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Subject: Cutthroat Caverns - What Munchkin should have been... almost. rss

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PaulW
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After listening to Steve Weeks’ interview (http://www.league-radio.com/) with the makers of Cutthroat Caverns (CC), I decided to pick up this game and its first expansion (CC, Deeper and Darker).

OverView
The game itself is simple enough. A group of Dungeon and Dragons like adventures have gone into a cave and found an item that will make them more rich and powerful than anyone in the world. Now the party fights among themselves on who will get it. However, they have to fight their way out of the cave first. If, on the way out, one or two people happen to die, well so much the better for you since the person with the most ‘Prestige’ (Victory Points, Experience, etc.) will get the item.

Game Parts
No real issues. The cards and art are nice enough. The box (if you toss the plastic holder in the box) will be big enough to hold expansions. Which is fine since the box for the first expansion is on the thin side and I would not use it after being opened for fear of losing cards.

Game Play
The game reminds you at a high level of Munchkin. Both are ‘bash the leader’ type games and both have the same ‘D&D theme’. However most of the mechanics are quite different than Munchkin, which is good for me because I am not a big Munchkin fan. Let’s look at the game in some more detail.

9 monsters are drawn from a monster deck and placed face down on the table. The players have 7 cards in their hands which can be of 3 different types: ‘Attack’ the monster cards, ‘Item’ cards (for the most part, potions to help you), and ‘Action’ cards (to mess with the other players).

The players fight the monster in combat rounds. Before anything begins, the next monster is revealed and players figure out what items they are going to use, then rounds go like this: First, the players are randomly assigned initiative. Next, everyone picks an attack to use that round and places it face down in front of them. They are revealed one at a time and damage is assigned. If the monster is still alive, damage is dealt out to the players (the method depends on the monster and can very greatly from monster to monster). This is repeated until the monster or the group is dead.

The key point to this game is this. Only the player who kills the monster gets the Prestige which helps him win the game. Therefore, players want to use their action cards to mess with the other players so they can kill the monster. However on the other side of the equation, monsters are weighted in strength based on the number of people who started the game and unlike Munchkin if a player dies he is out of the game. So if you have a 4 player game and you mess with the players too much so 2 players die, it will be hard for you win since you still have to kill the remaining monsters to get out of the cave and 2 remaining players are fighting monster weighed for 4 players. So you need to mess with the other players to win, but not too much so too many of them don’t die.

The Good
The game really captured the essence of a D&D group who doesn’t trust each other as far as they can throw the other players (and if you haven’t played in a group like that, it is a lot of fun). Players need to work together somewhat to kill the monsters, but need to look after themselves to reach their personal goal. That dynamic works well in this game. If you factor in the monster cards, which can really change how you approach each battle and make the game, you get a good game which should have a good replay value.

The Not So Good
Ok, I’m going to harp on a few things here. I think some will be addressed in future expansions. However, I’m reviewing the base game here, so if what I think is going to happen (and seems to be starting to) comes to pass, most things should be good… if you want to put up the coin for the expansions that is.

1) Lack of Cool Powers. It doesn’t matter if you are playing D&D, Munchkin, etc. you want your character to have cool powers. It adds flavor and fun to the game. However there are very few to be had here. All players start off with having no special powers, so the only way to get them is via Item cards. However Items cards (again mostly Potions) are ‘one time use’ cards that are not shuffled back into the deck when used. You will burn through the deck quickly, so you can easily go through half the game with all the special powers in play and you will just have a deck of just ‘Attack’ and ‘Action’ cards. By the end game, a lot of the powers will likely be used (Items can be stolen, so Items are very much a use it or lose it), so you may be back to being powerless again.

The first expansion, Deeper and Darker, gives each character a one time use power that is tailored to their character (the rest of the expansion is more monsters). One can see other expansions for armor, weapons, wands, etc. for the characters (the authors will have to be careful that these expansions don’t make the monsters too easy to kill). However, for now, as the number of players goes up, the number of ‘powers’ you can likely get is thin and a 6 player game can have one or two player without a potion during the game. This doesn’t unbalance the game, but dials down the fun a bit for them.

