Author Topic: Caverna: Cave vs Cave - photos, mini review and impressions  (Read 1178 times)

Offline franks

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Caverna: Cave vs Cave - photos, mini review and impressions
« on: October 01, 2017, 11:56:44 AM »


Designer: Uwe Rosenberg
Artist: Klemens Franz, Uwe Rosenberg
Publisher: 999 Games, Crowd Games, Lookout Games, Ludofy Creative, Mayfair Games
Playing time: 20 – 40 minutes.
BGG - Weight / complexity 2.41 (/5)
https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/220520/caverna-cave-vs-cave

This is just a summary of the game and my impressions after a few plays.

First off I wanted to mention that Caverna still sits on my ‘wall’ of shame and has yet to hit the table. I still have hopes of that happening one fine day.

Similarly I played the two-player, Agricola: All Creatures Great and Small well before I ever got Agricola to the table, (and still kind of prefer the smaller iteration, though I do enjoy the full game).

I’ve previously mentioned that I’m an Uwe fan boy and this new title doesn’t disappoint. If anything, Uwe seems to be refining some of his designs to be concise and more economical.

That kind of sums up this game in a not shell, economical, not only is the game reasonably priced due to its striped down components but the design is really bare bones. Though I have seen positive reviews I still wasn’t sure the game would deliver. So far, I am enjoying the experience.

The game is really dead simply. Buy Tiles (rooms), add them to your cave, (player board). Each tile has a point value. Those points are added to your gold value and the player with the most point’s wins! In this game you are not farmers but Dwarves trying to get ahead in your own little world. Of course there is a little bit more to the game than that but that is it in a nutshell.


Full game set up

Like ‘Gric (and I’m sure Caverna), you use other goods in the game to collect said tiles. The other resources are Gold, Emer (AKA Wheat), Flax, Stone and the ever present Wood and Food.

Food is a primary requirement to build or furnish the cave with a tile. There is usually another cost of resources to actually place the tile in your tableau, (like wood or stone). Once the tile is placed it also serves an ongoing bonus when other certain actions are taken.

Resources are tight in this game. The parent Caverna is usually described as being wide open and not as tight as Agricola but to me Cave vs Cave is much more like my experience of the ‘Gric series of games. Actions can also be really tight. Some Action tiles are very scarce, if another player chooses that tile before you get a chance you might not be able to take that specific action until the next turn.

The economy is also brilliantly realized in the simplicity of components. Where All Creatures still has a load of components, (that fit into a small box,) this has been simplified with only one of each resource that is moved along a track to keep count.


Player board.
Note tiles that are placed face down. These need to be excavated and uncovered before rooms can be built to take their place. Tiles that are excavated on the player boards are moved to the available tile area for both players to buy if possible.


Though the primary mechanism on BGG is worker placement you don’t have workers in this game, instead you choose an action tile from the Action board and take it off the board for that turn. I would describe this as an Action Selection mechanism but then I’m not a game designer, so what do I know!?


The Action board is the heart of the game. The tiles above of the action board are the available rooms or features that are available to purchase. The face up tiles on the action board is the available actions at the start of the game.


Sample of rooms or furnishing tiles available at the start of the game:
The cost and cave placement requirement is mid area of the tile.
Building these features not only gains the points at the end of the game for the upper number in the shield but you can also gain the bonuses featured on the bottom of the tile through the game, (this is not explained here – see full rule set).


The action board is also the timer in the game. Each round a new tile and action is uncovered. Play goes on until all the actions are turned over.


Close up view of some of the action tiles.
The Excavate tile allows you gain a stone and remove one or two tiles from your board. These tiles get added to the available features to buy and opens up space to place those features in your tableau.
Undergrowth allows you to take an action available on you tableau (not explained here – see rule set) and gain 2 wood.
Cultivate is similar to Undergrowth but increases your Emer and Flax
Housework is the action tile that allows you to build or furnish rooms in your cave. The primary cost for this action is food.


