Game Length: 90 minutes
Best enjoyed: With 4 or 5 glory-hogging friends
Congratulations, you’ve conquered the Dungeon of Eternity and reclaimed the Orb of Wonderment! Unfortunately, that was the easy part – now you’ve got to get out, and the people who helped you get in are eyeing up the Orb for themselves. And those monsters you rushed past on the way in? Well, they’re still around, and you’re going to have to fight your way out!
Cutthroat Caverns is a semi-cooperative card-based game where the players need to work together to defeat a series of powerful monsters. However, only the player who strikes the killing blow will be awarded the kill, and the player with the most prestige at the end of the game will be the overall winner – assuming they don’t die first!
In Cutthroat Caverns, players will constantly be treading on each other’s toes to try to be the one who strikes the killing blow. Each player will need to secretly plan their attack, before executing them in a pre-set order. You won’t want to expend your super powerful attack card unless you know it’ll net you the kill, but you can’t be sure the other players will soften the monster up enough before it comes to your turn. On top of that, they may be able to make your attack miss entirely if they happen to be holding the right Action card. However, if the players spend too much time pulling their punches and distracting their supposed colleagues, they may find themselves in an unwinnable situation – the monsters themselves are more than capable of taking down a weakened party. Many of the monsters play to the social side of the game as well, providing clever situations where players may be harshly punished for biting off more than they can chew.
Cutthroat Caverns works very well with players who are familiar with Munchkin, but are tired of it and want something with a bit more meat – it features many of the same elements, such as sabotaging others’ efforts, but the game punishes the players for too much in-fighting, potentially causing them to collectively lose the game. As your health dwindles, you’ll be more willing to help your friends kill the monsters as quickly as possible so they don’t get a potentially game-ending hit on you, and the final rounds can see some major changes of fortune.
Cutthroat Caverns does feature a lot of randomness and offensive cards – dealing with what can seem like a stream of attack-cancelling Action cards can be frustrating. Some of the encounter cards are also a bit underwhelming – the trap cards in particular are best left out of the game, if possible. That said, Cutthroat Caverns is one of the best examples of a true semi-cooperative game on the market, and for that it deserves special attention. It is excellent for creating memorable experiences, and if you embrace its chaotic nature you will find a lot to enjoy in the game.