Review: Thunderstone Advance Caverns of Bane – monsters are getting richer

Thunderstone Advance: Caverns of Bane - packaging

Trace of remaining thunderstones almost faded away. Their bearers lie defeated at your feet, but they carried only part of the menacing treasure. Fortunately, local residents saw other monsters run and can show you the direction. Day after day, you slowly get closer to Caligin Kingdom, land of the dwarves. And it is here, below fort Cheah Dell, where forgotten cave awaits you. Its darkness is ideal shelter for those, you are looking for.

So you are left with nothing else, than duty to go back to places, where light is the most valuable commodity of all. Fortunately, you already have experience with streets under tower ruins, you just came from. It’s nothing for claustrophobics and fear is with you all the time. So take a deep breath and go stonehunting again.

Thunderstone: Advance (review) is an deckbuilding adventure game, that captured our hearts in review already more than half year ago. At that time, it was a novelty, now its potential got widened with two new boxes – first in sequence is called Caverns of Bane and now lies before us. Later, in late , also second expansion called Root of Corruption was introduced.

Thunderstone Advance: Caverns of Bane - cards

Concept of this new Advanced version is based on older Thunderstone game. People in Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG) are responsible not only for its restart, but also for the original Thunderstone. And its ideas are reworked into this Advanced version as time passes. And Caverns of Bane are first step. Creators in AEG love deckbuilding, as suggest other hits, we could play from them – Nightfall (review) or Smash Up (review). Thunderstone: Advance author stays the same – , who worked on Caverns of Bane also with , and . Many authors helped with illustrations, including Jason Engle.

The box contains a warrior’s portrait with a spear and shield. Affiliation to Thunderstone family is suggested by golden frame and of course font of inscriptions. Box itself is significantly smaller, than the original Thunderstone: Advance one, and is similar to for example Nightfall: The Coldest War (review). And it is also similarly massive, made of hard cardboard and strong, as if it held some really dangerous creatures within.

In reality, there are only piles of cards inside. Below is of course also a plastic binder and everything is concealed with a small booklet of rules, which summarizes news brought by Caverns of Bane.

Thunderstone Advance: Caverns of Bane - cards

And while it’s a proper expansion, you will be sure to look at decks of cards. They contain nearly 300 cards together and include new heroes (seven), six new decks of monsters (= races), three new thunder stones bearers and naturally also decks of equipment and peaceful friendly characters. Village will have thirteen brand new cards. But that’s not all, though we skip four new curse cards. As an absolute new stuff in Advanced version of Thunderstone, here come treasures!

For those of you, who do not know it, Thunderstone: Advance is a classic deckbuilding in a fantasy world. Players work together to defeat monsters lurking in the dark. You start with a weak deck of simple basic equipment and hired recruits. Gradually you train them into team of well prepared heroes with powerful weapons. Besides classical playing of cards, you can also get rid of one card forever during your turn or prepare a better position for next round. It means putting some cards back to your drawing piles for next turn.

The deeper you go into the cave, the less light penetrates in there. In order to defeat a monster, you need enough torches or other light sources. There are swords emitting light, magical spells bringing elumination, characters radiating light, but then, of course, also basic burning sticks soaked in oil. You just need to jump over value of darkness, otherwise you will get a penalty, when fighting.

Thunderstone Advance: Caverns of Bane - cards

Then you must simply beat monster and survive any of its special abilities. These may include even a response to your victory. You take defeated card in your deck, where it will wait for end of the game. Match reaches its end after defeating thunderous rock bearer. Then you simply add up victory points for acquired cards and equipment, but primarily for defeated monsters. Rules described in more detail, including evaluation of the basic deck, can be found in review Thunderstone: Advance (review).

And that’s the whole Thunderstone: Advance in its simplicity. What news will surely please you a lot about this expansion are new heroes, you can hire for your team. Because we are in the dwarven kingdom, you get also two new heroes of this nationality.

There are seven heroes in total. Both dwarfs are counting on their physical attack power. Their destructive power, however, comes at a price. For example Disowned Berserker is dangerous not only to monsters, but also to his surroundings. Therefore, after a successful fight in a dungeon, one of your heroes has to pay for berserkers rage with his life.

Thunderstone Advance: Caverns of Bane - cards

But there are also other heroes, three humans and two elven warriors. Interesting is character named Spellsword Vanquisher, which adds to his physical attack also magical strength for each item present in the fight. Indeed, most of other heroes are just messing with magic and improving your elemental powers.There is Patternmage Augur, with his magical power allowing you to even check top card of your deck.

Overall, expansion makes your heroes party more intersting and variable. Price ranges from cheap characters hireable for four and five coins to those extremely expensive in higher levels (heroes can be trained up to third level in this game). This is right place to mention Vanquisher, who already at the second level is worth a whopping twelve gold pieces. Each of heroes will surely find a place in specialized decks, when he finds his way on the board.

And what’s next? They must of course also be weapons, that go inseparably with heroes on their adventures. There is four of them and two again confirm our words of magic. Seed bomb has in addition to its magical attack also powers allowing you to keep original hero, when you are levelling up. You would otherwise have to discard him. This means, that cloning is possible even in Thunderstone world! You have to sacrifice other card to do that and give power to that spell. Seedbomb gained great popularity in our plays.

Thunderstone Advance: Caverns of Bane - cards

There is also Taproot Blade, which for the cost of destroying one card increases your attack and light value. And this is sometimes really useful option. Moreover, you should also get rid of unwanted cards with it in a useful way. With a thorn card, its not about your attack, but about preventing consequences of battles with monsters. You can boldly venture underground and into combat with this equipment.