2) End Game. OK, this part really bothered me. The game has 9 monsters that you are going to fight. However, the game gives bonus Prestige to the last 3 monsters you fight. The Bonus is +3 Prestige to the 7th and 8th monsters and +5 to the 9th monster and any monsters after that (for tie breakers or monster maybe calling other monsters, otherwise you stop at 9). The weight of the Prestige seems far too heavy to me.

Flipping into the monster deck, the average monster (including 'rooms', traps with no monsters) is worth about 3 Prestige. So the 7th and 8th monster you would expect to be double the normal Prestige (6 points) with the 9th monster almost triple (8) points.

This might not be too bad for example in a 3 player game where the person will have an average score of 6 points after 6 rounds (you would expect to kill two 3 point monsters). Killing the 7th monster could easily double your score. However in a 6 player game, where your average score is 3 points after 6 rounds (you would expect to kill one 3 point monster), killing the 7th monster will now triple your score and the 9th monster is even a higher multiplier.

Giving an example from one 6 player game we played, at the final round we had 2 players with 8 points, a number of players with 5 or 6 points and one person with 2 points who killed no monsters, but got 2 points by giving someone a potion of healing as I recall; the last place person won by killing the 3 point monster and getting the +5 bonus points. It really seemed out of place to everyone. The official FAQ talks about this (http://www.smirkanddagger.com/cutthroatFAQ.htm) :

Quote:
BONUS POINT ROUNDS: We're realizing that the game often comes down to the last encounter, in that whoever wins it generally wins the game. When play testing, was it a problem making the bonus prestige smaller? I was considering going +1, +2, +3 instead of 3,3,5. It just seems like it's too much. I can rock the beginning then lose in a heartbeat. This makes the rest of the game seem to matter much less. First off, I encourage the idea of 'house rules' in any game you own. In the end, it is your game and tailoring it or experimenting with it for your particular play group can only extend the enjoyment of the game. So long as everyone agrees with the house rule at the outset. ----- That said, we experimented with a lot of scenarios as it related to the 'end game'. Far worse than the situation you outlined was having a runaway leader that no one could hope to catch. In terms of pure enjoyment, having people know that there was still hope for them throughout the game was extremely important, which is why you see the types of bonus points that you do. -------- In terms of the rest of the game 'not mattering as much' because many games come down to the last two or three encounters, I would say only this... there are two conditions to winning. You have to have the most critters - and you have to LIVE. What matters about the first Encounters is not only how many of them you score, but how much of a beating you took and what enemies you've made. I've seen just as many games go to the second or third player in the prestige race - simply because the leaders died before the end of the game (many times at the hands of the other players). Plus, you may see some balancing factors come in


OK, let’s put house rules aside for a second, since I am reviewing the game based on what they provide. I understand their point and they sure got what they wanted in terms of anyone being able to win. However, I have to agree with the person who asked this and disagree with the publisher.

First of all, I can turn the argument the publisher gave back at him. If someone is running away with the victory, then do what should be done in a ‘bash the leader’ game and that is bash the leader. The rest of the group should be tagging this guy with Action cards until everyone catches up (or with luck he dies). Giving bonuses that doubles or triples people’s scores is not the answer.

I also believe this takes away from the game’s dynamic for larger games. Let’s say I have an Action card, the most likely reason to play it is to try to bend the attack so I get a kill (or from time to time, kill a player). Well in a 3 player game this is likely to happen more often than in a 6 player game. So as the number of players goes up the chances to play action cards to get the kill goes down. Sure, I could play it on the leader to slow him down, but why piss him off (well OK, it is fun) when really anyone who gets to the end can win? He is no more a threat than anyone else until his score is double or triple mine towards the end game.

