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Caverna: The Cave Farmers» Forums » Variants

Subject: Better Expeditions (best for 4 players) rss

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Jan Maiwald
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The goal of this variant is to make the expeditions more attractive and add a little bit more competitiveness to the game.

Board setup: As normal for 4 Players, but take the 5 Player piece and add it, covering the right halve with the regular board (gives one more expedition option and one more source for ore, also I really like the market!)

When going on an expedition there are two options:
1. You go out and gather some resources (basically levels 1-6, plus the cattle)
2. You do some work around your cave/farm (levels 7-14, less the cattle)
I’m not sure where to place '+1 to all weapons' yet, I feel it fits better into the second option.

Option 2, working around your cave, stays as is, just pick whatever you’d like to do.

For option 1 I think a system similar to the one from Feast for Odin would be interesting. It would give the game a place for players to compete for the best “loot”. That’s also the reason for adding the action spaces as mentioned above, to encourage more players to go on these expeditions. On the other hand, it provides the players with a choice that is less dependent on randomness.
As I read many suggestions to make the expeditions more interesting by determining the outcome with a dice roll or by drawing from a deck of “loot-cards”. As many others, I feel that Caverna is not a game of randomness, but rather a game of planning your next moves very deliberately.
The looting system from Feast for Odin seems to fit just in that gap, giving players a clear view of the possible loot from an expedition, but still providing the possibilities, that another player takes it before you, just like taking an action space another player might have planned on taking.
Also, if there are a few different “islands” that the loot appears on, and which are drawn new every 3 rounds, giving a bit more variety, just like the action cards appearing in a random order.

The Expedition rules as for what you can take with your respective weapon level still apply, but not everything is always available.

What do you think? Do you have some idea what the “islands” from Feast for Odin could be, that would thematically fit to Caverna?
I would love to hear your thoughts on this!

EDIT: I had some misunderstanding of the expedition rules in Feast for Odin. Read the update in the post further down for more info
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Brent Wilson
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Swapping some feast for odin into Caverna sounds interesting.

So don't let me rain on your parade.

Does your play group find expeditions to be less useful than other activities? I haven't been paying attention for a while-- was it determined that expeditions were mathematically inferior to other strategies?

That hasn't been my experience. I find that whatever the most people do becomes the least efficient.
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Jan Maiwald
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We don't find expeditions to be a worse choice than others, in fact they feel very strong as a late game action, especially when you can manage to do a number of things, that would usually take up one action each, in one, like plant crops, breed animals and furnish a cavern.
That said we would like some more player interaction in the game and the expeditions feel very one-dimensional right now. And a way to compete for the best loot seems like a fun way to improve on both points.
Maybe splitting the loot isn't a good idea afterall, as it doesn't change the strong late-game actoins. Maybe those can be integrated into the system as well.

You're right, usually the thing that most people do becomes less efficient over the course of a game, simply because the action spaces are more contested. That's why I thought about adding an additional expedition space.

I think I'll just mock up some simple "loot-islands", give it a go and see how it plays out.
I will report back with the results!
 
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Jan Maiwald
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So, I just looked up the rules of Feast for Odin, only to realize that I totally misunderstood the exploration part of the game. I saw it as having one or more islands with different loot on it and whoever gets there first (does the first expedition) can pick out what he wants and the next person must grab what’s left.

Now, having this in my head I tried to come up with some way of weaving it together with the exploration in Caverna, without changing the whole thing.

I quickly learned the difficulty of that initially simple idea, because there are so many variables to balance out: The level of the dwarf, which can be different at any moment, even between the dwarfs of a single player, and do not necessarily progress evenly over the course of a game. Thus, one player can have a couple of 10+ dwarfs going on expeditions, another could have one high-level and one low-level dwarf, a third just one dwarf with a very low-level weapon, that barely goes on expeditions.

I had a few ideas, none of them completely fitting my idea:
Maybe a grid with various loot on it, and depending on your expedition-level (1-4) you get a tile that covers 1-4 spaces and you are awarded with whatever loot you covered up (again, inspired heavily from Feast for Odin). Somehow the level of the dwarf would have to determine where the tile can be placed in one dimension, to allow for better loot. The other dimension could give a little bit better loot over time, encouraging players with low-level weapons to go on expeditions. This idea quickly turned into a multidimensional-tetris-nightmare that would require a lot more resources in tiles and additional game-boards than I anticipated for this project.

Another system that I played around with briefly was going back to the island-system (that I wrongfully copied from Feast for Odin). Maybe there could be different islands, that could be accessed by dwarves with the required level. Again, I fear these would either be used up quickly or provide too much loot, taking away any motivation to get there first. And this would also require more cardboard than anticipated.

Another one: put out a handful of items that can be acquired via expedition, and whenever one is taken, fill the space with a new, maybe randomly chosen, item. This goes along with the popular “Random Selection + Goals Variant”, giving some competition but not needing a lot of hardware.
But how to manage the different levels of dwarves throughout the game? Maybe the different spots require a certain level to be able to get the item? Then each spot needs it’s own refil-mechanism…


Now here I am, a few different ideas in my head, none of them quite getting me where I want to go. I hope that some of you might get inspired by this and throw in a few ideas of you own.

I’ll be back to the drawing board!
 
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Peter Strait
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You could simply take two of the cards with the rewards for adventuring, and mark off each reward that gets taken in a round, so that no two adventurers can pick the same thing (e.g., if Alice's dwarf already foraged for a vegetable, there are no more to be found and Bob's dwarf can no longer choose that adventuring reward).

Doesn't make the best thematic sense for all of the options, but that does enhance the timing tension and the value of spending a ruby to let a dwarf out early. Conversely, it slightly diminishes the value of having multiple dwarves with weapons, and significantly impacts situations where two players have high-level dwarves (working one up to lv. 12 only to get blocked from the lv. 12 reward would suck... maybe limit depletion to just the resource rewards?).
 
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