|# of Players:||2-5|
|Game Length:||60-120 Mins|
|Mechanics:||Worker Placement, Set Collection|
|Publisher:||Final Frontier Games|
“In a war torn land, a magical land of heroic feats and epic quests, there is a place that has never felt the wrath of the ongoing and everlasting war between the five realms. Hidden deep in the shadows of a cavern in the hills of Strongcliff, it has been the best kept secret for many years. This place is called the Cavern Tavern.” – Some of the backstory of Cavern Tavern
Cavern Tavern launched its Kickstarter on April 20th, 2016. Already fully funded after just a few days, and rightly so. I was lucky enough to get to play this game a couple of times. When the prototype arrived, our friend Mandi, aka The Boardgame Pinup Girl, who is also the CEO of To Die For Games brought it over for myself and Stephane, The Games Teacher, to check out. We were all very impressed with the quality of it. Much of the art was already on the cards, and the board. As a lover of fantasy themed books, the feel and theme of this game appealed to me. I grew up with Dragonlance-type books, and I could almost imagine the barkeep of this game, Nasty the Dwarf, as one of those books’ characters.
You are one of the workers at the Cavern Tavern, and your job is to keep the patrons’ happy, while keeping up with your Kitchen Tasks, Chores, and keeping your boss, Nasty, happy. The game is a worker placement, where the placement of your dice is how your worker takes actions.
The main board is separated into various areas: the Tavern, the Cellar, the Kitchen, the Chores area, the Wizards’ Workshop, and Nasty’s Office.
The Tavern is where you pick up orders to fill. When you pick up an order, at the start of a round if you don’t have one, or voluntarily after you finish a previous order in a round, you place your meeple, and a time token matching the time of that round, e.g. 22:20, on the table where the order was taken. The orders have point values on the top and along the side of the card, as well ingredients that you need to have to fulfill the order. If you can complete the order in the same round you took it, you get the top points, which are the most. For each round you are late you get the points along the side, matching how many rounds have passed. If you wait too long you will actually lose points, as patrons don’t like to wait too long for their drinks. It is a rowdy crowd out there!
To collect ingredients you go to the Cellar to get them. You will place your die/dice, with the exact value of the spot you are placing on. The spaces are valued 1 to 6. If you use more than one die to equal the amount, you place them on top of each other on one spot, so other players can place on remaining spots (some spots might not be open as only a certain number are available based on number of players).
Kitchen tasks, and Chores, are a bit harder, but they offer more rewards. These spaces require dice totals between 7 and 18, and give an ingredient, victory points, an item card, and some give a special action. As well, these spaces allow you to move down your Kitchen, or Chore, tracks respectively, on your personal player board. You can get bonuses as you progress down the track.
The Wizards’ Workshop is where you can get item cards, and possibly Magic Potion cards (which count as a wild card for ingredients), depending on where, and how many dice you place.
Nasty’s Office is where you can suck up to Nasty, and backtalk your fellow tavern workers. The third track on your player board is called the Nasty track. When you use the Talk to Nasty action you go back up the track, and the player you backtalk goes down their track. If you hit certain points along the track, you will acquire Nasty the Dwarf Says cards, which you have to complete, or you could lose points at the end of the game. Every spot on your track has a point loss value; getting into Nasty’s bad books can cost you in the end, so make sure you be nice to your boss, for his name says it all.
The trick is balancing all the actions, while still getting your orders accomplished. Deciding when to do what is one of the keys to strategy in this game.
The game ends after 10 rounds, indicated by the twenty minute interval time tokens. At the end of each round, you will take back any dice you placed, and you will go down one spot on your Nasty track if you have an incomplete order on your player board; Nasty wants happy, drinking patrons after all.
When the game ends you will gain, and/or lose points. You will lose points based on where you are on your Nasty track, and if you have any incomplete Nasty the Dwarf Says cards. You gain points if you have ingredients still on your player board, provided you have no incomplete orders, and you gain points if you complete your Nasty’s Secret Task card, that you received at the start of the game, but kept hidden from your fellow players.
As the game has just launched on Kickstarter, the game may continue to go through some changes, and evolution. When I got to play this game I was truly impressed with how polished it already was even though it was a prototype. It had great flow, and the mechanics were solid. When we played the game we communicated a lot our thoughts, and suggestions, which were all well received by the game designer, Vojkan Krstevski, of Final Frontier Games, who was quick to answer any questions that we had. Some things may change by the time the Kickstarter arrives in the mail, and the game hits store shelves, but based on the games I played, I think they will be minor things that will just make the game even better than it already is. I have backed this game because the game has a solid continuous theme, great euro style mechanics, multiple strategic options, and a kick-ass mean old, barkeep. Check out the Kickstarter here.
This is going to be a great addition to the tabletop game collection, so it is one more chance to… Play all the games!