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BoardGameGeek» Forums » Gaming Related » Recommendations

Subject: Caverna or Viticulture rss

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Michael Gonzalez
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Georgia
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Leaving aside availability and price, which of these should I try? I am a little more attracted to the Viticulture theme, but Caverna is just so highly rated that it makes me very interested to know what all the fuss is about....

Feel free to check out my (fairly meager) collection, but here are some of my current top-rated games:

Castles of Burgundy
Tokaido
Among the Stars
Mission: Red Planet
Hanabi
Pandemic
 
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Michael Gonzalez
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Quick note: If I'm not mistaken, there are trolls in Caverna, and sometimes that theme comes along with some magic, and... I hate magic. So, please let me know if that's an element in the game, and that will make my decision much easier!
 
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Sean
France
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There is no magic in Caverna.

I mainly play wargames and I picked Caverna for something different to play wth my wife and son after watching Rahdo review it. I absolutely love the game and how it plays out! There is a load of depth and complexity but it's not taxing to enjoy. It's just a really fun game - TV off, it's family Caverna time fun!
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Lawrence
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Tustin
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It comes down to whether or not you enjoy a Sandbox game or one that has more variable setup.

Viticulture has variable starting resources and visitor cards that make each game different. This tends to focus your choice on optimal strategies and makes you play according to the circumstances.

Caverna is a straight sandbox game where all strategies are available for everyone from the get-go. There's a great fan-made race expansion that gives some variable player powers if you want to change it up. (Edit: the expansion does incorporate "magic", so may not be a good choice for you).

We love both games, but Viticulture feels like the deeper and more thematic game for us. It's much less fiddly (very little between round management compared to Caverna's requirement to re-stock the board and resolve adventures) and much more intuitive to teach. In fact, we were about to sell Caverna when that aforementioned Race expansion came around and saved it for us.
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Michael Gonzalez
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Man! You guys both make some great points.... I may end up buying both. But someone come break this tie! Sell me on one of these! Lol.
 
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Curt Carpenter
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Kirkland
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Caverna is a great game, that is perhaps a bit long/complex/overwhelming for many gamers, unless they know what they're getting for.
Viticulture is a big fat turd, even the (In)Essential Edition.

Looking at your games listed, Caverna might be a bit overwhelming, and Viticulture may work better for you.
 
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Brian Wiese
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I personally love Viticulture (especially with the Tuscany expansion) while I am just "eh" with Caverna. With that said, either choice is probably going to work out for you since both games are well loved in the gaming community.

Viticulture has a pretty strong theme and strait-forward worker placement mechanics. The thing that really sets Viticulture apart from other games of it's kind are the Visitor cards which give you special one-time abilities. And then if you add Tuscany components like the expanded board, Structure cards, and special workers, it adds an entirely new layer of depth that few other worker placement games can accomplish.

Caverna is definitely a heavier game (literally and figuratively) out of the box. Everyone starts with the same basic setup but by the time the games ends everyone will have diversified into various point-scoring methods weather it's mining, farming, ranching, etc. The game definitely gives you more choices per turn than Viticulture does. Which spot do I take? Which building do I buy? What options should I take if I quest?

Both games are exercises in efficiency (as are most worker placement games). Viticulture is much more focused and that gives it a certain elegance. I agree with mavericklancer that Caverna is basically a sandbox game with no particular focus but instead a bunch of little goals that you can choose to do or not and be rewarded for them at the end.

Maybe something else that's worth factoring is playtime. Viticulture, being less heavy, is definitely the shorter game as it runs about 20 mins/player. Caverna is probably closer to 30 mins/player or even more if you have AP-prone players. Setup/take down time with Caverna is higher too with all the bits involved.
 
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Peter S.
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Sacramento
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Caverna is a personal favorite and a game I always have fun playing. I'd highly recommend it, and recommend picking up little googly eye stickers with which to bling up your farm animals.

Viticulture is... well, it's not bad, but I didn't find there was anything special about it, anything that set the experience of playing it apart from that of any other generic worker placement game. The Grande worker is mechanically neat, but not enough, and the cards actually hold the game back rather than make it better.

If you like the Viticulture theme, you might want to instead check out Vinhos.
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Michael Gonzalez
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curtc wrote:
Caverna is a great game, that is perhaps a bit long/complex/overwhelming for many gamers, unless they know what they're getting for.
Viticulture is a big fat turd, even the (In)Essential Edition.

Looking at your games listed, Caverna might be a bit overwhelming, and Viticulture may work better for you.


I don't think weight would be an issue. Caverna is rated at 3.79. CoB, one of my favorites, is a 3.05, and I've recently enjoyed both TI:3 and Cry Havoc which are 4.21 and 3.35 respectively. My concern was with which game is most fun, replay-able, etc.

Aside from it's being a turd, what specifically don't you like about Viticulture?
 
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Aaron Edwards
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Nashville
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In terms of gameplay, I think it depends on how "tight" of a game you want. Caverna is more open, where you have a whole lot of choices and you pretty much always have something useful you can do. If another player blocks your first choice of action, no big deal, you have other things you can work on. The final tally of points is relatively high, so you have a little bit of wiggle room to develop strategies. Viticulture is much tighter -- it is a very low-scoring game, so there is very little room to stray on efficiency and the battle for key spaces can be more fierce.

