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Subject: Agricola vs Caverna for non-gamer Animal Lover rss

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David Williams
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I have been debating Agricola vs Caverna for a while now. I play games often with my wife and 16-18 year old 'kids', this one would be mostly for Wifey's benefit as she's an animal lover (though we all are, it mostly applies to her).

Anyway... Wifey isn't a gamer and neither is my daughter. My son handles complex stuff better than Wifey but he will probably be least interested in the game.

We did borrow ACBAS from a friend and she liked it a lot, however it was really short and a bit limiting for my tastes. So I have been considering for about 2 years now whether to 'upgrade' to Agricola or Caverna.

As an animal lover it seems more variety would be a big plus - Agricola has Sheep, Boar and Cows in its basic form while Caverna also has doggies and donkeys. So Caverna seems to have more freedom to raise different animal types and maybe even more of them. The cuteness wouldn't hurt, though the dwarf theme wouldn't be a plus I don't think it would be a negative either.

However from what I gather Caverna is more difficult rules-wise, which is probably my main concern. Our favourite game to play is War of the Ring, but she found it hard work to learn this game and she still gets confused with the rules especially if we didn't play for a while. I don't think Caverna is as bad (in fact the basic format seems much simpler - place a worker, do what it says) but it does also throw a lot of options at the players. I don't imagine us playing the full version until we have quite a few games played.

Counter to that is Agricola is less forgiving and can be more stressful. This is another point for Caverna I believe.

I like the idea of different setups each time so Agricola perhaps wins for variety/replayability (though there seem enough options in Caverna to keep us going a long time).

Then again Caverna at its cheapest seem about £20 more expensive, not helped by being out of stock in many places which I assume means stocks are running low in the UK. Anyone know if a reprint is due?

I realise there is also a family version, but I don't think Agricola will be too difficult, if anything being given cards of your own gives some clues what to do and make it easier to decide on your strategy, compared to Caverna which lets you choose from everything at once.

Well that's my thoughts. I was literally about to pull the trigger on Agricola (thinking not only is it cheaper, but if it's a hit we can always upgrade it with expansions when they eventually come out, or we can try Caverna if we find we don't like the things Caverna changes, if we prefer it then I know someone for whom Agricola would be a good gift even if 2nd hand). Even clicked 'login and checkout' but there seems to be a glitch on the website. I figured I'd ask for thoughts here before I hear back from the seller.

Thanks all!
 
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Grant
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Based on everything you described about your wife, I think Caverna would be the better pick for you.

The only points you mentioned against Caverna (lack of variable setup and price point) seem to be your criteria, not your wife's.

Caverna having more animals, being more open, and being more forgiving all sound like valid points that would make your wife prefer it over Agricola.

You did mention that you've heard Caverna is more difficult rules-wise, but I don't think that is the case at all. They are very similar in that regard.
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David Williams
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Thanks for the reply! It makes sense, but maybe I wasn't clear on something:

grant5 wrote:
The only points you mentioned against Caverna (lack of variable setup and price point) seem to be your criteria, not your wife's.


I actually think the price and greater complexity are points which apply to Wifey more than me. Price doesn't bother me so much, but I have to be able to justify it to Her.

But yep, the static setup is possibly not something she would care about, or even notice. I don't think it bothered her in ACBAS, but then we only played it a few times (and without expansions). And I will take your word for it that Caverna isn't too difficult... but it certainly looks really intimidating, and the rules are pretty long (comparable to War of the Ring, though I suspect there are many less fiddly exceptions and details).

There is another point I forgot to mention - ACBAS required the building of fences, something I thought she liked but is removed from Caverna. Then again that adds to the complexity when planning (I seem to recall it being the main thing that gave me a headache). Do you find that a significant aspect to be missing from Caverna, or is it nice not to have to work it all out?

