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Subject: Which to choose ? rss

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Dominique Doguet
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Hello to you all !

I've browsed through the general forums here but I still haven't found what I'm looking for (thanks U2) and so I'm asking for your help.

I've known Agricola by reputation and I've recently discovered the big (positive) hullabaloo about Caverna, but the fact remains : I've never played any of the above mentioned.

I've read positive reviews about them, some assessing that Caverna corrects some of Argicola's "problems" (if I may write so), and overall most reviews tend to compare these two games by Uwe Rosenberg but they don't answer my question : since I've never played them, which should I choose first ?

I must admit I have a slight inclination towards Caverna for three reasons :
1) I'm not very thrilled by the "farming" theme of Agricola
2) I'm quite afraid that should I try Agricola and end up loving it, I'd ruin myself in acquiring all possible expansions released so far - because I'm a "100% collector" type of guy
3) because of the general "Caverna-corrects-what-Agricola-lacked" feeling that I've read in a lot of reviews

Then I wonder : should I respect a "chronological" order and buy Agricola first and Caverna later to appreciate the second one more ? Are "Agricola" expansions essential and/or necessary ? Do they change the game that much ?

As you can see, my head is full of questions. I wouldn't say they're tormenting me, but I'm REALLY hesitating !

Would you please try to answer me ?
Thanks in advance.
All the best to everyone on BGG !
 
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Mark O'Reilly
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Hi ,
I'm biased towards Agricola.
I have played Agricola countless times, Caverna around 7 times.
Caverna is a great game - but it's not Agricola ..it's the cards in Agricola, the card drafting joy to start the game that gives you your own unique game engine each game.

You don't need any expansion to start, there really is a ton in the box, but a must IMHO as a nice improvement is the farmers of the moor expansion.

Card decks - gamers deck, world championship deck and maybe upgrade discs to meeples , cubes to vegi-meeples , in time.

You still got farming in Caverna.
Both games are similar, if Caverna was designed by someone else entirely and marketed differently - people would say it is an Agricola clone with some different mechanics.

It's your call at the end of the day, people seem split down the middle , each camp argues one is better than the other - both are great
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Dominique Doguet
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Well, you've made an excellent point, and I appreciate your advice on the expansions. But before I make my call at the end of the day, as you elegantly put it, I'll wait for some more opinions.

I thank you for taking the time to answer me.
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Mik Svellov
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I liked Agricola, but haven't played in recent years.
Last year, I bought Caverna: The Cave Farmers, hoping that it would streamline the game, but it fell completely flat on me, so I have now sold it.

I see that you already own Terra Mystica, so no reason to recommend that. So instead I would recommend Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar, but make sure to include the expansion tribes & Prophecies.
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Rainer Ludwig
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I'd recommend Agricola as well. If you only want one of the two, go for the original. If you end up really loving it, think about getting Caverna as a nice variant. Addressing your concerns:

1) If you're not thrilled by Agricola's theme, I doubt you would be much more by Caverna's. At the end of the day, Caverna is about farming as well, the mining is just an addition which doesn't change the basic feel that much. And believe me, farming can be a VERY FUN theme.

2) I figure that for the Caverna's price you'd already get Agricola plus the Farmers of the Moor, which I agree is a nice expansion. However, I still like, maybe even prefer the base game. There's plenty of variation and different possible strategies, it's not going to bore you for a long time. The expansion decks? They're a nice thing to try from time to time, but I'm always getting back to the base decks. Okay, I'm not that heavy of a player, but still I haven't found my way through all the cards of the base game yet. There are PLENTY of combos to discover.

3) Not enough place in this thread to discuss that point... I wouldn't consider Agricola anything close to "flawed" in the first place, so really no "errors" to correct. What Caverna does is take out a lot of the randomness, in particular appearance of Familiy Growth and private cards. But the former is something I'm happy to deal with just like everybody else at the table needs to, and the latter is just the spice of Agricola, often allowing you to not give away your strategy from the very first round. I also like the aspect of having to figure out your personal optimal strategy from what you exclusively have been given. All this is missing from Caverna.