Other considerations: I think Viticulture is easier to teach, easier to set up, and probably plays in less time (and is cheaper). I personally prefer Caverna more but I have a hard time getting people to play it. I think they are about even in terms of replayability. Viticulture does have a random card draw factor that might give it a slight edge in replayability, but the card effects are all basically different iterations of the same stuff, so I don't think it is a huge difference.
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Curt Carpenter
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Mentat1231 wrote:
Aside from it's being a turd, what specifically don't you like about Viticulture?

Completely vanilla worker placement game. Yeah, there's a summer side and a winter side to the board. Big deal, doesn't really make much difference. The actions are very straightforward, with very little opportunity for any sort of clever play. Completely plodding. But absolutely worst of all, the game is ruined by cards that by far overshadow the core of the game. Cards are so random, they completely alter the flow of the game for the player who plays them (and sometimes others). Cards vary wildly in usefulness.
 
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Michael Gonzalez
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Oph1d1an wrote:
In terms of gameplay, I think it depends on how "tight" of a game you want. Caverna is more open, where you have a whole lot of choices and you pretty much always have something useful you can do. If another player blocks your first choice of action, no big deal, you have other things you can work on. The final tally of points is relatively high, so you have a little bit of wiggle room to develop strategies. Viticulture is much tighter -- it is a very low-scoring game, so there is very little room to stray on efficiency and the battle for key spaces can be more fierce.

Other considerations: I think Viticulture is easier to teach, easier to set up, and probably plays in less time (and is cheaper). I personally prefer Caverna more but I have a hard time getting people to play it. I think they are about even in terms of replayability. Viticulture does have a random card draw factor that might give it a slight edge in replayability, but the card effects are all basically different iterations of the same stuff, so I don't think it is a huge difference.


Thank you for that explanation. Time may indeed be a factor. I'll have to ask my group.
 
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Michael Gonzalez
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curtc wrote:
Mentat1231 wrote:
Aside from it's being a turd, what specifically don't you like about Viticulture?

Completely vanilla worker placement game. Yeah, there's a summer side and a winter side to the board. Big deal, doesn't really make much difference. The actions are very straightforward, with very little opportunity for any sort of clever play. Completely plodding. But absolutely worst of all, the game is ruined by cards that by far overshadow the core of the game. Cards are so random, they completely alter the flow of the game for the player who plays them (and sometimes others). Cards vary wildly in usefulness.


I see. I really don't like random confounding factors... I'm leaning toward Caverna.
 
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Jarad Bond
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Mentat1231 wrote:
curtc wrote:
Mentat1231 wrote:
Aside from it's being a turd, what specifically don't you like about Viticulture?

Completely vanilla worker placement game. Yeah, there's a summer side and a winter side to the board. Big deal, doesn't really make much difference. The actions are very straightforward, with very little opportunity for any sort of clever play. Completely plodding. But absolutely worst of all, the game is ruined by cards that by far overshadow the core of the game. Cards are so random, they completely alter the flow of the game for the player who plays them (and sometimes others). Cards vary wildly in usefulness.


I see. I really don't like random confounding factors... I'm leaning toward Caverna.

I liked the idea of Caverna, but there are no random elements, not even cards like in Agricola, a game which I really love. Plus you pay for 7 sets of player pieces when you would rarely even want to play with 5. There is nothing random about it except what other players do to get in your way. That may actually suit your tastes from the discussion, but I find it slightly on the boring side when nothing unexpected happens to mix up your strategy. The thing that got me about it was the plethora of unique buildings that give you the mini-skills and mini-goals. They are exactly the same each time, and it is a lot to teach and absorb. After 3 or 4 games, you start figuring out what is possible. So, that is attractive to the long term planners. There are definitely many, but a finite number, of strategies that you can go with.

Viticulture has cards that do wildly swing the game. If you want to win every single game, Viticulture might not be for you, but it is fun for me to try to make something of the cards I'm dealt. The main gimmick that I like is how your resources (grapes and wine) "age" every round, so you have to plan ahead a bit and work with the flow of the game. There are varying setups too, as was mentioned. That changes how you approach each game and, along with the cards, you have to think up a new strategy each time. This is *in addition* to what other players do to block you and mix it up.

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Josh
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Well I'll be a spoiler and say of the two I think viticukture is a better game, though caveat I owned both and have traded Caverna away while I am looking to trade my Viticulture/Tuscany.

Caverna is chock full of stuff, but not so much full of gameplay. As others have said there is almost zero 'random' in the game. It's all there every game. There are obvious synergies and paths. Half a dozen plays in I felt it was played out. I had won the veggie route, the mine route, the animals route, etc. Caverna also suffers hugely from playcount gap. If you are teaching it to new people you'll generslly crush, even when not trying, a stable group might not have this problem.

The randomness in viticulture means you won't win every time even if you play well, but it also means thinking on your feet is an asset. It too can overwhelm new players but nkt as deterministicly as Caverna. The Tuscany expansion adds a ton of content that can either increase or decrease the randomness, but does add complexity. If I had a,more stsble gsming grouo as opposed to transient gsming circles in my area I think Viticulture with Tuscany would have been a better fit, but as is I can't generwlly bring out Tuscany while people are still newish to Viticulture. Also I picked up Vinhos and don't need two wine games. Vidal Lacerta is more my style anyway (heavy thinky euros)
 
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