But reviews are not here to deal with each specific card. Out of those magic ones, we mention Owl Eyes especially useful during first rounds of game and in fights in deeper cave rooms. It allows you to ignore darkness penalty. If you focus on this card, you must not care so much about a lack of bright objects. And this is definitely a good way.

Among the new cards, you find new villagers and other items. Two of these are talismans with special powers. With Animal Talisman you can choose a bonus, to use on your army of heroes. But Charm of Venery will make it impossible for you to visit village in turn, when you have it in hand. And all this for its two lights, while card is worth a mere two gold. Good card at the beginning, but once you pile up light or Owl Eyes. Then you get rid of it as quickly as possible.

Thunderstone Advance: Caverns of Bane - cards

And what about fun with monsters? Is it on? Well, that’s for sure. There are worms, trolls with their dreaded leader Troll Bonebreaker or bat Chiroptids. Elementals will force you to reveal top card of your deck and its identity will determin their effect. Formless Ooze can be attacked only with magic and Doomknights give you a pretty hard time, because they increase their defense.

Are also three new thunder stones bearers are important. There’s a skeleton named Xobmokt with global effect since his appearance in halls. Lich Mowtil works like a menacing Doomknights and what about Goron Singlemind with his sixteen basic lives!

There are of course other cards, allowing you to improve all sorts of attacks, draws new cards or earn bonus experience. Those classic tricks, that may not be missing in any expansion, because their number is never sufficient.

Thunderstone Advance: Caverns of Bane - cards

But the most important thing about Caverns of Bane are treasure cards. Its a small deck, that’s true. But there is pleasure hidden in it. And real power. Yet in reality, such treasures are a double-edged weapon. As long as monster has it in its hands, it also benefits from its advantages. You have to beat it first, and then take your reward and use it since then in your favor.

Trust us, game with treasures is even more fun. And you would not mind, that there is not so many of them, because they is simple fun of getting hold of them. Players will compete for a chance to defeat monster, who is holding it. You simply shuffle treasure cards into monster deck. Their number depends on you, you do not have to use them all. The moment you uncover treasure card, you put it into the hall and add monster on top of it. This creature has it in its paws, pockets or tail. Your choice.

So does it mean perfect expansion? Yes. Answer is really that simple. Caverns of Bane is simply a great addition for those, who have a basic box with Thunderstone: Advance. But there is still something else, we have not mentioned.

Thunderstone Advance: Caverns of Bane - cards

Authors additionally decided to change card graphics after the first box. The actual modifications are most visible on items, whose background changed from pink to orange. Emblems on card edges are more highlighted. But confusion between objects and weapons remains. You cannot tell them apart with first glance by the color and you must seek their description (or remember them, of course).

These are small glitches, which are easily forgiven. Entertainment, that Caverns of Bane brings, cannot be simply expressed in numerical value. If you did not enjoy basic Thunderstone, this expansion will not change your mind in any way. Game stays the same. However, if you’re a fan of this deckbuilding heroic legend, then buying this box is a duty.

DesignerJoe Babbitt, Edward Bolme, Curt Crane, Mike Elliott, Jeff Quick, Mark Wootton
ArtistDrew Baker, Chris Dien, Jason Engle, Richard Sardinha, Erich Schreiner, Chris Seaman, Mark Tarrisse, Shane Tyree
PublisherAlderac Entertainment Group, Pegasus Spiele
Year Published2012
# of Players1 - 5
User Suggested # of Players Best with 4 players
Recommended with 1, 2, 3, 4 players
(8 voters)
Playing Time45
Mfg Suggested Ages12 and up
User Suggested Ages10 and up
(2 voters)
Language DependenceModerate in-game text - needs crib sheet or paste ups
(3 voters)
CategoryCard Game, Expansion for Base-game, Fantasy
MechanicDeck, Bag, and Pool Building, Hand Management, Open Drafting
ExpansionThunderstone Advance: Numenera, Thunderstone Advance: Towers of Ruin, Thunderstone Advance: Worlds Collide, Thunderstone: Starter Set
FamilyGame: Thunderstone, Game: Thunderstone Advance
Primary Name
Alternate NamesThunderstone Advance: Verfluchte Höhlen, Thunderstone Advance: Verfluchte Höhlen

Infos courtesy of More Infos.

Review: Thunderstone Advance Caverns of Bane – monsters are getting richer
Final word
Thunderstone Advance has quickly received its first expansion, which enriches your gaming experience in every possible direction. Caverns of Bane contain lots of new cards of all types, to guarantee new challenges with its thoughtful skills. You can face them with more confidence thanks to new heroes with unique skills and it does not matter, if you choose dwarfs or other race. Most space in a box is taken by cards of enemies. There is lot of different types, which can be hidden inside these caves and catch you off-guard with their tricky effects. Graphical processing has changed a little compared to basic game – borders of cards are now brighter and background colors have changed on items from pink to orange. The most important thing to know about this expansion are treasure cards. They are carried by monsters you run into in those dark hallways and they do not hesitate to use them against you. But if you defeat them, you get their advantages for yourself. New expansion therefore brings not only many new cards and variability to already good game, but also offers new and interesting experience. Game gets a little more difficult, but that was kinda expected. For fans of Thunderstone: Advance, its definitely good choice.
Reader Rating0 Votes
new heroes
great treasure cards wielded by enemies first
lots of new enemy types
three thunderstone bearers
new expensive cards
consistent graphical processing
enough new cards to keep you entertained
graphical changes on card margins and background color
there can me more treasures
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