Game Name: Caveman Curling
Designer: Daniel Quodbach
Artist: David Boniffacy
Genre: Dexterity based flicking game
Players: 2 or more players
Playing time: 20 minutes
I recently had the pleasure of playing a beta copy of Caveman Curling and, although I’m surely not the first person to look to here on TGG regarding flicking or dexterity games – that would be James – I did want to chime in with an advanced review. I don’t do too well at these kinds of games because I’ve never figured out a way to counterbalance the large stein of beer in my left paw…
The game was previously released as Kairn, in France, as barely a blip on the radar so we’ll look at the version that’s going to be available come February 2011. Of course Caveman Curling has nothing language specific so regardless of the name the game is the same. Designer Daniel Quodbach has self-published three puck-flicking games in very limited editions – Pitch Bowl (a flicking American Football game!), Glonk le Choc des Aliens and the original Kairn. Unfortunately, none of these titles were published in runs larger than 200 but I’ve heard that if you were lucky enough to score a copy of any of those three you were in for a great time! Luckily French publisher Blackrock Editions, Canadian publisher Le Scorpion Masqué and US publisher Gryphon Games have teamed up to bring a new edition of Kairn to a much larger audience!
And if you’re in the mood for a ton of flicking fun you should be sporting a smile right about now.
As far as the basics of the game, it does resemble the sport of curling on the surface. Granted there aren’t any tiny brushes to sweep across the board in order to steer your stone but the object is to get your puck closest to the center while doing your best to knock the opposing team’s pucks out of the scoring center or, in this instance, the hut. Each team (made up of as many players as you can bring to the table) have six pucks that they try to slide down the board and into the center of the hut. Players score a point for each puck that’s closer to the center of the cave than any opponent’s puck, and the first player or team to score six points wins.
Yet there’s an extra dose of strategy added into the mix!
The flicking is the dexterity-based part of the game while you’ll have some special tokens to utilize that will help you better place your pucks. Each team has six extra pieces that can move your puck or protect your puck if someone tries to knock your puck out of the way; two long clubs, two short clubs and two totems. After flicking a puck, you can play one of these special tokens. For a club, you place one end alongside the puck you flicked and then move it to the other end of the club. Once you use a club or totem it’s removed from play for that round. Keep in mind touching or moving another puck while using one of these extra pieces is illegal!
As far as the totem, it’s simply laid on top of a puck and if the totem touches the ice – say when your opponent blasts your puck out of play – you’re able to reclaim the puck and replay it before the end of the round.
Caveman Curling’s components are really solid; the pucks, clubs and totems are made of wood, to which you’ll attach included stickers, and the soft game board (easily rolled up and made of a mousepad-ish, material but not quite) appears ready to hold up to multiple game plays. The art on the “ice” is pretty funny and you might find yourself peeking at the crowd illustrations – I wonder if the Flintstones and Captain Caveman will still be in the mix once the game hits the States – in a sort of “Where’s Waldo” sort of way.
As I pointed out at the start, I’m not a guru when it comes to flicking games but I found Caveman Curling to be a blast! This is coming from the guy who’s not the biggest “filler” game fan out there and loves to invest a good solid couple of hours or more into a meaty title. Not only is the game a lot of fun with only two players but even more so with a team environment; the smack talking you’ll hear from your opponents, and even your own teammates, is well worth the price the price of admission!
I’ll leave you with two quick tips from my experience:
1) Put the game box just behind the “ice” before you play. Otherwise you’ll spend too much time tracking down shanked shots.
2) This isn’t billiards! I found the more someone tried to line up a flick, and looked to perfectly place their shot, the more likely they were to nearly putting someone’s eye out. Just give it a glance and go!
Honestly the only issue I have with the game is the number of special pieces you can use once you’ve flicked your disk. I think the fact that you can make adjustments to just about every puck takes away from the dexterity side of the game. My recommendation is to divide the pieces in half and only use one of each; it’ll increase the challenge of the game while still allowing you to include the best strategic aspects of the design.
Although the ice in most parts of the US may be well on its way to melting by the time Caveman Curling makes it to your table top next year, I can’t think of a better way to top off your holiday wish list – if you’re looking for some good family flicking fun!