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Subject: Review and Thoughts from a Caylus Fan rss

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Dan Poole
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Pillars is a resource management game that uses a tried and true formula: Use resources to acquire money and/or VP's. This game has been compared to Caylus a number of times, thus I had to go out and buy it.

Big Picture
I have vowed to never re-iterate a rule book in a review. Instead I prefer to go over the big picture. Pillars is a game that is 6 turns long. The goal is to collect resources to help build the big cathedral. At the end of each turn, a piece of cathedral will be built. Since the cathedral is in 6 parts, it will be built at the end of the game.

The game board depicts the cathedral building site and surrounding community. There are numerous regions to which players can place Workers or Master Builders to perform various functions. In general players are trying to obtain resources (sand, wood, stone, metal). These raw resources are then converted to VP's and/or money at the end of the turn by various Craftsmen (in the form of cards). For example a woodworker may convert 2 wood cubes into 1 VP. At the beginning of a turn, players assign their workers to various resource sites on the board. Craftsmen may also be obtained at this time too. Then players place their Master Builders on special sites on the board in order to perform special functions. The order of Master Builder placement is determined by drawing them from a bag. When a player’s Master Builder is drawn, he can pay to place it or pass to place him for free, but later. This is a crucial aspect of the game: Pay lots of gold to get the choice spots, or save your gold and wait. After all the Master Builders are placed, each area is resolved in numerical order (see below).

Collecting resources
1. At the beginning of a new game turn, 7 resource and 2 craftsman cards are turned face up. In player order, each player takes a card. A resource card instructs a player to place x number of workers in the forest (wood), Quarry (stone) or gravel pit (sand) to acquire x number of cubes. A player by default has 7 regular workers and 1 super worker (equal to 5 regular workers) at his disposal.

2. If a Master builder is placed in the market, he can buy or sell resources. He can sell but not buy metal.

3. If a Master Builder is placed the King's Court, he gets a metal cube. This is one of the only ways to acquire metal. Certain privilege cards can award metal.

Craftsmen
These are how cubes are converted to VP's or gold. A player may normally hold up to 5 at once.
These are obtained 2 ways:
1. By paying gold for them during the resource/craftsman selection phase at the beginning of the turn.
2. Placing a Master Builder in the Shiring.

Metal
This is the one resource that cannot be obtained via worker placement. Initially you may think “who cares?” because early in the game metal does not do much except fetch a nice price at the market. However as the game progresses and better craftsmen come into play, you had better believe metal is a valuable resource to acquire. As a matter a fact, it is definitely a good strategy to save a couple metal cubes until the end of the game because those metal using craftsmen can yield some very nice VPs’ indeed.

Resolving Locations
This is a list and brief description of each location.
1. Events: Read the Event card. Most are good; some are bad.
2. Archbishop's Office: Protection from Events OR 1 resource from the market.
3. Wool Mill: All workers not assigned to resource areas are placed here. Each woodworker here yields 1 gold.
4. Kingsbridge: 2 privilege cards are placed here face up each turn. Take the card over the space your Master Builder was placed.
5. Kings Bridge Priory: Take 2 or 1 VP.
6. Forest
7. Quarry
8. Gravel Pit
9. King's Court: Exempt from taxes. 1st space also awarded a metal resource cube. Taxes determined by a special dr6 (2,3,3,4,4,5).
10. Shiring: 2 Craftsman cards are placed here at the beginning of the turn (and acquired in a similar fashion as Kingsbridge).
11. Shiring Castle: 4 grey workers live here. Take 2 to use for next round.
12. Kingsbridge Resource Market: Buy/sell resources.
13. Cathedral Earn VP's from craftsmen.
14. Reorder Players.


Game End
The game ends after 6 turns. The player with the most VP’s wins. Simple as that

My Overall Impressions

Theme: 7 I admittedly know very little about the book behind the game. Nonetheless the theme makes a good substrate for a great game.

Mechanics: 8 Despite the common mechanics of turning cubes into money/VP’s, there are a lot of cool mechanics and quite a lot of different choices to be made.

Rule Book: 9 Very easy to follow; No ambiguities

Strategy: 8 Though there is some luck here and there, given the large number of things to do in the game, strategic placement of workers and Master Builders is key. Lots of agonizing decisions to be made.

