In today's' review, we will be exploring Colossal Cave-- a 3-4 player game that will see its initial release through Kickstarter (Congrats to its creator Arthur O'Dwyer for reaching his 100% goal already!). In Colossal Cave, the players will compete to be the first to not just find three treasures, but also return them to their base safely! Each player begins at "The Well House" which works as the before mentioned base. On their turn, a player may draw a card, move one space and then either draw an additional card, move an additional space or play a card from their hand. These cards have many different purposes such as costing other players a turn, items that can be used to help you on your quest, warping around the board or moving extra spaces and most importantly finding treasure! That's right--the treasure cards that win the game are drawn from the deck! That must make the game incredibly easy to win! Except treasure cards can only be played in front of you if you are in certain rooms and sometimes meet certain criteria. So, yes you may draw the Ming Vase treasure card, but you may have to move halfway across the map in order to play it to the table and in the mean time, someone else could kill you or steal another active treasure from you! That is really all there is to Colossal Cave--draw a card, move and then take either action again or play a card! The real game comes from balancing out which actions to take and in which order. So, after going spelunking with Colossal Cave did we feel the game was a treasure or did we want to toss it into the bottomless pit?
Components - We can not fairly judge this category as we have only played the prototype.
Value - Fair to good. Since we only have the prototype to go off of at the moment, it is hard to 100% evaluate this category. We do feel like the game for how it plays, is worth the $20, and us backing the game even though we have the prototype in hand should say it all. The developer intends to include a nice board with some real artwork and a few other nice changes; with these it could go from the current fair up to good/above average.
Setup/take down - Lickity-splitity. You shuffle a deck of cards and you put a wood piece representing each player on the board. That's all there is to it!
Length - We finished our games in around 60 minutes. Every game we played finished in around the same amount of time though the developer stated that most of his games and reports from play testers put it at 60-120 minutes. I imagine a big part of what made for these variable times is play styles. People in our group tended to rush for treasures and back to the Well House, where as another table of gamers may have people slowly obtaining treasures while attempting to hamper other players' progress every turn or accumulate defensive items. So again, time for us varied greatly from what the developer has found but that is often common in games with a push your luck aspect like CC has.
Luck to skill ratio - Above average. We would say CC is about 65% luck and 35% skill. There are decisions to be made and by making the best of a bad or average hand, you stand a chance at winning the game. However, there were plenty of games where one or two players literally did not see more then one or two treasure cards the whole game while other players hands were swamped.
How often does it/will it hit the table - Not that often. I think CC is a good game and one we would recommend people pick up, but we see it largely as a family or filler game. It's the game you play for a light filler at game night or when you have family coming over who do not play a ton of board games.
Accessibility - Great. I think anyone that can read can understand how to play this game and how to play it without getting confused.
Rules - Very light. 4 pages of rules and not a lot of questions after reading them. You can understand and or teach Colossal Cave in just a handful of minutes.
Interesting theme - While the theme may not be something that everyone can appreciate, those who do will get a big kick out of this game. CC is based on an old video game "Adventure" and any who have played it will certainly appreciate the games theme and some inside jokes.
Push your luck - You have two treasure cards on the table. You can spend 3 turns getting to the location needed to gain a third in your hand, then another 2 turns to get back to the Well House, or you could spend 1 turn to make it back to base and deposit a treasure. Do you head back to the Well House to deposit your current treasures or do you save yourself a few turns by getting your last treasure card on the table then rushing back to the Well House? You will face this type of decision a lot! So, do you push your luck and save yourself a few turns or do you play it safe but risk someone else finishing up before you?
A fair degree of randomness makes for fairly different games - Each game, players will receive different treasures, different items and different action/reaction cards. Variety may not be the strongest point of CC, but I did feel like there was enough variety to list it as a positive.
One move, one draw and then you have options - Not just I, but everyone at the table really enjoyed that the player had a guaranteed draw, guaranteed move and then could CHOOSE what to do. This may seem like something incredibly small, but it adds a small degree of skill to the game.
Only one treasure turned at a time - I really got annoyed that I had to sit at the Well House and spend a whole turn flipping one treasure at a time. Why can't I just deposit all three of my treasures at the same time? This may be a small complaint, but it is annoying and it did cost a few people the game.
I wish treasures that were farther away were more useful - It would have been nice if more of the cards that made you move many spaces to play the treasure to the table were more useful. Far too many work the same as a treasure right next to the entrance--which means it is about luck of the draw. A few of the farther away treasures do have minor bonuses for being played, but they are so so minor compared to what they could be. A few cards having the ability to warp you to the Well House, never be discarded or protect you from death would have been nice.
