Caverna: The Cave Farmers review

Caverna : The Cave Farmers Box Cover

The strategy genre of board games or PC is very popular nowadays. «Mayfair Games» presents us one of its fine projects – «Caverna» board game. It was developed by Uwe Rosenberg from Germany. He became famous for his card game «Bohnanza». It is successful both in Germany and around the world and he also designed «Agricola».
Arts and paintings in this game are made by Klemens Franz from Austria. He is known for his paintings is such games as Agricola (2007), Le Havre (2008), 1853 (Lookout Games Edition, 2009), Agricola: Farmers of the Moor (2009) and , Agricola: Farmers of the Moor (2009) and Orleans (2014)

Inside the box

Here you will find the list of necessary content which is useful for game play:

  • over three hundred wooden pieces for animals, resources and dwarfs
  • over sixty acrylic nuggets for Ore and Ruby
  • sixteen game boards
  • sixteen punchboards with over 400 pieces
  • thirty Cards
  • one score sheet
  • one rulebook
  • one appendix

Caverna Inside The Box

Gameplay

Caverna Two Player Game

In this game you play as the leader of a small family of dwarfs. You live with them in a little cave inside the mountain. You grow the forest near your cave and dig the mountain.

It’s up to you how much ore you want to get. You will need it to craft weapons, which allow you to go on expeditions to gain bonus items and actions. When digging through the mountains, you can come across water sources and find ore, ruby mines and other resources. They will help in increasing your wealth! In front of your cave, you can increase your wealth even more with agriculture: you can cut down the forest to make fields and fence in pastures to grow your animals. In the end, the player with the most developed home board will win the game.
Play this game in solo variant so it will help you to get familiar with the 48 different furnishing tiles for your cave.

Caverna Gameplay

Rules

In this sections we are going to look at the basic features of rules in «Caverna: The Cave Farmers»
Each player chooses a color. Then he takes the Home board and the 5 Dwarfs and 3 Stables of that color. Place 2 out of the 5 Dwarfs side by side in the “Entry-level dwelling” on your Home board. Keep the remaining 3 Dwarfs and Stables next to your Home board as your personal supply.

Then take one of each of the 2 different Overview cards. Randomly determine the player who gets the Starting player token. The Starting player and the player to his left each get 1 Food. The third player gets 2 Food. Each other player gets 3 Food. Your Home board consists of two parts. On the left side, there is a Forest that you will cut down during the course of the game. On the right side, there is a Mountain with an entrance to your cave system, which currently consists of two Caverns. One of these is the “Entry-level dwelling” and has been furnished for 2 Dwarfs and a pair of animals. The other Cavern is still empty, but is ready to be furnished.

Your first two Dwarfs live in the entry-level room of your cave system. If you want to grow your Dwarf family, you will need to add more Dwellings. There are Furnishing tiles for this purpose as you have already seen during setup. Each of your Dwarfs may take one action per round – the available actions are displayed on the game boards. You will place your Dwarfs, one at a time, in clockwise order on Action spaces until all players have placed their Dwarfs on the game boards.

The goal of your actions is to collect Food for your Dwarfs and to develop your Home board to be worth a lot of Gold points at the end of the game. Let us have a look at what you can do with your Home board and what you get Gold points for. Veteran “Agricola” players may be highly interested in what the Weapons are for. In Caverna, your Dwarfs gather Ore to forge Weapons. The strength of a Weapon is determined by the amount of Ore used in the process and is increased by 1 after each Expedition.

Depending on its level, an Expedition may yield 1 to 4 loot items. What these items will be depends on the strength of the Weapon that has been used. A newly forged Weapon can only have an initial strength equal to or lower than 8. This strength can be increased over the course of the game to the maximum strength value of 14. The five phases of a round are:

1. Add a new Action space

At the beginning of each round, turn over the top Action space card and put it on the appropriate space on the basic game boards.

2. Replenish accumulating spaces

Place goods from the general supply on the Action spaces that require them. These Action spaces show an arrow.

3. Work phase

In clockwise order, take turns to place 1 Dwarf per turn on an Action space on the game boards. Then carry out the actions on that space. Each Action space may only be occupied by a single Dwarf.

4. Return home

After all Dwarfs have been placed on Action spaces, return your Dwarfs to their Dwellings.

5. Harvest time

At the end of most of the rounds, there is a harvest: collect Grain and Vegetables, feed your family, and breed your animals.

Each of the 12 rounds goes through five phases that are played one after another in the order described here. The game ends at the end of round 12. Use the scoring pad to determine the final scores. There are several different categories for which you can get Gold points. The player who has the most Gold points wins the game.

For more information about the cards, rounds and etc. please consult the rulebook.

Comparing with «Agricola»

Caverna Solo Game

Following the same ideas as «Agricola», «Caverna: The Cave Farmers» is a game with worker-placement elements. It also focuses on farming. You begin the game with a farmer and his family. Each family member represents an action that the player should take each turn.

«Caverna: The Cave Farmers» has a playing time of about 30 minutes per player and in «Agricola» it is from 30 till 60 minutes per player. It is a complete redesign of «Agricola» that substitutes the card decks from the previous game with a set of buildings with adding the ability to buy weapons and send your farmers on missions to gain more resources. Uwe Rosenberg says that the game includes parts of «Agricola», but also it has some new ideas. For example, it’s the cave which is the part of your game board, where you can build mines and search for rubies and other useful resources. The game also has two new animals: dogs and donkeys.

F.A.Q

In this sections we are going to take a look at the most frequent questions about game play, rules and cards in «Caverna : The Cave Farmers».

Q: Are the rules and cards in English or German? I see the entire description is in English, but the pictured cover of the box is in German.

A: The rules are multilingual and also they are actually very clear as well.

Q: Is this the first or second version?

A: It has only been one version so far. We don’t know if there are any updates or expansions. The game is the best one out there…10 times better than its predecessor «Agricola».

Q: Is solo play fun, or is it dull? I’m not sure my family would like this game so solo might end up the only way it gets played.

A: It won’t be a good option if you are just intending to play it solo, you won’t get the full experience. There are better solo games out there like «Eldritch Horror».

Q: Is picture shown the actual cover of the box received?

A: Yes, it is.

Q: Agricola vs Caverna if money were no object, which would you choose and why?

A: «Caverna» is a better-balanced game. A lucky or unlucky draw of a card in Agricola can completely unbalance the game. That can’t happen in «Caverna». «Caverna» is more of an enjoyable game.

Caverna Final Scoring

Youtube

Conclusion

«Mayfair Games» created the remarkable game which is really interesting to play! You will have to develop your farm and help your dwarf family to become wealth and happy. One of the most interesting economical strategies you’ve ever played. You can buy it on Amazon, follow the link.