The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Cutthroat Caverns Initial Thoughts

Got to try Cutthroat Caverns today (thanks Carlos!).

The theme is the classic “Dungeon Crawl with Squabbling Party.” The team has 10 encounters to get past, and the winner is whoever gets the most prestige … which you earn by dealing the killing blow. Of course, you have to be alive to win.

So, you flip up a monster. It has stats, a special ability, and the like. Then you deal out initiative cards (randomly). You flip these up, then each player plays an attack card (face down). When it’s your turn, you attack. Most of these do 0-50 points of damage, but some do 100. Some do zero.

Then you have the cards that let you help your friends. Like “Edge Out” where you step in front of someone right before their attack, so they just have to discard it. If, after everyone attacks, the monster isn’t dead then it will attack some (or all) of the players, and you go again.

I didn’t read the rules, but I did glance at them. They aren’t too complicated, but they could be tighter. Given that this is really just a ‘take that’ game with some simultaneous selection, I’m not too worried. (The game completely hits my “Some cards are much better” pet peeve, but its not meant to be taken seriously, so its only mildly annoying). So we had a few rules questions, arguments, and at least one rule played completely wrong.

Clever idea #1 — There are 25 monsters, and you only have to face 10. They all seem quite unique. This leads to rules questions, but it is fun. Some monsters will just attack players based on initiative number, but others will attack whoever hit them hardest, or first. This leads to more interesting card play (because the first player may play a feint, so as to not draw the wrath).

Clever idea #2 — The monsters ‘hit points’ are determined by how many players started the game. It’s completely possible to kill someone with a nasty card, but its not a good idea to do it early. Everyone could lose.

Annoying thing #2 — the initiative cards are dealt out randomly before each round. It would have been nice for there to some strategy … like, whoever did the least damage goes first. Then even the monsters that attack certain positions in player order would become more interesting. More annoyingly, it just takes a lot of time to shuffle up and deal cards 1-6 each round. Perhaps making a few mini decks [1-6 in clubs, diamonds, hearts and spades] would help.

Annoying thing #3 — An RPG game where all the characters are identical (except for a few attack cards that double if a certain character plays them)? Boo. The expansion does take care of this.

Overall this is good if in the right mood. Its a ‘take that’ game, but the monster deck should give it reasonable replayability (for those who play these things often). The production values on the cards, monsters, and counters is quite good (for a small company), and the game isn’t too expensive. Hardly a game I have to own since someone else has it, but I’d play it again.

On an unrelated note … I notice that the designers name is Curt Covert. Meanwhile, my copy of Fifth Avenue has the suspicious name “Wilko Manz”). And I still don’t completely believe that John Goodenough is a real name. Still, at a summer program I went to there was a Russel (“Rusty”) Nail.

Update: Next on the list, Lutz Stepponat (although that’s probably a reasonable German name).

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Written by taogaming

December 1, 2007 at 9:54 pm

Posted in Reviews

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