Caverna: Cave Vs Cave took the idea of Uwe Rosenberg's big box masterpiece and boiled it down to a quicker, more accessible, two-player experience. Cave Vs Cave quickly found itself as one of my favourite small box, two-player games. For me, it betters Rosenberg's other small box creations like Patchwork and Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small. I'd probably go as far to say I'd rather play it over the excellent 7 Wonders: Duel!
Caverna: Cave Vs Cave is a one to two-player tile placement, quasi worker placement game. Players enter into a world of competitive dwarves that have got big ideas after binge watching a prehistoric version of DIY SOS. Players select actions and use these to generate resources, excavate their cave, build new rooms and use the rooms to set up economic engines to generate as many points as they can. You can read a full review of the game to learn more.
What I like about Caverna: Cave Vs Cave is that I really feel like I'm making strategic decisions. I'm having to plan ahead, consider what my opponent might do, and get an efficient engine going to beat my opponent. The little box contains a big game when it comes to the thought you need to put in and the options you have available to you.
As can be the criticism of many euro style games, the game tends to end just as you feel like you have got your engine properly ticking over. The game lacks a little in the replay-ability stakes and runs a little short at times.
The Cave Vs Cave Expansion
The Cave Vs Cave base game was subtitled Era I, and I'd always wondered why it said that on the box. Well, now we have Era II: The Iron Age. The box art nods to what we will find inside, The Iron Age! A new era is upon our decoration obsessed dwarven cave dwellers. We now have access to iron, ore, livestock (yay Donkeys!), and enough new furnishing to make Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen's head spin.
Also, you get a whole new part of the cave that was somehow missed by the dwarves before. Oddly, it extends out of where your front door was moments earlier. But never mind, we aren't here for the thematic continuity and architectural accuracy.
Caverna: Cave Vs Cave Era II: The Iron Age simply extends the game by four rounds. It adds an extra cave board, new resources and new rooms. The extra four rounds are all you need to really get your engine going just how you had hoped and try something new or develop it further. The new rooms and resources and space give you ample extra options to spice up the game and add replay-ability.
I've seen some criticism that Era II just tacks on after Era I without boosting the core game. But I quite like that approach. Going ahead and playing the second era isn't a decision you need to make until you get to the end of Era I. This means you can control how long the game lasts, and it's the ultimate tie breaker.
If you are a fan of Uwe Rosenburg I'd recommend looking into his range of two-player games. If you are a Cave vs Cave fan like me, then pick up Era II and extend your enjoyment of this great strategy game further.