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Game review: Caverna cave versus cave, the battle of the dwarves

One of the hottest games in recent years is Caverna: The Cave Farmers by Mayfair Games. A new two-player version, Caverna: Cave vs. Cave, keeps the flavor of the original with two dwarf clans fighting for dominance by building their new homes.

In Caverna: Cave vs. Cave, players take alternating actions over eight rounds to excavate their own caves and build rooms to make a fine home. And if there is gold in the caves along the way, all the better. Play time is about 30 minutes.

To begin, each player receives an individual cave board filled with rooms covered with facedown rock tiles. The goal is to clear the rocks from various rooms and place room tiles there that grant special powers and accumulate points.

Also on the board is a place to keep track of all the resources that can be gained in the game, such as gold, stone, food and wood, to name a few. It's important to note that when a rock tile is excavated, it is turned over, and on that side is a room available to both players for purchase. The faster a player clears his or her cave of rock, the more tiles become available.

As play ramps up round by round, players are able to take more actions, up to a maximum of four in the final round. Also, in each round an extra type of action becomes available, so there are always new things to do. There is also no feeding of family members in this game.

One of the cool parts of Caverna: Cave vs. Cave is activating the powers of the rooms in a player's cave. These powers typically allow for the acquiring of new resources. The best tiles are those that allow players to earn gold because gold is actually worth points at the end of the game. None of the other resources count for points.

When the eighth round is over, each player counts the points earned from all the rooms they've built and for each gold piece they've acquired. The highest score wins.

Caverna: Cave vs. Cave has solid design and is a well-balanced two-player game. It's fun to develop different strategies to win the day. Build as many rooms as possible? Generate a gold-making engine? These are some of the questions players will face in this delightful game. It's one of the best two-player games around. Bring on the dwarves.