Cavern Tavern Review

Day 15 – Cavern Tavern

  • Designer:Vojkan Krstevski,Ivana Krstevski, Maja Matovska, Toni Toshevski
  • Publisher: Final Frontier Games
  • Players: 1-6
  • Age: 13+
  • Times to play: 60-120 Minutes

Cavern Tavern is a dice placement game about working in a fantasy tavern. There are halflings, elves, dwarves, and humans. There’s even a horrible dwarf boss named Mr. Nasty.

This is the game I played for day 15 of social isolation. I played the solo variant. As I typed everything out, it turned more into a review than a quick blurb.

Cavern Tavern has different areas on the board you can visit with dice to gain the benefits from. Some of the spaces require any number of dice and some spots need a certain number.

The core of the game is taking drink orders and fullfiling them in a timely manner.

The game uses ingredient cards you collect. Depending on the customer, you’ll have different drinks to make for them.

The mess hall is where you take drink orders from your customers. This is also the only spot on the board where you don’t use dice. At the start of turn, if you don’t currently have a drink order, you have to claim one. Do this by placing your Meeple on the spot where you took the order from, then place your time marker on the clock for the current turn. This will keep track of how long it takes to make the drink.

The longer it takes to complete an order, the less points you get. When you complete the order, look at when you took it and what round it is currently. Look at the customer card and take those points.

It took one round to complete this order, so I get 10 points instead of 15. If it took me 5 rounds, I’d lose 15 points.

The player’s board has a space for your dice, collected ingredients, open order, Mr Nasty tasks (Nasty cards collected), and three reputation tracks.

  • Nasty Track.
    • You’ll lose points at the end of the game depending on where you’re at on this track.
    • You draw Nasty Says card when you reach 3, 6, and 9.
  • Kitchen Track
    • Starting with spot 3 you’ll gain bonus points when you complete the task.
    • Starting with spot 6, you can increase or decrease the number on one die when placing by 1.
    • Starting with spot 9, you can increase or decrease the number on one die when placing by 2.
  • Chore Track
    • Starting with spot 3 you’ll gain bonus points when you complete the task.
    • Starting with spot 6, you can increase or decrease the number on one die when placing by 1.
    • Starting with spot 9, you can increase or decrease the number on one die when placing by 2.
Player’s board.

 

Set Up

  • Place the board in the center of the table. 
  • Each player choose a character color, take those dice and markers. 
  • Each player choose a character card.
    • Characters each have a special ability that can be used twice in a game.
  • Players place the reputation markers on the 0 spot on their track.
  • Players roll their 4 dice and pick ingredients from the cellar based on the results.
  • Fill the mess hall with customers.
  • Draw a secret task card.
    • These will earn you bonus points at the end of the game. It’s not used in the solo variant.

Okay, now that we know how to how to track the rounds and score orders, let’s look at a turn and the places you can go.

Players roll their dice before the round starts. Once the round starts, players will take their turn in clockwise order.

Players Turn

On your turn you’ll go through and preform the following actions.

  • Take an order. If you don’t have an order. Take a customer from the mess hall.
  • Play item card. You can’t hold more than 3 item cards at a time.
  • Place dice. Choose an open tavern space and place the required dice there.
  • Complete order. You spend all the ingredients on the order. Return those cards to the main supply. You gain the points based on what round you’re on. If no rounds have passed, you gain the points at the top of the card. Turn the customer card face down on your player board, take your Meeple back, and replace the now empty spot in the mess hall.

Locations

Mess Hall

The mess hall is where you take orders. You can only hold one open order at a time.

Cellar

The cellar is where you get ingredients for dice. The spots here are numbers 1-6, and have availability based on player count. When you go here, you gain only one of the ingredients at that spot.

Kitchen

Here you’ll place the dice that equal the value listed on a open spot. It has to be exact. You move your reputation marker down once on the kitchen track. Then you gain the benefits of completing a task. Usually an ingredient, points, and sometimes a special action.

Chore Board

Here you’ll place the dice that equal the value listed on a open spot. It has to be exact. You move your reputation marker down once on the chore track. Then you gain the benefits of completing a task. Usually an ingredient, points, and sometimes a special action.

Nasty’s Office

Place any die here. You’ll then move your reputation tracker on your nasty track up one. You then choose an opponent and tattles on them. They then move their nasty tracker down one.

Wizard’s Workshop

Here it’s the number of dice placed. There are three locations here.

  • One die placed. Discard one customer from the mess hall. Draw 3 and choose one to put there.
  • Two dice placed here you draw 3 item cards, keep one, and shuffle the other two back into the item deck.
  • Three dice placed here you will draw one item card and get one magic potion ingredient.
    • Magic Potions are wild ingredients. They can be used as anything.

Secret Chamber

This is labeled as an expansion. I’d make sure you always use this. The spaces are available after the 3rd round. There are two areas to place dice here.

The top of the board you place a die and get two modifier tokens. Spend these and you can modify a die number by 1.

The bottom has three spots for cards to be placed. On each card, a random token is drawn from a bag and placed on the card.

Some of the tokens have Mrs. Nasty on them. When you have three of these, you can discard them to discard a Mr. Nasty Says card.

These cards and tokens get you points, ingredients, and advancing on reputation tracks. Each card has a different value or amount it needs to be completed.

End of Round

  • Advance the clock marker to the next round.
  • Anyone that has a open order, or one the wasn’t completed last round moves down on their Nasty track. (Mr. Nasty gets mad and bad things happen.)
  • If your order is now in the red, take those negative points, discard the order, take your Meeple back, and place a new customer in the Mess Hall.
  • Each player takes back their dice.

Play until the last round. The player with the highest points wins.

Solo Play

The solo variant uses the same set up as the regular game. It has the solo player using the black color. Then you’re using one die of white, yellow, blue, red, green, and purple color.

To start your turn, you first roll and place the automa dice. Then you proceed with your turn.

Win condition can be either make it to 80 points, or draw an assignment card and try to complete that task.

I really like this game. It uses dice placement, and I’m finding that is a mechanic that I really enjoy. This is also the start of The Five Realms series of games from Final Frontier Games. The other games in the series include Rise to Nobility and the upcoming Merchant’s Cove. Both include a nod to this game.

Components wise, I thought it was well produced and thought out. From the turn tracker being a clock, the sticker Meeples that match the artwork, score tracking being a beer mug, and the game board itself this game just looks great. It takes up a lot of space on the table, and then choice to use cards for ingredients instead of wooden bits is a good choice in my opinion. It’s easier to tell what everything is that way.

Game play is great. Yeah, it can be frustrating when you can’t get the ingredient you want, but there are different spots for each ingredient. Also the modification tokens help manage your dice to place. I like that tight board and though decisions. I thought it was great that the customer orders will net you less points as the game goes on. The tracking when you take an order and fullfil it was a nice touch.

If you’re looking for an interesting theme, great components, and a dice placement game. I think this one is for you.

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