I have no problem with the idea of bonuses toward the end, but I really think these should have been reduced or at least reduced as the number of players goes up. If that means someone is out of it in the end, I think that’s life in the Dungeon baby. Everyone doesn’t have to be in a winning position at the end as long as you are not out of it quickly and I don’t see that happening here.

3) Rules. The rules are not that hard, until you meet some of the monsters who can make some of the action cards a little less than straight forward at times. Have the FAQ on hand when you play.

Final Word
OK, I harped a bit on a few things, but this really is a fun game. On the BGG scale I give it a solid 7 out of 10. I think the sweet spot for this game is 3 or 4 players. Playing with 5 or 6 is certainly possible and will still be fun, but I think it loses something with it being less likely to get powers and being more likely to just be about being in the best shape for the last battle (and you can fix that as you might see fit). This is a much better 'bash the leader' game than Munchkin.

It is worth getting and should have quite a bit of replay value with the number of monsters. If you like it, then it might be worth getting some of the expansions, because if this had more depth in items and powers it would really rock from 3 to 6 players. The questions is how much coin will it take to get there.

Have Fun!
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Bill H
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pbwedz wrote:

...9 monsters are drawn from a monster deck and placed face down on the table...

Just a minor point -- they're "encounters", not necessarily monsters (although most of them are). Some are puzzle/trap rooms, and when one pops up it adds a nice variety to the slaying (and wreaks havoc with anyone hoarding cards).

I thought they did a nice job of representing such puzzle rooms with the cards. For example, one is like a minigame of Memory. I really hope to see more rooms added with each expansion.

With respect to the late-encounter bonuses... I have to play more to see if it's really a problem.

So far, like D'n'D, it's been all about the play of the game rather than who actually had the most points at the end. I can't remember who won any of the games I've played but remember some spectacular moves by the players.
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Nick Bos
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Nice review.

I have played the game 2 times, and really liked it, but your "bad" points are very valid =)

Thanks for the nice read!
 
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PaulW
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Shijuro wrote:
pbwedz wrote:

...9 monsters are drawn from a monster deck and placed face down on the table...

Just a minor point -- they're "encounters", not necessarily monsters (although most of them are). Some are puzzle/trap rooms, and when one pops up it adds a nice variety to the slaying (and wreaks havoc with anyone hoarding cards).


Agreed and some of the puzzle rooms are nice. I just didn't see the need to get down to quite that level of detail.
 
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Ken
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Good review.

I'd definitely agree that the sweet spot for this game is 3-4. More than that and play slows, plus the initiative draw becomes an even bigger factor on who can be in line for the kill.

I understand the concern over the bonus prestige for the final monsters, but I'm not sure it actually impacts game play all that much. Remember that you can earn prestige for healing another party member with a potion, and that the action cards can seriously muck with someone's head. The goal of the game is not just to kill the monsters, after all. I can win if I'm the last man standing, too.

I've played this 5-6 times, and only once has a single late-game kill bonus prestige meant the difference between winning and losing. So if you keep the group small (and manage to knock off one or two of your "friends"), then it's unlikely to be the killer that you're describing.
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PaulW
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perfalbion wrote:
The goal of the game is not just to kill the monsters, after all.


Well the goal is to get the most prestige (mostly by killing monsters) and to stay alive. Two goals. If you do one but not the other, do you deserve to win?

perfalbion wrote:
So if you keep the group small (and manage to knock off one or two of your "friends"), then it's unlikely to be the killer that you're describing.


Depends, the people may be alive but how many monsters did they kill? Let's say there are two players left and the scores going into the final round is 8 to 2. Say one person killed a Red Dragon and the other got points from a potion. The last monster is a Orc (to put it in D&D monster terms) who 2 point player kills and wins the game due to the 5 point bonus for it just being the final round. They both lived to the end. Who deserves to win? The player who killed a Dragon or the guy with a Orc and a potion?

That's about what I had in my game the other night. So the other guy wins because he killed the Orc last? How silly IMHO.