Another point might actually be which is the game more likely to give us close games. I tend to be a lot more analytical and do better in game without randomness, but then I'm sure she did beat me at ACBAS at least once. Is Caverna a bit more forgiving in that regard and tend to result in smaller point spreads? I am sure I read that Agricola can be really difficult and a small difference in optimising or a couple of bad moves can make a big difference. It's definitely better if we can have close games.

BTW we do have Dungeon Petz and she manages that OK, though she finds it difficult and I don't think she has ever beaten me. Are Caverna and Dungeon Petz of similar difficulty? I'd suspect about the same complexity, but perhaps DP has more calculation to do when trying to meet needs, and less forgiving if you make some bad moves (though I don't think she has ever actually lost a pet in Dungeon Petz).

Cheers.
 
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Grant
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Orion3T wrote:
Thanks for the reply! It makes sense, but maybe I wasn't clear on something:

grant5 wrote:
The only points you mentioned against Caverna (lack of variable setup and price point) seem to be your criteria, not your wife's.


I actually think the price and greater complexity are points which apply to Wifey more than me. Price doesn't bother me so much, but I have to be able to justify it to Her.

Then let me rephrase that part. You asked which she would enjoy more. Price point doesn't affect enjoyability, it is just a barrier to entry. Since you seemed willing to buy either, I didn't think it was a valid factor in determining whether your wife would enjoy the game.

Quote:
But yep, the static setup is possibly not something she would care about, or even notice. I don't think it bothered her in ACBAS, but then we only played it a few times (and without expansions). And I will take your word for it that Caverna isn't too difficult... but it certainly looks really intimidating, and the rules are pretty long (comparable to War of the Ring, though I suspect there are many less fiddly exceptions and details).

Just let me clarify that I didn't say it wouldn't be too difficult for your wife, I'm in no position to make that determination. I just said it's the same complexity as Agricola.

Quote:
There is another point I forgot to mention - ACBAS required the building of fences, something I thought she liked but is removed from Caverna. Then again that adds to the complexity when planning (I seem to recall it being the main thing that gave me a headache). Do you find that a significant aspect to be missing from Caverna, or is it nice not to have to work it all out?

Caverna still has the building of fences, it's just done in a different way. Rather than having physical wooden pieces that you place on your board, the fences are printed on tiles that just flip over from meadows to pastures. They also don't have to be contiguous like they do in Agricola. So the fences present less of a tactile arrangement puzzle in Caverna. That does make them easier to deal with, but less fun if you enjoy tactile arrangement puzzles.

Quote:
Another point might actually be which is the game more likely to give us close games. I tend to be a lot more analytical and do better in game without randomness, but then I'm sure she did beat me at ACBAS at least once. Is Caverna a bit more forgiving in that regard and tend to result in smaller point spreads? I am sure I read that Agricola can be really difficult and a small difference in optimising or a couple of bad moves can make a big difference. It's definitely better if we can have close games.

I think the point spreads should be similar in both games, and directly related to competency. If you are much better than your wife, you're going to blow her out of the water in either game.

Quote:
BTW we do have Dungeon Petz...

I don't know DP well enough to comment on your DP-related questions, sorry.
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Bastian Winkelhaus
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grant5 wrote:

You did mention that you've heard Caverna is more difficult rules-wise, but I don't think that is the case at all. They are very similar in that regard.


Of course i cant say from own experience, as i had learned Agricola long before Caverna.

But Caverna has more extra rules to learn (weapons, quests, the order of placing your peeps with weapons, holdings dogs and sheep, one time effects when building, different building rules for outside and inside the mountain, special harvest phases) then rules that got deleted from Agricola (renovation, 3 different kinds of cards, need to expand house, fences and fields adjacent to others of the same kind).

Orion3T wrote:

There is another point I forgot to mention - ACBAS required the building of fences, something I thought she liked but is removed from Caverna. Then again that adds to the complexity when planning (I seem to recall it being the main thing that gave me a headache). Do you find that a significant aspect to be missing from Caverna, or is it nice not to have to work it all out?


