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Subject: Carson City or Caylus? rss

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Ben
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I'm considering buying one of these two games, primarily for 2-player play with my spouse, but I need some input into which one.

Carson City

I played a game of Carson City recently at a convention and was awed by the production quality. Aesthetically, it is really a gorgeous game.

But the game itself floundered a bit. We misread some rules, I undervalued the economic side of things and spent the whole game attacking people, and generally found it to be fiddly and unpleasantly methodical. soblue

BUT, the more I've been thinking about it, the more I've been seeing some of the strategy mistakes I've made and seeing some of the strategic possibilities of the game. We played with the Yellow Cards, which are universally panned, and the imbalance toward building over combat in the 2-player game seems like a positive for couples play. The fiddliness of the building income would also be much less annoying in a slower, 2-player game with my spouse, than it was in the "rush, rush" excitement of the convention.

In short: Great components, bad experience, but potential(?)


Caylus

I've never played Caylus, but I've come close to purchasing it a few times. It's generally considered a better game and is one of the "classics." Usually, the classics are reliably good for me (I really like Agricola, Puerto Rico, Le Havre, Twilight Struggle, and Brass).

But the game itself looks quite ugly, which is unfortunate, and the consensus seems to be that the components are too small and are merely of "acceptable" quality. Although I hate to admit it, component quality and aesthetics play a big role in my enjoyment of a game. yuk

I also wonder how much of Caylus's high rating (or Carson City's low one) is simply a product of Caylus's originality. I could imagine Carson City losing points even if it improved upon a classic simply because it wasn't innovative. Since I've never played Caylus, and am unlikely to purchase both, Carson City would be plenty innovative and unique in my collection.

Finally, I worry about the lack of luck in Caylus. It's one of the things commonly cited as a positive for Caylus, but I generally dislike perfect-information abstracts (I have a lifelong grudge against Chess, for example arrrh ).

I prefer Eurogames to have just enough randomness to make each game a little different and to force players to adapt and develop new strategies every game. If a game has a scripted opening or certain moves that MUST be taken in particular situations, I'm not going to enjoy it as much (On this point, I also worry about Carson City's last-round Sheriff strategy. I don't want to play the whole game merely as a prelude to a scripted move/counter ending.).

In short: Ugly as hell, everyone loves it anyway, possibly too strategic for me(?)


So...suggestions?
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Tim Collins
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Between these 2, Carson City just seems much more fun. though im sure many will agre that Caylus is a "better" game, it all comes down to fun for me. and Carson city has it for me.
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S P
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I have not played Carson City but I'd go for Caylus. You can upgrade some of the components if you really wanted for Caylus but what can you do about the poor gameplay you described for Carson City?

Components are nice but if the gameplay isn't there, would you continue to play a game after the first couple of plays?
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Jordan Spikes
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I haven't played Carson City, so I can't comment on that one.

However, I find Caylus to be a great game. Yes, it is absolutely grueling, and there is no real luck factor, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. When you lose, it is because you didn't play as well as your opponent(s). For some of us who are super-competitive, that can be a hard pill to swallow. But it is also motivation for the next game.

And I guess I don't understand why people say it is an ugly game. I find the board to be quite appealing. Maybe people just don't like the box art, which is understandable.
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I haven't purchased Caylus because of the Provost - it seems like it would be too aggressive for us to enjoy as a couple's game (though might be great at a game night). YMMV.
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Gary Heidenreich
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Carson City is a much better game with more than two. I have played a few games with two and one with five. I like the two player game but the five player game is quite awesome. I also like how the city forms in CC and it is thematic.

Caylus is good, as well. It had grown on me and plays decently with two.

Caylus is a longer game than Carson City, as well. In two player games, Caylus took me a couple of hours where Carson City took 40 minutes.

Depends on what you want, I guess.

They feel similar BUT having both isn't redundant.
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Lo Ma
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I am a biased party because I LOVE Caylus, and too me it ain;t ugly. In it I am a medieval real estate developer hungrily eyeing that long meandering road.. Admittedly I replaced the rolling cylinders (the worker pawns) for some meeple from Anitke - very nice lookig I'd say. It is also the premiere worker placement/resource management game to which I judge all others. It has great flow and strong sense of progression as you play the game, with several avenues to victory.