Also since players don't really get stronger as they kill more monsters, there is no reason I see for this to be unlikely. All the players are just as likely to reach the end.
 
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Ken
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I am absolutely not saying that the situation you describe is not possible.

I am saying that I've yet to see that happen. If you've made it through 8 encounters and the players that racked up the big kills are dead, it is.

In repeated playings, I've seen the bonus prestige make the difference between a win and a loss a total of once (and then it wasn't two players with low prestige that outlived the ones with more).

Victory conditions can always be subject to a degree of arbitrariness. I have a gaming buddy who thinks it ludicrous that the number of cities you connect to doesn't somehow factor into determining who actually one instead of "just" how many cities you can power.

If it really irks you, a better suggestion might be a "win by five" rule. If you don't win by at least 5 prestige, go to the tiebreakers until someone does. Then the bonus of that very last encounter might just be enough to score the win, but would keep the game going in the one you described.
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I 100% agree that endgame is poorly done, almost absurd.

I've played three times, and in each game the person who beat the last encounter won the game.

The first game was the only "close" one. With 3 players, each had enough victory points to win only because the total was so high [the bonus from encounter 8 really helped the last place player climb into contention.] What I was most upset about was that 2 of my 3 wins [both 2 points] were entirely worthless--I might as well not even have won them because I still could have come in first based on one win and the final monster.

The second game was a farce. I had four wins in a five player game, but lost to the player who pulled out both of the last 2 encounters LAME.

In another 5 player game, only one player--who hadn't won anything--was out of contention, but still would have come in second had he won that round.

Why even bother trying to win the opening rounds? All it does is put a big fat target on your back. The game can easily police itself like the old NHL. If one player starts to get uppity, the goons beat the snot out of him. If he doesn't make it to the final rounds, well, he shouldn't have shown off so darn much.

Regarding "Catch-Up" VP, or the "Runaway-Leader" scenario, I think the BEST way to handle it would have been secret VP. Each monster could have been assigned a VP card draw [or chits] with a range of values based on multiple decks [piles]. An "A" deck for baddies, worth say 3-5, a "B" of 2-4, a "C" of 1-3, plus a "Bonus" deck of 0-2 for wolves, hydra heads, and other mini-monsters, and for the bonus rounds [1 card for rounds 7 and 8, and 2 cards for 9]. I think that would have been a far more elegant solution to "bash the leader" [harder to tell who "is" the leader] and "give the game away in the final rounds" [a lower possible range of VP for the bonus rounds].
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JVKhoury wrote:
Why even bother trying to win the opening rounds? All it does is put a big fat target on your back. The game can easily police itself like the old NHL. If one player starts to get uppity, the goons beat the snot out of him. If he doesn't make it to the final rounds, well, he shouldn't have shown off so darn much.


At this point, I'm likely to try the game without any bonuses at all. That should do a much better job of racheting up the tension by round 5.

As for perfalbion, well if you are not seeing the rule come into play then it's even sillier to have it to allow the possiblities that others are seeing.
 
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pbwedz wrote:
As for perfalbion, well if you are not seeing the rule come into play then it's even sillier to have it to allow the possiblities that others are seeing.


Heh. I'm not saying it's absolutely required to play with the bonuses, just that I haven't seen an impact yet.

Try it without the bonuses altogether and see if that works for you.

One of the things that I did find interesting is that the last encounters can be so "Wizard of Ozish" - "Ignore those Boggins behind the curtain as your final encounter!"

I've been more tempted to sort through the encounters and separate out the high prestige ones, deal 2-3 them to the bottom of the encounter stack you've got, and then reshuffle them all to build the rest of the encounter deck you're facing. Then you don't end with the Trap Room or wolves instead of a good knock down fight.

That might also address your problem - killing something wimpy for a huge bonus.
 
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perfalbion wrote:
pbwedz wrote:
As for perfalbion, well if you are not seeing the rule come into play then it's even sillier to have it to allow the possiblities that others are seeing.


