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Caverna: The Cave Farmers» Forums » Variants

Subject: Super Dwarves Variant (Work in progress) rss

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Nic Thibodeaux
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This variant hopes to give each game of Caverna a little more variation and adventure for each player by allowing players to give each new family member a unique skill. These skills encompass a range of benefits, allowing players to specialize in areas specific to their dwarves abilities. This may also provide some direction to those players overcome by analysis paralysis, providing specific bonuses and maximizing certain actions and expansion strategies.

This is a work in progress. There are currently 26 abilities, which provides a good set to draw from for 4 players. If there is enough support, I would love to try to design some cards to print out and use.


1. After set up and before the first round, the ability card deck is shuffled and 5 cards are given to each player, who then chooses 3 cards to keep.

2. A new phase is added to the game: the ability phase. The ability phase occurs at the end of every round (after all after feeding, harvest and breeding if applicable). During the ability phase, you may use one of your ability cards on a baby to give it a unique ability. You may not give adults abilities. The card is placed face up in front of you to indicate that you have used that card. Indicate which dwarf has the ability by placing a matching resource both on the card and the dwarf piece. Ideally, unique counters can be made to indicate and keep track of the ability each dwarf has.

3. The ability given to the new dwarf is permanent, unless indicated otherwise, and cannot be removed. You may give the sixth dwarf an ability the same as the others as long as you have a card to use.

The abilities are described below. They are organized with respect to what purpose they serve. Some abilities can only be used by the dwarf that has it, and others are passive abilities that assist you in progressing through the game. I would love to hear any suggestions for abilities to add, and I will continue to update this list as it expands. Suggestions for balancing these abilities is also appreciated. I can’t really play test this much, so many of these abilities may be over/underpowered. All instances of “x” means I currently don’t know what is fair, so suggestions on those are also appreciated. If an ability seems too overpowered to even include, don't hesitate to say so.

*I’m also considering a food cost to either give the ability or use the ability. I think this would provide a bit more pressure on making food, as well as provide a bit of theme to the game (warriors need more food obviously).

Expedition abilities:

Natural Warrior: This dwarf is born with a level 8 weapon.

Quick Warrior: This dwarf cannot have a weapon stronger than level 5, but all expedition actions give at least 3 rewards (the adventure space only gives 2 rewards then 1, not 3 and 3)

Efficient Warrior: This dwarf cannot have a weapon stronger than level 5, but they can collect multiple of the same rewards from expeditions (except all weapons +1).

Explorer: If this dwarf goes on an expedition at level 14, you can choose to send him on a voyage to a new world, removing him from play immediately. The dwarf returns from his voyage during scoring with 15 gold. You cannot score with the prayer chamber if you do this, but you can score with supplies storage and weapon storage.

Stonesmith: This dwarf may forge weapons with stone at half price (can forge up to level 8 with 4 stone). Indicate stone weapons by placing a stone resource on the weapon. Stone weapons break and are removed after the second expedition. The stone weapon still upgrades in the same fashion as regular weapons do.

Blacksmith: This dwarf uses the forging space to forge a weapon for any other dwarf, but cannot forge a weapon for itself. When using an expedition space, it is treated as an all weapons +1 action.

Action space Abilities

Magician: Imitation spaces have no food cost for this dwarf.

Illusionist: If someone imitates any of your dwarfed taken action spaces, you receive 1 gold.

Early riser: You can take the first action of the round with this dwarf by paying 1 ruby, but they can never have a weapon.

Wheat farmer: When this dwarf takes a wheat, they take a second wheat.

Arborist: When this dwarf sows, they may also sow up to 3 wood (1 wood for each field, each harvesting 3 wood).

Mountain farmer: Whenever this dwarf sows fields orthogonally adjacent to the mountain, they may plant one additional resource in each field (this includes overhanging field tiles adjacent to overhanging cave tiles)

Meadow farmer: When this dwarf places meadow/field double tiles, they may instead place 2 single meadow tiles. These tiles must be adjacent to each other.

