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Subject: Early Observations & Questions rss

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Nick Case
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I have now played twice, first in a two player next with five. Once the rules were understood, I felt a sense of deja-vu when trying to get my head around the possible strategies, the same feeling I had when I first played Puerto Rico.

The following are the aspects of the game where I am struggling to fully grip the best way to gain advantage and some feed back from the BGG community should be appreciated;

Royal Favours: The cost of jousting, one one denier (or 'coin' as we have ended up calling them), one worker (at least 1 coin) and a cloth, initially outstrips the perceived benifits. In the Tower phase, 5 PP and gold etc is great payback but you have certainly paid for that in the early phases of the game possibly at the expence of building. When is the best time to start jousting and should favours mainly be gathered from the castle build and prestige buildings to gain the later rewards?

Scoring Track: In my two games the top scores have been in the late 40's(2 player) and 30's (5 player), and only one prestige building was built. When we first played PR the top scores were in the 20's because we weren't maximising shipping and building. What sort of top scores are possible?

Prestige Buildings: This seems to be a great way to pump up points but the tower scoring section and game end seems to be reached before their potential can be realised. In PR there are early, mid and end game periods which trigger changes in tactic, has anyone evolved any similar yardsticks to gauge milestone actions in Caylus? Perhaps the Lawyer should be an early build to crash out residences for the income and to give maximum exposure to Prestige structures? I can see a great advantage in converting material producers to force other players to use your larger producers. Which combinations work best?

Any thoughts should be appreciated.

 
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Maarten D. de Jong
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Big Bad Lex wrote:
Royal Favours: The cost of jousting, one one denier (or 'coin' as we have ended up calling them), one worker (at least 1 coin) and a cloth, initially outstrips the perceived benifits. In the Tower phase, 5 PP and gold etc is great payback but you have certainly paid for that in the early phases of the game possibly at the expence of building. When is the best time to start jousting and should favours mainly be gathered from the castle build and prestige buildings to gain the later rewards?

Can't answer that, as my games have been limited to 2 players only. I don't really like Caylus at this number: it works, and once you get the hang of it plays smoothly too, but it lacks tension and diversity. Resources are in ample supply; as soon as one player passes, the other does too (cost of placing workers is prohibitive); there is no need to use the gate or the stables; the only thing to genuinely annoy the other player with is the provost (or blocking the stone mason). A quick jab now and then is okay, but not during the entire game. That is really too much annoyance. To sum it up, I found it rather boring near the end and was glad to finish the game.

With the above in mind, I just used the jousting field whenever I could---I had lots of tissue coming in, so then payment wasn't such a big deal. Also remember that every time you gain a favour your marker moves right (provided it's okay with the 'epoch') and then you get to choose from all the goodies listed up to that field. With money and prestige it's a fargone conclusion which field to use, but not so with resources and building. With more players, contention is much, much fiercer, and it would depend entirely on the strategy you follow to decide when to use the joust. But still: if you can spare the resources, I'd say go for it, and do not wait for the appropriate moment. The ROI keeps getting better and better, and waiting just lowers whatever benefit you might obtain.

Quote:
Scoring Track: In my two games the top scores have been in the late 40's(2 player) and 30's (5 player), and only one prestige building was built. When we first played PR the top scores were in the 20's because we weren't maximising shipping and building. What sort of top scores are possible?

I've hit 85 and 80 points for 2 players. We were building things like mad, upgrading whenever we could, buying good blue tiles when the opportunity presented itself, and handing out quite a lot of points for using each other's buildings. But we weren't using the provost as much as you would in a multiplayer game: it would nearly always amount to a zero-sum game, so basically a waste of money. We didn't end up using all of the prestige buildings, however; in fact, we used only 1 or 2.

Quote:
Prestige Buildings: This seems to be a great way to pump up points but the tower scoring section and game end seems to be reached before their potential can be realised. In PR there are early, mid and end game periods which trigger changes in tactic, has anyone evolved any similar yardsticks to gauge milestone actions in Caylus? Perhaps the Lawyer should be an early build to crash out residences for the income and to give maximum exposure to Prestige structures? I can see a great advantage in converting material producers to force other players to use your larger producers. Which combinations work best?

I don't think the game allows many prestige buildings to be built in the first place. Gold enters the game only mid-way, and you need a hefty portion of the stuff in order to build a decent monument. In my games, I saw the big 25-point monument built just once, and that was with exceedingly gentle cooperative play.

