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Subject: I didn't 'get' the boardgame, has iOS changed this? rss

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Alex Brown
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Like a lot of fledgling gamers, Caylus was one of the first games I bought. Whether it was the esteem of other ‘Geeks, the simple box cover or just the allure of a one-word title like some Brazilian soccer player, Caylus seemed like The Next Step.

Upon opening I could only remember disappointment. Cubes, a board that looked like a children’s book and other cubes. The rulebook was indecipherable. My wife looked at it or through it, I don’t know. Either way I traded it without playing it.

*****

In the years since that rush of optimism a regular boardgaming group evolved. Heavier fare became more common and I was able to play games like Twilight Struggle, Steam and Agricola. While I enjoy the mechanisms and puzzles, each of those games feels overlong.

It’s not you it’s me; I love gaming, but I also love self-improvement and competition. Heavy games require all players to be committed to learning otherwise you spend every second game whittling away hours after a rookie player has made an unforeseeable mistake. By far the widest separation between my tastes and the mainstream ‘Geekery is my impatience.

*****

iOS gaming (and hopefully other devices) has changed the way many of us play games. In time I think it will be seen as pivotal as role-playing, CCGs, and Euros have been in the decades past. I’ve played many games on iOS. The ability to play many more games in the same time I’ve always had has meant I have been able to sample more games but also burn out on more. Ascension I didn’t mind but now find automatic; I’ve realised I really don’t like Chess so much anymore; Neuroshima Hex I would never play tangibly again.

The most interesting development so far (being restricted to iPhone only) has been the option to play games I couldn’t in real life. Play time, cost and interested opponents are scarce. So, I’ve played games from Tigris and Euphrates to Hey, That’s My Fish! When Caylus came out for iPhone, I knew the barriers to fair appraisal had been removed.

*****

Caylus is literally a worker-placement game. Workers are deployed to various resource or building sites and are activated in a specific order. Favours can be won working for the King. Players are competing to score the most points from many available options. Players have a lot of options to influence the tempo and interactions in the game. It can be engrossing even if overwhelming at times.

The mechanisms of Caylus are simple when played through and present a tight and balanced system. I am embarrassed that I was unable to understand the rules originally. I have been surprised at how the theme of Caylus intrigues me; in recent years banal historical backdrops have become ubiquitous. In contrast, Caylus seems meaningful: the workers work, public officials are corrupt and you need to balance the King’s whims with your own burgeoning business.

*****

So do I like Caylus? Yes. Have my feelings changed then? Yes and No. iOS gaming has had many impacts on the boardgame market and community, and I’m not sure I want to make any hard judgements here, my reviews tend to be anecdotal. What I can say is that the iPhone adaptation allowed me to give an important and foundational game another chance. Being able to spend a few hours alone with a game, playing a meaningful AI, completing a tutorial and really just operating through trial and error are pleasures anathema to my physical life.

Still, for as much as I like games like Caylus, they still don’t match what I want from gaming very often. I still want competition. I want to know my opponent and be able to talk about the game later. I want to be able to play deep games with punches and counterpunches, but I want them to be brief enough that they fit into my world.

I’m glad I bought Caylus. I’m grateful to the Apps industry for allowing me to give a game I’d dismissed another chance. More than anything, I’m glad it helped me to continue to define who I am as a gamer and what I enjoy. I think this game deserves its reputation and everyone should try and play it in the format that suits them.
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Aaron Lewicki
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Nice review. You've got 2 interesting themes here. One is the question of whether Euros in general, and Caylus in particular, ever really produces "memorable" games. I haven't played Caylus yet, but I generally think of Euros as "party games" where there aren't real storylines left over after the game ends. Even Eclipse, which I've played a good deal of recently, doesn't generate meaningful stories for me. My preference is for wargames, where I find the games to be consistently memorable and competitive.

The second point, about iOS changing the way we think of board gaming, is right on. I think it will be a huge boon for the Euro game market. What I think it may hurt is the wargame and card game markets. I worry we'll see most of the complexity (and, unfortunately, depth) taken out of games in favor of generic mechanics with limited theme (see the truckload of deck-building games of late for examples).
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Joe Brown
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I have purchased the IOS version of Caylus. It did help understand what is taking place. But, like the OP, I'd rather play IRL because the interaction is what makes the game. Agricola will be out in April. I wonder what effect it will have........
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Alex Brown
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Good points.

