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Caverna: The Cave Farmers» Forums » General

Subject: How important are weapons and expeditions? rss

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Richard Dewsbery
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The rule book contains a line saying something like "in a game with lots of players, two strands emerge - those who get armed dwarves and those who remain more peaceful; whichever strand you follow ..."

Except that I am unconvinced that a "peaceful" route - one where you largely ignore weapons and expeditions - is strong enough. I tried the peaceful route today - against 4 new players, three of whom were concentrating fairly heavily on expeditions. I came fourth - this was despite getting as many dwarves as I could, almost as quickly as I could, and only bothering with one armed dwarf near the end of the game when there was little else worth doing with them all.

I struggled a bit to feed; I struggled a bit to fill my board; I struggled to get all of the animals in large enough quantities. The expeditioning dwarves - particularly once they had hit levels 9 and above - were just getting so much valuable free stuff I couldn't keep up. For example - a dwarf goes on an adventure and gets four bits of loot, one of which is a cow (and furnishes a cavern; and fences a double space; and grabs two food). Whereas for my unarmed dwarves to get a cow, it meant going to the market (which nets a cow and one food). The high level dwarves were cranking out dwellings at a rate of knots, too (along with grabbing other loot) - whereas it was usually the only thing an unarmed dwarf could do in a round, to furnish a dwelling.

Perhaps I didn't play particularly well, but I've won all three previous games (by grabbing at least two weapons), and this game was against four other new players (albeit ones who had played plenty of Agricola) who weren't playing optimally themselves.

My thoughts so far is to ignore comments about peaceful dwarves and plan on making at least one dwarf an adventurer during the first third or so of the game, or be prepared to be outpaced in the last third.
 
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Richard Ham
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my gut feeling from what you wrote is that you pushed too hard to get more workers... unlike agricola, getting a full family isn't the be-all end-all strategy. You might have stretched yourself too thin in a game where you only get 1 vp per family member instead of 3...
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Richard Dewsbery
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Nope, I'm pretty sure that wasn't the problem. I had enough resources to furnish some other caverns along the way, to fence in 3 doubles ad one single pasture and build 2 or 3 stables. None of which helped overly much. I just don't see the fourth or fifth dwarf being anything like as useful as a dwarf with a big weapon - and if there's a "peaceful" strategy with 3 or 4 dwarves I've yet to see it (I've watched a few more games - the win seems to be claimed by a player with weapons every time).

I suspect that a larger part of my downfall was the way that the player to my immediate right kept taking the action I *needed* (even though this happens a lot less in Caverna that Agricola, it sodding well hurt me - especially when he started buying the furnished caverns I wanted/needed too), and the fight over start player/ For the whole game, it was either in front of me (especially when necessary, either because of the food & ruby or because there was a really important action to take), or in front of the player to my left. Quite why he took it from me 2 or 3 times, when going second is just fine (especially if on a weapons strategy) was beyond me. But while going second is fine, going fifth out of five sucks.

I'm not saying that I couldn't have played better - I could have. But I really don't see how doing so could have closed the the ten-point-plus gap. Final scores were 84, 83, 79, 72 and 50-something (from the other player who had no weapons, oddly enough). So I scored 20 points less than in my previous 5-player game the day before, where the main difference was in that earlier game I had brought home my fair share of loot. I might try peaceful operations again, but I doubt that eschewing weapons is a wise move - except maybe in a 6- or 7-player game. 3- or 4-player it looks like an invitation to a kicking.
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Simon George
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Leighton Buzzard
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If the other players concentrated on weapons and you ignored them, then in theory it could free up the more peaceful action spaces i.e. sustenance, slash and burn, sheep and donkey farming... Combine that with furnishings such as 'Beer Parlor', 'Weaving Parlor', 'Fodder Chamber', 'Breeding Cave', 'Office room' and you might beat the warmongers!
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Andrew Smith
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I think weapons and expeditions are important.

Leaving aside the general usefulness of loot, the clincher is the 'furnish cavern' for 7 loot. If you don't have expeditions, it's going to cost you an action to access this.

It isn't the only way to go though. I had a 5 player game last week and the winner (expedition route) had just over 100 VP, whereas I was second farming and no armed dwarves (about 93/94 points). I could have optimised my scoring a bit better though. You will not have many dwarves with this strategy, but frankly, you don't need them. It's all about the veggies and buying the right cavern upgrade to convert them to VP.

Andrew
 
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Danny Wu
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I played a three player game yesterday. We didn't get to finish as there were still 4 rounds left and we had to leave.
Two of us (myself included) went weapons and questing, and the third person went farming. Even though there were four rounds left, his farm looked pretty good. He had a bunch of animals, grain and vegetables going, and a ton of resources.

Since there were two people questing and constantly taking the expedition action spaces, many resource spots that accumulate resources were only taken by the third player.

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Carl
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Just finished a 4 player game and the winner was the one who didn't have adventurer dwarfs (all three others did). Winner cleaned up on lots of bonus VP's from the various VP multiplier rooms.
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John DiMaggio
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Just played a 4-er today where the winner had no weapons, with scores being 93, 89, 86 and 65 I believe. This was with the basic buildings. Having a strong food engine, prioritizing the 1 of each spot, supplies?, in the early game, and trying to develop a veggie/grain engine + sheep via dog + a small boar breeding engine with the 2 boars you get from the forest all helped a lot.

I found that if you don't quest then you also have more opportunities to take starting player, as your last person is not searching for some adventure but rather planning ahead via starting player.

Oddly, this game seems to encourage BOTH farming and animal husbandry as many of the fields also have spaces ready to become fenced.

Rubies helped too, they're basically like a free plow action from agricola, which we all know is very powerful.

Not saying our scores are incredible, for our first play-through I think it went pretty well and I do think a peaceful strategy is quite viable provided there's a good amount of competition for quests.
 
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stephen biggs
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Weapons look like an "all or nothing" strategy to me.
Either arm several dwarves, so they can efficiently boost each others strength.
Or don't arm any, which gives you 8 cheap VP's for building the Prayer room.
Arming just one is the worst possible option. You can't gain more than 3-VP's from that dwarf & it will be too late in the game when his strength is high enough fot the better rewards.

There are lots of stratagies which don't require exploreing.
Caverna strategy is almost the opposite of Agricola:
In Agricola the problem is getting enough resources to do anything (and not starve) Whilst just about everything you do is worth VP's.
In Caverna resources are almost trivial to get, it takes real talent to starve. The problen is getting significant VP's from what your doing.

To get large number's of VP's you need to furnish rooms with the relevant VP/gold production tiles. Each tile rewards (typically) one type of activity.
In the course of the game you can't expect to build more than a fraction of those tiles. The other players certainly should be building many of them. So only some activities will gain you a VP bonus.
e.g. It's pointless to breed vast numbers of sheep unless you get the tile which gives extra VP's for sheep.


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