I dont think its a factor in Agricola. Where to place the fences in Agricola is way less important then in ACBAS. When in doubt, use the top row for fields, the 2 spaces to the right of your original house for expanding it and the other 6 spaces for fences.

Orion3T wrote:

Another point might actually be which is the game more likely to give us close games. I tend to be a lot more analytical and do better in game without randomness, but then I'm sure she did beat me at ACBAS at least once. Is Caverna a bit more forgiving in that regard and tend to result in smaller point spreads? I am sure I read that Agricola can be really difficult and a small difference in optimising or a couple of bad moves can make a big difference. It's definitely better if we can have close games. :)


Compared to Caverna, Agricola will have lower scores. So on a percentile basis, differences in Caverna should be smaller, but as absolute numbers, the difference should be smaller in Agricola.

Does 38-31 in Agricola looks close to you? What many people forget, you do start with -20 and not with 0 points.
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David Williams
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Quote:
Just let me clarify that I didn't say it wouldn't be too difficult for your wife, I'm in no position to make that determination. I just said it's the same complexity as Agricola.


Bad wording on my part. I didn't mean 'too difficult for my wife'. I meant 'too difficult' as in 'very difficult'. My impression was that Agricola has less rules but perhaps that's not true if you take out the rules about fencing etc.

And you're right neither price is a barrier, but I don't think I can justify spending £20 more on it unless I have good reason to think it's a better fit for us. But you are absolutely right that price doesn't affect whether it will be enjoyed; I'd prefer to spend £60 extra on a game we like than £40 on a game we don't like (because it's too punishing, for example).

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
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David Williams
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Quote:
Compared to Caverna, Agricola will have lower scores. So on a percentile basis, differences in Caverna should be smaller, but as absolute numbers, the difference should be smaller in Agricola.


OK, it sounds like you both agree we are likely to be equally competitive in both games. It's not a massive factor, I'm no WP expert by any means and I'm sure she beat me at ACBAS at least once (and we only played about 3-4 times I think) so I'll strike that off the list.

In simplest terms, it seems I'm trying to decide whether to spend about £20 extra for the extra animal types, and a more relaxed and lighthearted experience. I realise Agricola only has 3 animal types in the base game (ctually less than ACBAS?) but it did introduce horses in an expansion, right?

But then both have plants, and she likes those too.

It seems maybe the jury is out on the rules complexity; some features will be familiar from ACBAS in either case, so we won't be jumping right in with no previous experience which will help in both cases.
 
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Brian Bowles
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Sounds to me like you want Caverna, at lest for now. Both games are great, but Caverna is more forgiving to casual games. I think after you play for a while you will be like me and start looking at Agricola for the challenge, but my casual gamer family still is not up to the challenge of Agricola, I save that for my game group that finds Caverna just not punishing enough.
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Grant
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Orion3T wrote:
Quote:
Compared to Caverna, Agricola will have lower scores. So on a percentile basis, differences in Caverna should be smaller, but as absolute numbers, the difference should be smaller in Agricola.


OK, it sounds like you both agree we are likely to be equally competitive in both games. It's not a massive factor, I'm no WP expert by any means and I'm sure she beat me at ACBAS at least once (and we only played about 3-4 times I think) so I'll strike that off the list.

In simplest terms, it seems I'm trying to decide whether to spend about £20 extra for the extra animal types, and a more relaxed and lighthearted experience. I realise Agricola only has 3 animal types in the base game (ctually less than ACBAS?) but it did introduce horses in an expansion, right?

But then both have plants, and she likes those too.

It seems maybe the jury is out on the rules complexity; some features will be familiar from ACBAS in either case, so we won't be jumping right in with no previous experience which will help in both cases.

A couple other thoughts on the cost side of the equation:
Will you ever play with more than four players? One of the reasons Caverna is more expensive is because it includes enough stuff for up to 7 players.

