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Subject: Why I Can't Get Enough of Caylus Magna Carta rss

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Ben Stanley
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This is my perfect game. It's brilliant. I love everything about it. And I rate it a perfect 10.

Intro

For those unfamiliar with the game or its big brother, let me just introduce it briefly before raving about how it has won my heart . . .

Caylus Magna Carta involves managing resources and buildings to construct a castle and other buildings at the foot of the castle, and collecting victory points for contributions to the castle, utility buildings that help you collect resources or money or take other actions, and constructing prestige buildings for big victory point bonuses. The players can pay to manipulate a marker called the provost to change which buildings provide their intended benefits as a way to thwart the other players.

The most significant feature of the game is that buildings have a primary benefit for the player who places a worker on them, but also a secondary benefit for the player who built the building if someone else uses it. The result is that the game plays like Monopoly should have played: you get a benefit when people stop at the place you own, but they aren't stopping there by chance: they chose to use your building. And you get lots of traffic to your building if you have a true monopoly: the only lawyer in town, the only quarry, or something similar. It's absolutely awesome that way.

The Many Perfections of CMC

This game is portable: it's a small deck of cards and a handful of Euro components to track resources.

Yet this game is deep! It is a complex, rich, thrilling combination of resource management and worker placement with multiple viable strategies and even a little bit of tormenting other players.

This game has fantastic player interaction, with deeply strategic interaction in the benefits of buildings, choosing carefully where one wants to place workers or what to build and who that helps, and wildly tactical interaction in the movements of the provost.

Yet this game is fast, often playing in half an hour among players who know what they are doing.

This game provides a tremendous amount of replayability because the building decks of each player, while containing identical cards, are shuffled and thus force the players to adapt to the situations that develop.

Yet this game has no randomness in who will win, as it is a true, deep, strategic masterpiece with no elements of chance beyond starting player and the building deck shuffling.

This game provides tremendous variety in strategy, with some players focusing on castle contributions for points, others on large numbers of regular buildings, others on prestige buildings, and still others on money and purchasing points through buildings like the Church. And some players try to keep a very balanced strategy doing some of everything. That represents at least five different viable and popular strategies.

Yet this game is still balanced with smart newcomers able to be competitive, though experience and genius always winning out in the end. And the game plays great (even if very differently) with two players, with three, and with four. It's always a great, interesting, and tight contest.

This game is elegant, not needing the extreme complexity of its big brother to remain interesting and challenging.

Conclusion

In short, Caylus Magna Carta is the perfect game. It is simply amazing. If I could change anything about it, all I would do is make the box much smaller, since much of the space is wasted.

10 out of 10; must-own for all serious gamers of any stripe; the first game of my collection I would grab if the house was burning to the ground . . .
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Mark M
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Am liking this game a lot as well, even though I have never played the "real" Caylus (not sure I could get my group to do that anyway). I have only played with 3 and 4 so far, but normally play 2 player games. Do you think it is just as strong with 2?
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Ben Stanley
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I love playing it two player as well. It never disappoints me. You will find that strategies can be very different in two player games. Often the game can be ended so quickly that you can thwart someone who is expecting to build a lot of prestige buildings.
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Richard Dewsbery
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I bought Caylus and never got around to playing it. Once I had played CMC, I just didn't feel the need - CMC packs everything that I'd *expect* to get out of Caylus into a smaller, shorter package.
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Pell Bort
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I'm not sure OP was clear enough in his post. Do you like the game or not?
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.308 Jake
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Blue Steel wrote:
This game is elegant, not needing the extreme complexity of its big brother to remain interesting and challenging.


What is the "extreme complexity" of Caylus?
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Ben Stanley
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trippercook wrote:
What is the "extreme complexity" of Caylus?

That's what I call a game that is so long and slow and complex that it gets a special award (2006 Sonderpreis Komplexes Spiel) for being complex . . .
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Pell Bort
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Based on this thread (and the fact that I've owned the game for months but hadn't yet played it), I took it for a spin with two other players (who had never played Caylus before in any form). Here's what I thought:

Portable: Yes. Amazingly so.
Shorter: Not particularly. Not noticeably more than the full board version.
Better: Not particularly. Felt like Caylus. If you like Caylus, you'll enjoy this. If you don't, you won't. You're trading off portability for feel and theme.
Worth buying (if you already own/instead of) Caylus: Only if portability is important to you.

It's a lovely game but I don't see that it's the blockbuster that OP has made it out to be. It's very good, but masterpiece? I'm not feeling that.

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.308 Jake
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Is it just Caylus without the Favours? What has it dropped? I'm thinking about getting it to leave in my desk at work.
 
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Mark M
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Quote:
Well, you have to filter cards through in your hand to find the buildings you want, or just play from what you've got. They aren't all just available like they are in Caylus. Other than that, it plays very much the same way.


Since I liked Magna Carta so much, I printed off the Caylus rules and have been wading through them while watching the night-time news. Are the gold cubes also wild in that game, or specifically can only be used as gold cubes? Seems like there are also many more buildings already usable right from the start and others using your building get you a point not any goodies. Was wondering how many fundamental differences there were to take that leap.
 
