a pursuit of fruitless endeavors and endless refinements

Exploring The Cave options

Recently, our group tried out The Cave, a 2012 game from Polish designer Adam Kałuża.

image from user MacTele on BoardGameGeek

image from user MacTele on BoardGameGeek

It’s a nice game of cave exploration and has received some positive press by both Rahdo and Shut Up and Sit Down. While playing the game, however, we noticed that it has a mechanic for descending deeper into the cave.  The descent tile is marked with a yellow token to indicate the new depth but can be a little confusing to new players, both in how to determine the depth and where the depth changes are.  The tile graphics for the depth changes aren’t very strong as the artists went for realism over function and the tiles tend to blend together.

We were discussing ways around this issue and inevitably, it led to pimping.  I had some excess foam core laying around so I decided to try out some options to build a system to represent the 3D depth changes.

To save some foam core, I first made a box for the large starting tile.


Then I took the foam core and cut it into strips.


note: I wouldn’t normally use USPS boxes for a cutting board but this one had water damage and I couldn’t use it to mail anything.

I cut the strips into squares to prop up each tile to create the illusion of depth.


Always be careful cutting any material. Take is slow and easy.

After I had a few squares, I tested the set up to see if they were stable enough.


Satisfied that they would be stable and not too fiddly, I cut the rest of the strips up to build the first proof of concept.


depending on how I execute the depth option, I may need about 4 times more squares…

With this system, there are two different general ways to accomplish the 3D depth changes, reverse the “depth” by having the tiles start flat on the table and instead of descending each time a depth-change tile is drawn, elevate it to show the change.


The other option is to start the tiles at the highest level and shorten the levels for the descending depth changes.


Obviously, the second option is more thematic but will require a lot more tiles to create the effect.  It also has the limitation that the depth can only go down four times unless you want all the tiles to start higher.  I did try an option of descending only one foam core level at a time instead of two but the changes were too slight to show the depth change differences.

The first option (upward “descent”) is the most efficient and doesn’t have the issue of limiting how many depth changes you can illustrate.  It doesn’t look as thematic but does achieve the goal of making the depth changes obvious.  In the end, I will just cut up as many squares as possible and we’ll have to use differing methods depending on how many players are in the game (because you use more tiles the more players you have).

To finish up, I’ll have to cut up a few more boards of foam core and then glue them into double-layer stacks to make it easier to use.  I will want to run some final tests to see what the minimum tile amount will be as I might need to get some more foam core. And then there is the question of how to store it all…

While looking for my foam core, I stumbled upon the beginning of another project that I had to shelve temporarily.


More to come!


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1 Comment

  1. Korneel

    Awesome idea!

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