...i WILL own it all!!!
This article is a bit of a mix between a Review and a Session, and it has been a while since I submitted an article, so thought I would bite the bullet ...
I first played Caylus at the July Milton Keynes monthly boardgaming club. Richard Tyson had arranged to have the game available so we could have some fun and initiate me into the Caylus cult. I had been keen on playing it for some time - but had been wary of all the possible hype surrounding the game. Needless to say I lost abysmally in that session.
I had however enjoyed the game so much I did buy it from my FLGS (Eclectic Games, Reading) to add to my small collection.
This game has now hit the table with the family more times than any other game, even though we have only had the game for a few weeks. We have played it as a 2 player (between me and my daughter) and as a 3 player (me, daughter, wife and/or friend). So far, the only games I have won has been the first ones I played with my wife and daughter ... every game since then my daughter has completely thrashed us.
But - onto the review itself.
When first opening the box I felt fear at the sheer number of bits (no grognard me!!!), and the length of the rules. My fears were misfounded though, as we had no problem understanding them and running the first game. I did have one rule wrong - we played that Residences could only be built over Neutral buildings - I had not picked-up that they could be built on player's Craft buildings (note to self - stop skim-reading rules (I get so desperate to play!!)). This did change the shape of the game (but more of that later) but in the grand scheme of things was no big thing - I have very few games where we have not got any of the rules wrong on the first few plays. Therefore I think the rules are clear, with plenty of diagrams to explain things.
The first game with my wife(where I won !) was immediately followed by a game with my daughter (where I won again) - she said that the game was good and wanted to play again straight away. We had run out of time though, and she pestered me every night until, a few nights later I succumbed, and we played a 2-player. I decided that she had been working through strategies in her head for some time, as immediately she was on the attack - preventing me from realising all my ploys by watching what I was going for or needed and getting there first, and by moving the Provost to waste my workers where she could. She won, and declared that it was a great game.
The game works well as a 2-player, and does not require any huge changes from the standard game - which is a relief as I hate games where the 2-player is a significant shift in rules (dummy players, differnet board ...etc). This is therefore good - and I can wholeheartedly recommend Caylus as a 2-player.
The ways-to-win are very varied and rely on management of income, resource materials and workers. The first few games did seem to follow the same trend - build as many wooden buildings as possible, then stone, then residences, then get some gold and finally build prestige buildings... followed by game-end. There are a couple of very high scoring Prestige building (25 pt and 16 pt) which on the first games made them game-winners. On the following game I decided to beat my daughter by 'owning' the lawyer and architects etc and going all out to own residences .... however my daughter seemed to still win by playing heavily on the Jousting field to gain Royal Favours, whenever she had cloth resources. Tonight I tried to counteract this by doing the same thing, however she had moved onto a new strategy by building the castle heavily, so gaining both plenty of Prestige points and also the Royal favours... so I still lost.
She explained to me that I kept doing the wrong things - that I was reacting all the time to her moves instead of following my own strategies. Sigh - I felt really old hearing this from my young daughter
We also played a 3-player today with a friend of my daugher, and we played this time with the correct rule of building residences over both Neutral and Craft. This changed the whole feel of the game. The lawyer did not come out till quite late in the game, and immediately my competitors were building residences over their production buildings. This lead to a strange game with very few resource producing buildings and where there was too much competition for me to 'time out' and re-build these craft buildings.
This leads me to the conclusion that the re-playability of Caylus is very high as the shape of the game can vary significantly depending on the sequence of building and the path that any player takes to gain those valuable Prestige points. There is no 'luck' in the sense that there are no dice rolls nor any cards to provide random factors. I do enjoy games that have a slight element of luck, and the only way this is provided in Caylus is the variabilty of other players' moves ( as is true with any competitive game).
The bits are excellent, of a high standard, and are clear and require no additional aids to understand. The fun-factor is high, but it is also a brain-burner - the game has been taking us about 2-hours as a 3-player, and by the end of a game my head is ready to explode !
In conclusion, a really good game for 2 or 3 players, well worth buying!
... "my name is David and I play Caylus all the time"
Re: Oh my god, my head hurts, and I can't stand to lose agai
Great review, thanks! Really want to try this game.
fun read/good write up.
On the luck front, i would agree that caylus is free of such things as dice rolls and card shuffles. Though, adding to variety of the game, the initial placement of the first pink buildings is random and can greatly play into the dynamics of the game.
Our first game saw the carpenter being the final building to be layed out, and with movement of the provost saw that no buildings were to be built for the first two rounds.
I think in the case of a multiplayer game in the area of 4-5 players, and be the player who is going last, and also not having your worker(s) activated due to provost movement can REALLY alter the game. I would call this 'Bad Luck' =D
fantastic game though, it really is one of the most well rounded games i've ever played.
Re: Oh my god, my head hurts, and I can't stand to lose agai
i played caylus for the first time yesterday and i'm totally psyched. it's really really great! i love it!
there's just one thing bugging me: what's the use of the gate. if i understand the rules correctly a worker placed at the gate can be put elsewhere, when the gate is acivated.
why should i want to do that?
why don´t i immediatly place the worker where i want it to be? by now my wanted places could be occupied. why should i give the others the chance to occupy places and then taking what´s been left. it costs just the same, when i put my worker in the right place immediatly.
it only would make sense to me if
1. the worker can be placed after the provost has moved
2. i can leave the worker for the next round
3. the worker can by means of the gate jump to the first place in the castle....
i just don't understand it what good use you could make of the gate.
all other special buildings have great benefits, so i don't believe the gate has no benefit whatsoever. i just don't get it.
thx for listening and, hopefully, answering...
Kevin Peters Unrau
I believe one common use of the gate is to ensure that you go last when building the castle. This allows you to build only 1 unit if others can outbuild you and allows you to save the other resources for a build and king's favour in the next round.
I've used this myself, although rarely. I have found it helpful in those cases.
And presumably you paid $1 to use the gate. When the round ended
& the price was , say $3, you get to pick a place for $1.