Aesthetics/Components: 9.5 Simply said, this is a beautiful game with very nice bits. I love the map. And yes, I am a sucker for those cathedral blocks.

Overall Fun Factor: 8.5

Sometimes I tire of resource management games, yet there are always a few that come along and catch my eye. I love Caylus despite all the hype. It is a game full of frustrating decisions because there is so much to do there. This is the exact reason I like Pillars; there are so many cool spots on the board, you want to put Master Builders and workers on all of them. It does get frustrating having only 3 Master Builders......So use them wisely!! Some people say this is a simplied version of Caylus. I scratch my head at this for 2 reasons: 1) Caylus really isn’t that hard of a game to understand. The rules are extremely well written (as with Pillars). If you do not think so, read the rules to Up Front or Advanced Tobruk. 2) Pillars, despite the straightforward rules, is in no way a simple game to master. I will also say this game plays extremely well with 2 players.

Enjoy!!
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Alexander
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Good Review Dan,


I am little confused though cause i want to take a resource managment game badly and i cant choose between caylus and pillars??
Any opinion?
by the way in Greece there is only caylus for the moment ,
they will localised pillars before make it available.

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Wot!
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mythos999 wrote:
Good Review Dan,


I am little confused though cause i want to take a resource managment game badly and i cant choose between caylus and pillars??
Any opinion?
by the way in Greece there is only caylus for the moment ,
they will localised pillars before make it available.



I have both games.
I do prefer Caylus ... much meatier

I always get a sense of frustration at games with fixed rounds - so with Pillars, the cost of craftsmen vs how much profit you get out of them is painful. I get this feeling with Louis XIV as well - on the last couple of rounds the benefit of difficult Missions becomes dubious.
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Daniel Corban
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If there is a choice between buying Caylus or Pillars, even without ever playing Pillars, I stand by the recommendation to get Caylus. It supports five players and is much more accepted by "non-eurogamers" so it is easier to find opponents.
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Dan Poole
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Thanks for the compliment

If I had to pick between Caylus and Pillars, I would probably say Caylus is a better game. As mentioned above it is a little meatier.

One thing I do like better about Caylus is that you have more workers, so you can choose more places in a turn. In Pillars it is a little frustrating to have only 3 Master Builders. Having said all that, Pillars is a great game, and it will prbably come right down to personal preference
 
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John Harley
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I have both
I feel that Pillars has a nice narrative experience, and the effects cards add a nice variability to the game. The game plays better after a couple tries you know better whats worth paying 7 gold for. It has lovely art, and is certainly a reliably enjoyable experience. I could see this kind of game getting ported to XBox live.

Caylus feels like you win or lose based on your effort & skill. There is no "well he got the bonus card, or drew the special freebie". It has a certain flow and seems to play in a way that you feel like you could learn to play at a very deep level. Certainly reaching blue buildings wont happen for you for a few games I think.

Between teh two, I really like Pillars, but I would take Caylus first because I think the play is more rewarding because your results are more directly the result of your talent. The drawbacks are is the playtime is a bit long and the art does not compare to Pillars. Mind you there is a collector`s edition coming that adresses the aesthetic issues.

If time is a top concern, then Pillars, but I think the better game is Caylus.
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Doobermite
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I would say overall Caylus is a better game but I seem to have more fun playing Pillars. I think I like the narrative aspect and the shorter playtime. I also like the randomness of the cards.

However, I wish there was a little more variation in the cards. I would almost like to have to put more combinations of cubes together as in Caylus, just not an overload of combinations.

Then there's the somewhat scripted aspect to Pillars (the character cards from 1-6) that I wish was a little more flexible.

Overall though I like both games and have already played Pillars more than Caylus.
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Enon Sci
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mythos999 wrote:
Good Review Dan,


I am little confused though cause i want to take a resource managment game badly and i cant choose between caylus and pillars??
Any opinion?
by the way in Greece there is only caylus for the moment ,
they will localised pillars before make it available.



Pillars is most certainly a game easily adopted by non gamers.

Caylus seems to be a game difficult for non gamers to relate to.

If you wanted a gamers game, try Caylus. If you want a game that will go over on a wider variety of gamers, play Pillars. If you wanted both, get both (like I did).

I went Pillars to Caylus, incidentally, and have no regrets.
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