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Subject: Under the dashboard rss

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Paul Mackie
Australia
Sydney
NSW
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My first playing, and this enters my hot 10, although I’m not yet ready to add it to my top 10. First impression is that it contains a lot of what I call “moving parts”. These are not simply the physical game components (although it has plenty of these), but rather the actions, mechanics and indices that a player has to manage in order to be successful in the game. I liken this game player’s challenge generally to that of a business operations manager, with a hypothetical (or real) operations dashboard in view. This dashboard is replete with indicator lights, moving charts, alarms, buttons and so on, that are all “wired up” to actuators of the business and both internal and external market signals. The larger the number of moving parts, the more complex is the dashboard and the greater the skill required of the operator to interpret and manage it effectively.

This is not a negative criticism, and in fact I often enjoy games that have a lot of (figurative) moving parts. But generally they take a few playings to learn - not simply the dashboard, but rather the moving parts underneath. Even more important are the sensitivities of the parts to each other.

With Pat’s lucid rules explanation and previous experience of other resource laddering games, I thought I had this one figured out pretty well early on in the game. I soon found myself cash-comfortable and focussed on how I could generate cubes quickly enough to build some of the more interesting buildings and get some markers going in the castle. A quick glance at the score chart showed Andrew starting to pull away a bit, but Pat within coo-ee and Brad actually 1 or 2 spaces behind.

But one of the more difficult aspects of the game with many moving parts is paying attention to what your opponents’ developing strategies are. All the information in Caylus is right there is front of you but, for me at least, this is not enough of a cue to see any emerging and significant differences. At about 2/3rds through the game, as my cash position was weakening, I finally looked at everyone else’s holdings of commodity cubes and was dismayed to see that my pile was about half that of everyone else’s. While I had been minimising use of those buildings that gave kick-backs to my opponents (in favour of the single cube payouts) the others had been jumping right in. So the only one really losing out was me - a lesson learned too late in the game.

As the last turn rolled around Andrew started cursing himself apparently for not managing his cubes optimally to grab some of the big points buildings. Pat leap-frogged Andrew leaving a huge gap, but Brad’s gains were stunning. All I could do was sit back and watch.
I’ll be looking for the opportunity to practise this one again soon…
17 minutes rules. 84 minutes playing.

Results: Brad: 67. Pat: 63. Andrew: 57. Paul: 43.

(Originally posted on www.themineshaftgap.com)
 
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Mijjy B
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I liken the game to a labour hire exchange with an independent commission against corruption (the ICAC, LOL) & union official watchdog. However, you can bribe the union official to look the other way & meantime, exploit your workers.
 
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Wade Broadhead
United States
Pueblo
Colorado
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good report. I find the same thing. People trying to minimize the 1 VP others get for using buildings, or the 1 good they get as payback for you recieveing 3 goods. When people worry about that they usually lose. You have to maximize your return, if your opponent gains some trival bonus, it isn't enough to offset your advantage. Get lots of cubes and favors as quickly as possible!
 
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Brandon Tibbetts
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Oak Lawn
Illinois
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The 1 point my opponent gets from me activating his building is probably the last thing I would consider when deciding where to place my worker. Only if all else feels equal would it steer me away.

Another thing to keep in mind, especially with 3+ players, is that if someone has built a building that is always useful to all players (in particular the production buildings) is that if you don't place a worker there someone else probably will, and the owner will get his point either way.

I'd like to clarify that I'm not saying points from "foreign" use of buildings are insignificant. An early wood production building may be considered to be worth 8 points if opponents place there 6 times throughout the game. I'm just saying that once a player has invested in a popular building that trying to deny him those points is usually futile.
 
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