Epoch: Early Inventors is very thematic and tries to stay as close to reality as possible.
Before starting the game you build a landscape of hexagonal playing cards and holy places.
In your turn you can carry out 1 action and/or develop 1 card and/or offer to 1 holy place.
You can choose between the following actions: gather food, fish (for food), hunt for deer, butcher deer, explore adjacent cards or work to get raw material.
You need food to move around the game board and develop cards. Gathering food and fishing are basically the same actions, but depending on the tools you have, the one action might give you more food than the other.
You need raw materials to develop cards and offer to the holy places. Sometimes raw materials can help you to heighten the proceeds of actions. The action “Work” can get you raw materials. The type of landscape you are currently standing on determines how much work it is to get hold of a certain raw material. Raw materials used in the game are: wood, flax, stone, flint, clay and iron ore.
Butchering animals can not only get you food, but also skins, bones and tendons.
Exploring cards adds to your status. It also opens up more cards to be developed.
To develop a card, you need to “pay” the food and materials depicted on the card.
Once you have developed a card, you can use the tool, equipment or knowledge of this card to your advantage. E.g. Rope Making allows you to turn 2 flax into 3 ropes. Sowing gives you 2-4 extra food, when gathering food. An axe makes it easier to chop wood.
By cleverly using your own cards and those of your opponents, you try to offer materials to as many holy places as you can, thereby increasing your status even more.
After 14-20 rounds the game is over. The player that has collected the most status has won.