Recommend
10 
 Thumb up
 Hide
6 Posts

Caylus» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Caylus: Plusses and Minuses rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Quillon Harpham
United Kingdom
Unspecified
Oxfordshire
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Before I begin this, I must come clean and say that I rate this excellent game as 10/10, not because it is perfect, but because it's better than 9/10. It's right up there with Puerto Rico, Powergrid, Industrial Waste (yes, give this gem a try) and Tigris & Euphrates. That said, it won't suit every taste, hence this plusses / minuses review which hopefully will enlighten.

+ + + + + + + Plusses + + + + + + +

Theme
The theme and backdrop for the game, building a castle and surrounding town for King Philip the so called 'fair', is carried right through the game play with integrity and charm. In no way does the theme feel parachuted into the game and every aspect reflects it in some way or another.

Components
The components support the players and the theme very well. Unlike Puerto Rico, it's nice to have everyone looking at the same board. It is colourful, well drawn and with helpful symbols in appropriate places to aid in remembering some of the details as the game progresses. The building tiles follow this; I would appreciate the title of each building written on the tile clearly in English, but I do note that the wallpaper gives the building title in a variety of European languages, just too faded to read in the heat of battle! The rules are well written with good examples following the turn order of the game. It makes them a little odd to read the first time around but is more helpful in the longrun. Little resource cubes are better than cards (since there is no trading) and there are no obvious common sense mistakes.

Gameplay
The gameplay itself is quite simple to learn. Any difficulty comes with familiarising yourself with the functions of all the buildings and royal favours, but you shouldn't expect to master this on the first time through. Unlike Powergrid, for example, which is often criticised for being complicated to run (our group certainly finds this, the person running Powergrid has a lot to think about in addition to their own play), Caylus is quite easy to run. The only problem is in forgetting details (like giving your opponent a prestige point when you use their building or taking a denier coin if you pass first), but as I have mentioned, the board helps some of these.

Tactics & Strategy
A good game should have the right balance of short term tactics and long term strategy. I usually prefer about 60:40 in favour of tactics, which is about the balance with Caylus. Players have to be adaptable and inventive but have a rough idea in mind of what they are trying to achieve. Your strategy will develop as the game progresses and it becomes clearer what the others are trying to do. This makes for a subtle, deep and risky game full of pitfalls and opportunities. There is a lot to keep an eye on, rewarding creativity and courage.

Escalation
A good game should have an element of escalation to build excitement towards the end. Caylus has this in bucketloads as players try to optimise their strategies and use the increased variety of buildings that become available. A player can appear to be a long way behind and then catch up. As long as everyone is familiar with the game, the result is usually close, sometimes first to last within a few points.

Story
A good game should also develop and tell a story as it goes. Caylus is divided into three distinct phases yet the development is provided more by the players as their choices rub shoulders.

Variety
One of the strenghts of Caylus is that it can play differently each time. Some games have plentiful resources, others scarce; some games are cooperative and others mutually destructive; games tend to favour different buildings and methods of attack; some games end abrupty, others linger.

Randomness
After the initial setup there is no randomness in the game, which I consider a good thing. I prefer games that are less than 10% random. Moreover, the sheer number of permutations in any turn means that a player can be 'lucky' by having no-one get in their way. Indeed, one tactical principle appears to be to try and do things when other players don't wish to.

Interaction
There is a very high degree of interaction between players as each tries to set up and execute their plan. This is a very pleasing aspect to the game as a decision made by another player can cause you to have a re-think. It is possible to 'gang up' on a single player, but only to a limited extent and not without cost.

- - - - - - - Minuses - - - - - - -

Length
My main problem with Caylus is the length. Our 4 and 5 player games never conclude in under two-and-a-half hours and usually last for three. If we decide to play it then it is the only game of the evening. With Caylus it is certainly true to say that good things come to those who wait...

Frustrating
A lot in Caylus can depend on very little. It is easy to make a silly mistake which costs you a key move. The most common ones tend to be attempting to use a resource before you have it or double counting your resources and attempting to use one twice. This can be very frustrating and leave a sour taste in the mouth - you have not been beaten by someone else's excellence, but your own oversight.