So, in the end does one really need yet another game in the ever growing Uwe pantheon? Maybe not but what this delivers for me is a game that is easy to set up and play with meaningful decision making. It might not be too far a description to say this title is what Patchwork (played) is to A Feast for Odin, (also on wall of shame). I look forward to more play time.

I think there are several good plays in the box and there is already speculation that there could be mini expansions on the way. This could simply be added tiles, as was the case with ‘All Creatures’ or I could see adding other game features to the striped design in hopes of keeping game fresh.

My two plays have been close, a loss of 44 / 47 and a win of 50 / 47. Both these games were with other first time players. The first game was last weekend with a Pal at a local game Con and the other just last evening with my wife.

If there is one negative point on the game, while the resource track is a clever way to keep the overall came cost down, it can be a little fiddly when resources get bunched together, (like at the start of the game). This hasn’t been too bad to deal with but I do wish the tableau board were just a bit larger. The game includes alternate smaller cardboard tokens to replace the wood pieces but I would find them harder to distinguish on the board.

Some have said (including Rhado) that the game is too cut throat but I don’t see that. It is a competitive game and wouldn’t say this was any worse than most ‘worker placement’ games.




Misc. pieces.
The start / turn order player token.
Wall sections, that can be built in the cave area, (there are only 7 in the game).
The large cave piece is given to the player that is first to fully furnish their cave dwelling. It is two-sided and would allow one more room to be built.
The tiles with the Roman numerals are just used to keep track when players take many bonus actions in a turn, (this is not explained here – see rule set for complete game details).


Linkback: http://www.carcassonnecentral.com/community/index.php?topic=3564.0
« Last Edit: October 01, 2017, 12:00:10 PM by franks, Reason: clarity »
Franks

Wanna play Carc? Can we add just one more expansion?

Offline Decar

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Re: Caverna: Cave vs Cave - photos, mini review and impressions
« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2017, 02:38:57 AM »
Great to see another mini-review from you Franks.  It's been a while.  This looks quite fun.  I'd probably try before I purchased though as I'm not familiar with Caverna or Agricola.  The components and resources look 'the business' though!

Offline franks

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Re: Caverna: Cave vs Cave - photos, mini review and impressions
« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2017, 09:40:23 PM »
Thanks Decar,

Hopefully the collective reviews are found to be helpful!

Offline Decar

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Re: Caverna: Cave vs Cave - photos, mini review and impressions
« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2018, 05:27:17 AM »
I got Cave vs Cave for my birthday back in May, we played it the same day we got it.
We both really liked it - I agree about the simplicity of the mechanics, it hit a good spot for us.  The 2nd era is being released at Essen Spiel.

Yesterday we played Agricola ACBnS - we didn't feel the same way at all.  Everything felt claustrophobic, zero interactions, even in a WP game.  I get that clever placement of fences is important, but 8 rounds seemed artificially too short and one misplacement can be very very expensive.  I didn't get this feeling when playing CvC.  I also found the arrow places in ACBnS to be a nuisance to refill.  I hope we get chance to give it another go and improve the engine, but why would I when Cave vs Cave is available?

Offline franks

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Re: Caverna: Cave vs Cave - photos, mini review and impressions
« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2018, 05:50:12 PM »
I see your point though I think they are very different beasts. I also think if Uwe were to do 'Creatures' all over again, he might now have a different take on the game. He might have evolved his thoughts on a micro game or maybe this is a progression in his (devolution) design  :o  ;D

'Creatures' is the 1st 'Gric' iteration my wife and I played and had a good number of games. I never really saw this as a light game. Even now, I think if I go through the effort we might as well play the full game set. I'm sure Uwe was trying to keep that tight, stressful experience of the Big game.

CvC is so easy and light that it fits that slot of a filler, where 'Creatures' is a bigger game in a smaller box. So I still have a soft spot for the game but also unlikely to get play time, maybe for different reasons!

While I really like CvC, I'm really looking forward to the expansions to freshen up the game a bit.


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