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Subject: Farms! rss

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I've been playing a fair amount of Caylus in the last few weeks. In the first two or three games (we mostly play with four players, but sometimes 3 or 5) the first two buildings to enter play were the two farms: 2 cloth/1 food and 2 food/1 cloth. From there the game would develop a resource heavy economy that favored multiple castle batches and the the building favor track.

That's one version of Caylus, but I'm puzzled by the idea that it is the version of Caylus. There seems to be a farm groupthink among the more experienced players in my group. So, to toss this aside, I've started taking the opening building actions in our games for the last few sessions, usually building the Stone-mason early, often followed by the Lawyer, the Church, the Bank, etc. These games develop into resource poor games where batches are hard to come by and money is worth a lot. I find these versions of Caylus fun and interesting to play.

My question is, does your group tend to build the farms right away in most games of Caylus? Does it vary by player count?
 
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Brian McCormick
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Interesting. I've only seen a "farm strategy" develop once in my games. Most of my games are like the second setting you talked about: people build the stone mason, a couple of two-resource buildings, and the lawyer, and then there's a lot of jostling for position in the castle, at the stables, in the Inn, etc.

I guess if I think back, the game that used the "farm strategy" wasn't as tense as my other games. Hmmm...
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Brandon Tibbetts
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I'm not as expert as some of the other voices that will probably chime in, possibly correcting me, but I'll add my thoughts.

The 3 stone farms are probably the most powerful in the game if they can be built before the gold mine. If you manage to build 2 of them before the mine without killing yourself to do it, you're probably on easy street. Here are some reasons why other buildings might get built before the gold mine:

* someone is using a carpenter strategy... ignoring the castle at first to devalue the farms and get 3 or more wood buildings (hopefully the 4 pointers) in before the gold mine

* as usual, 2 or more players are hitting the building favor and they they're just tossing out their cheap wood buildings on the way

* it's a 4er or 5er and a couple players might be struggling just to build something at all

* 1 or more players doesn't know what he is doing

There may be a strategy of building the lawyer and the double cloth wood building or building the double cloth if someone else builds the lawyer, but it's iffy.

PS... did you really mean the first 2 buildings to enter play were stone farms? I've never seen this happen. You'd think at least the mason would be built first to allow the stone farms to be built so early. It would be really odd/suboptimal if everyone ignored the carpenters during the dungeon phase and passed on their wood building when selecting that favor.
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I was using the "/" symbol to mean OR, not AND, so I was referring to the wooden farms, not the more powerful stone farms. I can see how that was confusing.
 
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Russ Williams
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I've experienced all kinds of experiments in my games of Caylus with the people I've played with, and I agree it can make a huge difference in how the game feels. Some games we are drowning in resources, other games it's indeed hard to get a triple for the castle. I like that. But I have no deep strategic insights to offer about it.
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Ryan
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This is part of the beauty of Caylus. One game can unfold much differently than the last, according to what buildings enter play and when. I won't speak for the 2 player game here, but for 3-5 player Caylus if the wood farms are thrown out early then the game will be so cube rich that it is almost assured the game will end much quicker via a tower phase build out at the Castle. The best thing to do in this type of game is to hoard cubes to dominate at the Castle. If the Lawyer and Architect aren't out too late then you can try to plan for 1 good prestige building as well.

Often in these games you must be cautious to enter the Castle before your opponents or risk being shut out in the walls and tower phases. Being first in the turn order is always helpful, but is especially important in cube heavy games for phases 2 and 3. It allows you to get to the Castle first when a phase is about to end and also allows you opportunities to gather more resources than anyone else. And if all 3 stone farms are safe late in the game, then you can even open by taking the Gold Mine, in order to score a good prestige building later, and still get one of the stone farms (in a 3 player game).

But, yeah, it is important to recognize the pace the game will take according to the buildings that are played. Nothing sucks worse than being the player shut out of the Castle because you didn't notice how many batches the other players could build at the Castle in a cube rich game.
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