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Caverna: The Cave Farmers» Forums » Sessions

Subject: First solo play and initial thoughts rss

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tibbles von tibbleton
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My shiny (and oh so heavy) copy of Caverna arrived today. I'd already read the rulebook and watched an intro video on youtube, but tonight was my first time actually reading the action spaces and furnishings.

Not having any particular strategy in mind for my first solo game, I figured I'd go with the Agricola 2.0 idea: food, expand, build stuff. My only intentional change was I thought I'd give farming a bit more weight since there's a lot more harvests.

I did my first few actions clearing fields and cave space. My thinking was I'd let the accumulating spaces stack higher. I hoped to grow on turn 4, but I ended up taking resources+furnish on 4 then the growth on 5. Then noticed that after 4 I was supposed to pay 2 food, oops, there went my free boar to cover that payment plus the round 5 harvest.

Mid game I kept growing (I think I grew on 5, 7, and 8), created a level 8 adventurer, and started planting stuff. So far so good, but I really felt like I was eating too many points.

The end game came surprisingly fast due to only 11 rounds, I'd cleared a bunch of space, but hadn't actually used much of it. I built some more pastures, grabbed more animals and rubies, built 2 ruby mines, and realized I should probably check out these new furnishings before the game ends and got one on 11 and one on 12. The 2 I went with were the Blacksmithing Parlor, since I had a stack of rubies that I could have used more efficiently earlier, and the Stone Storage since there was a fair chunk of stone on the board.

My final farm was:
All spaces covered
6 fields, 5 pasture squares, 1 stable
3 dwellings, 2 ore mines, 2 ruby mines
Stone Storage - with 11 stone
Blacksmithing Parlor
6 grain, 7 vegetables
1 dog, 8 sheep, 4 boar, 4 cows, 4 donkeys
20 coins (from 10 uses of the Blacksmith)
5 dwarves - 1 lvl 14

Which I believe comes to 103.

I'm pretty happy with that first score, but I definitely felt like I could have played that better.

The feeding was...Okay. There's no omg, I need 9 food in exactly 5 actions or I'm going to ruin my score with begging cards like Agricola, but that harvest every round made me notice my food actions a lot more. Like dangit, time to waste the last worker on getting food again or noticing as I just ate 4 points.

And the furnishings...By the time I had Dwellings, the game was near over, I totally missed my chance to even try the green ones. Next time I'll have to see about working those in far earlier.

Something I saw in another play thread here, resources reset on 6? My copy (2nd printing, I've got the infinite loop errata) still says more than 6, so I let stacks get to 7 before grabbing them.


First Though Review:
Mechanics-wise, I get the Agricola 2.0 label. But while playing, maybe it was just me, but it felt more like playing Le Havre. I've got this big stack of potential buildings sitting there and feeding is constant, but more of a point burn than any game crushing pressure. Not to mention just converting everything into cash at the end game.

I'm also not seeing how anyone could possibly argue this as easier to teach than Agricola. For every streamline, I felt like they added a new exception case. Look, you can build a stable in a forest!...But it can only hold boars...Know you grow on round 4!...But cover it with this extra card cover and then flip it when a different random card comes up...Nothing particularly bad, just there went ease of learning.

And the furnishings...For solo play, having everything laid out instead of random hand is nice. I can sit there paralyzed and no one will care. But this just seems like asking for analysis paralysis for everyone's first couple plays.

Long term, I feel like I'm probably going back to Agricola's cards. I like the variety and maybe it's cause I've played MTG since I was 10, but I love reading a hand of cards and looking for combos. Reviewers call those cards brain burning and a slog to preplan, but come on, it's only 14 cards with like 1-2 sentences each. I don't see how reading 47 different furnishings could possibly be faster for a new player to get into. An experienced player of either game has probably memorized the set and it's a nonissue either way.