Maximillion wrote:
Nice review. You've got 2 interesting themes here. One is the question of whether Euros in general, and Caylus in particular, ever really produces "memorable" games. I haven't played Caylus yet, but I generally think of Euros as "party games" where there aren't real storylines left over after the game ends. Even Eclipse, which I've played a good deal of recently, doesn't generate meaningful stories for me. My preference is for wargames, where I find the games to be consistently memorable and competitive.


Yes. Recently I won my first game of Agricola. I was seated behind an inexperienced player in a 4er game and I used what seemed like an above average hand (Gamer deck) to efficicently trudge to seven-point win. I played really well, the game generated a lot of discussion and I was satisfied.

The thing is, satsifaction is not really why I game. While I'm not a wargame guy due to length, I find games in my collection like Claustrophobia and Pithcar generating more 'story' and excitment. I love Yomi for 'take that' moments built into a super-skillful system. I even straight-up adore Galaxy Trucker for meaningful mayhem.

'Spreadsheets' like Caylus can get a bad rap but I don't think they are for me. I will play them occasionally if asked, but there's too much looking down, playing on other people's turns and general analysis paralysis to really get my blood pumping.

Maximillion wrote:
The second point, about iOS changing the way we think of board gaming, is right on. I think it will be a huge boon for the Euro game market. What I think it may hurt is the wargame and card game markets. I worry we'll see most of the complexity (and, unfortunately, depth) taken out of games in favor of generic mechanics with limited theme (see the truckload of deck-building games of late for examples).


...which is why I like this point too.

Ascension is an ok game. It's not great, but its functional, and the slick iOS application, where you can find easy online opposition on Phone and Pad, and play a game in 10mins gives it lots of supporters. However, it is just a system really. There's nothing else beyondclickng through, and it has become mindless for me. I tried playing Cabals and found the whole experience awful. Who knew the feel of shuffling and the tension before drawing were such drawcards.

Euros are the same. iOS removes the setup and does the maths for you. It's taking a lot of games and bleeding them into abbreviated video game territory, like Civ. games. I could play a Euro online, but why not just play Star Wars, WoW or SkyRim? At least then you are experiencing something.

Of course, this is all about your mileage varying. I love Boardgamegeek, and I love how iOS games are showing me what I really love in games. Interaction. Brevity. Accessability. Replayability.
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Matthew Tadyshak
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Alex Brown wrote:


Still, for as much as I like games like Caylus, they still don’t match what I want from gaming very often. I still want competition. I want to know my opponent and be able to talk about the game later. I want to be able to play deep games with punches and counterpunches, but I want them to be brief enough that they fit into my world.

Nice review.

I don't get this part, Caylus is one of the most competitive Euros out there
 
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Alex Brown
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More that it's hard to skill-up someone in real life to want to compete at Caylus.
 
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Mikko Ämmälä
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I bought IOS Caylus (I have "real" boardgame also which I have always liked.

This is definitely confusing game without previous Caylus experience. But it surely is well-made enough.

Some negative comments:

- Too bad Caylus has crashed several times (iPad2) and resuming the same play also crashed -> you needed to start new game.

- Maybe the game could run a bit faster too?

.mikko
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Łukasz Łazarecki
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MichaelB wrote:
I bought IOS Caylus (I have "real" boardgame also which I have always liked.

This is definitely confusing game without previous Caylus experience. But it surely is well-made enough.

Some negative comments:

- Too bad Caylus has crashed several times (iPad2) and resuming the same play also crashed -> you needed to start new game.

- Maybe the game could run a bit faster too?

.mikko


Both of those problems have been addressed in the update that should be available for download next week.
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Thomas Mink

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While Puerto Rico and Tigris & Euphrates on iOS prompted me to purchase the corresponding board games, Caylus has not as of yet. I have yet to "see" the game. That is, have no idea as to what end I am making moves. That may change.

