Kickstarter Game Preview: Cauldron

Posted by Account Deletion {Family Gamer} | 30-Apr-15 | 18 comments

Cauldron Banner

There’s trouble a-brewin’ in this debut design by our friend Artem Safarov, a neat little mixture of light-hearted “take that” and strategic resource management that keeps everyone in the running until the last potion pops.

Quick Links:

Who would like this game? >
Cauldron kickstarter page >
Cauldron on BoardGaming.com >

The following is a preview of a prototype copy of Cauldron. The artwork, components and rules may not be in their final form.

Overview

Alchemists can be a prickly lot, always stealing supplies and messing with each other’s recipes. Such is the path you’ve chosen, so you’ll have to be dirtier and meaner than your peers if you want to be the Grand Infusionist. And you know you do.

Gameplay

Cauldron plays over an unspecified number of rounds, each consisting of two phases: Harvest Season and Market Season. Most of the play takes place in Harvest Season, when you’ll gather resources and brew potions necessary to earn victory points (dubbed “Magik” here – first to 35 wins). Once the resources are gone you’ll move to Market Season, where you can cash in some of your hard-earned Magik for additional potions or spells… and spells are where Cauldron gets dirty!

Cauldron Characters

The play area of Cauldron is set up with a number of each of three basic Field Tiles (Spider Web, Frog Leg and Toadstool) equal to player count plus one (thus a four-player game would start with 15 Fields in play – 5 of each type). These Fields produce one of their associated Ingredients each round; during the Harvest Season players take turns collecting one resource until all Fields are stripped bare.

Each player starts with two Basic Potions and two Basic Spells. Magik is earned through brewing potions, which require different combinations of the seven available resources in Cauldron. Basic Potions are worth 1 to 5 Magik per brew, while Advanced Potions (available for purchase once the game progresses to a certain point) are worth up to 11. When you brew a potion you don’t lose the card – you can re-brew it as much as you want during the game, but relying on your Basic Potions too long will likely set you back.

Cauldron Potion Cards

When play moves to Market Season you have the ability to purchase just one item, and it will take a reduction in your hard-earned Magik to do so. While Market Season is the shorter part of the game, it’s where you’ll shape your strategy. You can go after powerful Advanced Potions that will score heaps of Magik; you can add Fields to the play area (while you start with three types of Fields in play, there are 4 other Ingredients – the ones those Advanced Potion cards require – that necessitate expansion of the Field for availability); you can purchase a Cellar to keep one good from going bad at the end of Harvest Season (without Cellars, you’ll discard any un-brewed Ingredients at the end of this phase); or (and this is where the game takes a wicked turn) you’ll go hard after the Advanced Spell cards that will destroy your opponents plans.

Cauldron Field Tiles

While the Basic Spells you start the game with are pretty innocuous – they’ll give you some small advantage without crushing your opponents – the Advanced Potions can be downright game-changing. With just one card, a player can go from far behind to leading and cause everyone they just leapfrogged to waste several turns forming a new plan. Unless, of course, they’re hoarding Advanced Potions of their own… in which case that newly-leading player will have a short stay in the limelight.

And that’s the odd but thrilling balance of Cauldron – one Advanced Spell card can change everything… but the next one will have as drastic an effect. There will be wild swings in momentum every minute, and nobody is out of it until the Grand Infusionist is named.

Who would enjoy this game?

Family Gamer {maybe}
Everything about Cauldron seems tailored for families with children in the 8+ range, but we’ve found one big caveat: if you’re a parent playing with children who don’t appreciate mom or dad doing something that destroys their plans, you’re going to have to avoid playing any Advanced Spell cards on them… which will hand them the game.

Strategy Gamer {no}
Cauldron encourages you to utilize light strategy… then eviscerates it with the play of a card. It will definitely frustrate strict strategists.

Casual Gamer {yes}
There are bunches of cardboard bits to Cauldron, but that doesn’t make it complicated. In fact, it’s downright easy to learn and to teach.

Avid Gamer {yes}
Very cool theme, easy to teach, sparkly components to entice… you’ll always find people to play this with.

Power Gamer {no}
Cauldron is a breezy, light experience for those that like their games in the around-an-hour variety. Far from the Power crowd.

Final Thoughts

Our first game of Cauldron was a shock. We were happily gathering resources and brewing for the first 20 minutes, strategically plotting our potion and Field purchases and tactically deciding when and where to take particular Ingredients based on what we think our opponents are planning… then one of us hit 15 Magik and the game completely changed.

It was a jolting shift, and once the initial shock of the devastating Advanced Spell cards wore off it put a big smile on our faces. This game is different. Very different.

Cauldron Advanced Spell Cards

You can’t wander about aimlessly with no plan. That will surely hinder you. But you have to understand that, regardless of the strength of your play, an opponent directing one or two unanswered Advanced Spell cards your way will give them a decisive advantage. Be the first to get dirty and your chances improve greatly!

While clearly not being positioned as such, Cauldron represents a great gateway to “take that” games. There’s much more here than simply shouting “A Ha! But I have this card, so you can’t do that fancy thing you’re trying to do… and in fact, you have to give me all of your Ingredients now!” There’s plenty of other stuff to do beyond lobbing daggers at each other. But shouting that is the funnest part of the game.

support this game on kickstarter.com

Support this game on kickstarter.com!

