Thursday, 5 January 2017

Caverna laugh?

The first fixture of the year looked destined to be a washout with seven no-shows due to an illness which may have spread at Christmascon. But Joe wasn't about to let GNN falter after all these years and made the icy trek to Easton to entice Adam and Hannah into a game of Caverna.

The lengthy setup and rules explanation was only toddler-interrupted a handful of times, and we got down to the business of dwarven dwelling development, daring deeds, dirt digging and drift mining soon after 8.30. The game has you develop a smallholding featuring sheep, pigs, donkeys, cows, wheat and pumpkins (to feed your family and score points); mine a mountain for ore (to equip adventurers) and rubies (to do almost anything you want); and send your dwarves on strictly non-perilous yet somehow exciting adventures to bring back such things as wood, stones, sheep, cattle, cheap fencing and interior decoration.

Hannah and Joe both specialised in mining and adventure early on, allowing them to develop their caves quickly, while I (Adam) got my farm up and running with wheat and pumpkins planted and sheep already shagging come the first harvest.

We played a rule wrong for our first adventurer each (the one about adventure-dwarves levelling up after a trip where they bag multiple rewards). Joe spotted it after he and Hannah had both got a couple of free promotions so kindly let me do the same. But with a game this complex only one quickly-corrected error signifies heroic rules explanationeering.

Joe was first to increase his family size to three and then to four and dotted his mountain with ruby mines, only developing his forest and investing in animals relatively late to feed his hungry masses. He used his rubies to annoying effect during the game with his adventurers often jumping the queue to steal the best spaces, but was beaten to both the ruby spaces on the last turn, hurting his bonus buildings (treasure hut) badly.
Adam - Joe - Hannah

Hannah grew to four dwarves a little later than Joe and tried to balance her smallholding - planting fields, breeding animals, mining ore and rubies and levelling up adventurers nicely she scored in every category on the points sheet except gold coins. Notably she had to keep building mines for the donkeys to live in as they bred.

I stuck with a size three family and relied totally on a sinister industrialized agribusiness cramming animals into every nook and cranny. My game-end bonus buildings boosted animals, sheep and wheat/pumpkin pairs, so my 30 animals and 17 plants brought in 3/4 of my points. Joe's 48 points just for the little shields on the board convinced me he'd won until the scores were totted up:

Adam 102
Joe 81
Hannah 74

My cruel disregard for animal welfare (and the aforementioned bonus buildings) won the day. With the clock showing 11pm we packed away (fitting Joe's deluxe pieces back into the box is a game in itself) and said fond farewells, congratulating ourselves on keeping the GNN flame burning through these pox-riddled times.


  1. I'm very pleased you got some play in; well done non-sicklies! See you next week :D

  2. Aha! I wondered if someone out there was hoisting the first GNN flag of 2017. Glad it happened! Just a shame most of us felt utterly terrible - hope everyone is feeling much better.

    Oh and well done Adam - Adaaaammmm!!! - on the win.

    We've been playing a lot of Cottage Garden. Sally has played it twice, which is like me eating six Weetabix, or something. Close scores too - me and (little) Joe had a 50-49 win against Sal and Stan yesterday.

  3. We pulled through!
    Which is better than pushing through a la Fuji Flush. Which in itself sounds a bit like a stomach complaint.

    I really enjoyed playing Caverna, and if we play again soon we'll be much more streamlined and fast, so let's do that.
    I was convinced I was going to be last, so I was very happy with second place. Adam's post-game description of the calculation he did in his head in the last few turns (each wheat/veg pair having a net worth of 3.7 points or something) made me despair of ever beating him. But I'll happily keep trying... I doubt I'll be allowed to monopolise rubies next time though.
    A lovely start to the gaming year, thanks H&A for having me over, and I hope the rest of youse are on the mend.

  4. We too (Chippenham bunch) had a three player Caverna last night. I managed 79 points which is my highest score. Adam, that was an enormous score. How on earth did you house 30 animals! I suppose dogs can go anywhere. What was your method to feed the dwarves because it doesn't look like you were using animals or fields.....?

  5. Chris - I had two big pastures with stables for 8 sheep and 8 donkeys, then a small pasture with a stable for 4 pigs and a meadow with 3 dogs for 4 sheep. Also I had a pair of house-cows and threw a donkey down a mineshaft. Easy.

    I did eat a sheep and a couple of pigs, but mostly used a cooking building that gave me extra food for a wheat/pumpkin combo and picked food up from the board. I only ever had three mouths to feed as well...

    Joe - thinking back on my wheat/veg calculation I'm fairly sure it was nonsense, as the number of VPs per food should be less important than the total number of VPs I could gain, and I got it wrong anyway as I didn't properly take the wheat into account.

    Anyway I worked out that pigs were worth 1.33 / 2 = 0.66 points per food and pumpkins 3 / 5 = 0.60 points per food (I now think that should be 3 / 4 = 0.75) for my last adventurer. I'm not sure how that helped though.

  6. Oh, and more Caverna soon please!

  7. As Adam proved, growing your family is not nearly such a no-brainer as it is in Agricola. But I just can't resist! Ahem.

    Fields of Arle is interesting re animals. There are sheep, horses and cows, and you score a point for every animal, but 2 for each animal you have least of, so you're encouraged to grow your herds evenly. Very Knizia . . .

  8. Actually I'm just playing Arle solo - it's 2 for every animal you have least of 1 for the rest but NONE for the animal you most of. Harsh!