One of the things that I did find interesting is that the last encounters can be so "Wizard of Ozish" - "Ignore those Boggins behind the curtain as your final encounter!"


Yea, that was one reason I thought about dropping the bonus altogether. Since you no longer know that at the end that you are getting at least 3 or 5 points, you will be forced to fight for those bonus points earilier in the game.
 
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Claus Jensen
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I'm in the opposite camp, and I'll tell you why.

Just to let you know where I'm coming from, I've played the game four times with four players, twice with six and twice with five... if that is "experienced" or not, I'll let each of you judge.

For me, the game is NOT about winning the encounters. It's NOT about scoring an encounter, simply because I know that the 8th encounter and 9th encounter are the ones which make the winner.

The first 7 or 8 encounters are all about making sure noone is a real threat. It's my purpose for those encounters to ensure that everyone else takes the hurting, and that I piss off the right people at the right time. Grudges will build, blood will spill, all the while I'm planning for the final blow, which will give me the victory.

For these reasons, I think the bonus works EXACTLY as planned.. you spend 20 minutes building up hatred for the other players, then as the final encounter comes along, you get an interesting dynamic. Everyone looks at the scores on the table, and promptly place themselves in one of the following categories:
"Will win if I just survive",
"Will win only if everyone else dies",
"If I can't win, I'll make damned sure to take as many people with me as possible"
"will win if either X or Y take the final encounter"

And the game shines like a firecracker in that one moment. This is the final battle guys, the light at the end of the tunnel is right there! This is where all the phrases your mother slapped you for saying come in handy. I love it every time!

Oh, and by the way... take it from someone who's tried it.. stumbling into the light, the only survivor, having dealt the killing blow on the final encounter with three out of five players dying on the ninth encounter.. it's a warm and fuzzy feeling.
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NetSapiens wrote:
For these reasons, I think the bonus works EXACTLY as planned.. you spend 20 minutes building up hatred for the other players, then as the final encounter comes along, you get an interesting dynamic. Everyone looks at the scores on the table, and promptly place themselves in one of the following categories:
"Will win if I just survive",
"Will win only if everyone else dies",
"If I can't win, I'll make damned sure to take as many people with me as possible"
"will win if either X or Y take the final encounter"


See, that's what I want the game to be! All I see is "Will win if I kill the 9th monster" which didn't make your list. YMMV I guess.

You can play 8 rounds in 20 minutes?!? wow
 
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NetSapiens wrote:
promptly place themselves in one of the following categories:
"Will win if I just survive",
"Will win only if everyone else dies",
"If I can't win, I'll make damned sure to take as many people with me as possible"
"will win if either X or Y take the final encounter"


Looking at these categories a bit more...

Will win if I just survive - Only possible for the leader and he has to have at least a 5 point lead at that point. More likely he needs 8 points.

Will win only if everyone else dies - Only possible for someone who is behind everyone by at least 5 or more points.

If I can't win, I'll make damned sure to take as many people with me as possible - Likely the same as 'Will win only if everyone else dies' given the size of the bonus.

will win if either X or Y take the final encounter - Similar to 'Will win if I just survive' but only have the 5+ point lead on a subset of the players.

Your categories seem to imply that someone always has a big lead over the other players. Is that what you find in your game play?
 
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I'll split this up, I hope it makes more, not less, sense that way
pbwedz wrote:
Will win if I just survive - Only possible for the leader and he has to have at least a 5 point lead at that point. More likely he needs 8 points.
I'd agree with this.. the exception obviously being the chance that the final encounter is a room, which yields no prestige.

pbwedz wrote:
Will win only if everyone else dies - Only possible for someone who is behind everyone by at least 5 or more points.
True, this has happened to me though, and keep in mind that "everyone else" is not necessarily the same as "everyone who started the game" Which in turn leads me to how I play the game for the first 8 encounters.

