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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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I replied to your identical thread in the Agricola forum. Maybe you should post a link to that one so all the discussion can be consolidated to one thread?
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David Williams
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grant5 wrote:
I replied to your identical thread in the Agricola forum. Maybe you should post a link to that one so all the discussion can be consolidated to one thread?


Quite right, I had intended to do that but forgot. I realise many of the same players frequent both but thought there still might be some who only play one or the other.

My other post is here, if people are able to help me it would be better to post there:

https://boardgamegeek.com/article/23780936#23780936

Thanks!
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Glen F
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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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H C
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I had some friends who played Harvest Moon or Animal Farm and liked the animals in both bg. It's been split which is better but most of my lighter gamer friends prefer Caverna.
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