Mike
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Cave Troll is an area control game for 2-4 players that is designed by Tom Jolly (great name by the way) and published by the folks over at Fantasy Flight Games. Cave Troll should come with an enormous warning label that says, "THOSE LOOKING TO RUN YOUR SWORD THROUGH GOBLINS AND ORCS...BE ADVISED...CAVE TROLL IS NOT A DUNGEON CRAWLER". If you buy this game expecting to explore a dungeon/cave that is filled with nasty creatures for you to slay and collect loot from you will undoubtedly be disappointed. However, if you want an area control game with a nice fantasy theme and box art that could be slapped on a Blind Guardian album (http://www.blind-guardian.com/discography.php3) ...Cave Troll is your game.



When you open the box you will first notice a nice solid looking board with effective dank and dark artwork. Then your eyes will transfix upon the bucket-load of plastic chrome that is neatly tucked inside a plastic bag...beckoning you to open it and free its contents onto your gaming table. Instead of placing generic pawns/tokens to claim rooms FFG has provided each player with tons of miniatures with various sculpts. My inner twelve year old loves this! You have hapless adventures, stout dwarves, hulking barbarians, lithe thieves, freaky wraiths, jagged blade wielding orcs and of course, big ass, face only a mother could love, Cave Trolls. There are four matching sets of these highly detailed minis and they really help liven up what would be an otherwise rather dry game. So after you have your geek-gasm over the minis you will notice there are tons of decks of small cards coated with a nice linen finish. Some of the decks correspond with each player’s heroes, while others are artifacts. Cave Troll is certainly rocking some solid components.



The game is simple to play and the rulebook does a great job of getting you up to speed. Each turn (except the first) you are allowed to perform four actions. This allows you to draw AND play a card from your deck, activate an ability, use an artifact card or move your characters around the board. Only some of your characters have special abilities which you need to liberally use to gain position and screw over opponents. For example, instead of spending one action to move your thief you can use one of your action points and place her anywhere on the entire board. The character powers are thematically fitting and they add the right dosage of chaos. I have a borderline obsession with games that feature role selection or characters with unique special abilities and Cave Troll scores big points with me there. As an added bonus you get to play as the baddies alongside your squad of goody two shoes. That’s right, you get to control your own sinister horde of "breath that could stun a yak" ghoulies to trip up the other players self-respecting hero-types. Watching your opponent pitch a fit like you just gave them a purple-nurple*, because your orc slaughtered their dwarf...abso-freaking-lutely priceless!

The whole point of the game is control rooms in the dungeon and collect the most gold (points). It’s like you’re in control of a medieval/fantasy Archaeology Company that is vying to plunder the shiniest trinkets out of a sleeping Trolls cave (not surprising since the original theme was in fact an archaeology dig). Each room is assigned a gold value and the player with the majority of heroes in a room gains that many points when the board is scored. The board can score in a few different ways. When you play certain cards there are hour glass icons on the bottom of them, if at any time all the players combined have 5 or more hour glass icons showing the board is immediately scored. You also can draw a card that allows you to score any one single room. Finally, when the game ends the board is scored one last time. Throughout the game the board is only scored a few times and you usually know when it’s about to happen since you can see the hour glasses on the table. I really like this because it keeps you on your toes and you know when you need to make a push for those 4 and 5 gold valued rooms. The game has a built in timer in that when one player exhausts their draw deck the game immediately ends. You tally up the points and whoever has the most wins.

This game has easy to learn mechanics that allow for interesting strategies and plenty of "screw you" moments. If it has a major flaw it’s that it really only works well with 3-4 people. The more people means that that board is more densely crowded, which leads to more people scrambling to control rooms, which leads to emotional groans, which leads to taunting, which finally leads to someone winning…at which point the person who finished in dead last place grabs a spiked club lets loose a guttural shout and smashes the ceiling of your game room...causing a cave in!!!


Don't be surprised when you normally mild manner friend, Eric, freaks out and looks something like the above picture...