{Backing ends May 28th, 8:00am PST}
Go now >

Comments (18)

Gamer Avatar
9
Canada
Sentinels of the Multiverse fan
Plaid Hat Games fan
Platinum Supporter

@Artem Congrats to you – it seems you have the most popular Kickstarter preview in the history of the BGdot 🙂

Gamer Avatar
8
Professional Reviewer
Canada
I play black
Silver Supporter

@Bit and Bot – an honour to have you on board. Thanks so much for your support. As outlined in the campaign – I do this with a zero profit margin so I’m able to get a game into people’s hands for as little as possible.

Gamer Avatar
9
Canada
Sentinels of the Multiverse fan
Plaid Hat Games fan
Platinum Supporter

Boom! Bit and Bot! 🙂

I agree – like the name, Cauldron really seems to bubble over with quite a bit of game for the price and contains a nice selection of standard game mechanic ingredients blended and brewed into a unique potable.

Gamer Avatar
9
Miniature Painter
Rosetta Stone
Advanced Reviewer
BoardGaming.com Beta 1.0 Tester

This looks really cool, especially for the price. You have my money. Looking forward to it!

Gamer Avatar
8
Professional Reviewer
Canada
I play black
Silver Supporter

@Granny Thank you so much for your support! I’ve really tried to make Cauldron less focused on a specific mechanic and more aimed for an overall experience – glad all the little gears clicked together.

Ability to purchase spells during the Harvest season was an option we tested out, but it prolonged the game significantly because there was a lot more back and forth on the Magik track. Made the game overstay its welcome. I am considering including that as a variant, but think it detracts from the dynamics of the game as a base feature.

So glad to hear your son liked the game!

Re: cost references – the backs of the character cards will serve as reference cards with several extras provided if we hit our first stretch goal. There’s a bit too much information to fit it all on the front of the character card.

Gamer Avatar
9
USA
Platinum Supporter
Petroglyph
BoardGaming.com Beta 1.0 Tester

@Artem Safarov
We played your game today. I thought it had a lot of interesting mechanisms working together (a little Euro resource/set collection with take-that and a little dice rolling). The only suggestion I have is I’d like to be able to get spells and potions during the entire game as an action (not just the Market Season). I wanted to have more spells more often…as I thought the flavor really came out with those cards.

My son, who can be picky, really enjoyed it. So, I backed it! It looks like you are going to easily make your funding goal.

Another Note: We were also wondering if you could put item costs on the top of each player card for easy viewing? We found it on the back of the rules, but it looks like there is plenty of room to put it on the character cards. Will there be more characters? Maybe as stretch goals? I look forward to finding out.

Gamer Avatar
8
Professional Reviewer
Canada
I play black
Silver Supporter

@Last Shadow – thank you so much for your support. Cauldron would be nowhere without the generosity of backers like you.

I also hope you keep enjoying the website, it is such a great place to explore games and meet fellow board game fabs.

Gamer Avatar
6
Private eye
Detective

I met someone today who showed me both this website and this game (and another giant card game) on her tablet and since they both seemed very interesting I thought I would check them out. I was not wrong to do so.

Since I see the creator is here, I thought I would say that it seems very interesting and fun and I pledged for it to help it become a reality.

Gamer Avatar
8
Professional Reviewer
Canada
I play black
Silver Supporter

Thanks so much, @Cyberman and @Hai – support from people like you is what’s propelling the project towards success!

@Granny – I cannot wait to hear what you think, hope you like it!

Gamer Avatar
9
USA
Platinum Supporter
Petroglyph
BoardGaming.com Beta 1.0 Tester

@Artem Safarov

I’ll be playing the prototype this Sunday with Chaz! I’ll let you know how it goes.

Gamer Avatar
7
Canada
Advanced Reviewer
Rosetta Stone

I’ll wave my flag as well. Artem, I always enjoy your well thought reviews. I’m more than happy to back you and wish you every success!

Gamer Avatar
9
Canada
Sentinels of the Multiverse fan
Plaid Hat Games fan
Platinum Supporter

Interesting to note the flag trending on this thread 🙂

Gamer Avatar
1
I Am What I Am

I was eagerly waiting for Cauldron review from Boardgaming.com, you guys did not disappoint. Played the game prototype myself realized that there are a ton of different ways to play that game to win. Good luck team Cauldron!

Gamer Avatar
7
Canada
I play red
Book Lover
Comic Book Fan

Cauldron has so much going for it: immersive theme, gorgeous art, interesting mechanics, and fun for kids and adults. This will not only be a family favourite, but my avid gamer friends will have a blast.

Gamer Avatar
8
Professional Reviewer
Canada
I play black
Silver Supporter

@RCross – thanks so much for your support. Great to have so many compatriots on board 🙂

Gamer Avatar
6
Canada
Plaid Hat Games fan

I also backed this project upon launch day! Gameplay seems to be loads of fun and I’m excited for when this project gets funded and I have my very own copy 🙂

Gamer Avatar
8
Professional Reviewer
Canada
I play black
Silver Supporter

Thanks so very much for this review, BG team! Truly appreciated and I am thrilled that you had a good time with it.

I worked very hard to make Cauldron an appealing and engaging experience, closely paying attention to the theme. Very glad to hear that the design is working as intended.

I welcome fellow BG users to check the project out and would immensely appreciate any support you may offer. Thanks for consideration and I’m happy to answer any questions you might have here.

@HaiKulture – thanks for your support!

Gamer Avatar
9
Canada
Sentinels of the Multiverse fan
Plaid Hat Games fan
Platinum Supporter

I’ve been waiting for this to come to a boil for a month or two and was happy to hop on board Day One. Reading any one of @Artem’s reviews shows he knows his way around the table and I am excited to get this for mine. Much success for your toils and troubles! 🙂

Add a Comment

You must be to add a comment.

× Visit Your Profile