pbwedz wrote:
If I can't win, I'll make damned sure to take as many people with me as possible - Likely the same as 'Will win only if everyone else dies' given the size of the bonus.
Forgive me if I phrase this wrong, but you're right AND you're wrong. While it is the same thing, there's also a large difference to be had in the amount of life points each player has. I might still win only if everyone else dies, but if I'm at 15 LP going into the encounter, I'd rather spend my potentially last card messing with you, than taking a chance on surviving. Hence the two mindsets play very differently.

pbwedz wrote:
will win if either X or Y take the final encounter - Similar to 'Will win if I just survive' but only have the 5+ point lead on a subset of the players.
True, but again, you get two very different play situations. In one, all you have to do is survive, allies be damned.. in this situation you want to ally up with someone and help them, but they sure as hell don't want your help, they want you DEAD! (note that it is also fun as hell when you get in a situation where you want to heal someone to increase their chance of winning, but you don't want them to willingly accept the heal, since that would put them in a winning position)

pbwedz wrote:
Your categories seem to imply that someone always has a big lead over the other players. Is that what you find in your game play?

No, in fact, I've found that only on one occasion did we have a run away leader, who would "win if survive". Incidentally, only on one occasion did we have a situation where the winner won only the last encounter.

It should also be noted that my categories were examples, I'm at work and didn't flesh out the entire response as well as I might have normally

Oh, and you're right, I should have added the: "will win if I kill the 9th monster"... but as mentioned above, what if number 9 is a room? Wolf pack?

I also think it is important to note that Cutthroat Caverns is one of those games where it shouldn't matter too much who wins. It's the journey there that's fun. You can't strategize too much, you can only take advantage of smallish openings to mess with your opponents.
But I think (and I should just go ahead and write a review instead of hiding my opinions here), that the truly great part about this game is how much the game differs based on the encounter you're looking at, and what number in the row of 9 it is... you REALLY don't want to be looking at Hate as number 9 if someone is still holding the iron skin potion for instance. By the same token, Spite has killed off a whole party as number 3, because of petty in-fighting (hilarious)

Oh and lastly, yes, you can play 8 encounters in 20 minutes, but it's only happenen once, so you caught me: I exaggerated
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NetSapiens wrote:
pbwedz wrote:
If I can't win, I'll make damned sure to take as many people with me as possible - Likely the same as 'Will win only if everyone else dies' given the size of the bonus.
... but if I'm at 15 LP going into the encounter, I'd rather spend my potentially last card messing with you, than taking a chance on surviving. Hence the two mindsets play very differently.


Ah, the spite play. OK, I'm assuming that people are playing to win and I'll put that aside for now.

NetSapiens wrote:
pbwedz wrote:
will win if either X or Y take the final encounter - Similar to 'Will win if I just survive' but only have the 5+ point lead on a subset of the players.
True, but again, you get two very different play situations. In one, all you have to do is survive, allies be damned.. in this situation you want to ally up with someone and help them, but they sure as hell don't want your help, they want you DEAD! (note that it is also fun as hell when you get in a situation where you want to heal someone to increase their chance of winning, but you don't want them to willingly accept the heal, since that would put them in a winning position)


No, its the same. It's just that you can ally with anyone instead of some subset.

NetSapiens wrote:
It should also be noted that my categories were examples, I'm at work and didn't flesh out the entire response as well as I might have normally

Oh, and you're right, I should have added the: "will win if I kill the 9th monster"... but as mentioned above, what if number 9 is a room? Wolf pack?


True, but you only have a bit better than a 1 in 10 chance of that happening. That being said, I did take them into account in my expected value of a encounter.

NetSapiens wrote:
I also think it is important to note that Cutthroat Caverns is one of those games where it shouldn't matter too much who wins. It's the journey there that's fun. You can't strategize too much, you can only take advantage of smallish openings to mess with your opponents.
But I think (and I should just go ahead and write a review instead of hiding my opinions here), that the truly great part about this game is how much the game differs based on the encounter you're looking at, and what number in the row of 9 it is... you REALLY don't want to be looking at Hate as number 9 if someone is still holding the iron skin potion for instance. By the same token, Spite has killed off a whole party as number 3, because of petty in-fighting (hilarious)


Oh I agree, it's the journey and the monsters that makes this game... Otherwise I would have really ripped it.