Child Unfriendly
Caylus is not really for children. It is advertised as a 12+ which I think is correct. I certainly find that children that appreciate Puerto Rico and Powergrid still struggle to enjoy Caylus. Caylus certainly fits into the more heavyweight category.

+ - + - + - + - + - + - + -

To summarise, in my opinion Caylus is one of the top "resource to victory points" games with a great deal of depth, creativity and analysis. If you are the sort of player who can juggle and optimize a variety of different factors at the same time depending on your opponent's moves and still concentrate after two-and-a-half hours then you'll love Caylus. I don't think we can expect board games to get much better than this.
Q.

1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jim Cote
United States
Maine
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
quillonharpham wrote:
Before I begin this, I must come clean and say that I rate this excellent game as 10/10, not because it is perfect, but because it's better than 9/10.


You can rate games using decimals you know: 9.5 etc. cool
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
brian
United States
Cedar Lake
Indiana
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mb
ekted wrote:
quillonharpham wrote:
Before I begin this, I must come clean and say that I rate this excellent game as 10/10, not because it is perfect, but because it's better than 9/10.


You can rate games using decimals you know: 9.5 etc. cool

I am sure he is aware of this - given that he figured out the game is 60% tactical and 10% random. How does one go about determining such percentages.....

Nice review... especially since my copy came in the mail on Friday and the girlfriend and I cracked it out to give it a once over with the rules last night. No time to play yet but we are both looking forward to it.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Roland Wood
United States
Visalia
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Quote:
Theme
The theme and backdrop for the game, building a castle and surrounding town for King Philip the so called 'fair', is carried right through the game play with integrity and charm. In no way does the theme feel parachuted into the game and every aspect reflects it in some way or another.


The only thing I would say to add to this would be that the theme is dependent upon your group. I have played with those who refer to the cubes as cloth, gold, stone, etc. and who call the buildings by their names. In these instances the theme is rich. But I have also played with those who call the the cubes pink, blue, brown etc., refer to buildings as "that wooden one that produces pink cubes", and even referred to the bailiff and provost as the "big and short pawns". Needless to say in these instances the theme feels more pasted on..nay..post-it noted on.goo
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Quillon Harpham
United Kingdom
Unspecified
Oxfordshire
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
ekted wrote:
quillonharpham wrote:
Before I begin this, I must come clean and say that I rate this excellent game as 10/10, not because it is perfect, but because it's better than 9/10.


You can rate games using decimals you know: 9.5 etc. cool


My mood usually affects the rating by at least half-a-point, therefore I stick to natural numbers!
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Quillon Harpham
United Kingdom
Unspecified
Oxfordshire
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
BrianMola wrote:
ekted wrote:
quillonharpham wrote:
Before I begin this, I must come clean and say that I rate this excellent game as 10/10, not because it is perfect, but because it's better than 9/10.


You can rate games using decimals you know: 9.5 etc. cool

I am sure he is aware of this - given that he figured out the game is 60% tactical and 10% random. How does one go about determining such percentages.....




Interesting point (which I'm sure has occupied many a discussion forum). I usually look at games wrt Tactics (short term), Strategy (long term) and Luck. So, for example I would rate Caylus as:
Tactics 60%, Strategy 38% and Luck 2% (for the initial set up). This is usually nothing more scientific than collective experience of the game. Of course, this may change through time. For example, as you get more used to a game you can better handle the random factors.

However, I like to go deeper and evaluate the skills rewarded by the game e.g.
Trade (doing good deals and judging auctions),
Positioning (outmanoeuvring your opponents by the position of your pieces or actions),
Resources (attaining and utilising resources (which includes money)),
Growth (growing your little empire faster than the others),
Combat (battling your opponents and reducing their capability),
Luck (being more fortunate than your opponents),
Knowledge (having more general or specific knowledge than your opponents).

So under such a scheme (again from collective game experience) I would rate Caylus as:
Trade 0%
Positioning 50%
Resources 35%
Growth 13%
Combat 0%
Luck 2%
Knowledge 0%

and say, Powergrid as:
Trade 35%
Positioning 15%
Resources 15%
Growth 15%
Combat 0%
Luck 20%
Knowledge 0%

Q.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.