If you like area control games you really can’t go wrong with Cave Troll. A typical game lasts 45-60 minutes and everyone I’ve played with really enjoys it. The unique scoring mechanic means that the lead is constantly changing and nobody is out of it until the very end. If you hate fantasy themes or dislike chaos in your games then you might not enjoy Cave Troll. I happen to adore the fantasy theme, but I’m one of those people that believe goblins, werewolves and reanimated skeletons make everything from boardgames to cereal boxes much better. Seriously, when are they going to release the Hammer Studios Deck for Agricola? I want a werewolf that slaughters my opponent’s sheep, zombies that trample his crops and a Frankenstein’s Monster that drowns his kids in the creek. Once they release that I’m fairly confident Agricola will be a game I own. So what was I talking about...oh yeah, Cave Troll. As an added bonus each of the heroes and monsters have an alternate set of rules to play with which is nice treat. For $25-$30 you are getting a fantastic game at a great value. To be honest, I enjoy Cave Troll more than the recently released and much ballyhooed Days of Wonder game,Small World. It’s more compact, features better components and it comes with a miniature of a giant troll, wielding a freakin’ club. Check mate, Small World...Check mate.

Final Grade:

* Purple Nurple - The act of grabbing and twisting a nipple of another person, one's self, and even occasionally other mammals (http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=purple+nurple)


Pictures provided by BBG & FFG
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Ken Newell
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Prince George
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BonesJackson wrote:
Seriously, when are they going to release the Hammer Studios Deck for Agricola? I want a werewolf that slaughters my opponent’s sheep, zombies that trample his crops and a Frankenstein’s Monster that drowns his kids in the creek. Once they release that I’m fairly confident Agricola will be a game I own.


Nice review. This comment earned you double thumbs from me. I hummed and hawed over this one but went with Drakon (third edition) instead. Might have to relook at this one.
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Philip
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LFITQ wrote:
BonesJackson wrote:
Seriously, when are they going to release the Hammer Studios Deck for Agricola? I want a werewolf that slaughters my opponent’s sheep, zombies that trample his crops and a Frankenstein’s Monster that drowns his kids in the creek. Once they release that I’m fairly confident Agricola will be a game I own.


Nice review. This comment earned you double thumbs from me. I hummed and hawed over this one but went with Drakon (third edition) instead. Might have to relook at this one.


It's certainly worth another look. I enjoy both games. Cave Troll tends to involve a little more planning and more direct competition than Drakon. Though similar in theme, the games play completely differently.
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Vance Strickland
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That has got to be the best title for a review EVER! ROFLMAO!!!!
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Freelance Police
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Thanks for the review.

Any comments on how this area control game plays vs. others? I normally avoid area control games, but enjoyed Cave Troll, because of it's... uh... confrontational nature!

Ken, Tom Jolly designed both Cave Troll and Drakon. If you already have an area control game, buy Drakon. The games have entirely different mechanics, sorta like comparing apples and spark plugs.

And, speaking of archaeology, the original Cave Troll theme *was* an archaeology site! Those adventurers now make a little more sense...
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Mark Johnson
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“Brothers, oh brothers, my days here are done, the Dornishman’s taken my life, But what does it matter, for all men must die, and I’ve tasted the Dornishman’s wife!”
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"Oak and iron guard me well, or else I'm dead and doomed to hell." - Andal proverb.
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I would just like to chime in that while Cave Troll is a decent game, I actually prefer Drakon. It's a great gateway and even has some nasty player interaction.
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Dan Brandt
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Thanks for the review of Cave Troll. This is one of my favorite "light" games but lately it has been pushed aside for the Cult of the New. I'm going to insist it get played when I have my next game night.

Drakon (third edition) is also a good game. As mentioned by other posters it has a similar theme but plays completely different.

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Mike
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Thanks for the comments and thumbs...I greatly appreciate it.

I've owned and enjoyed Cave Troll pretty much since I've gotten back into boardgaming a couple years ago. I keenly remember being at my FLGS and I was rather torn between Drakon (third edition) and Cave Troll. I eventually went with the Cave Troll. However, given all the positive responses about Drakon I think its something I should finally go back and revisit.

~ Bones
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