Down in the Depths under the Carpet..... A look at The Sorcerer's Cave + new acquisitions for November 2016

When Dungeons & Dragons appeared in England, Terrence Donnelly saw that there might be a gap in the market for a family fantasy board game. So he approached Philmar and they took a chance on The Sorcerer’s Cave. I said taking a chance because Donnelly’s game was unlike any other game produced before it (and that would also apply to the America). His big idea was to not have a board at the start. Instead he designed large tiles that would form a ‘board’ as they were laid down. All the tiles had four bits of the passage way on each side and you fitted the tile you have drawn so that it fits to an open-ended tile in the tableau. Thus a ‘map’ slowly would appear. Donnelly was shrewd enough to know that you should be able to find stairs down to the next level, a level that will be a little more dangerous than the first level. Why are dungeons dangerous? Because when you entered chambers you draw from a smaller deck of cards to find who resides there. It may be a beast who will try to kill you but it could be human types (who also might want to kill you!) and you could interact with them. Varying results could be getting advice and help, but, instead of a human-type, it could also be finding a cache of money or jewels.

The rule book was huge for a family game, 16 large pages and a double sided FAQ sheet. It was thus very difficult to sell in my shop. I loved it but I could not recommend it to people whose only gaming experience had been Monopoly, Cluedo or Scrabble. Another problem for people was that each dungeon tile measured 6 inches by 4 inches. If you played it on a table it would have to be a very big table. No, you had to play it on the floor. When anyone went down stairs in the dungeon they would be on a new tile placed as the start of the lower level. Mercifully, you could never go below the 4th level but as you can imagine, you may have four different layouts for each level and with those enormous tiles it would eat into your space available. At the time I can remember that we had to have a house rule – if you cannot lay a tile because of an armchair perhaps then you had to treat the tile as being a dead-end.

 

The designer succeeded at using all sorts of creatures, people and treasures you could discover which were first seen in the early days of Dungeons & Dragons. A small list would be:

Special Chambers like the Viper Pit. Hazards like meeting an Earthquake, rewards like Gold and Magic Items (Eye of God & a Healing Balm for example), enemy creatures like Spectres and Trolls, Humans who could be hostile, indifferent or friendly, Secret Doors, and being Cursed  All very novel in 1978. A dice based combat system was also added and this had options for choices by the player (hit, take a hit, retreat and so on).

The game must have been a decent seller because when Gibson’s Games took over the Ariel games they kept it in their line of games. This was useful because the game was undoubtedly better if you merged together two sets of tiles (bearing in mind that you should have the room to expand this larger cave). There are four scenarios; Base game (get out alive and be the riches survivor); The Sorcerer’s Den (reach a pre-set 4th level room and slay the Sorcerer himself; The Sorcerer beingthe most powerful hostile creature in the game.); The Quest (place a treasure in a hard-to-get location down the dungeon); and The Ringbearer (two players play, either as the hero-party and the other is a band of Trolls. First to find the ring in the Deep Pool located on the 4th level. In addition I would add that it makes an excellent solitaire game and cries out for ‘house-rules and ideas’ dreamed up by yourselves.

All-in-all we loved it and played it often. As we are awaiting front room furniture for our recently decorated front room, I am going to teach it to my Frau tomorrow as we have a vast amount of carpet space at present. I highly recommend this game to you. As a fantasy board game from that era, it has no peers and belongs in any collection of fantasy games.

Now to new acquisitions in November 2016........

1655 - Habemus Papam

DDD Verlag

2010

Atlantic City

Noris

2013

Tabu

Hasbro

2009

Skull King: Das Würfelspiel

Schmidt

2016

Saga

Uberplay

2004

Neerlands Glorie

Hausemann Hotte

1945

Grab!

Winning Games

1998

The Sorcerer's Cave

Ariel

1978

Lost Legacy: Binbo Tantei to Inbo no Shiro

One Draw

2014

 

Veilig Verkeer Kwartet

Ravensburger

1976

Subbuteo Squads

Waddingtons

1996

Express Chess

Blackbox

1996

Pippi Langstrumpf

Kosmos

2008

Hell Rail

Mayfair

2001

Lost Legacy: Hyakunen Senso to Ryu no Miko

One Draw

2013

Feuerwehr

Nürnberger

2015

Mini Car Wars

Steve Jackson Games

1987

Junta: Viva el Presidente!

Pegasus

2010

Affenzahn

Nürnberger

2003

 

Flash 10

Amigo

2008

Briefmarken

FX Schmid

1970

Quads

ASS

2009

Im Fluge über Deutsche Gauen

Jos. Scholz

1920

Monster Parade

Nürnberger

2003

Pizza Dice

Flying Buffalo

1990

Coppertwaddle

Surprised Stare Games

2000

Digging

Avalanche Press

1999

Rund um die Welt

Bielefelder

1985

Der Rat von Verona

Ferti

2014

Artus

Ravensburger

2011

Bedrohte Tiere

Schmidt

1990

Schönes Europa

Ravensburger

1960

Crimson Skies

Fanpro

1999

The Big Cheese

Cheapass

1998

Pirates of Gold Cove

Myndzei

2011

Civilization

Avalon Hill

1982

Das Deutsche Alpenland

Jos. Scholz

1940

Euro-Domino

Steinbock

2010

Israel Kwartetspel 2

Palphot

1970

Kampfjets

KiK

2010

 

Obscura Tempore

Rose & Poison

2005

Notruf

ASS

2009

Rider Tarot

AGMüller

1982

Schickeria

Hexagames

1989

Schiffe

Nürnberger

2010

Wild Life

Pepys

1963

Love Letter

Pegasus

2013

Mücke mit Tücke

Nürnberger

2003

 

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