Board game reviews, strategy tips & session reports
No. of players: 2-5
Amount of time to play: 45-60 min
Age requirements: 13+
Set-up time: 5 minutes
Cavemen: The Quest for Fire puts you in the role of a tribal leader. You must grow your tribe until you have enough brains in the group to make fire. Do it first while you hold the conch and you win.
Cavemen: The Quest for Fire is a card game in which you must mange your resources and bid wisely to win.
There are four major types of cards in the game, more cavemen, caves, dinosaurs and inventions.
The cavemen are split into four kinds: hunters, thinkers, explorers and elders. Each caveman grants you icons you’ll need to claim cards and win the game. The hunters allow you take down bigger dinosaurs. Thinkers raise your invention score. Get this to seven to ten (depending on the number of players) and you win. Explorer cavemen help you hunt and forage a bit but are best for finding new caves. The elder helps you forage and think but not quite as much as the thinker.
Caves let you know how many cavemen you can accommodate in your tribe. They cost teeth to purchase unless you have an explorer.
Dinosaurs are a source of food and teeth, the two resources in the game. The bigger dinosaurs get you more resources but require more hunters to kill.
Inventions can help you in many different ways. Some grant you additional points in the different scores your tribe has while others help you feed your tribe. These require a specific amount of inventing score to claim.
You start the game with your leader (you), one hunter and a cave that has room for four total cavemen. You also get some starting food (based on the number of players) and four teeth.
Next seven to ten cards (again depending on the number of people playing) are turned face up from the draw deck. These cards are placed in the middle of the table and are the cards that you can claim this turn.
The next phase involves a conch. The conch does a few things for you. First it lets you claim the first card. It also lets you claim a second card after everyone else has taken one. It does require you to pay one food for each caveman in your tribe (others pay one food for the entire tribe) and you must hold the conch to win the game. During the conch phase players bid teeth to determine who gets it.
Everyone feeds their tribe next during the feed phase. Like I said everyone but the conch holder just pays one food for their entire tribe. The conch holder pays one per caveman. If you can’t feed your cavemen you just starve one of them and move on.
During the action phase you can add cards from the cavemen, explore a new cave, go hunting, invent or just forage for food. Adding a caveman will cost you food or teeth. You can get more resources by hunting. Inventions require enough smarts to claim. And if you must you can just get your forage score in food.
When you hunt you draw a card from the draw deck. All your cavemen have from one to five pips on them. If you draw a card that matches one of your cavemen’s pips you must kill one of your cavemen. It does not have to be the one that matches and you still get the resources from the hunt.
After the conch holder takes their second card the player to their right removes cards from the center until there are just three. The conch is passed to the right and bidding starts again.
This goes on until the card for the invention of fire is in the center and can be claimed by the conch holder. If this card appears and is not built, it returns to the draw deck at the end of the turn. After you exhaust the draw deck you shuffle it to make a new one. Once you go through the deck once, if the fire card is left out and cannot be discarded.
Cavemen: The Quest for Fire is a medium-weight card game that combines resource management and auctions to create a fun game. This game is pretty easy to teach and learn and should appeal to both gamers and non-gamers.
The components for this game are high quality. The cavemen look a little weird but not bad or off-putting. The teeth and food look awesome. And the rules are easy to read and follow.
I like the way the food, teeth, feeding, conch and growing your tribe interact in this game. You must be sure to get enough teeth to win the conch when you create fire. But if you ignore food you won’t be able to feed your cavemen which are required to win. It just all fits together so cleverly.
The invention cards really add some different strategies to win. You might think you just need to grab every thinker you can (which doesn’t hurt). But some inventions can help you gain invent points and get to the total you need to win.
Being a card game there is a decent amount of randomness to it. This is felt more in larger games and it can be frustrating not having the ability to get the resources you need to go first to claim cards you want. Even with the randomness games still usually come down to the wire.
If you are looking for a fun game that you can enjoy with a variety of people, you should try Cavemen: The Quest for Fire. The rules say 13+ but this can be played by younger children. It scales well and the bidding can be intense in a two player game.
Score and synopsis: (Click here for an explanation of these review categories.)
Strategy 4 out of 6
Luck 5 out of 6
Player Interaction 4 out of 6
Replay Value 4 out of 6
Complexity 3 out of 6
Fun 5 out of 6
Overall 5 out of 6