However, I also very much would love to play Carson City. And even if I loved Carson City, I would simply have to make room for both in my collection, because Caylus isn;t going away. So, I am indeed biased because I can't give you a clue as to which to choose, but I can tell you something of my experience with Caylus.

A lot of people are intimidate by Caylus because of its reputation, but there is not need to be so. I'd suggest starting with 2 players (I think it particulalry excells with 2, is great with 3, but a drag with 4 players). Once you've plowed through the rules and gone through your first game, I think you;ll find that the gameplay flows easily and intuitively. Don't get hung up on trying to figure out the names of the buildings, just pay attention to what they do for you. Just play tactically at first and don;t worry about strategy. Just get a feel for the game and what does what. And later on, keep in mind that no matter how masterful your strategy is, you have to play tactically too or your strategy won;t get you very far...

At first, I'd suggest playing without building the castle. Use the royal favor track though, as it gives you lots of tactical options without complicating the game very much at all. Wehn you;re comforatble with that, then add in the castle to see its tactics and strategies.

I think it is a great game with lots of replayability as long as you're willing to try new strategies and and keep on your toes tactically. You can also simply play the game tactically and have a ton of fun!

Yes, I love that long meandering road. It is very evocative. But then I was raised on those wargames from the 1960's wargames with unillustrated gameboards filled with hexes, and tons of generic little carboard chits... dang, Caylus is beautiful!
 
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Tom
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Easy answer...buy both!

I think you are asking should I buy carrots or chocolate...yes both are food but I don't think they are related. I know lots of people say the two games are similar but I don't see it that way. Yes there is a placement pathway but it does not grow larger with each turn. There is a "shared" space of land where a city is built but there is competition and Carson City has the potential for far more aggressive, confrontation, and competitive brutality than Caylus. In Caylus you cannot kill people to kick them off a spot, and you certainly can't rob them.

I think Caylus has a very different economic engine than Carson City and while I love Carson City, I think Caylus requires more strategy and more thinking ahead.

If you are into conflict go with Carson City (I don't like it so much as a two player.) Caylus is one of the masters of abstracted economic engines and I believe it is an elegant game that will stand the test of time and be one of those golden oldies that people will covet when and if it goes out of print again. I really like Carson but I like Caylus that much more.
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whistler
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Unicorniclops wrote:
Between these 2, Carson City just seems much more fun to me. though im sure many will agre that Caylus is more fun to them.


Fixed that for you.

"It all comes down to fun for me", too. But my definition of "fun" is not the same as yours. It's demeaning to others to suggest that they're not looking for fun in games. For me, a game has a higher "fun factor" if it involves deep strategic thinking and a steep learning curve. I appreciate that this may not be the case for you, and I don't begrudge you your opinion. It is more accurate and helpful for you to describe precisely WHAT you find fun about games so that the readers can better determine how to value your input.

 
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Jamey Philipp
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I like what Gary said, hence my vote is for Carson City.
 
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Einmal ist keinmal
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I've not played Carson City either, but I'll chime in on Caylus.

First of all, you're the first I've heard to call the game "ugly". I really don't think there's much justification in that, but of course, it's hard to refute one's opinion.

As for the components, they're perfect. They're not too small, as is your concern, and I'm not sure where you heard/read that. They are typical Euro components and do the job well. The board is very functional and the coins are good cardboard quality (although some early Ystari printings had plastic coins which would be a turn off for me.)

Yes, the game has little luck and has complete open information. If that is a concern of yours, then you may want to pass on Caylus. Don't quite compare it to Chess, however. There's much more to the decisions in Caylus than in Chess. Furthermore, you needn't worry about scripted moves. There's no proven winning strategy in Caylus. One player going one direction will leave all other viable paths open to each of the other players to take for VP production. That's not to say that the best player won't win (early on, this means a more-experienced player), just that it's hard to do well yourself and still prevent other players from being competetive.

In response to Lo Ma's post above, I disagree with the statement that it's not as good with 4. I'd say it's best with 3 or 4 players, and slightly less fun with 2 and 5. Every game is quite different, depending on several factors, such as: how frequently players move the Provost, which buildings the players build, which Favors are gained, and the number of players.

Buy it, and if you don't like it, it is wanted by plenty of gamers who would gladly trade for it or buy it off of you.
 
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