As I said, much more can be and has been said on the last point, that was just my view on it in a nutshell. All in all, both are great games, but if I had to choose which one to own, it would definitely be Agricola.
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Dominique Doguet
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Mik, Thank you very much for your opinion and for taking the time to answer me.

Indeed I already own Terra Mystica and I also own Tzolk'in and the T&P expansion.

So that's 2 for Agricola and 0 for Caverna so far !
 
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Dominique Doguet
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Rainer, Thanks a lot for taking the time to answer me. I'll go along with the three points :

1) Well I didn't know about the still quite present farming theme in Caverna. I guess this item of news will guide me more and more towards Agricola

2) Yes, that's true and I've checked it after Mark's recommandation concerning Agricola expansion. What is more, you and Mark have convinced me that I really don't need to get the 100% complete Agricola "set" and I thank you both for that

3) Indeed when you look at the reviews dedicated to comparing the two games, it would take forever to decide if Caverna corrects Agricola's flaws - and even to discuss the very notion of "flaws" in Agricola (if there are any ?)
 
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Mark O'Reilly
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deejaydeep wrote:

So that's 2 for Agricola and 0 for Caverna so far !


Just wait until those dwarf lovers emerge from their caves!

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Dominique Doguet
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biffta wrote:
deejaydeep wrote:

So that's 2 for Agricola and 0 for Caverna so far !


Just wait until those dwarf lovers emerge from their caves!



I'll be ready ! ninja
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Clyde W
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I own both. If I had to get rid of one, I'd get rid of Caverna.
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tim thorson
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I really don't see caverna as fixing agricola. I still like agricola much better. I feel there's a lot more possibilities with the cards than in caverna. Don't get me wrong, I do really enjoy caverna. As previously stated, they are both about farming. So if you don't think you would like agricola's theme, I don't know you would enjoy caverna's any more. I think both are very good games and you can't really go wrong with either
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Peter Delmeby
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Both are really good games. I've only played Agricola digitally (iOS) but own Caverna. I think the main differences are these:

* Card draft vs free-for-all buildings when it comes to deciding "special powers".
* Simpler actions (e.g. take wood) vs more multiple-step actions (e.g. chop down forest, get wood, and plow field).
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Eric Matthews
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deejaydeep wrote:

I've read positive reviews about them, some assessing that Caverna corrects some of Argicola's "problems" (if I may write so), and overall most reviews tend to compare these two games by Uwe Rosenberg but they don't answer my question : since I've never played them, which should I choose first ?

I must admit I have a slight inclination towards Caverna for three reasons :
1) I'm not very thrilled by the "farming" theme of Agricola
2) I'm quite afraid that should I try Agricola and end up loving it, I'd ruin myself in acquiring all possible expansions released so far - because I'm a "100% collector" type of guy
3) because of the general "Caverna-corrects-what-Agricola-lacked" feeling that I've read in a lot of reviews

Then I wonder : should I respect a "chronological" order and buy Agricola first and Caverna later to appreciate the second one more ? Are "Agricola" expansions essential and/or necessary ? Do they change the game that much ?

...


I actually prefer Caverna over Agricola, but that doesn't mean I think it is better. It just fits my tastes better.

I have some responses to your numbered reasons and then some thoughts.
1) the themes are more similar than they are different. Both are pastoral in theme and feel.
2) Caverna will eventually have expansions; there are already promo "tiles". So choosing it because you'll be less tempted to buy expansions likely will mean only that you'll be tempted with each in turn, rather than all at once.
3)the Caverna fixes what Agricola lacks is mostly hype. Let me say it again it is MOSTLY HYPE. Agricola is not broken.

These games really are very very similar. The difference I see between these two games is really a matter of taste and how much tension and difficulty you like verses flexibility and forgiving mechanisms.

