickly to make sure you can access it.
- The spaces aren’t totally big enough for all of the upgrades. Certain spaces (especially the jade producing ones, in my experience) get super crowded with the Upgrade tiles attached to several players’ Tribal tokens. It can be kind of a mess, space-wise.
- I can see a few games happening where the Trading would not occur at all. It already costs a turn to get the Market, and it’s not worth any points, so it’s possible that all players might collectively not bother. If that happens, well, it sort of begs the question of what the point of this all is. I still think there is some utility in the other Upgrades, so they may end up being used, but it’s possible for it to not happen that frequently.
Overall: 8 / 10
Seafarers is really interesting! The additional types of cards are a really interesting way to both score extra points and force opponents into an even tighter spot (especially if you’re getting crushed by rough draws). The new cards are high enough value that you should probably still go for them (even though they may not get you bonuses; they’re relatively cheap and very valuable), and they’re not that easy to acquire (since you have to upgrade a Tribal token and move the ship all the way to the destination), which makes them pretty interesting. I’m also a fan of the Tribal Upgrades and finally finding out what that dang third caveman was for! That has vexed me for … a while. I’m pretty sure I would always play with this expansion in play, if for nothing else than the extra Upgrade interaction mechanics (as they’re pretty interesting and a decent trade-off to consider, since they earn you no points).