Smirk & Dagger Cutthroat Caverns
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- Genre-bending. Dice-less.
- The totally immersive feel of a RPG in a simple, elegant card game.
- A perfect balance of cooperative gameplay and back-stabbing goodness.
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SND0040 Cutthroat Caverns Non Collectible Card Game by Smirk and Dagger Games
An artifact of untold power lies in your hands. To claim it, you must escape the caverns alive. No less than nine horrific beasts stand in your way - that, and the greed of the other players.
In this game of kill-stealing, you decide whether to swing for a whopping 50 points of damage - or hold back, awaiting a more opportune time to strike. Only the final blow matters if you are to score the kill. Hold back or sabotage others plans too much - and the entire party will die, without a winner.
Okay, thats what it says on the box... whats it really like?
Cutthroat Caverns is truly unique. While most definitely a highly interactive card game and very easy to play, it requires the strategic thinking of a board game. And, for some uncanny reason, the game will make you FEEL like you are in the middle of a classic dungeon crawl, even though table talk is about as much roleplaying as you are likely to do. That all said, it has proven to have a very broad appeal with gamers across several genres.
The real joy is the delicate balance between helping the party (and staying alive) vs working towards your own selfish goals (and risking the welfare of everyone). There are no dice. Each Turn, you will choose how much damage you are willing to do to the monster- or wont do - as you jockey for position to land the killing blow. And when characters can make that kind of decision, things get very funny & very deadly - very quickly.
With 25 encounters, all requiring a different group strategy and seperate individual strategy, game play is always challenging. Only 9 random encounters will be used in any game, so the experience is always different. Plus, the first expansion is already complete with 15 new, tougher encounters and a whole new character enhancing game mechanic to keep people coming back.
Ages: 12 and Up
From the Manufacturer
Without teamwork you'll never survive. Without betrayal you'll never win. An artifact of untold power lies in your hands. To claim it, you must escape the caverns alive. No less than nine horrific beasts stand in your way - that, and the greed of the other players. In this game of kill-stealing, you decide whether to swing for a whopping 50 points of damage - or hold back, awaiting a more opportune time to strike. Only the final blow matters if you are to score the kill. Hold back or sabotage other's plans too much - and the entire party will die, without a winner. Genre-bending. Dice-less. The totally immersive feel of a RPG in a simple, elegant card game.
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Cutthroat Caverns Tombs And Tomes Expansion 3
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|Item Dimensions||6.46 x 9.55 x 2.15 in||9.45 x 6.69 x 2.36 in||6.5 x 9.5 x 1.5 in||6.5 x 9.5 x 2.25 in||6.54 x 9.76 x 2.44 in||6.5 x 9.5 x 2.25 in|
Top customer reviews
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The backstabbing element can be a problem, especially if you have someone in your group who doesn't necessarily play well with others. If you get into fights because so-and-so did such-and-such, this is a game to avoid.
I actually felt that the backstabbing element is a bit underplayed, at least with our group most of the opportunities are for you to advance yourself over someone else, and there were relatively few opportunities to do something to someone just purely to screw them over. A few happened over the course of the game, but the game is designed in such a way that you usually have a better option for yourself. Again, if you have someone in your group who will just try and ruin it for others, skip this game.
One big complaint I have is the lack of item cards with the standard deck. We pretty much deployed what few there were right away, and most people didn't get one. It would have been a lot more interesting to have more item cards, so you could collect 'loot' along the way. The expansions might do something to address this, I haven't looked into them too much yet.
All in all, if you're looking for a classic dungeon crawl feel, with a bit of Diplomacy style backstabbing, in a package that's simple enough for your average I-like-playing-games-but-I'm-not-a-gamer, this is a fantastic choice. Buy it. Buy it now.
Overall, SU&SD were right: Cutthroat Caverns is a lot of fun, and it's very social. It's the sort of game where there's so much backstabbing that you don't even take it personally (most of the time). It is also very easy to learn and to teach, with lots of variation supplied by the random selection of monsters. The components are average to good, with a very glossy card stock and a minimum of any other kind of props to talk about. The monster art varies from weak to pretty good, depending on the monster. Character portraits are fine if a little crude.
There are a few weaknesses to Cutthroat Caverns. SU&SD was also correct that the arbitrary increase in point value for the last few monsters ends up dramatically reducing the importance of everything that happens before the seventh encounter. One player picked up on this flaw as soon as it became apparent that he had burnt through his best cards in the first few rounds without much to show for it. Overall, the randomness of the card mechanics combined with the late-game point surge minimizes long term strategic concerns. Tactical play consists of good use of the cards that you're dealt, so there is some randomness and hidden information involved.
Another weakness is baked into the rules, and that's the player elimination mechanic. Fortunately, it's not mandatory, and not always particularly desirable. On the other hand, the upside of back-loading the score value of late encounters has always been that it means that the last few rounds will always be tense unless someone is totally dominating the game. That's undercut by the fact that you might not be around to benefit from the late-game nail-biters.
Overall, I'd recommend CC for a group of gamers looking for something light, social and fun. It works well as a palate cleanser after something a bit more meaty. It reminds me of Libertalia with more socializing and less strategy. Hardcore gamers might be put off by some of the mechanics that I've described. Unfortunately, it doesn't quite hit the sweet spot of accessibility that makes it something you'd pull out at a family gathering, despite the simplicity of the rules. It's probably all the FRPG trappings that would make me reluctant to try teaching Cutthroat Caverns to non-gamers.
It's one of those games we LOVE -- just don't ever start playing it when you're already in a bad mood >.>