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In Paleo, players face together the everyday challenges that their common tribe has to deal with: Hunting bison and mammoths, gathering berries, procuring wood and stones, and defending themselves against attacks from wild animals and other dangers. Each player is in charge of his own group of Stone Age people, who have to act both alone and together with the other members of the tribe.

In the evening, around the campfire, they come up with new ideas to make their daily lives easier. Thus, torches, first tools and pieces of clothing are quickly created. But also big dreams and visions help the players with their tasks. The special tasks of the players change in each game. However, the actual goal always remains the same: somehow survive and complete a cave painting of a mammoth, which consists of a total of five parts. The players have to earn each of these parts during the course of the game.

Paleo is played cooperatively. Each player leads a group of people who have different skills. One is good at hunting, another has excellent perception of his surroundings or demonstrates great skill in handling resources. Each of these skills is needed to accomplish the different tasks in Paleo.

Further, each player has an equally large portion of the common deck of cards, one of which is chosen from three cards each round and then revealed. The back of each card shows the location where the player and his group will go. This can be a forest, mountain or river region where hunting and gathering will take place. But the reverse side can also show a campfire or a dream, through which the player can achieve positive effects. For example, they discover new tools or increase the size of their tribe.

What actions each player can perform with his card is then shown on its front. Here the player can see what danger he is currently facing in the area and, most importantly, what skills he needs to fulfill the card. For example, hunting requires a lot of strength, while gathering requires good perception and/or skill. If a player lacks some skills, groups of players can band together and help each other fulfill their cards. Some cards can only be fulfilled once and are then discarded from the game (here graveyard). Others, however, are placed in the open discard pile and return to the game at the end of the round.

A complete round of Paleo always consists of two phases. During the day, all the cards in the deck are played through. Afterwards, people head back to camp and rest. During the night, each member of the tribe must be fed. If this is not possible, the players receive one skull per starving member. After that, the missions of the current game must be fulfilled. There is also one skull per unfulfilled mission. Each skull is placed on a separate night table. At the end of the night, all the discarded cards are shuffled again and distributed evenly to the players. Then a new day begins.

The day and night phases alternate until the players have either received their fifth skull. In this case, they have lost the game of Paelo. The game also ends when the players have completed their cave painting, which is the fifth puzzle piece. In this case, they have won the game together.

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