You also mentioned potentially buying the expansion for Agricola in the future if you decide to go with Agricola, and that would put it at about the same cost as Caverna, if not more (not sure if expansion pricing has been announced yet).

And one other item that may interest you. If you're interested in more variety and something to give you some direction at the beginning (like the cards do in Agricola), there is a fan-created expansion for Caverna that introduces races with asymmetric abilities. I haven't had a chance to try it myself, but it looks pretty good and the discussion I've read about it sounds very positive:
Fan expansion: Race packs
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Glen F
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Posted this on the Caverna thread, but copying it over here ...

I bought Agricola a few years back, and got the Farmers of the Moor expansion maybe a year later (should note that it adds Horses). We enjoy it, but at the same time it is a heavy strategy game. I wouldn't say that my wife is a non-gamer, but certainly I tend to dominate in the strategy games. Agricola I'd win by a wide margin every time.

When I bought the game, it was intended as a game for the adults - my wife and I and any friends that came over. I have two girls though (at the time I think they were 7 and 9) and they saw the little wooden animals and wanted to play. So you're on the right track with the animal theme! And they both enjoy the game (especially the eldest), though they never score particularly well. The full strategy of it is still beyond them, but as long as they're enjoying themselves!

Anyway, picked up Caverna about a week ago, and played it twice so far. So not nearly as familiar with it, but I can tell you that so far it's a big hit. Compared to Agricola, it's much more open and doesn't feel like such a struggle to feed your family. My wife has commented that she likes it much more than Agricola for that reason. And actually she won both the first two games!

In Caverna actions tend to be combined (you get resources in the process of clearing fields/caverns ... build pastures/stables when you pick up animals...). Because of this, it seems to flow more naturally - Agricola requires more careful planning ahead while Caverna lets you just do what you want to now. This follows with your comment about Agricola being less forgiving and more stressful - Caverna there always seems to be a few ways to get enough food, and you can pretty much stumble through the game and at least do OK. Part of that is the addition of Ruby's which act almost like a wildcard - you can buy just about anything with them.

Yes, it does add some things (mining/expeditions) that aren't in Agricola, so in that sense it is more complex. But because of the natural flow/more forgiving nature you can almost ignore the complexity at first until you get a handle on it. Of course, you'll have to get a handle on it and do some planning ahead if you actually want to do well ... but that can come in time.

One point on variety - yes, the cards in Agricola does give you something unique every game. (Though that can be bad from a complexity standpoint - every game trying to figure out something new, and can't get help unless you reveal your hand). But the scoring tends to force a sense of 'sameness' to every game: it's like I'm always heading towards the exact same end farm, just taking a slightly different path to get there. Caverna allows much more variety in your end goal. Not just because there's less penalties for missing things, but because there's no limits on individual items. So you can make your farm much more specialized if you wish. I'm quite enjoying coming with different ways to feed my family.

As far as being more expensive, I agree it is an expensive game. But it also has a lot of cool components. Agricola, pretty much everything (aside from the animals) is represented by a colored disk. In Caverna, you get custom shapes for most things. It doesn't make a difference to the game play of course, but for visual appeal, especially for non-gamers, I'd say it's worth it. (You can of course pick up custom components for Agricola ... but then it's no longer cheaper ...).

So personally I'd say go with Caverna - I think it'll have much more appeal to non-gamers. Admittedly, it still has that 'new game' appeal for me. And coming at it with experience in Agricola I may be underestimating the complexity. So take my opinion for what's it worth ...
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Grant
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UncutDragon wrote:
Agricola, pretty much everything (aside from the animals) is represented by a colored disk...


Note that in the new Revised Edition of Agricola, all the wooden bits are shaped like the thing they represent. No more generic colored disks.

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David Williams
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Thanks for the help and advice so far everyone - I am slowly leaning towards Caverna for all the reasons you said.

