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Caverna: The Cave Farmers» Forums » General

Subject: Is it really that heavy? rss

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John
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Caverna is rated 3.9 of 5 on complexity.
I'd like to buy this game for a group which has some experience with a few gateway games.

Do you feel this game really is a heavy gamers game?
Is there some kind of basic rules version for beginners?
 
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Marty Strubczewski
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It's heavy in the sense that there are a lot of rules to digest. I would not play this game with your group if you not have read over the rules twice and watched a video on gameplay. The Rulebook is good but can be hard to find specific nuances if you are not familiar with the game.

Caverna is a great game and easy to play once you know the rules. Getting to the "Know the rules" will take some effort.

Caverna is a sandbox design so the overwhelming options and lack of specific direction may be a turn off to those that only have experience with gateway games.
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Drake Coker
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Physically, yes, the game is that heavy! It weighs a ton

As for learning it, I'd say 3.9 is a touch high, but not by much. In my book, about 3.5.

If you've played any other game by Uwe Rosenberg, it's no different. If you've played Agricola, many of the rules are identical (to the point where the rules simply tell you to skip ahead several sections).

Some of the complexity comes from simply the number of potential combinations to choose from while playing. The rules themselves aren't too bad.

Edit: FWIW, I know a couple of 6th graders that play it and do fine.
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Mark Yang
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The weight rating is just a rough guide and is subjective. It all depends on how well your group of new gamers can digest rules, and how well you are at teaching games.

As a point of reference, the game Labyrinth: The War on Terror, 2001 – ? I find to be more complex/heavy than Caverna, yet it has a lower weight rating of 3.52 compared to Caverna's current 3.79

2 weeks ago I had a new gamer watch this how to play video on youtube:

, combined with my 2-play past experience we were able to play a full 2 player game in about 2 hours without hiccups.

The game is great for new gamers because win-or-lose they will have fun custom building their own plot of land and caverns.

Go for it!

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Curt Carpenter
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Olvenskol wrote:
If you've played any other game by Uwe Rosenberg, it's no different.

Core gameplay, yes. What's different, and what turned me off, was the huge array of buildings/rooms to build, all of which are available from the very beginning. It's an enormous array to look at, even with the simpleified set.

Personally, I thought I preferred Caverna to Agricola at first, but then later flip-flopped, and sold Caverna. I also like the new Feast For Odin for a more wide-open sandbox feel. YMMV
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Ess Why
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Part of the heaviness comes from the many ways to score points. Inexperienced gamers are often at a loss on how to proceed initially.

Compare to Lords of Waterdeep. When I teach LoW, I start off by saying - the winner has the most points, to get points - complete quests. That gives inexperienced gamers something to focus on
 
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John
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Thanks a bunch for sharing your impressions!

Based on your reactions I don't expect the game will be a hit in the group. It's a shame, because the game looks great. I'll look for a lighter game with this theme. Thanks again.
 
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Andrii Chabykin
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The rules are not easy to learn. Also the variety of tiles you have to know in order to win.

But the game itself is fun and definitely not a brainstorm (like Terra Mystica, my 2-nd most hated game of all times)!
 
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Curt Carpenter
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Chabster wrote:
But the game itself is fun and definitely not a brainstorm (like Terra Mystica, my 2-nd most hated game of all times)!

I prefer Terra Mystica to Caverna, if we're comparing. If you don't consider Caverna a brain burn, you will lose to someone who does. As a no-luck game, it definitely rewards planning and analysis, which burns the brain. Especially when considering which rooms to build and which adventuring rewards to take. But it's a game played at the margins, so without thinking too much, sure, you'll still get a bunch of VP, but you won't win against someone (as smart as you), who treats it as a brain burner and puts in the effort accordingly.
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A J
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For what it's worth, I feel Viticulture Essential Edition is easier for beginners.
 
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Curt Carpenter
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ayejae wrote:
For what it's worth, I feel Viticulture Essential Edition is easier for beginners.

Absolutely. But there are a lot of games that are easier. Easier and better is the tricky part. Viticulture EE is definitely not better, imo of course. I nearly burned that game after my one and only play. Thank goodness I was able to find someone to buy it off me.
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Renni Honkanen
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No no no,

I have played it with 8-year old kids, and it was just fine. If you think playing it as building yourself a nice cavern and perhaps get some animals and vegetables, it is fun to see your own creation grow.