We were discussing such games the other night. This would include the bare bones online Dominion game. I'm ambivalent toward iOS Euros. One one hand, you can't beat the social aspect of playing live. Something has to be said for using quality components, handling them, seeing them, and yes, even smelling them. But,as it was mentioned, human error comes into play. In Puerto Rico you can't forget to place a colonist on a building or make illegal moves. Set up, tear down time is eliminated.

It really comes down to being able to play. Finding a good gaming group can be difficult. In the case of Caylus, I'd wonder if it would ever see the table. The wife likes Carcassonne, Dominion, and Civ as two player games. Game-playing Visitors like 7 Wonders, Ticket to Ride, King of Tokyo and Dutch Golden Age. I can play Caylus right now on the iPad.

Getting back to the point, I need instruction based on the line of, "You need this, to get this, to get this, BUT if you don't have this ..."

It took me awhile for the fog to lift on Puerto Rico, but it was worth the wait. I'm not giving up on Caylus just yet. I'm waiting for the "aha!" moment.


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Łukasz Łazarecki
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Thomas, play agains AI few more times and observe what it does.
 
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Yossi cohen
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crashed several times
I have it 2 days and it crashed several times here too...
I find the animation a little confusing me, I would prefer that the game will look like the board game
Besides - I'm glad the game now the iPhone
I can usually find partners for this game.
 
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boardgamemuse
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Well - I am happy to say that I somewhat disagree with your basic premise. Or at least my opinion differs due to my own experience.

I think that most worker placement games by definition allow limited interaction with the opponent. I mean how much interaction can there be when you place a worker on a spot and your opponent cannot place his now on that same spot?

I have recently bought Dungeon Petz and Ninjato. And both of them have limited interaction as well, but in Ninjato you can place your worker on a spot that your opponent already occupies! This give that game more appeal to me.


I have never owned the boardgame Caylus. The fact is that I have read some postings about the supposed 'nastiness' of it and was not sure I ever wanted to play a game like that with my friends or more importantly my wife lol. But I have played the app now which is superb and I see this game as no more nasty than many of the others in my collection. (So "wa wa wa" you might say)


If you like the Carcassone app you should ADORE the Caylus app!


The graphics and sounds are superb, there is a chat feature right out of the starting gate and the single AND miltiplayer modes are equally excellent. Any developer that has a crash report feature to do automatic reporting in case of a crash if selected really cares about the app IMO. Note that mine hasn't crashed once.


The developer has done a outstanding job with this universal app and I applaud them.


I will be buying the Caylus board game because of this app and cannot wait to see the refresh of the game board with the new edition!!




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Amparo
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Hi,

I've bought most of the board games realeased for iphone, even some I'didn't know the game. I love to play board games and the iOS apps of games I haven't played before I just want to buy the board game. I see the iOS versions a way to play in some spear times.

 
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M Van Der Werf
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I never got around to caylus before either as I never found it worth the money or time.
A lot of typical euro's in the top 10 are a bit disapointing to me for actual physical boardgames anyway:
- they have very little interaction and as a result few memorable moments
- little variation after a couple plays. You determine the optimal strategies given some starting variables (cards, plantations, your position whatever) and then you just follow a strategy with plenty of tactical choices.
- skill comes a lot from just knowing the game, ie what cards are there or which routes have the most efficient conversion from resources to points. They are very unfriendly to first plays and don't play well if skills differ.
- tedious bits and scoring often leading to long setup times and AP

All these lead me to many of these category games (agricola, PR, le havre, caylus) etc. not being so fun for in real life, I just find them expensive and quite tedious for the first few plays and boring after those first few plays (once you've somewhat solved the few strategies).

IoS versions I've found ideal for these because they almost solve all my problems with these games. Cheap enough to get for a couple plays, no problem with setup times and much less AP because of good overviews and the opponents being anominous or AI doesn't even matter that much because there is little interaction anyway.

Games I look for to actually own a physical copy must really have some more interaction going on and those games will never work on Ipad etc. anyway. I especially like if there is some bluffing, screwing and/or traitor elements in the game and the political and reading skills they bring along to be good in games.
Battlestar galactica, resistance etc. is probably my favorite category now but good games with just lots of interaction through something like auctions,bluffing etc. are great too. I wish there was a good traitor game that would be shorter and simpler than BSG but still have enough depth but I don't think there is one (yet)
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