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Subject: Is there any way to avoid using the building favor track? rss

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Boris Dvorkin
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I'm quite weak at Caylus, so I have a question rather than some probing strategic insight.

When I play or watch games on BSW, all of the players always take the building favor track. I guess this makes sense, since (1) the victory point payout is as good or better than the vanilla victory track, (2) you get a building that you can later put a worker on for 1 denier and without giving somebody else a victory point, and (3) you can build gray, green, and blue buildings without relying on the requisite buildings. Those three things make it worthwhile alone, and the resource discount is just an extra bonus.

But if you assume from the get-go that all of your opponents are going to be using this track, is there a back-door strategy to counter it? I'm wondering whether any of the veterans here have experienced any success with only hitting the building track a few times or avoiding it altogether. It's a rare game of Caylus where somebody doesn't make it to the fifth column of the building track, and when they don't, it's inevitably because they got mauled.
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Patrick Sullivan
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Boarass wrote:
I'm quite weak at Caylus, so I have a question rather than some probing strategic insight.

When I play or watch games on BSW, all of the players always take the building favor track. I guess this makes sense, since (1) the victory point payout is as good or better than the vanilla victory track, (2) you get a building that you can later put a worker on for 1 denier and without giving somebody else a victory point, and (3) you can build gray, green, and blue buildings without relying on the requisite buildings. Those three things make it worthwhile alone, and the resource discount is just an extra bonus.

But if you assume from the get-go that all of your opponents are going to be using this track, is there a back-door strategy to counter it? I'm wondering whether any of the veterans here have experienced any success with only hitting the building track a few times or avoiding it altogether. It's a rare game of Caylus where somebody doesn't make it to the fifth column of the building track, and when they don't, it's inevitably because they got mauled.


I think there are two strategies to use against Building Track users:

1) The simple one is to build the mason, laywer, architech, etc. The Mason is the most important. That way you can build some of the stone production buildings and won't be shut out of those. The Building Track user gets alot of VPs from Stone Buildings (since many are worth 6), so by building the Mason, you ensure that those get spread around.

2) Concentrate on a strategy that does only TWO things:
a) Uses the Prestige Point Track
b) Builds in the Castle
doing primarily those two things should end the game fast enough so that the building track player is unable to get his maximum value out of his track (prestige buildings)
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Bert Dreifuss
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Re: Is there any way to avoid using the building favor track
Black Barney wrote:
Concentrate on a strategy that does only TWO things:
a) Uses the Prestige Point Track
b) Builds in the Castle
doing primarily those two things should end the game fast enough so that the building track player is unable to get his maximum value out of his track (prestige buildings)


In my opinion, this is the way to go. The main thing is to END THE GAME EARLY!

End the game fast enough and they don't get the main benefit from the building track: the Prestige Building.

And the prestige point track has been a winner when fully implemented in all the games I've seen.
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david landes
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While agreeing with the first couple responses, I would add a couple things. First, snagging the joust also helps keep the builder from building. Second, in more than 2 player games, a lot depends on the interaction of the various player strategies, and who is more interfering with whom... no track is inherently a winner or loser... though I have never seen a cube track player win against better players.
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Tim Seitz
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I watched a pretty surprising game in that the winner played ONLY in the money track. And never used the joust.

He started the game focusing on obtaining stone and money, and only built in the castle to avoid penalties (and the occasional money favor). He popped out an early mason and stone mine - these were the first 2 player buildings. I thought he was going to be in trouble because he only built 1 of the stone production buildings, but that didn't slow him down as he continued to dominate the stone mine and mason through the middle game building both stone and wood buildings, including market.

In the endgame he amassed a huge assortment of resources and ended the game early by going to the castle and dropping 6 batches to close out the towers (total of 8 batches were his).

He never went on the building track, and never built a prestige building. And he completely crushed his opponents.

Made me rethink all of my strategies...
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Daniel Corban
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Answer: Play with 4 or 5 players. The building track relies heavily on being able to get favors. Favors are much easier to get in 2 or 3 player games, which appear to be the most common type on BSW. With 4 or 5 players, the favors are spread out more.