Caverna appeals to euro gamers who find Agricola a little too unforgiving and tense. Agricola appeals to euro gamers who want a constant challenge that doesn't let up. Caverna can be a little boring to Agricola players actually, partially because all of the options in Caverna are out there for everyone to see, so no hidden hands of cards. But also no luck of the draw.

Agricola is more competitive, Caverna, despite it's "adventuring" is actually more a "Sunday walk in the park" in it's feel because even with the traditional worker placement blocking there is usually a way to get around being blocked. There's also essentially a wild card resource, that you can use to get yourself out of a jam. Agricola has scoring caps to keep players from creating a monopoly of one resource, but because of that each players farms tend to look similar at the end of the game. Cavernas solution to runaway monopolists is to make sure there are multiple ways to get most resources, so it doesn't have to put a cap on scoring any.... Because of that you'll see more focused strategies, like going for "all sheep" in Caverna, but also more tactical changes to strategy.

Agricola requires discipline to play well. Caverna has a lower bar for that discipline.

I do play a lot of mean games, but for some reason the cruelty of Agricola is more frustrating to me than it is fun. Caverna was a relief to play. It had everything I like in Agricola (except the variety of the cards). There is still tension, and there is still challenge, but I never feel that one mistake will take me out of the running like I do with Agricola. Caverna feels like I have something to explore right from the beginning. It has real tactics. Agricola's beginning is more strategy focused with a constant focus on the end game, and very little room to maneuver or change tactics. If you've decided to go with one strategy in Agricola, you really have to have that discipline to see it through. Caverna ultimately has catch up mechanisms throughout, which can seem like a wimpy response to the steely resolve needed to be successful in Agricola.



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Louisa Thinks
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Dwarf lover here.

Well sort of. I am not head over heals into Caverna, but I definitely enjoy it far more than Agricola. Granted I only played Agricola twice, once without cards (someone thought I should try a "family" game, which was pointless) and once with the cards, which was better. The cards made the game at least twice as fun, but they also added a level of luck and frustration to the game that significantly decreased my enjoyment. I feel the tiles in Caverna take away the "luck" factor of the cards in Agricola. For me, the tiles level the playing field and makes the game more interactive by allowing you to be both offensive and defense.

In response to your question though, my minimally informed vote is for Caverna. But, depending on where you weigh in on the questions below, I could see myself changing my vote.

Do you prefer Chess or Monopoly?

Do you like the challenge of executing a strategy? Or prefer that a game lets you change strategies and has multiple paths to victory?

Do you like hidden objective games? Or laying it all on the table?

How much brain burn do you like? Do you get anxious about if someone is going to "take your spot"?

Do you like to focus on your own game (offense)? Or do you enjoy really messing with other peoples plans (defense)?

Finally, are you planning on playing or buying the game? If buying, I definitely vote for Caverna. I think is a far better value which I elaborate on in this post.

In the end both games are very good and encorporate both sides of the questions above. If you consistently preferred the first or second part of the questions, one might be a better fit for you (Agricola/Caverna respectively).

Let us know what you decide.

P.S. Go dwarves!
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Daniel Valencia
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Just thought I'd chime in and say that I too prefer Agricola. My favorite part of Agricola has to be the cards, which steer you towards a certain strategy and also make each game different (something that I feel is lacking in Caverna with the same furnishing tile setup each game).

With regard to theme, farming sounds like a dry euro theme but I really do find the theme along with the artwork to be charming.
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Hank B
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Caverna is the better game. Agricola is very harsh with the feeding requirements. I feel like playing Agricola is a very Sisyphean endeavor. You get enough food to barely feed your people, then the next round comes and the struggle continues. Also another person mentioned the cards in Agricola, I think they are a big negative. One person could be dealt a big combo from the beginning, while you get completely unrelated cards. Caverna everything is available to everyone from the beginning, which IMO, makes the game a lot more fair. Also, the different animals and abilities in Caverna make a better game.