- We wouldn't often play with more than 4, but it could happen occasionally if we have a visitor. I think both games would be too much for my parents though! So 5+ support not necessary, but it doesn't hurt.

- You're right about the cost, even just adding a single expansion to get horses would likely add another £20 I'm guessing. So Caverna seems good value for the amount of pieces you get.

- Glen it sounds like your situation is similar to mine - my 'kids' are much older though! But if your younger kids can handle it comfortably enough, I would hope my wife can too! And she has coped with War of the Ring and Dungeon Petz, both of which are rated similar weight to Caverna on BGG (4.0 and 3.5 respectively; Caverna is 3.8, Agricola 3.6).

Thanks all!
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Glen F
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grant5 wrote:
UncutDragon wrote:
Agricola, pretty much everything (aside from the animals) is represented by a colored disk...


Note that in the new Revised Edition of Agricola, all the wooden bits are shaped like the thing they represent. No more generic colored disks.


Wasn't aware of that - good to know! Look very much like the Caverna ones (not surprisingly ...)

Orion3T wrote:
- Glen it sounds like your situation is similar to mine - my 'kids' are much older though! But if your younger kids can handle it comfortably enough, I would hope my wife can too!

Yes, I didn't expect them to enjoy such complex games in the beginning, but they're both looking forward to our next game. That said, our last game of Caverna, my wife and I were both in the 90's and they were around 50-60 ... so they enjoy it but don't do nearly as well (understandably!). They compete more with each other and with their own scores from previous games.

Anyway, you're not dealing with young kids - but as I said, my wife has beaten me both games so far. Although the first was really just learning and the second was really close. Too early to know how it'll go in the long run.

I'm not familiar with either of the other games you mentioned, so can't comment on those.
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A J
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Have to say your wife is a trooper if she's not a gamer but would still willing to slog through Agricola or Caverna with you!

I find Dungeon Petz actually more difficult and brain-burny than Caverna. DP is pretty unforgiving if you mess up and lose a pet, for example. Gameplay is tighter. While you may not do well if you mess up in Caverna, you never feel knocked out from just one or two mistakes. Game feels pretty open to do whatever you want. There might be more rules to remember in Caverna, though. As far as game weight, Caverna might be just sliiiiightly heavier.

Sorry, never played Agricola to compare it with DP.
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David Williams
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If Caverna is 'easier on the brain' than Dungeon Petz then I don't think I need to worry about it being too complex. She will usually happily play it so while she finds it difficult (mostly the 'meet needs' phase) the theme motivates her to do the best she can.

Same for War of the Ring - which is actually considerably harder than Petz, especially with the expansion which is how we play it. I still regularly have to check rules especially if we haven't played for a while.

Since I know she liked ACBAS I believe the theme of either Agricola or Caverna will do the same for her, but I'd still like to not make it too difficult to get started.
 
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Caverna has more rules, but the rule book is much better (than original Agricola, I've heard revised is written better), so should be just as easy or easier to learn. It is also more forgiving, you'll feed more often, but coming up wth food is much easier.

IMO, the only negative Caverna has vs Agricola for teaching a new gamer is the sheer quantity of available furnishings to read and worry if someone takes the one you planned around.

I personally prefer Agricola, but I seem in the minority and given what you list, I'd also suggest Caverna.
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Geoff Burkman
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All of this sounds to me like you ought to look into acquiring a copy of Caylus. Beyond that, I'd bet dollars to donuts that your wife would prefer Caverna to Agricola; it's simply far more forgiving. In fact, so far I've ignored picking it up for myself for that very reason. I wouldn't mind playing it again, but it simply didn't pass my requirements for a challenge. Loads and loads of nice bits, though, I'll give it that.

Needless to say, ymmv...
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Glen F
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tibbles wrote:
IMO, the only negative Caverna has vs Agricola for teaching a new gamer is the sheer quantity of available furnishings to read and worry if someone takes the one you planned around.

