As you turn the corner, you and your companions find yourselves standing in front of a bloated abomination, burly, and grotesque. It’s stitched like a burlap doll, with amateur sutures. Something isn’t right about this beast. It almost seems like it’s inviting you to strike it. Putting use to your intuition, you decide to cautiously poke it with your sword, to get a better grasp of what you’re dealing with here. As you deal a light blow to it, it seems to be on the point of bursting, yet no purchase is found within its stretched-thin flesh. Your companion, noting this, strikes with full force at the monstrosity, tearing through the gangrene skin. As soon as it is done however, it is not without consequence. The bloated horror bursts, with unrelenting force, causing an ear-bleeding and percussive boom to fill the room. Your companion, being quick on their feet and indifferent to your wellbeing, attempts to pull you in front of him as a meat shield, to absorb this blow. Being wary of your fellow adventurers, you were prepared for this, and dexterously dodge this act of betrayal. Your companion takes the full force of the blow, and falls to the ground...


This scenario has surely been brought forth into reality countless times in this game and will most likely continue to happen. Betrayal is a common occurrence in Cutthroat Caverns. I suppose if it were lacking, it would simply just be called “Caverns.” What separates the wheat from the chaff, concerning this game amongst others, is it’s brilliant confluence of betrayal, and camaraderie.


The goal of this adventure is to find a long lost bountiful treasure. If one were to find the treasure, it is not far-fetched for one to have the power to rule the world, with the premise of money being the cog that enables civilization to progress forward, and just as easily backward. The catch is, is that only one can obtain the treasure, and thereby rule the world. “Why not just go it alone?” you may be asking yourself currently. The dungeon in which it is located is filled with otherworldly horrors. Going in on your own is a foolproof suicide. In order to reach this treasure, you cannot do it alone. You will need companions to aid you on this acquisitive quest. Thankfully, selfishness is in no short supply in this world.


Without teamwork, you’ll never survive. Without betrayal, you’ll never win.


I can think of no better fitting quote attributed to this game than one such as this. Players must find the fine line between both to thrive in the game. Betray too early, and you’ll be dinner for the wolves. Ally yourself for too long, and you’ll be cast aside in the end, with your dear companions grinning, with carnage-filled eyes. 


Some components from the first edition
Some components from the first edition



Cutthroat Caverns is a dungeon crawler, card-based, RPG centered around working together to fight creatures within a dungeon. As a party you must work together to reach the end of the level. Along the way, you will obtain potions and items that will benefit you and your party in various ways. Each monster has a set amount of hitpoints, and must be killed by your team before moving on. Each player is given a hand of various cards, all containing attack cards, and ability cards. Players have to play a card every round. Attack cards are cards that can be used on enemies (with some exceptions), and ability cards are cards that can be used on both teammates and monsters. There are a base total of 9 encounters, though some cards can add more monsters.


The enemies in this game are quite diverse, and all bring something different to the table. Some beasts come in packs, while others prefer to go it alone, lone wolf style. Your team will have to take a different approach to almost every encounter in this game, if you wish to progress. Brute force isn’t always the answer. Each enemy in this game has what are called prestige points. These points dictate who the winner is. The catch to it is that the points earned for killing a monster, are only given to that which kills it.


Although the original is a bit hard to find, Smirk and Dagger has released an Anniversary edition for this game, which is in ready availability. The Anniversary Edition comes with updated artwork, and higher quality pieces, and is probably cheaper as of right now. If you are interested in this game, you can check it out on BoardGameGeek here


Well, I hope you all found this guide informative. I do enjoy this game, and encourage you all to give it a try, just be prepared to lose a few friendships in the process... This game encourages friendship just about as much as MarioKart does...