Classic Mode is the original way of playing the game. There are two teams; Predators and Prey.
To begin, an equal amount of each team is added to a Profile deck, then shuffled well. Each player gets a face down Profile, totally secret and face-down on the table. These Profiles contain the character name, time period they're from and what kind of animal they are. The Profile also contains bolded ability text that activates once revealed (flipped over). Players can reveal at any time, though keeping yourself secret has benefits...
An additional lifespan card is given to each player, allowing them to track their Lifespan from 13 at the start to 0 (Extinct). Once a player goes Extinct, they are totally out of the game. Any cards they have are discarded, and it's up to their team to go on without them.
Following this, the Ochre and Action decks must be shuffled. Players can then draw 3 Action cards each to start.
Alongside Classic Mode, the Apex Mode and Disaster Mode act to either speed up or slow down the game. In Apex Mode, Hugh the man allows for an odd number of players and a boss-like experience. The only catch is that the game can't end until Hugh is extinct. Since Hugh could be anyone, this adds more confusion to the mix...
A Disaster represents an environmental or biological threat to the players from the same time period as their characters. The current Disaster, The Berg, is a glacier that helps whittle down the number of players as it encroaches, changing up the flow of game as it speeds up and slows down. Much like the expanding and receding glaciers of the Ice Age, this card adds chaos and helps move the game along with the threat of encroaching doom.
So how do you go about finding your targets and wiping them out?
Turns start with an Ochre. Ochre is a mineral used by cave artists thousands of years ago to portray their world, the animals they saw, and their rituals. In Fossil Fracas, Ochre is used to figure out what team each player is on.
An Ochre may be drawn, read by the current player, and then handed to another face down. As the Ochre remains secret, the receiving player must admit whether the card affects them or not, and then must carry out the course of events written on the card without reading aloud. As only those two players will know the results of the Ochre, it's up to everyone else to figure out who's who by their responses!
After the Ochre comes Action. Action cards are drawn in hands of 3, and allow for players to move against their suspects. Once a player knows who their target is (or if they've guessed), they may play Action cards once per turn to reduce, increase or alter Lifespan across the board! Some Actions let the whole table make a decision, some Actions can be played any time after another Action, and some Actions just benefit or detriment one player.
At the end of this Action "Phase", a player must draw until they have at least 3 cards in hand. Once they have drawn, the turn ends and passes on to the next player! The game ends once all players on either the Predators or Prey are Extinct. If Hugh is added to the game, then Hugh must be Extinct, or the Predators and Prey must both be Extinct. The last team standing wins!
Showdown is a competitive variant of Not-So-Nice Age designed for 2 players, but able to accommodate up to 4 with the base game.
For 2 players with 1 copy of the base game, players begin by choosing 3 Profiles 1 by 1. This is known as drafting, where all cards in the set are part of a pool. Once each player has 3 Profiles, the same process is repeated with Actions until each player has 20. These Profiles are placed face down in any order, while the Actions are shuffled into their own deck.
For up to 4 players with 1 copy of the game, Each player chooses 2 Profiles and 10 Actions instead.
Each player begins with the 3 Profiles in front of them, face down. The Action decks are then shuffled and placed to the right of their player's Profiles. Each player should note where their discard pile will be. Next, a Lifespan card is placed to the left of each player's Profiles. All players start at 13 lifespan and must denote this by placing a marker on the card. Lifespan may not exceed 13, and a player is Extinct and out of the game once they fall below 1 lifespan.
Players should then decide who goes first, and then draw 3 Action cards. On their turn, a player may play an Action or reveal a Profile unless otherwise stated. Players may otherwise discard any number of cards. Players then end their turn by drawing until they have at least 3 cards in hand. Players may not pass their turn without doing any of the previously stated actions if possible.
If a deck would be depleted during play, the discard pile must be shuffled into a new deck if possible. If a player has all of their cards in their hand, they do not draw a card.
The last remaining player or team to continue play without going Extinct wins the game. If playing with 4 or more players, teams may be decided before playing. Any cards that state they "win" with a certain type do not cause a victory if all Profiles are of that type.
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