It is fall, and in Canada that means turning attention to winter pursuits such as curling.
Not all of us want to get out on the ice and throw stones, but with the 2010 release of Caveman Curling there is a fun boardgame alternative you can play at the kitchen table.
Caveman Curling is a creation from game designer Daniel Quodbach, who also created Pitch Bowl, a finger-flicking dexterity game based on football which looks great too, but is sadly out-of-print.
The designer hasn't exactly created something stunningly original, or unique, but what he has managed to do is put together something really simple and fun.
If you know curling at all you will recognize it clearly as the root of Caveman Curling.
The 'caveman' aspect is purely a fun theme pasted on to the game mechanics which allow for some whimsical art of the roll-up board.
The board rolls up, and while that often means an issue with getting it to lay flat come game time, a pair of magnet-based strips address that issue nicely.
Once the board is laid out players take turns flicking a stone down the board, think crokinole in terms of the flicking action.
As in real curling you want to end up with the stone(s) close the centre of the rings at the opposite end -- the imaginary cave in this game.
The development of a game around the mechanics of curling, and using flicking of pieces is not new at all.
What is new is the addition of 'big' and 'small' hammers, pieces you can employ to move a just shot stone closer to the centre by the length of the 'hammer'. Players get two of each hammer, and since they only have six stones can pretty much influence the final positioning of any important shot.
It is too bad if you are out to mimmic curling the designer/production company did not opt for eight stones for each player.
As it is though I would suggest limiting hammers to one large and one small per player to increase the importance on a skilled initial shot.
Players, or teams of two, also get two totem pieces, which can be placed on a shot stone. It has a couple of effects on the game, the biggest being if the totem-protected stone is knocked out of play, the play gets to re-shoot that stone at the end of the term.
Again I would suggest one totem would suffice.
While the game allows a bit too much interference with stones once they are played, which devalues the skill aspect of a dexterity game, Caveman Curling is still a lot of fun.
And the interference can be addressed by leaving some hammer and totem pieces in the box.
The theme, while not really necessary, does give a pasted-on theme that explains the hammers and token.
The game pieces are wood, with stickers you apply to one side to add to the theme.
With the board compactly rolling up the game stores and transports well. It should be a hit with younger players, but is easily accessible by anyone, so think a Christmas family gathering, or a cold winter family night and have fun.
For more information check out www.eagle-gryphon.com
If anyone is interested in this game, or other boardgames feel free to contact firstname.lastname@example.org
-- Appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Oct 10, 2012