Field farmer: When this dwarf places meadow/field double tiles, they may instead place 2 single field tiles. These tiles must be adjacent to each other.

Miner: When this dwarf places tunnel/cavern double tiles, they may instead place 2 single tunnel tiles. These tiles must be adjacent to each other.

Survivalist: When recovering food bonuses from your player board with this dwarf, you receive double the reward (+2 food, +4 food).

Resource abilities:

Animal breeder: The breeding phase occurs before feeding phase by paying a ruby.

Sheperd (Taken from Agricola): During each harvest, if you have at least 4 sheep during the breeding phase, you receive 2 lambs instead of 1 as long as you have room for them.

Ruby miner: if you have at least 2 ruby mines, you receive 1 ruby during the breeding phase.

Rock biter: At each feeding phase, you may place a single tunnel in your cave on an undeveloped area. This dwarf doesn’t need to be fed if you do this.

Woodchuck: At each feeding phase, you may place a single meadow on one of your forests. This dwarf doesn’t need to be fed if you do this.

Baker: Grain can be converted to 2 food twice during feeding.

Alchemist: You can convert 2 coal into 1 wood, and 2 wood into 1 stone at any time.

End Game Scoring Abilities:

Weapon salesman: After the last round and before scoring, you may sell any of your weapons of level 10 and up by placing them on this card for 6 points each. You may not score the prayer chamber if you do this, and your sold weapons do not score with weapon storage.

Dog breeder: After the last round and before scoring, if you have at least 5 dogs, you may sell only these dogs by placing them on this card for 10 points. You must accommodate any sheep that the dogs were guarding before scoring the sheep.

Butcher: After the last round and before scoring, if you have 4 of each farm animal (not including dogs), you may sell only these animals by placing them on this card for 24 points. You may not do this if you have any begging tiles, because letting your family starve to win a game is just wrong.

Diamond miner: When scoring, if you dug at least 3 ruby mines, you found a diamond! Score x points.

Sapphire miner: When scoring, if you dug at least 3 ore mines, you found a sapphire! Score x points.

Animal lover: When scoring, for each fenced pasture that has the maximum number of animals, score 2 points. You must score this ability after the butcher ability.

Glutton: During each feeding phase, you may feed the glutton up to 10 food by placing food on this card. During scoring, score 1 point per food on the card. You still need to feed this dwarf 2 food each feeding phase.
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Jan Maiwald
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I like the idea, feels very inspired by the occupations from Agricola. But I liked it there, so why not try the same in Caverna.
I think it'S interesting to give the abilities only to new borns.
Anyway, here are my thought on some abilities:

Explorer: Maybe give him 3-5 Gold each round, to make it more attractive to send him out early, not just at the last round, which seems very overpowered giving 15 points.

Stonesmith: I like the idea of breaking weapons. Maybe just scratch the upgradeability. Nice way too get a bit more out of the prayer chamber.

Illusionist: I find that we barely use the imitation in our games, so this seems useless to me.

Magician: I like this, as mentioned, I barely use imitation. Maybe this opens some new possibilities.

Survivalist: seems very powerful once there is 2 or more food on a space. Maybe just a +1/+2 bonus.

Rock biter: I think just feeding him with stone (like the working cave) is powerful enough. One free cave each turn sounds crazy strong.

Woodchuck: Same as rock biter, just feed him with wood.
Baker: Very strong. Maybe 2 grain give 3 food?

Alchemist: Seems very specific. Maybe just pay one ore to transform wood to stone or stone to wood.

Weapon salesman/Dog breeder/Butcher: Feels strange to just sell everything at scoring, that would also give points if you didn’t sell it. I think the Animal lover or the miners are a lot more elegant way to score at the end.

Glutton: 10 feels like a lot of food, but maybe its worth it, in veggies that’s 5 points, so it’s a very good investment.

The ones not mentioned I generally like as they are.
Maybe I'll mock up some cards and give this a try some time!
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