What I did with my girls (before our second game) was tell them they should choose a food 'furnishing' to aim for, then look for other furnishings that help or pair nicely with that. So they each picked out 3-4 buildings they wanted to build, then we played out the game.

As a learning tool, I think it worked pretty well. It got them focused at the start, and only worrying about the few furnishings they'd picked out. Of course, knowing their goals, I could've been mean and interfered with them ... and in general, they'll have to learn how to deal with that (intentional or otherwise). But it's an idea for introducing the game.
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Christopher Hayashida
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You might want to check out Agricola: Family Edition. It's more like an upgraded Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small (instead of a dumbed-down version of "regular" Agricola).

Has all the animals that your wife likes, but changes around the scoring so that you don't "feel like a failure" when your family starves. Instead of fencing off land, you add Tetris-shaped pastures.

It's also cheaper than Caverna and Agricola. I saw it in the FLGS in the Los Angeles area, but I'm sure it's making its way to the rest of the country, too.

I haven't played it yet, but held it in my hands at the store and was seriously considering buying it...
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Oskar Arnason
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Throwing in a vote for Agricola.
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David Williams
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Thanks Christopher - I had pretty much written the Family edition off, as it has less different animal types than even ACBAS. I'm not concerned that either Agricola or Caverna will be 'beyond reach', just that if I'm choosing between them being a bit more accessible will be a bonus. I don't think it's available in the UK yet either.

Oskar - first clear vote for Agricola. Any particular reason I wonder?

I'm about convinced to get Caverna, however the places I'd usually buy it from are currently out of stock and nowhere else is close to their prices (£49.69 shipped). They have the revised Agricola for £37.19 shipped. The cheapest I can find Caverna is £65 plus shipping.

Guess I will keep digging for now!
 
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Oskar Arnason
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Orion3T wrote:
Oskar - first clear vote for Agricola. Any particular reason I wonder?



Yeah, sorry - I started typing but couldn't articulate it due to lack of caffeine and kids running around so I erased it

I did my research back in the day and went with Caverna. Played it a few times and like it well enough, but the sheer amount of stuff in the box is daunting. So it has been collecting dust until I get around to making an insert or something that speeds up the setup and teardown. In addition to that I agree with Tom Vasel's review, that the buildings aren't as interesting as the jobs and minor improvements. Most of them serve a basic function like Glass Road's instead of breaking or bending the rules a little like in Agricola.

I got the new edition of Agricola figuring that I'd just trade away the one that I liked less, and instantly fell for Agricola. Setup and teardown is quicker.The randomisation provided by the occupations and minor improvements provides a much more interesting puzzle, and I like the tension of gathering food.

That being said I won't be trading either away. Caverna fixes a lot of the issues people have with Agricola, but at the same time needs the contrast for you to appreciate the changes it makes to the formula. Most of the scoring is capped in Agricola encouraging you to do a little bit of everything, while Caverna allows you to maximise on a strategy. You can use Minecraft as an analogy where Agricola is survival and Caverna is creative mode, but for me I won't be going into creative until I'm ready to mess with redstone and build castles.
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David Williams
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Thanks Oskar!

How do people feel about the scoring systems? I had read that Caverna allowed more freedom to pick a strategy you like and still remain competitive, while Agricola was a bit more prescriptive in that you were kinda forced to do a bit of everything. But I also knew Caverna penalises 2 points for each animal type you don't have, so figured that kinda did the same thing. I hadn't really looked at specifics though and assumed it wasn't that big a deal.

I just took a closer look at Agricola's scoring system though, and was quite surprised (and a bit disappointed). Not only are animals worth less than 1 point each, it seems bizarre that there's a hard cut-off at a certain number of each animal. Combine this with penalties for not doing stuff and I see why people have commented that everyone tends to end up with a farm that looks basically the same - maybe one player has more cows and another has more sheep, but all players have probably at least tried to do a bit of everything.

