Another week, another gaming session In Halesowen. Wait, but it’s 2 weeks since I last posted about one…I’m afraid it was my Mum’s Birthday, so I was at my Grandma’s for the evening =)
I just want to apologize for my lack of names again. I really should know them by now, but will have to suffice with waiting for Dave D’s post again and editing my post accordingly ^^.
I only had time for one game this week, as it was a big one, with roughly a million components, which is to say it was Caverna: The Cave Farmers. When me & my friend Chris (Handy) arrived, there was already a group setting up to play, but as there was a few of us interested we set up a separate game with my copy. While the other group were going for the advanced game (Lots more furnishing tiles) we went with the beginner version with a few less for teaching purposes (I’m in no rush for over-stressing myself with extra things to teach until I’ve played a lot with the reduced options ^^).
So what’s the game about? Well, if you’ve played Agricola, then apparently it’s quite similar (I never have, but 2 people at the table have and had many ‘ah yeah that’s the same’ moments). In Caverna you’re using a small family of dwarves (workers) to manage a small farm, alongside a mining setup digging a starting cave into a mountain as their home. Throughout the game players can gather animals and crops on the farm side, and dig tunnels, furnish useful rooms and create mines in the cavern side of their personal board.
To play, each player puts down their workers in turn on a variety of action spaces that let them gather resources, clear land, dig tunnels or go adventuring. Each round new actions become available, drawn from a semi-randomized deck, making new possibilities come available for their dwarves. After 12 rounds, the game ends and players count up how many victory points they’ve accumulated to work out who the ultimate winner is of the game.
In our game, we all took fairly different paths throughout the game. Handy went for a fairly early focus on building up his farmland and getting a lot of crops, Gordon seemed to focus on building up everything as a whole and filling space (You get -ve points at the end of the game for not using all of the available space) and player-3 grabbed a couple of early resource-generating furnishings and spent a lot of the game trying to work out how to use his massive stockpile.
Through to the middle of the game, I felt convinced Handy’s strategy would come out best, as we could all see his huge amount of fields and stacks of grain & vegetables. Early-Middle I got a weapon for one of my dwarves and struggled to find much use for it, but stuck with it and got a weapon for my second dwarf too, partly to block Steve from getting his own (I wanted as few of the others having a good weapon as possible or it would have become a bad route to take). Gordon made good use of a furnishing (or 2?) he had that reduced the cost of things he built, so he got a lot of fields/furnishings placed to make best use of it. Steve had only caves at this point, having ignored his farm side, but started going for extra workers (Gordon did too) so went to work on getting it into a useful state.
The game progressed with Handy sticking to 2 workers to keep feeding cheap while keeping his farm going, while getting some cave tiles just to fill up the space, but having very few furnishings (Other than to make wheat/veg more effective and worth more points). Gordon & Steve put a lot of work into getting more workers, with Steve also getting a lot of rubies along the way. Steve was my strongest competition for adventures, but as a result of his having more workers, I could easily take the better adventure spots on the board and that became my primary route to getting things. Myself and Gordon built up very animal-heavy farms, with his having a lot of sheep and mine being quite varied. Gordon used a lot of time trying to get food for his huge work force (5 in the end).
I’m not sure how everyone compared in individual scoring points, but we somehow managed to finish with a 3 way tie for first place! Me, Gordon & Steve had 76 points to Handy’s respectable 61. I think Handy hurt his chances a bit by not getting an extra worker or two – He had the best setup to feed them for a long time and pretty much just stockpiled them rather than make use of them. My strategy managed to pay off in the end, as I netted the level 4 adventure space every round since it came out and managed to built pretty much everything up from them. Gordon finished with a very all-rounder farm with his 5 workers, and Steve ended up quite spread too, with perhaps a weaker farm than everyone else, but a complete cave and a nice number of straight gold points he’d gathered.
All in all the game was a huge amount of fun. I’m glad that I was able to take a route that didn’t require a ton of workers, while being equal to someone with a heavy cave focus and someone going all round. I think the tie really speaks to this games balance in that we did very different things to come out so similar on points. Absolutely brilliant, I’m happy I brought Caverna along with me and had 3 great people to play with for my first multiplayer game (Done a couple solo to learn the rules). Thanks guys!
Thanks for reading, and be sure to check out my last post about some awesome kickstarter projects running at the moment, they’re all pretty damn cheap ($3 minimum on one of them!) and look great. Till next time! =)