But if you want to compete with blood taste in your mouth, yeah it's hard, but mostly because you have to read those building tiles over and over. And more experienced player will win, or he/she who wants to overthink it.

In my opinion you can just play and have fun, it is a good game for that.

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A J
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curtc wrote:
ayejae wrote:
For what it's worth, I feel Viticulture Essential Edition is easier for beginners.

Absolutely. But there are a lot of games that are easier. Easier and better is the tricky part. Viticulture EE is definitely not better, imo of course. I nearly burned that game after my one and only play. Thank goodness I was able to find someone to buy it off me.


Interesting. Not saying Viticulture is better, but if you want something easier, then it's ok to have a trade-off of having a game that is not necessarily better.

That aside, I think Viticulture is a great game and recommend it.
 
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tibbles von tibbleton
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Wow, this is 3.9? That's something I never noticed. Caverna is much easier to learn than a bunch of other games with lower complexity ratings. My group fairly regularly teaches it to someone new in about 15 minutes for rules and another 10 or so to preview the round actions in detail. Matches time with that 12 minute video linked above.

I agree with what's been said, even if reading the rules might seem kind of complex, once you've played a few rounds, it's fairly straightforward.
 
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Curt Carpenter
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tibbles wrote:
My group fairly regularly teaches it to someone new in about 15 minutes for rules and another 10 or so to preview the round actions in detail.

You can't touch the building tiles in that time.
 
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A J
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tibbles wrote:
Wow, this is 3.9? That's something I never noticed. Caverna is much easier to learn than a bunch of other games with lower complexity ratings. My group fairly regularly teaches it to someone new in about 15 minutes for rules and another 10 or so to preview the round actions in detail. Matches time with that 12 minute video linked above.

I agree with what's been said, even if reading the rules might seem kind of complex, once you've played a few rounds, it's fairly straightforward.


At least in my circles, 15 minutes is a long time when it comes to rules explanations.
 
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tibbles von tibbleton
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curtc wrote:
tibbles wrote:
My group fairly regularly teaches it to someone new in about 15 minutes for rules and another 10 or so to preview the round actions in detail.

You can't touch the building tiles in that time.


No, definitely not. But memorizing them isn't necessary for learning the game. We still cover the general categories of furnishings - dwellings, economy, food, and points - of course.
 
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chris leko
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What's so great about it?
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tibbles wrote:
curtc wrote:
tibbles wrote:
My group fairly regularly teaches it to someone new in about 15 minutes for rules and another 10 or so to preview the round actions in detail.

You can't touch the building tiles in that time.


No, definitely not. But memorizing them isn't necessary for learning the game. We still cover the general categories of furnishings - dwellings, economy, food, and points - of course.


Agreed.

I think this game is teachable for a new group as long as one player really knows the rules and can explain the base rules well.

The building tiles can be a lot to digest (I still am), but I think that's part of the fun of the game (as does my play group). I wasn't an expert in this when we played (only had 1 solo game under my belt a year prior to playing it with a group of really new-ish gamers, who had only played a few gateway games before I dropped the family version of Agricola on them for 2 games, then this), and we do pretty well.

We're not super competitive, though. More that we get together to play some (mainly) euro games, cook some dinner, and shoot the breeze.
 
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Curt Carpenter
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I'm not saying the huge array of dwelling tiles makes the game "bad", or even that all need to be understood to play. Rather, just that they add to the "weight" for many people.
 
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David Williams
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I think the weight is overrated compared to the other game of this weight which I know well, namely War of the Ring.

The rules are probably not much more complex, but there are many more exceptions to those rules, minor rules which don't come into play that often.

Then you have possible interactions with all the cards, and a much more varied selection of moves. By that I mean that in Caverna you just choose where to place your workers and the rest is relatively straightforward. Compare that to WotR where you have different dice allowing different actions and each of those actions resolves quite differently, plus a much more complex Game Turn/Round structure).

Sure, the buildings take some learning for optimal play, but that's akin to saying you need to learn all the cards in WotR in order to play optimally. Both true, I haven't done either but the latter is surely more difficult.

So I tend to agree, Caverna isn't as 'heavy' as it seems to be rated. Whether that's because many family and light gamer groups play it and so think it's heavier than it is, or some other factor, I'm not sure.