Since the first or second game, I haven't seen anyone win using the building track in my 5 player games. The points track, however, is extremely strong. The money track is also just too good to avoid. It gives a large and immediate benefit.

I almost always go for money and points. I believe I win about half of our games.
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Mike K
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I know that montu does well sticking to the PP and money tracks, while speeding the game to a conclusion ASAP (usually by pushing the provost up as often as possible). I have also won games using this strategy, though I must admit a preference to the building track strategy.

For me, it also depends on what pink buildings are where at the beginning. In particular, where are the cloth and stone production buildings? If they are both near the end of the road, I will often go for what is at the beginning ... wood, food, and carpenter ... and try a pure-building strategy that includes the mason (to counter the likely opponent response of the building track).

I don't like the money track, as it is the weakest by game's end ... but often you have to cash out a favor or two.
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Patrick Sullivan
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money track is only weak at game end if you've allowed it to become weak. I make sure the church and/or bank are built (and the wood peddler early on) and then I'm laughin' it up with the money track from middle-to-end
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Matthew M
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Re: Is there any way to avoid using the building favor track
I played a 3 player game recently where not only did I not use the building favor track, I didn't build a building at all. Focused entirely on the castle and the VP track. Ended up tying for first (with the building track player)

-MMM
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Patrick Sullivan
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Octavian wrote:
I played a 3 player game recently where not only did I not use the building favor track, I didn't build a building at all. Focused entirely on the castle and the VP track. Ended up tying for first (with the building track player)

-MMM


i hear that strategy only works well if someone is actually focussed on the building track. Otherwise, it's a non-optimal strategy.

It's actually my favourite thing to do in Caylus now (avoid building track entirely and never build anything). It allows you to become really flexible based on what other people build. If someone builds the Mason, Lawyer or whatever, I'm very quick to adapt.

If i build buildings, I find I get into a fixed strategy too much with less flexibility.
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Marc Thompson
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Re: Is there any way to avoid using the building favor track
Really, the only favor track I don't really like is the goods one, which kind of falls apart in the mid game when all the 2 resource and three resource buildings get built.. particularly considering the building track gives you a discount on the middle buildings as well. Other then that, I think they are all pretty good. (P.S. I just won a game and only build a single building the entire game)


The money is NOT to be mocked in the early game. In the early game, money is VERY VERY tight, since you'll almost certainly want to be placing all your workers, since the provost can keep any new buildings from producing, and because the only real source of money in the beginning is the cash for goods (and I rather use my cubes to build, thank you very much), and of course the three money building, which always gets taken in the early game for good reason.

Sure, once you have other sources of income, the money track is less important.. but you'll still want to be going through a ton of denari every turn to get the most of out of your workers. Having an extra 7 or 8 cash means not having to pass.. which means you are last to bribe the provost.. meaning you have the opportunity to screw the best most recently build buildings.. or shoot the provost ahead and take advantage of the risky ones. Also, when your sitting on a huge pile of cash, people won't be as likely to try and bribe against you, knowing you'll win a bidding war. Plus, it's the most immediately useful favor if you are going first. Having a ton of money is a good thing, and if you take the cash favors, you'll have plenty.

(What else are you going to take going first.. 1VP? Not going to help. The goods? The track kinda sucks. The building track? You get NOTHING)



The victory track isn't to be mocked either. Yes.. the Prestige buildings give HUGE VP, but they also require

A) Gold... and a fair chunk of it too.
B) You to build and then take out a residence.
C) You have to spend resources that could be used to build the castle.

They also aren't much use if OTHER players decide to actually build the architect and the stone building fairly early on. I'll happily pay some player a VP if it keeps my favor free for better uses. If you can build an early stone building and turn it into a residence right off the bat, then yeah, the building track really is the only choice, just so you don't get left out of the building race.

The victory track REALLY shines though when a player concentrates on the favor. Sure, the building track helps a player get more done with a single play (Castle FTW!) but he'll only be able to build one big prestige building in a game (since he has to have gold, a spare residence, and alot of resources, and then get the favor) But if you keep getting the favor while other players concentrate on building and setting up the castle, you can just keep picking up those victory points EVERY time you get the favor, and use your resources to oh, I don't know.. build the castle for another favor?