Luck and reactionary - While there are a few strategies and a large degree of push your luck aspects to CC, there is also a lot of luck and a lot of reactionary cards that take the game out of your control. In quite a few games someone(mainly me!!!!)would be close to winning then fall to their death or have other players hammer them with cards to steal treasure or cost them their turn. Amanda and my mother also got screwed quite a few times by having games where they never saw more then one or two treasures.
Humorous - Many of the cards feature highly humorous text and the theme in general can be funny at times.
Card layout is strong - I really like the layout of the cards in Colossal Caves. The card text is bold and really stands out and the type of card (action, reaction, treasure, ect.) is made to further stand out with colors. The games creator did a very good job making thestype of card pop and their purpose very clear.
Screwing people over - As Ryans' little 13 year old brother Kyle put it, "It's just fun to kill a player about to win the game". You can kill other players, cause them to lose their turns, steal their treasures and royally bone other players in a lot of different ways.
Fun family game - All of our reviews were played while on vacation with Ryans' 13 year old brother and 54 year old mother; everyone had a bunch of fun! We generally stick to party games like Cash and Guns, Wits and Wages and Dice Town with them with the rare games of Ticket to Ride or Carcasonne tossed in. CC fit perfectly into that first group of light games. It is incredibly easy to explain and to understand. Everyone had a pretty good time playing!
Takes a few play-throughs to learn what cards are useful - Some cards definitely have bigger and better uses then others. However, you can not always realize which cards these are until you have played several games. For instance, there are a ton of cards that say "card X defends against card Y" but it does not tell you why that is important, nor can you know until you see that other card appear.
The theme of the game is useless if you have not played the video games its based on - While the theme of the game is cool for those who have played it, for the rest of us its confusing as hell. Why does the bird defend against the snake? Why is there a card called Plover? Why does the item Tasty Food allow me to obtain the Friendly Bear? Is that a good thing? While I enjoy Colossal Cave, I really do not enjoy nor understand the theme, nor did anyone else we played with.
A few small cards such as magic words caused issues - There was text on a few cards that confused people(mainly Ryans' family). The magic words were the biggest offenders since people were not always sure what was or was not considered a magic word. Though this was typed on the card, not everyone announced that they were playing a magic word--therefore, some reaction cards were never able to be played.
I normally do not enjoy games with such a high degree of luck. However, I had a lot of fun playing Colossal Cave. While much of the game does feel out of my control, there are a lot of aspects that are under my control. For instance do I try and move closer to the area I need to get to to obtain my treasures or do I move much slower and build a larger hand or even possibly play cards to cost other players turns. Many of those same aspects also add to that push your luck element of the game that makes it a lot of fun. Do I want to run far into the cave and play a bunch of treasures at once or do I want to play it safe and move back to the Well House after every treasure? I also agree with Amanda saying that this is both a perfect family game and that it is a bunch of fun to kill off other players or steal their treasure. I know my little brother enjoyed causing me to crash to my death, costing me the game and I equally enjoyed stealing his treasure the next turn....even if it handed my mom the game! CC is not a big deep game that I would recommend people buy if they are looking for a game to last their game group for hours on end. I would however recommend that anyone that is looking for a good, clean fun family game pick up Colossal Cave as well as anyone that is open to a nice light filler for their game nights. Even without seeing the final product I feel very comfortable saying CC is worth the $20 asking price.
I will be honest--I was not looking forward to playing this game AT ALL. Ryan had described the game as a board game based on computer text adventures from the Eighties. Already, Colossal Cave had lost my interest. However, once we started to actually play the game I was pleasantly surprised! This game is much more interesting than any of those old computer games(Edit from Ryan - Hey! Those games rocked!). As said above, the rules were very easy to understand and surprisingly, we had no questions about them. We were able to read the rules and play right away. I was really expecting to have a MASSIVE rule book, so it was a nice to discover that the rules were only four pages long. As we began to play, I really enjoyed the competitive camaraderie of our family while we were exploring the caves trying to get treasures and depositing them into the Well House. Everyone was trying to weigh between trying to save/find treasures and trying to screw everyone else. The only negative worth stating again is that sometimes it is very confusing to know what cards are useful and when to use them. This was sometimes frustrating to me because I could either 1)play a card that I did not know if it would be useful or 2) move an extra space or pick up an extra card. Knowing what that card could/should do in the larger scheme of things could have solved some of that frustration. With all of that being said, Colossal Cave is still a fun "adventure" game for the whole family. I completely recommend Kickstarting this game and purchasing it for your gaming group!
*As a note: Colossal Cave was sent to us for free by the developer. The copy we were sent was a prototype copy not the finished product. We have since backed a copy of the final product ourselves and will try and update this review and our geeklist to reflect the final product if changes warrant it. If you too would like to back Colossal Cave you can do so until the 20th of May by following the link below. $20 gets you a copy of the game at release shipped to your door and it also helps the developer achieve his dream!