If you are not going to care who wins, well that's fine. For me, the more time I put into a game, the more I care, but that is just me. For me, I feel like I'm watching the end of Star Wars VI. I had this great journey and then the Ewoks appear and I'm saying 'What the heck was that?'.

NetSapiens wrote:
Oh and lastly, yes, you can play 8 encounters in 20 minutes, but it's only happenen once, so you caught me: I exaggerated


I'm still impressed.
 
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Claus Jensen
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We need to play you and I
If you're ever in Denmark, beer and games are on me.

Good review btw, even if I do disagree on a single point
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Anders Pedersen
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NetSapiens wrote:
But I think (and I should just go ahead and write a review instead of hiding my opinions here), that the truly great part about this game is how much the game differs based on the encounter you're looking at, and what number in the row of 9 it is... you REALLY don't want to be looking at Hate as number 9 if someone is still holding the iron skin potion for instance. By the same token, Spite has killed off a whole party as number 3, because of petty in-fighting (hilarious)

I totally agree with this. I was initially impressed by how different many of the monsters were. But after playing a handful of games I have also realized how different they play, depending on their placement in the deck.

Regarding the current discussion about the end-game: I find it important for a game of this type, to be able to hold the interest of everyone playing. Otherwise if someone falls too far behind, they might just turn their attention on a single player or two, possibly ruining the experience for everyone else - it's easy to hold a grudge against someone in this game.
So to me the bonus system works just fine - sometimes it is a fight between all players to finish off the last monster, at other times only a few can win, unless someone dies that is...
While the possible endgame situations might seem subtle to some, I have found them to highly influence the way I deal with the last couple of encounters.
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PaulW
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NetSapiens wrote:
We need to play you and I
If you're ever in Denmark, beer and games are on me.


Hop on BSW, I'm there all the time. ID: PaulW

The down side is the only BSW game you have on your collection is Notre Dame which you hate. Funny... that game is in my house on the BSW game site.

First I have to get to Essen.
 
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PaulW
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dbc- wrote:
Regarding the current discussion about the end-game: I find it important for a game of this type, to be able to hold the interest of everyone playing. Otherwise if someone falls too far behind, they might just turn their attention on a single player or two, possibly ruining the experience for everyone else - it's easy to hold a grudge against someone in this game.


I've thought about this...

1) First everyone always has the 'kill everyone to win play' if they are that behind in points.
2) If trying to kill everyone is not good enough for player X and he has to attack person Y, I think it will happen reguardless.

Clearly YMMV depending on the group think, but the way you win this game goes against the D&D idea of 'experence' and who was the most successful player. I think you can have it both ways.
 
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Curt Covert
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From the designer:

Hi everybody! This has been a great discussion all around.

As I've mentioned before, we tried a number of things for the endgame and there was much debate even among the design staff for the better part of a year. Obviously we made a decision in the end, partially influenced by the fact that, for all our games, the engagement of players throughout the game and a high level of interaction is of paramount importance. When we did have games with runaway leaders (largely in games w/o the bonus points at the end), it tended to curb the excitement of the game for us. I think the comment on 'enjoying the journey of the game' was well said. Even so, I certainly understand the criticism of players who have done very well through the course of the game, only to be edged out in the endgame by big bonus points.

If I could ask all of you to run it with your own personal vision in place and report back on the results, I'd love to hear what you discover. We may still have as many opinions as we do people, but it might lead to a great insight none of us had seen before.

Thanks for the candid thoughts.
-Curt

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Good review, I just don't personally agree with your assessment of the final round. Can it bring someone from last place to first? Sure, but that all depends on which encounter shows up, and which ones came before it. Are you really willing to let the first half of the game slip by, resting all your hopes on the last encounter only to reveal the Trap room?