Perhaps it's just how 'heavy' a game is compared to others of its type as well. I haven't really played many Euro games but Caverna is probably the easiest of the ones I have played, except for Agricola: ACBAS.

Probably the closest comparison I do have is Dungeon Petz which is rated 3.5, and I personally think Dungeon Petz is much heavier going and more stressful than Caverna. Sure, it's not that bad and there's a handy guide, but in terms of how difficult it is to learn and play competently, Caverna seems simpler in both regards.

I think it should be a 3, personally.
 
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James Cheevers
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The problem is that there are a lot of rules up front. It's not something that you can teach as you go. But once you get started it's pretty easy.
 
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James Webb
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Like most stats on BGG, 'Weight' is a subjective value assigned in comparison to other games that have been played.

Some people will play Caverna and say "Wow, this is a heavy game!", but those people are unlikely to play and rate complex wargames. In contrast, some wargamers will play a game like Labyrinth and say that it's quite light compared to a lot of the games that they play, and rate it accordingly.

Caverna's weight is skewed upwards because it's popular enough to be played by a broad section of gamers, and for many of those gamers it will be at their high end of complexity.

Objectively, the fact that Caverna (3.79) has the same weight rating as Paths of Glory (3.80) is clearly nonsense.
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David Williams
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solove wrote:
The problem is that there are a lot of rules up front. It's not something that you can teach as you go. But once you get started it's pretty easy.


There are? The only thing I recall leaving until it came up was how Expeditions work. Of course, at that point we had already played Agricola so maybe my impression is skewed because everyone had a rough idea how it would work, so I mostly just explained the differences. In fact if I were going to rate either Caverna or Agricola a 4 it would be Agricola because the cards and slightly greater difficulty make that game a bit more challenging in general.

Still, I would definitely say they are both a cut below War of the Ring and Dungeon Petz both in terms of rules and knowledge required to play correctly and competently. I give those a 4 each while Agricola and Caverna are 3s.

I personally would reserve the 5 rating for games where the rules are an actual book rather than a booklet - only ones which directly spring to mind are tabletop RPGs like Pathfinder or D&D, or maybe hobby War Games; games which require an almost encyclopedic knowledge of a large rules book just to play smoothly without spending half your session looking things up.

I understand everyone's scale will be different though - some people have rated Caverna a 5, which I can only interpret to mean this is the heaviest game they would even consider playing, or that games more complex are off the scale or not even the right type of game to be rated at all. This is why the rating is an average of course, so it takes into account all the different types of players.
 
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David Williams
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revgiblet wrote:
Like most stats on BGG, 'Weight' is a subjective value assigned in comparison to other games that have been played.

Some people will play Caverna and say "Wow, this is a heavy game!", but those people are unlikely to play and rate complex wargames. In contrast, some wargamers will play a game like Labyrinth and say that it's quite light compared to a lot of the games that they play, and rate it accordingly.


Yes exactly. I would reserve 5 for a certain category of game. My wife would probably not even consider those and would bundle them all as 5s alongside WotR (because she still struggles with the rules even though she has played many times by this point).

Quote:
Caverna's weight is skewed upwards because it's popular enough to be played by a broad section of gamers, and for many of those gamers it will be at their high end of complexity.


Yep! That's what I was guessing at when I said:

Quote:
So I tend to agree, Caverna isn't as 'heavy' as it seems to be rated. Whether that's because many family and light gamer groups play it and so think it's heavier than it is, or some other factor, I'm not sure.



Quote:
Objectively, the fact that Caverna (3.79) has the same weight rating as Paths of Glory (3.80) is clearly nonsense.


I don't know that game, but I do think when I compare it with just about every game I am familiar with, its rating seems high enough that I'd consider it an anomaly of some sort. Most of the ratings I just looked at seem about right to me. There's something unusually inflated about Caverna's.
 
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tibbles von tibbleton
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That's a good guess, that due to it being more accessible, it ironically gets a higher complexity rating cause more light gamers are rating it. Similar games should have a similar effect though.

It is interesting to compare what people think of as light vs heavy. I'd personally have put Caverna at the lighter end of medium weight. Like maybe Lords of Waterdeep at the lightest end of medium and would consider my preferred games to be the heavier mediums. Meanwhile, there is a board game meetup group in my area called Medium Weight Weekly Gamers who only play Catan and Ticket to Ride.
 
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