Hopefully, I'll be able to get some more games in soon and can write up a full review. Though I'm afraid that even the guy who I'm certain will like this more than LoW or Agricola will see the stack of furnishings and avoid playing due to either losing (not reading all the tiles to go faster) or taking all night to make a move. Might end up soloing for a bit, which doesn't make for a good real review.
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ArrBeeDee Dial
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A very reasonable review, thanks.

I enjoy Caverna. I also enjoy Le Havre and Agricola.

I think it is easy to teach because "just do anything" and feed your family; my limits of early strategy instruction. It takes a couple of games to get the balance.

 
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Daniel Valencia
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Raujour wrote:
I think it is easy to teach because "just do anything" and feed your family;


Very true. While it may be faster for an Agricola player to pick up the minor rules differences in Caverna, Caverna is definitely the one that I would teach first.

On the subject of the Solo Game, I've been thinking of whether it's possible to achieve the 100 point score with only two dwarfs.... The highest I've gotten was around 62 points with two moderately armed mining dwarfs. I will keep trying! arrrh
 
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tibbles von tibbleton
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sthrjo wrote:
That is a high score for a first-timer. Did you remember to cover 4 of the action spaces?


I covered 3 on the shared board and round 9. The drift mining(?) one was a bit confusing, the appendix specifically gives rules for 1-3 players but then the 1p setup image covers it...I did make a few mistakes along the way, like my paying the round 4 and 5 feeding together and I paid the ruby for doing an adventure before my other dwarves 2 rounds after. But to my knowledge I didn't pay any resources I didn't have back when I should have paid.

I think it was just cause I can build a 55-70pt Agricola farm on random cards, if you play Caverna without furnishings () it's pretty similar in idea. At least going the high growth route.

I did a second game after I wrote the OP, built a few green furnishings, but only ended at 99 as my growth got pushed back to 5, 8, 10.

Next game I'm going to try multiple adventureres.


I know I'm totally biased, but I'm not 100% sold on that "play anything" idea. Both have point loss for not ticking boxes and realistically how many times in Agricola did you ever have more than 8 of something and wish you could score it as opposed to just eating it? I get the perception of ease though since your farm board isn't empty for 2/3 the game.

To me, the biggest ease factors were:
1. Cooking without a hearth. That's a chunk of the early game planning.
2. Rubies. Can't let that space accumulate for 1 more and still make a timing? Give 1 vp to solve it.
 
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Michael Dart
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tibbles wrote:
Something I saw in another play thread here, resources reset on 6? My copy (2nd printing, I've got the infinite loop errata) still says more than 6, so I let stacks get to 7 before grabbing them.

Congratulations on a great first score! I haven't got 100 myself yet. I think the way you've chosen to replenish is helping you a bit though.

In the thread 'Solo refilling rules, all 6s and 7s', the translator admits to having made a mistake. It seems clear that it should be "6 or more", not "more than 6". I'm not sure if that's the thread you were referencing, but that was official enough for me.
 
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tibbles von tibbleton
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mjdart wrote:
tibbles wrote:
Something I saw in another play thread here, resources reset on 6? My copy (2nd printing, I've got the infinite loop errata) still says more than 6, so I let stacks get to 7 before grabbing them.

Congratulations on a great first score! I haven't got 100 myself yet. I think the way you've chosen to replenish is helping you a bit though.

In the thread 'Solo refilling rules, all 6s and 7s', the translator admits to having made a mistake. It seems clear that it should be "6 or more", not "more than 6". I'm not sure if that's the thread you were referencing, but that was official enough for me.


Thanks, good to know. Well, I mean it annoys me that despite a new printing it's still wrong, but good to know what the official method is for comparing scores and walkthrus.
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tibbles von tibbleton
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Bigdanorama wrote:
Raujour wrote:
I think it is easy to teach because "just do anything" and feed your family;


Very true. While it may be faster for an Agricola player to pick up the minor rules differences in Caverna, Caverna is definitely the one that I would teach first.