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Ben Stanley
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Pellbort wrote:
Based on this thread (and the fact that I've owned the game for months but hadn't yet played it), I took it for a spin with two other players (who had never played Caylus before in any form). Here's what I thought:

Portable: Yes. Amazingly so.
Shorter: Not particularly. Not noticeably more than the full board version.

Play it a few more times and make sure you are getting all the rules right. I have seen people break this game by missing critical but briefly mentioned rules (for example, not removing two castle tokens every round if no one contributes to the castle that round). CMC needs every one of its rules, but once players know it and assuming they are playing it right, it goes very quickly (especially a 2 player game, obviously).

Tastes will certainly differ, but in my extensive collection I favor games that have a really high "depth to speed" ratio (i.e. that feel like a heavy weight game but play in a light weight game or filler time frame, games like CMC and Endeavor), and I'm not sure anything can beat CMC for depth to speed ratio.

trippercook wrote:
Is it just Caylus without the Favours? What has it dropped? I'm thinking about getting it to leave in my desk at work.


The biggest change is the removal of Favors, which I don't think are missed at all and greatly accelerates and improves the base game. Once completely understood and played by all the rules, it can go very quickly and not feel like it is sacrificing much depth at all.

I like the fact that you don't need an actual board or nearly as many wooden bits because of how cleverly the cards convey information.

Interestingly, there is an expansion for CMC that adds the favors back into the game, which I may pick up just to review, but I suspect the game will remain better without the expansion.
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Pell Bort
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Blue Steel wrote:
Play it a few more times and make sure you are getting all the rules right. I have seen people break this game by missing critical but briefly mentioned rules (for example, not removing two castle tokens every round if no one contributes to the castle that round). CMC needs every one of its rules, but once players know it and assuming they are playing it right, it goes very quickly (especially a 2 player game, obviously).


Yeah, we had the rules right (only once did the "remove two tokens" rule come into effect, but we did it). I just generally found that the difference between CMC and Caylus was the same as the difference between "Travel Sorry" and "Sorry". People still took the same time to do the same stuff, and AP was just as present.
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Ben Stanley
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Blue Steel wrote:
trippercook wrote:
Is it just Caylus without the Favours? What has it dropped? I'm thinking about getting it to leave in my desk at work.


The biggest change is the removal of Favors, which I don't think are missed at all and greatly accelerates and improves the base game. Once completely understood and played by all the rules, it can go very quickly and not feel like it is sacrificing much depth at all.

I like the fact that you don't need an actual board or nearly as many wooden bits because of how cleverly the cards convey information.

Interestingly, there is an expansion for CMC that adds the favors back into the game, which I may pick up just to review, but I suspect the game will remain better without the expansion.

Oh, and the game also removes the cloth resource, the baliff, and a few other things. But it is mainly the favors that people notice.
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Richard Hutnik
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Pellbort wrote:
Based on this thread (and the fact that I've owned the game for months but hadn't yet played it), I took it for a spin with two other players (who had never played Caylus before in any form). Here's what I thought:

Portable: Yes. Amazingly so.
Shorter: Not particularly. Not noticeably more than the full board version.
Better: Not particularly. Felt like Caylus. If you like Caylus, you'll enjoy this. If you don't, you won't. You're trading off portability for feel and theme.
Worth buying (if you already own/instead of) Caylus: Only if portability is important to you.

It's a lovely game but I don't see that it's the blockbuster that OP has made it out to be. It's very good, but masterpiece? I'm not feeling that.



I think Caylus is ok. I respect it as a design, but wished I liked it better. However, I do really like Magna Carta. Then again, consider this being someone who prefers Pillars over Caylus saying this. I believe someone who wanted to like Caylus, but was annoyed by it, can give Magna Carta a shot and find a game they would really like.
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Paul Doherty
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I already owned and liked Caylus so I was hesitant to get Magna Carta. I finally got a chance to play it a few weeks ago and immediately ordered it. It's really great, just like Caylus.
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Brian Schroth
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Blue Steel wrote:
Yet this game has no randomness in who will win, as it is a true, deep, strategic masterpiece with no elements of chance beyond starting player and the building deck shuffling.


How are randomly drawn cards "no randomness"? It may be less blatant, but if I need a specific card and randomly draw it that's just as lucky as if I need a specific die roll and randomly roll it.
 
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Brian Bankler
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trippercook wrote:
Is it just Caylus without the Favours? What has it dropped? I'm thinking about getting it to leave in my desk at work.


The real difference (IMO) is the cards. In regular Caylus, after a few dozen games you'll often see similar patterns of buildings, so it gets stale after a while (YMMV, I played ~100 games of Caylus, then pretty much stopped). People like to build X, then Y, etc. In CMC you have to draw your card, so you more variety on how the buildings flow. (Caylus does have more variety, because of favors and great variability in game length, but that comes at the price of about 60-90 minutes).

I find that the luck makes the game more interesting.

Although I do wish there was an in-between Caylus, with the full flavor of the big game but the card-based system of buildings.
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Gabriele Pezzato
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Bankler wrote:

Although I do wish there was an in-between Caylus, with the full flavor of the big game but the card-based system of buildings.

Actually, I think what you are looking for is here: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgameexpansion/150637/caylus-m...
 
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