This is a game that I have been sort of surprised by after a few plays, because when we first played it, it seemed sort of straightforward and dry a little bit. But as we’ve played it a few times now, we’ve seen different strategies kind of come through and win. So that’s a really, really good sign. So, you know, one game we had one guy just basically sit on his bones and just really sort of kind of play a little bit of sly and kinda under the radar, and at the end of the game it was like – oh look I have enough inventions and I have like, 10 bones – which is a lot – and then just steal the game away from us. And then you’ll see other people with a strategy where it’s like okay I’ve got this special invention that’s gonna combo up nicely I’ll be able to hunt, I don’t need to worry about food ever and I can slowly kind of build up bones as people are fighting over the conch to get a really key caveman maybe that has a lot of inventing or they’re really trying to get a nice invention so they’re gonna spend a lot of bones that way.
So it’s pretty cool! I mean, there’s a lot of sort of subtlety to it, and I really didn’t expect it to be as strategic it is. It’s still a light game, but there’s a lot to it. And there’s a ton of inventions you can really play around with. And getting a guy with exploring can be key because you can grab those caves quickly. And really fighting for turn order, there’s not a lot of caves – because you really need to get at least one cave to get enough inventing to get the fire invention because there’s also not a whole ton of guys with the inventing capability, so you need to soft of divesify your tribe a little bit and fill it out with hunters so you can keep them fed because that food will deplete.
It’s a light game, but it also can be a little bit brutal for a light game, and I don’t mean that in a negative way, and I don’t really think it will turn people off. I think it will engage different groups at different levels. Because it’s very straightforward and very simple, but you can make mistakes and really kind of hose yourself up, but it doesn’t play very long.
I really found this very enjoyable, and definitely going to keep this one around and really have fun exploring with this one. And again, the components are just above and beyond what you would kind of expect I think for a game of this sort of caliber or stature or whatever. And I really like the art on the cards and you can just tell – you know when people put a lot of work into something, you can tell. And this one, there was a lot of work put in. I think it’s very, very balanced in a lot of ways gameplay-wise, so definitely check this one out. I would recommend that people get into this. And you know, all of the components and stuff really kind of bring you into the theme and this world that’s been created. It’s not a realistic thing with cavemen hunting dinosaurs, but the art isn’t really realistic, either, it’s got that claymation aspect to it, but it’s very well-crafted.
From the Blog
Friend and playtester Mark Salzwedel wrote that he was surprised to have learned that a particular rule was dropped from the final design: something I called the “Double Hunt Rule”.
The Double Hunt Rule was that if your Tribe’s Hunting score was at least twice that required to hunt a Beast, then you would not need to draw for casualties. The idea being that if your hunting prowess as a Tribe increases to a certain point, you no longer have to worry about the little critters.
This is the sort of rule that was hard to let go of. It made sense from a certain point of view. But ultimately I chose to drop it.
One reason I chose to drop that rule is because I truly think that the number of actual plays it will affect in any given game should be quite small. I think that if a player is making optimal decisions, he should not be hunting very much later in the game. But more importantly, I never wanted hunting to feel safe under base conditions. Without a technological advantage of some kind (e.g. the Bow and Arrow), the gaining of teeth has to come with the potential loss of Cavemen.
Lastly, it was one less rule on the page. Cavemen didn’t feel ready to call done until I had removed as many rules from it as I could.
The game itself is light on rules (easy to catch on) but provides a pretty unique strategy. I say unique, because you can delve up all the strategy in the world on loading up your invention score or upgrading your tribe. But if you can’t obtain the Conch shell when you need to, all is for naught. Caveman: Quest for Fire is quite a balancing act, and you’ll find yourself basing your strategy around your opponents tribe and resources as much as your own. Because of this, I find a 2 player game to be the tightest of the bunch, though 3-5 plays just as well. There’s just a bit more going on all at once in a 3-5 player game, with having to keep everyone else in check.
The tableau racing element is something fans of Race for the Galaxy should enjoy. It’s intriguing that Teeth are the hardest resource to come by, yet is what’s needed to control the Conch. And controlling the Conch shell is powerful (gives player’s an extra action), but can cost larger tribes a ton of Food. You can load up on Thinkers to gain enough Invention Points to invent Fire, but you’ll need additional Caves to support them. And unless you have tons of Teeth to obtain Caves with, you’ll need Explorers, which also costs quite a bit of Food. Which leads up to the best way to gain Food….Hunters. All in all, the game is quite balanced in its approach. While Caveman: the Quest for Fire combines a card drafting mechanic with a tableau racing element, it’s the victory condition surrounding the ownership of the Conch shell and the strategy revolved around the timing of obtaining it, that makes this game quite unique.