Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Thursday, 10 August 2017

Thoughts from The Yellow Meeple:- Caverna: Cave vs. Cave

GameCaverna: Cave vs. Cave

Publisher: Mayfair Games

DesignerUwe Rosenberg

Caverna is a recent acquisition in our collection and we've only played it once, but found it really enjoyable and quite a quick game (60-75 minutes) with two players. This made me wonder what the target market was for Mayfair's new release Caverna: Cave vs. Cave - a two player only game, bearing the same name and from the same, prolific designer - Uwe Rosenberg. Cave vs. Cave is the next in the line of smaller two player games - Agricola:All Creatures Big and Small and Le:Harve Inland Port. So, is Cave vs. Cave a streamlined version of Caverna or a new and different experience?

In Caverna: Cave vs. Cave each player starts the game with their own personal cave board with one room and a whole load of rubble filling most of the other zones of the grid. Each room that you're able to add to your cave gives you different actions, either gaining resources, trading your resources or even digging out your cave. The different rooms also have different victory point values which they will be worth at the end of the game.

You each start the game with the ability to choose two action tiles per turn - over the course of the rounds you'll automatically be upgrade to 3 actions and then 4 actions in the final round. You each take a turn to take a face up action tile from the central supply and perform it's action. Each action tile is unique and once it's been taken it's not available again until the next round. For most actions you just do what the tile says eg. pay costs to build a room in your cave, build a wall or gain resources, but where the game starts to become unique is when you take a tile that allows you to take 1, 2 or 3 personal actions from your player board. If you make a cave with good synergies then these tiles can be much more powerful than the basic options.
The game in play. The resource track is a great way of keeping track of your resources without the need for lots of components, although it can be a bit crowded if, for example, you have 2 of everything.
In words, the game is slightly difficult to explain, but on the table the turn sequence is really smooth and quick with almost no down time, as is the nature of most 2-player games. If you want to play the game well, you do need to be thinking ahead to see what cave tiles are available and determine if you can place them with or without adding extra walls into your cave, plus figure out if you have the required resources to take a build action and pay for the room.

Some of the rooms for your cave. The order in which these become available is random every game because the majority are placed randomly on the player board, face down to represent rubble that needs clearing.
Cave vs. Cave is ultimately a completely different experience to Caverna. Thematically all that it retains is the cave expansion. Mechanically, it gives a nod to worker placement because of the way you 'occupy' action spaces each turn and your number of workers grows, but actually it's a more of an engine building game with some competitive action selection, tile placement and resource management.

Cave vs. Cave is a solid two player game and it is quite unique compared to all other 2-player games we own or have played in the past. The game plays very quickly, in around 30 minutes, and gives quite a satisfying experience with some deep thinking required to identify a strategy and some winning combinations of cave tiles that will get your engine working but also that will fit within the structure of walls in your cave. Unfortunately, for me, the game just lacks a fun factor. There's very little player interaction and although each game is technically different, every game feels the same. It's a game I'm happy to play, but I don't think I'll ever think "I really want to play Cave vs. Cave tonight".

If you play a lot of two-player games, I would recommend that you definitely try Caverna:Cave vs. Cave and you should not let your opinion of the larger Caverna game sway your opinion. Cave vs. Cave is quick and quite light, with some meaningful decisions for heavy gamers, but, with quite a high retail price for a small box game, I would try before you buy. For the Yellow Meeple, Caverna:Cave vs. Cave gets a 5.5/10.

Caverna: Cave vs. Cave was a review copy provided by Esdevium Games Ltd. It is available for an RRP of £27.99 at your friendly local game store or can be picked up at http://www.365games.co.uk/.

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