Cavern Tavern, a Kickstarter funded game, raised a massive $107,000 when Final Frontier were only asking for $18,000 - this is even more amazing when you consider it was their first game.
Cavern Tavern is a worker placement game where your workers are dice, the numbers you roll determines where they can be placed and what they do. This is like one of my favourite games Lords of Vegas and this is what prompted me to try this game out.
Cavern Tavern - Opening the box
The art is done by the very talented Mico and as always with his art, its spot on. The box is striking and really stands out on my shelf compared to other games. The box itself is also very good quality and has shown no sign of wear even though it has been heavily used (on and off the shelf a lot of times).
When I first opened the box I noticed how many components were in there. You have several decks of cards all of thick stock, dice (more on this in a bit) a clock that acts as a turn counter meeples and the board itself (oh and cute meeple stickers that my daughter ran off with).
Out of all the components, and its only my personal preference, there were only two things that I think could be improved. The first is the board, it's very dark and if you are playing in a dark room the places you can put your dice can be hard to see. The second is that the dice that come with the game do not fit the theme, this obviously can be sorted with the many sets of dice you can buy online and it’s something Final Frontier are offering too. Again, this are just minor niggles that are my opinion and do not affect the gameplay.
To set up the game is straight forward and the most time-consuming bit is shuffling the cards and giving people the correct markers/dice. Every player is given a player board which has a place for all the relevant items you will acquire throughout the game.
Each player is given four dice that are his workers. On each turn, you can assign the dice to one of the locations on the main board. The locations require different values of dice and they give a different reward. You can choose to place one die on a location, or add the values in a group to receive bigger rewards.
When you roll the four dice, you then have options on where to put them and by looking at the order you have you can choose the appropriate action/s to help you complete that order. There are a lot of options where to put them and how to use them so it’s good to try and think ahead and as with all dice games just because you need something doesn’t mean you will be able to get it so having a backup plan is always a good idea.
To give you a bit more in-depth information on this game below is the description of what areas are available to you workers and what they do.
The locations are divided into six areas;
- Main area: Players pick Order cards from this section.
- Cellar: The ingredients used to complete orders are gained from this section. (place a dice and get the ingredient card associated with that location)
- Kitchen: Players can place dice here to receive rewards.
- Chores: Players can place dice here to receive rewards.
- Wizard’s Workshop: Players can place dice here to get help completing their Orders in this section.
- Nasty the Dwarf’s Office: Players can tell on other players in this section making them deduct points.
To summarise, the options available above and what you can do is dictated by what you roll on the dice. Player one rolls his die, chooses an order if he hasn’t got one and then places dice onto one spot and does that action.
The next player then goes and you carry this one until nobody has any dice left. You then turn the clock forward one space and if anyone has any uncompleted orders they now score the lower value Victory Points.
We played this game first as a three player game and everyone enjoyed it, we then played as a group of five and we all enjoyed it but we just felt the game went on a bit too long. I have also played the solo player version and must say it’s great. The solo mode uses the dice to block off certain options available and builds upon the strategic elements of multiplayer.
Cavern Tavern has really surprised me as a first-time outfit and Final Frontier Games have done a stellar job. The component quality is amazing, the gameplay is very well balanced and we didn’t have a runaway leader in any of our games - often a problem in worker placement games.
The theme runs through all the components (except the dice) and there is a lot of backstory to the Five Realms (the world the game is set in). This is a game any of my group would play again and despite some minor issues as mentioned above it is almost a perfect game.