The coutner strategy to the building favor track? Ending the game and good old gold denial. There is one.. count it... ONE source of gold on the board, and it doesn't kick off till mid/late game. Gold is worth 3VP even if you don't use it. Often all you have to do is point out to whoever is going first that "OMG he's going for castlez FTW!" and you can generally convince him to take it just for the VP, or bribe the provost so he never picks it up. The building track isn't particularly intimidating if he doesn't get to use the last peiece of it.
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Damon Asher
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Fugitive_Unknown wrote:
The coutner strategy to the building favor track? Ending the game and good old gold denial. There is one.. count it... ONE source of gold on the board, and it doesn't kick off till mid/late game.


My wife and I have played a couple two-player games. So far, she has pushed the building track each time while I tried to find a way to beat her without using that track. Last night I learned that a money/good tracks combo was not the way to do it, although the 2 for 1 space did benefit me for a while. Where I really fell down is that I got tricksy with the provost, trying to nullify some of her workers, when I should have continued to drive the bailiff forward. I was also making a misguided attempt to build my own prestige building, but I had to build the architect first, and had spent too much money in the church, so the whole process was doomed.

Anyway, I knew that denying her gold was my only chance, but once she put down the alchemist it was all over. I couldn't even deny her favors because she had built 3 stone farms and was raking in resources from those.

Yeah, she's a lot better than me at this game so far. I'm eager to try again with a more disciplined bailiff/castle/VP track (and money track) strategy.
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Bill Corey Jr.
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My experiences have been rather varied... I've used the building track effectively, but also have completely ignored it in favor of the PP track/castle combo. When I DO go building track, though, I almost always go with the cubes track FIRST, so you can imagine my surprise when I read everyone talking about how useless it seems to be for them. To be concise, I use it to get as much gold as possible in endgame, which in turn helps me build one or, in a couple of games, TWO prestige buildings. Particularly fun is building a prestige building that gives a favor, then using that favor to bounce on the building track to build another one. If you have enough gold, this is possible... and for me, the cubes track is the easiest way to get enough gold.

But I digress. I agree with the assessment of fast game/PP/castle as a valid strategy to beat the building track guy. 'Nuff said.
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Greg Romans
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I won a game by generating enough gold cubes to buy the 25 PP building. I am happy with the Cube track.
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Sparr Risher
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Re: Is there any way to avoid using the building favor track
While analysing the favor tracks is the subject of a much longer post that I hope to write a first draft of tonight, I think that the building track is convenient, but not overly powerful. The others offer more direct results in most cases, and are more useful compared to their building counterparts.
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Drew Holmes
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I just played a two player game in which a total of six buildings were built the whole game (one by me for points and the others by my opponent). Three were built in the last round purely for their point value, so we essentially played a game with only three wood building being built the entire game. I used a cube hoarding/jousting/favor-in-the-castle strategy and used my single favors for PP and the doubles (from scoring rounds) for PP and money. I ended up winning by two points (121-119).

Keys to the game (this time around, anyway):
1. Joust early, joust often
2. Build as little as possible in the castle while still securing the best builder favor (i.e. if you are the only one there, only deliver one batch and save the cubes for next round)
3. When in doubt, do whatever gets you prestige points right now
4. If that doesn't work, take resources
5. If that doesn't work, take money
6. If that doesn't work, pass!

I was also able to get two gold cubes, which proved to be vital in the endgame for their point value. So yes, the game can be cracked without using the build favor track (or really without building much at all in the first place).
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Dave Eisen
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Re: Is there any way to avoid using the building favor track
I don't think it is possible, or very rarely possible actually, to win a 2 player game without going builder track.

With other player counts whole different story and a lot depends on timing and on what the other players are going for.

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Dan Ryan
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I just played a 2 player game where we each built 4 prestige buildings (8 in total), with no architect on the board.

We probably weren't playing optimally, but it was a crazy game (and lots of fun). The final score was something like 190 to 130.
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