I'd say buy Caverna, but play Agricola on the ipad. IMO, Caverna improves Agricola in every way. Once I bought Caverna, I sold Agricola right away.
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Rory Gilliland
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I own both. I bought Caverna first and LOVED it, and I still do. I also love Agricola. Because of the card drafting, occupations, and improvements, i feel there is enough variability to own both of these games. I generally flip flop between the two.

In terms of what game is easier, i'd say Caverna is a bit more forgiving than Agricola as you can turn anything you want into food (pretty much)

for that reason, i'd buy Caverna (and for all the sexy animeeples and vegeeples) play it a few times and if you love it, go ahead and get Agricola which is a bit deeper in strategy.

while they are similar in theme and mechanics, they are pretty different in strategy.
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Dominique Doguet
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Thanks for your opinion, Clyde.
 
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Dominique Doguet
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Thank you for answering, Tim.

I'm not thrilled by the "farming" theme, as I wrote, but when I learnt that there was also some farming involved in Caverna, I reconsidered - since Agricola and Caverna seem to be excellent games.
 
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Dominique Doguet
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Thanks for bringing this information to my attention, Peter.
 
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Dominique Doguet
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Thanks for sharing your point of view, Eric. And I think it exactly depicts the core of my hesitation.

Having not plaued the games but having read a lot about their mechanisms, I ended up understanding that Agricola was card-dependant, with strategies built or destroyed according to those cards and Caverna was more "all in the open" where "everybody can do everything". And in your post I completely felt how ambiguous and important was the dichotomy between the two. I'll say more in my next answer post...
 
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Bryan Thunkd
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I'd vote Agricola as well. I've sold my copy of Caverna. It was interesting, but the open market for a static set of tiles made the game much too samey for me after a handful of plays.

You can get a lot of play out of Agricola without any additional decks. The Farmers of the Moor expansion is great and will add a lot more plays to the game.
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Dominique Doguet
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Thank you for answering Louisa, and I'll gladly take your test :

1) chess, definitely (Agricola +1)

2) a tricky question : I like executing a strategy I have planned but if there are several ways to reach victory, I don't mind using all of them when and if necessary (DRAW)

3) hmmm... hidden objectives. I have good and bad experiences with those. I don't mind having hidden objectives provided they don't match each other too much - like, for instance, in Ticket To Ride, when the cards in your possession show different cities to be linked with similar tracks that can be covered. Laying it all on the table gives a better sense of equality, so... (Caverna +1)

4) I don't mind brain burning, even when someone takes my spot - upon which I usually shout at him/her (Agricola +1)

5) again a tricky question : I don't mind doing a bit of the two (focusing on my game AND messing with others) (DRAW)

6) I've read your post and I completely get your point : having 7 players around with Caverna instead of 5 with Agricola is definitely better, but my group of players rarely exceeds 5 people. Yet Caverna must have more elements inside and a greater "object" value... And I want to play these games, not just own them... Nah, I can't make up my mind on this one, so ... DRAW

So if I'm not mistaken, that's 2 for Agricola, 1 for Caverna and 3 draws... I can't help feeling I'd have preferred a more decisive score

Anyway, your quiz put a different light on the subject and I thank you again for it. I'll share my choice when it's made, don't worry !
 
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Dominique Doguet
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Thanks for answering, Daniel.

Ah, you brought another important topic for me : having a different game each time you play it, avoiding for it to be "always the same"...
 
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Dominique Doguet
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Thanks for answering Hank.

Now I have a situation : I had a previous message where someone sold Caverna and kept Agricola, and here, it's the other way around ! I also completely understand your ideas in favour of Caverna, and that's the hardest part : I had figured pretty much that Agricola and its expansion would be in my shopping basket and now... I don't know any more !

I don't own an ipad, and I'd largely prefer buying a real game instead of buying it on any hardware...

 
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