Caveman Curling Review

One of the newest dexterity games that I've been able to check out is Caveman Curling (which isn't available on Amazon at the time of this writing).

In Caveman Curling, players take turns sliding their "rocks" (disks) in an effort to get them closest to the center of the cave. After each shot, the active player has the option to use one of his hammers or totems - if you play a hammer, then you are allowed to lay the hammer on the board and move your rock to the other side of it. If you place a totem on the rock, it "protects" it - if the totem is knocked off later, then you have the option of leaving the rock in it's new location, or picking it up and re-shooting it at the end of the turn. Once all six rocks have been shot/flicked/hammered/curled (plus any totem re-shots), whoever is closest to the center of the cave gets a point for each of his rocks (fully inside the cave) closer to the center than his opponent's closest rock. Next, pull everything off the board, and try again. Continue playing until one player (or team) has six points.

The first thing that I like about Caveman Curling are the magnetic board holders ("slammers" - but I can't say that without thinking of pogs). One of my greatest concerns when I received my copy of the game was how the board was going to lay flat - it was pretty obvious that the board was rolled up inside the box, and it is really important in a game like this that the board isn't "curling" (hehe), but is laying flat. Fortunately (in case you can't tell from my picture) the game includes two magnetic strips that clamp together on each side and help force the board flat - this part of the component design was great!

Totems give you "protection"
The next thing that I liked with Caveman Curling was the option to use the special tokens. Instead of being strictly dexterity/skill based, these allow you to have a few "cheats." However, we found in our games that it seemed like you had a few too many special objects available - we didn't like the fact that you could use a special object on every shot. Fortunately, unless you're planning on taking Caveman Curling to the far extreme of tournament play (you'd probably have to run the tournament, too), there is nothing forcing you to play this way. We thought of variants that you could try that let you include the special objects to the level that you prefer - you can try playing without them, playing with them but only allowing each to be used once per game (instead of per round), you can cut the number of them in half (one of each object instead of two), or you can use them as the game designer suggests. Whatever you choose, it is nice that you have them available as an option - it might even be good to use them as a handicap to balance out the gameplay between experienced and novice players.

Finally, I thought that the board art was both amusing and very functional. As an example of amusing, if you look closely, you can even see that the credits are "written in the snow."  When it comes to functional, the circles in the middle of the cave really help distinguish which rock is closer to the center, to where I have never needed to pull out a ruler to measure who is winning.

Now, with this said, there were a few "less than good" things that I will mention about Caveman Curling. The first is that because of the weight of the "rocks" it is a bit too easy to slam all of the rocks. Specifically, if one team has done very well and has three rocks clumped together in the center of the cave, the other team will (if they are good at shooting their rocks - but then again, why are they losing like this if they are good at shooting?) quite possibly be able to shoot a single rock and knock out all of his opponent's rocks. This wouldn't happen in actual curling or bocce ball (the other games that score like Caveman Curling) due to the weight of the objects being moved, but I don't think this was avoidable in this kind of tabletop dexterity game with very lightweight pieces. And, I wouldn't want to change the game to where you can't dispel your opponent's pieces.  After all, part of the fun of the game is to try to knock your opponent's pieces out of the way. Maybe if the board were a bit longer.... which leads to...

Amusing board art
The next thing that I will mention is more of a missed opportunity than an actual con. I felt like it would have been pretty sweet to have a variety of gameboards so that you could mix up the size of your game. If you're playing with inexperienced players, you could use a shorter board - if you're playing with better players, you could force them to shoot it further. This would also add more importance to the special objects, and would keep the pieces from clumping together as much (on the bigger boards), thus addressing the previous con. (Well, we have a plotter at my office, so I may be able to resolve this issue on my own - at least for my copy!  Now, I'll just have to find a table big enough to play the "slightly modified" version.)

The final "less than good" thing is the only one that is truly a con. I was disappointed with the actual components of the game - specifically the gameboard. The gameboard is a piece of paper. It is a nice piece of paper (the lint textured kind - sort of like paper money), but it is still a piece of paper. When I received the game, I was expecting it to be a mousepad-type of playing surface. My wife was incredibly frustrated that it wasn't at least laminated. She likes to point out PitchCar and the fact that it's game pieces will last a long, long time because of the quality of the wooden board. However, with Caveman Curling, I am concerned that my copy will wear out a bit too quickly.

Overall, I give Caveman Curling an 8.0/10. This number was a bit hard for me to decide on, so I'll share how I came up with it. I like Caveman Curling better than Fastrack (which received an 8.0), but less than PitchCar (which received a 9.0). This pretty easily makes it an 8.5, right? Well, I have a personal rule (previously unpublished - you're now in the secret club!) that 8.0 or higher means "I wouldn't have been disappointed if I had bought this." This is where the scoring got tricky. Caveman Curling lists around $50. Because of the paper board, I really can't see myself having spent $50 and opening up the game to see the paper board and not being disappointed (before I even played the game). Well, this means it should be a 7.5, right? So, eventually, I decided to give it an 8.0 thinking that if I had backed it when it was on Kickstarter, I would have spent $39 to get a copy with shipping included. Since this was a review copy, I can't tell for sure, but I don't think that I would've been disappointed at that point. Either way, I do actually enjoy Caveman Curling and recommend that dexterity game lovers should look to try it - I just think that there's not that much in the box for $50. (But this can lead into a much longer discussion of whether or not you should be paying for the components and pieces in a game or the idea of a game when buying it - but that would be an incredibly long post, so we won't get into that now.)

If you're interested in other games that were funded through Kickstarter, you might want to check out Orbit Rocket Race 5000, Alien Frontiers, and Eminent Domain.

I would like to thank Eagle/Gryphon Games for providing me with a review copy of Caveman Curling.

Final note: Currently I believe the only way of preordering Caveman Curling is through Eagle Games' website here.


  1. Great write up. Sounds like an interesting game - I love dexterity games. So this seems a natural fit.

    Shame about the board though - even a plastic mat could have suited nicely.



  2. You're mistaken about the board. It's made out of a special substance called Tyvek. Details here:

    It's terrific for two reasons:
    1. It is extremely durable.
    2. It gives the perfect amount of friction that the game needs, allowing precision in judging distance on your shots.

    Using another product would actually have been worse for the game. The quality and functionality of the board is just what the game needs, and as an added bonus it's portable too.

    For more details on this alternate viewpoint, see my full review:

    Cheers, Ender

  3. Hey, Ender. Thanks for the info. Yeah, I noticed that when we played on a homemade board that the friction on the actual Caveman Curling board was lessened, which was nice. However, you're still not going to convince a lot of people (my wife) that the board is worth the money. Either way, I hope that people don't decide if a game is for them or not for them entirely based on my review - so, I'm glad that you were able to provide an alternate perspective.

    Thanks for the feedback!