Portsmouth On Board - 11 December 2013 - Farms, Albino Dwarves and Devoured Meeples

This will be the last session report for Portsmouth On Board before 2014 as our next meetup won't be till 8th January. Such a shame, I enjoy these gaming nights!

Tonight proved to be an epic challenge though - introducing four new players to Caverna: Cave Farmers (CCF) while setting up and playing on pub tables with 5 players in total including myself. . . . . oh boy! Good thing I got there early to make a start, but some shuffling was still required and the layout was less than optimal. Ah well you live and learn for next time, might just have to re-jig my box layout or invest in some more Ramekins for easy token access (my funky Euro box doesn't cater for big fingers).


After some detailed explanations, we're ready to play and everyone got started building up their farms and caves with a particular strategy in mind. I had already played this game going for farms or pastures or mines so I thought I'd try a new idea and that was to go for lots of children, which is the polar opposite of what I would want to do in real life. Only one player can have six dwarfs running around so I aimed for that.

The upside was that by the endgame I had so many actions a turn it was insane, which did extend the turns a bit, but it did get a lot of laughs. In order to feed my family I had to resort to ruby trading , adventuring and scrimping the action spaces because I couldn't get any outside activity going on - too busy being stolen by the opponents. Essentially I was creating the ultimate Albino Dwarf family with all my activity taking place in the cave. The family didn't see sunlight until the end of Stage 3!

I got so engrossed in the game, that I almost forgot to get details on what games were being played and collect photos! It's addictive I'll tell you that.

"Caverna - I think I'm going to abandon my Ipad as a camera!"

Near the endgame a major revelation was revealed though, something that may have fooled a lot of players of Agricola and Caverna. Kudos to Ed for pointing this fact out to me and being cool about it (hey we have all made mistakes in interpreting rules before was the agreement essentially). It's also got a lot of buzz on BoardGameGeek though so I'm not alone. The breeding rules particularly in Agricola aren't 100% clear on how many offspring you get from animals. Most of us, including me, read it as "one animal per 2 parents", but in fact it's still only one animal, regardless of how many animals you have in the farm. I've been playing it wrong for months! . . . . . well what can I say except .. . . .whoops! <big cheesy grin>

We carried on playing with the wrong rule as it was too late to go back and eventually the mass animal hoarder won the game, which is probably no surprise considering we were literally breeding like rabbits. Ah well, hopefully everyone got a decent idea of how the game plays and it's certainly going to change my future games. Although I'm going to re-check the iOS version of Agricola as I wonder if it does it wrong as well.

"Rampage - pre and post destruction!"

Across the way, the games were a lot more lighter, with Spartacus and Rampage taking the highlight spots. Let's face it a game where you have Meeples balancing in skyscrapers being knocked down by grown men blowing on the game is going to get a few double takes. On that note as I'm thinking about it . . . . ewwww, your game investment has all these different people blowing spit all over your game. Not for me I don't think.

Eventually their games finished and some lighter fillers such as Incan Gold and Saboteur made the cut, but our game took the entire evening with explanations and then some. Frantically I had to pack the game away in a hurry - not something I want to repeat soon. Some improvements to how it's packaged or organised are definitely in order.


All in all, a good test of the game with many players, however unless I can seriously sort out the setup and packing issues, I'm going to avoid 5 player games again. I think 4 players is a great sweet spot for this game, but I'd happily play 3 players as well. I've now played this game with 1-5 players so I'm all set for the big review later this month which I know many gamers have been waiting for.

But there's still one ultimate question to answer. . . . . . . is Caverna better than Agricola and regardless of which, is it worth having both games or must one make the cull? I'm going to hate having to answer that one. . . . TO BE CONTINUED

Games Played

Caverna: The Cave Farmers
Incan Gold
. . . . and a couple others!