Also, having multiple cut-offs for points doesn't seem very newbie-friendly. It's all very well having difficult choices to make but if the scoring system is simple then it makes things much easier.

In short, this strikes me as another pretty strong reason to favour Caverna; I'm pretty sure Wifey won't like the somewhat contrived and restrictive scoring system in Agricola. In Caverna it's basically 1 point for everything or 1/2 points for grain, -1 for unused spaces and -2 for animals you are missing altogether.

Thoughts? Am I off the mark here?
 
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Geoff Burkman
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Orion3T wrote:
Thoughts? Am I off the mark here?


In my not-so-humble opinion, yes.

A few points:

1. The complaint that "all farms look the same" is somewhat specious. Bear in mind that there are only seven categories of "stuff" that inflict a penalty for not having any, plus the negatives for unused farmyard spaces. So, yeah, most players are going to have, typically, 4-6 of those categories covered, but in different ways, depending on how they prosecuted their game. The layouts will vary, the empties filled will vary, and every last farm will be different. Those who expect wildly varying finished farms are expecting far too much out of a 3x5 grid.

2. A very significant chunk of scoring is accomplished via renovation and total work force. Consider: a 4-room stone house and five peeps will yield 23 points, very likely to be upwards of half one's score, if not more. Plus, card points can be quite significant as well. In fact, I'll shortly be posting a new session report for a game in which I scored 87+ percent of my total in house, peeps, and card play.

Agricola is a game about growth and careful maintenance thereof. It's about getting the best use out of your hand of cards if at all possible, yet without losing control of the pace of growth. Getting your third worker is very important 99% of the time. The fourth one is less-so-but still useful, and likewise the fifth. I got thumped in a 3-player online contest recently by someone who ended up with only three peeps, while the other two of us had five. That's an outlier; usually the person who can rack up the most actions stands the best chance of winning.

3. The scoring system for Agricola is simple once you grok the rationale behind it. The "multiple cut-offs" are a reflection of the tiered values of each category. Caverna allows for higher scores in, say, amassing sheep, but it also makes it much easier to actually do that. Try it sometime; play a game of Agricola and remove the caps on animals, for instance. See what happens. I'm betting it's not going to make a whole lot of difference in the end. The truth is that in competitive play, you're very unlikely to be able to amass significant numbers...of anything. Your opponent(s) won't allow it!

4. All that said, I'll be honest and confess that I don't have near the amount of playing experience with Caverna that I do with Agricola. Still, I can recognize that Caverna is much more of a sandbox game, not nearly as competitive as Agricola. Significant blocking is fairly rare in Caverna, whereas it's often the heart of highly skilled play in Agricola. The decision tree in Caverna is far more open and forgiving, the demands of maintenance (feeding) are far tougher in Agricola. I've played well over 1000 games of Agricola; I can't imagine ever being motivated to play that many of Caverna.

5. And all that said, Caverna remains an entertaining game. Someday I hope to own a copy.
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Following on to the comments about scoring, I'd also say that Agricola's score capping has very little impact. As noted, in Agricola, you will probably never get more than 8 sheep, even if you could score them. Caverna you certainly can, because all actions are doubled compared to Agricola, so you will have double the farm contents. This is also why Caverna feels easier and has less reputation for being discouraging to new players. That same player with an empty farm in Agricola has visible stuff in Caverna. It's not that they played any better, the game just gives you more stuff to pile on your board.

Also, as to play strategy, it isn't correct to say that Agricola forces everyone to do the same farm while Caverna lets you specialize in whatever. In Agricola, you will still score better if you play to your strengths (tied to your unique hand of cards), so everyone will play somewhat differently most of the game. And if you play with drafting, farms will really diverge. But in the final rounds, yes everyone will grab 1-2 of each thing they are missing and the farms will uniform somewhat in appearance.
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