On the subject of the Solo Game, I've been thinking of whether it's possible to achieve the 100 point score with only two dwarfs.... The highest I've gotten was around 62 points with two moderately armed mining dwarfs. I will keep trying! arrrh


I tried your challenge. 119* points with 2 dwarves. Never did manage to get the second dwarf a weapon, always had other moves to do.

*Edit: Wow, wrote this up before it even hit me that I could exchange rubies for more grains/veggies at the end. Adjusted that. 119.

It could have been optimized, for example I took Weaving Parlor the turn before I had any sheep. Originally I bought the Stone Storage, but 3 rounds later realized that was worth less points at the end and Weaving Parlor was the only point building that fit into the mats that I had on hand when I took the furnish action. I think I'd have had 117 if I kept the Stone Storage instead of reconning it into the Weaving.



Here's my actions, let me know if you spot a mistake:

1. Excavation (1 stone)
Sustenance (1 food)
+1 food from board

2. Excavation (1 stone)
Sustenance (1 food)
+2 food, +1 boar from board

3. Ore Mine Construction
Ore Mining (4+2 ore)
Harvest: -4 food

4. Blacksmithing (8 weapon) - 1 vegetable, furnish (Wood Supplier), stable
Slash-and-Burn (2 grain, 1 vegetable)
Feeding: -2 food

5. Sustenance (2 food)
Blacksmithing - tunnel, furnish (Carpenter), dual fence.
+1 food, +1 boar from board
Harvest: -4 food, +1 boar

6. Ruby Mine Construction
Ruby Mine (6+1 rubies)
Harvest: 0 boar, -2 food

7. Excavation (5 stone)
Ore Mine Construction - furnish (Weaving Parlor), stable
Harvest: 0 boar, -1 ruby

8. -5 rubies: Save sheep, buy 2 meadow, 2 tunnels
Sheep Farming (7 sheep) - 1 fence, 1 stable
Ore Mine Construction - sow, dual fence
-2 rubies, -2 grain: buy 2 cows
Harvest: 0 boar, 0 sheep, -1 grain, +1 cow

10. Donkey Farming (5 donkeys), 1 fence
Blacksmithing - cavern, field, furnish (Food Chamber)
Harvest: 0 boar, 0 cow, +1 sheep, +1 donkey, +1 food

11. Ruby Mine Construction
Blacksmithing - field, sow, furnish (Fodder Chamber)
Harvest: -1 food, 0 cow, +1 sheep, +1 boar, +1 donkey

12. Ruby Mining (5+1 rubies)
-2 boar, -1 donkey for 5 food
-2 rubies, -1 food: buy dog, cow
-8 rubies: 5 vegetable, 3 grain
Blacksmithing - sow, breed cows+boars, 2 gold
Harvest: -4 food, +1 sheep, +1 boar, +1 donkey, +1 cow

End result:
0 unused or missing animals
3 stables, 6 pastures, 3 ore mines, 2 ruby mines: 3+12+9+8 = 32
1 dog, 10 sheep, 4 boar, 7 donkeys, 6 cows: 1+10+4+7+6 = 28
11 grain, 11 vegetables: 6+11 = 17
2 gold 2
2 dwarves: 2
Wood Supplier (2), Food Chamber (22), Fodder Chamber (9), Weaving Parlor (5): 2+14+9+5 = 38
Total: 119
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Wheaton Little

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I realize this is several months past but as I have finally bought the game and had some time to try it solo I wanted to comment on this.

Firstly, thanks for the run through. I am a fair to good player of Agricola in my circle but have been stymied by the choices in caverna. I find it easy to do mediocrely on the solo game - 70s to high 80s but never very good.

So it was great to see how someone does better. Two comments though:

Where are you getting the 8 rubies that you spent in the last round? I did not end up with that many rubies and ended up buying fewer veges when I played the run through

I think you are counting planted grain for the food chamber 22 points which is incorrect I think.

I counted this at 97 points. Much better than my attempts!
 
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