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.