For decades we have followed the fortunes of intrepid adventurers in roleplay games and boardgames such as Talisman and Descent as they have undertaken perilous journeys, encountered a multitude of creatures and explored dungeons, sewers, castles and forgotten temples where many would fear to tread. Dungeon Lords enabled us to create dungeons complete with traps and monsters to test against adventuring parties, and Dungeon Petz let us breed, show and sell petz. All this is thirsty work, and what better way to relax, gloat over your loot and spend your hard earned gold than to enjoy a round of the troll drink “Black Knight” at Mr Nasty’s tavern.
The aim of this game is to complete orders and score points. An order is comprised of a number of ingredients, which are obtained from the cellar or by working for Mr Nasty. All players roll their dice at the beginning of the round. There are four dice per player except for the last player in the round, who rolls an extra (white) die. Each player also receives a card which gives extra points at the end for certain types of drinks completed.
A round starts by taking an open order from one of the tables, if you don’t already have one in front of you. Here it is useful to look at ingredients you already have, as the longer it takes to acquire ingredients and complete orders, the fewer points are granted. Each character has a special ability, such as taking another ingredient if another player uses the same cellar space, or ignoring one round of lateness for Elven orders (although we discovered in errata after playing, that there are actually two types of elves and the ability is only used for one of those types!)
Cellar spaces use numbers 1 – 6, and via these numbers, provide access to two types of ingredient per number. Above 6, odd numbers are used for working in the kitchen, and even numbers for doing chores. The spaces from 7 – 18 grant points, ingredients and another bonus, such as steal from another player, take the first player token etc. They also allow players to move down the kitchen and chores tracks, which give extra points after the first 3 spaces, and the ability to change a die roll up or down further down the tracks.
The wizards workshop allows dice to be placed to gain items, magic potions (a “wild card” ingredient) or get rid of an order and place it with a new one.
Players can also visit Mr Nasty, and gossip about their fellow workers. This brings the gossiping player’s reputation with Mr Nasty up, while moving another player’s marker down the nasty track. This gives negative points at the end of the game, and at spaces 3, 6, 9 the player receives a nasty card, which limits the available actions to that player until any objective on the card has been fulfilled.
At the end of the tenth round (marked on the round marker which also tracks lateness of orders), points are calculated, and any bonuses added on.
This was a fun and engaging game, like a lot of Euro style / worker placement games, it is not combative, but competitive, and the nasty reputation track is a nice touch to spice the competition up a bit. Most of the item cards worked well. There were a couple of cards which we house ruled at the time, and will seek more clarification on, as the text as we read it seemed to make it rather overpowered.
I wasn’t so keen on the dice design, they have a squiggly pattern on, and very angular numbers, which a couple of us found more difficult to read than regular d6. As far as the other components are concerned, the cards, tokens and markers are of good quality and look like they should wear well.
Aspects of this game remind me a little of Lords of the Waterdeep, which is a comment I’ve seen elsewhere. This is not a bad thing for me, as I enjoy Lords of the Waterdeep, but may be worth bearing in mind if you’re considering purchasing this game.
Cavern Tavern is created by Final Frontier Games. My copy is from the kickstarter campaign, but other stockists are available!