We played the same game twice in a row! *gasp!*
If you want to hear my voice instead of reading these words, I recorded this post as a podcast segment for the Carboard Conjecture’s Whatcha Been Playin’ Wednesdays. You can listen to me, and other great board game content creators, talking about what they’ve been playing lately here
Caverna: The Cave Farmers
We played Caverna: The Cave Farmers by Uwe Rosenberg again, shattering our tradition of only ever playing new games. I jest, but sometimes, it can feel like we play each of our games once a year at most!
If read my segment last week, you might have noticed me vaguely comparing Caverna and Agricola against each other, and proclaiming that Agricola is my preferred farming simulator. That discussion did inspire a lot of thought in me, should games be considered in a vacuum? When we play and talk about games, should we compare them to other products by the designer or publisher? Or should we try to put those out of our minds? I think there’s value in comparisons, but if you disagree, please reach out and let me know what you think.
A quick recap of Caverna: The Cave Farmers. Caverna is a worker placement game in which you are trying to amass the most points by building rooms in your cave, planting crops, and breeding animals. You place your workers onto a main action board, take the depicted resources or the action, and continue in this fashion until the end of the game.
Each time all players have exhausted their workers, they determine if there’s a harvest or not. If there is, they pull food from their fields, feed their workers (two food per worker), and then their animals breed. The next round card is flipped up, unveiling a new action available for players to take. At the end of 12 rounds, whoever has the most points is the winner.
After a subsequent play of Caverna, I’m resolute in my opinion that I prefer Agricola. Caverna is much more static, the furnishing board that offers game breaking benefits and massive end of game scoring opportunities is the same in every game. Caverna is also more open and easy with allowing players to fill the gaps in their engines with the expeditions that allow you to collect a variety of resources, and rubies, which act as a wild-card resource. I could see rote openings and meta strategies developing in Caverna.
Comparatively, Agricola has decks and decks of cards, making the occupations and tools different in every game. I will concede that for some, the tightness of impending famine is stress-inducing, and watching someone get a handful of cards that work beautifully together is frustrating, but discovering those combinations tickles the rouge-like obsessed part of my brain just right.
Caverna is a great game. Playing either Caverna or Agricola is absolutely worth your time, but I don’t believe that anyone needs to own both. This is a case where you should try both games and decide for yourself which one you like more. If you enjoy randomness and variability, seek out Agricola. If you prefer refining your strategy with a more static set up, then Caverna: The Cave Farmers just might be the right game for you.
This weekend was my wife’s birthday, so I arranged for a babysitter to watch our toddler and I whisked her away for an evening of dinner and a theatre performance (We saw Glory, by Tracey Power. Highly recommend if a playhouse near you puts on a performance). The playhouse is about an hour away from where we live, and wanting to beat the nonexistent traffic, we ended up with an hour to kill. We found a picnic table at an Oceanside park and broke out Qwirkle.
Qwirkle is a tile placement game for 2 to 4 players. Every tile has a shape and a colour. to place a tile onto the shared tableau, you must match one of those two qualities, but not both. You get a point for every tile you place, plus any adjacent tiles. In addition, if you manage to place the 6th shape in a row of colours, or the 6th colour in a line of shapes, you “QWIRKLE” and earn a bonus 6 points.
Qwirkle is easy to play, but is still enough to bury my head in my hands. The challenge with Qwirkle is that the quite often your best move tends to set up other players for even better plays. The further you stretch out those lines, the more likely it is that they’ll have the golden 6th tile and slam it down for a Qwirkle. That being said, Qwirkle is a great game to take to the beach and enjoy while listening to the quietly crashing waves and the cry of a nearby seagull, begging for chips.