Heck even the two rounds before it would be enough to make a victorious 9th round still cause one to lose the game. The 2 prestige point difference between round 9 and rounds 8 and 7 isn't such a huge gap. 8 and 7 can make a major difference especially if its an encounter like the hydra.

Also the 9th encounter might not even be the last one. I have had a game where the last encounter was the blood mage and we didn't kill her till she had a chance to summon an encounter. That was rough. I guess really my point is, there are far too many variables in this game to put all your hope into one encounter.

In the end it all comes down to personal experiences. Mine have all been wonderful so far, I have yet to have a bad game of Cutthroat. Your experiences have obviously been pretty different, but either way I think you do address some really valid points and criticisms which people should be aware of. Even though my experiences don't match yours I still found your review to be helpful.

My current rating of this game is a 9.
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Smirky wrote:
From the designer:

Hi everybody! This has been a great discussion all around.

As I've mentioned before, we tried a number of things for the endgame and there was much debate even among the design staff for the better part of a year. Obviously we made a decision in the end, partially influenced by the fact that, for all our games, the engagement of players throughout the game and a high level of interaction is of paramount importance. When we did have games with runaway leaders (largely in games w/o the bonus points at the end), it tended to curb the excitement of the game for us. I think the comment on 'enjoying the journey of the game' was well said. Even so, I certainly understand the criticism of players who have done very well through the course of the game, only to be edged out in the endgame by big bonus points.

If I could ask all of you to run it with your own personal vision in place and report back on the results, I'd love to hear what you discover. We may still have as many opinions as we do people, but it might lead to a great insight none of us had seen before.

Thanks for the candid thoughts.
-Curt



Nice game. Congrats.

With my friends, we played it about ten times. every time (with one great exception - a fantastic match), the person that killed the last monster won.

Sometimes we had a lot of dead players, others don't. But players started to see a trend towards the last monster being the best one and the game started to be less requested by the group.

TRUE: As other people pointed out, it is quite possible to have different outcomes than what we had (trap as the last encounter, etc.), but, let´s face it, it is more likely to have a monster on the last encounter.

To solve this, I've just made some homemade bonus chits that were randomized and kept secret. 1 5pt bonus, 2 3pt bonus, 3 1pt bonus and 5 0pt bonus. Every time a player killed a monster, a bonus chit was drawn randomly.

It really worked. We could still tell who was doing great, but now we had to deal with the problematic issue of two – or maybe three – potential leaders in a six-player game. Blood was spilled all over, the winner was always dramatically revealed just after the last encounter and the fun returned to our Cutthroat Caverns matches.

And we even created two new creatures:
One makes you reveal one of your bonus tokens if you get hit and the other makes the player that deals the final blow reveal all his tokens (including the one he got from that last kill).devil
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And another, that consumes bonus tokens every round it lives is in the works.
 
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Curt Covert
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Quote:
To solve this, I've just made some homemade bonus chits that were randomized and kept secret. 1 5pt bonus, 2 3pt bonus, 3 1pt bonus and 5 0pt bonus. Every time a player killed a monster, a bonus chit was drawn randomly.

It really worked. We could still tell who was doing great, but now we had to deal with the problematic issue of two – or maybe three – potential leaders in a six-player game. Blood was spilled all over, the winner was always dramatically revealed just after the last encounter and the fun returned to our Cutthroat Caverns matches.


That is a very interesting thought. So, to clarify, you draw a bonus chit after every kill, correct? And can you look at your own? If you draw the only 5 point chit, I suppose you feel pretty safe that no one will beat you on bonuses. The creatures that build off the mechanic are also a nice touch as well.

What's nice about your proposal is that not knowing what bonuses may lie ahead keeps you feeling like you've got a chance if trailing - but may not actually bust the leader in the last encounter.

I will have to try that out. I'd ask the group to try it as well to see if it solves the situation for you.
I do have a reprint coming up soon and there is always room to improve.

-Curt

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