I also think that you cannot really change tactics as a conscious decision, especially if people are familiar with the game. You cannot simply say: 'Now I am going to collect gold.' You can try, but if others beat you to the various fields to obtain the metal, you're out of luck and had best come up with a backup plan. You can try a building strategy, but that relies on you getting to the architects or various construction sites first. If people change the player order, you have to think of something else. At the moment I am of the opinion there are very few long-term strategies: Caylus is all about relatively short term optimisation, making the most of a given situation.
 
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Big Bad Lex wrote:
I have now played twice, first in a two player next with five. Once the rules were understood, I felt a sense of deja-vu when trying to get my head around the possible strategies, the same feeling I had when I first played Puerto Rico.

The following are the aspects of the game where I am struggling to fully grip the best way to gain advantage and some feed back from the BGG community should be appreciated;

Royal Favours: The cost of jousting, one one denier (or 'coin' as we have ended up calling them), one worker (at least 1 coin) and a cloth, initially outstrips the perceived benifits. In the Tower phase, 5 PP and gold etc is great payback but you have certainly paid for that in the early phases of the game possibly at the expence of building. When is the best time to start jousting and should favours mainly be gathered from the castle build and prestige buildings to gain the later rewards?

Scoring Track: In my two games the top scores have been in the late 40's(2 player) and 30's (5 player), and only one prestige building was built. When we first played PR the top scores were in the 20's because we weren't maximising shipping and building. What sort of top scores are possible?

Prestige Buildings: This seems to be a great way to pump up points but the tower scoring section and game end seems to be reached before their potential can be realised. In PR there are early, mid and end game periods which trigger changes in tactic, has anyone evolved any similar yardsticks to gauge milestone actions in Caylus? Perhaps the Lawyer should be an early build to crash out residences for the income and to give maximum exposure to Prestige structures? I can see a great advantage in converting material producers to force other players to use your larger producers. Which combinations work best?

Any thoughts should be appreciated.



Good Questions... I've played about 10 times, mostly with 5 players and once each with 3 and 4. I have to say that my favorite was the 4 player game, as the game doesn't seem to lose anything from having one less player but it does play a little faster, which is good since length seems to be the main complaint about this game. I didn't enjoy my game with 3 much, but that was partially because of circumstances specific to that game, although regardless I can tell that 3 is inferior to 4 or 5.

(a) I've been thinking about the issue of how worthwhile the Jousting Field is myself... I think in general one has to go to almost the end of any favors track in order for it to be worthwhile. That being said, I have never seen someone who neglected the favors track altogether even come close to winning, and most of the successful strategies I have seen are closely tied to its use somehow. So at the end of the day I would say the Jousting Field IS quite useful, as it affords the opportunity to scoop up a favor when you won't be building in the castle, or it allows you to advance an additional space along the same favor track on the same round (since jousting and favors from castle-building occur in different phases). Considering that getting to the END of an individual favor track is very rewarding, these are powerful reasons.

(b) In games I've played, the top scores have almost always been in the 65-75 range. The highest score I have seen must have been in the high 80's. Although almost always at least one player was below 50.

(c) Arguably the best thing that Caylus has going for it is the mechanism wherein new buildings (and thus actions) become available. I don't think it will ever be the case that there becomes an "optimal" sequence of buildings such that players will always choose the same ones to come out in the same order. This is because the personal benefit from ownership of a building isn't so big that people will always look to choose the BEST building, but will rather want to try something perhaps different than what they saw in the game before.

Thus, to what extent prestige buildings are built if at all will vary from game to game, as the emergence of the lawyer and architect are crucial to their existence. I think it is relatively difficult for the lawyer to come out TOO early, as it costs a wood and a linen, and linen is somewhat of a valued commodity compared to other non-gold commodities.
 
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Johan L
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Quote:
Scoring Track: In my two games the top scores have been in the late 40's(2 player) and 30's (5 player), and only one prestige building was built. When we first played PR the top scores were in the 20's because we weren't maximising shipping and building. What sort of top scores are possible?


You do mean that you have gone round the scoring track once, and that the score really is in the 140's for two players, right? On average, I'd say that in our four two-player games, we've had about 130 points each, so I am concerned that we are doing something incorrectly. Last time I played, the wife got about 160 points (she managed to build three prestige buildings, including the 25 point one), which is the highest score I've seen.
 
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Nick Case
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Quote:


You do mean that you have gone round the scoring track once, and that the score really is in the 140's for two players, right?


I wish this was the case. No we have never lapped the board. I think it might come down to playing styles and my group are aggressively competetive. The emphasis is as much if not more to stop others scoring rather than cooperative happy acceptance of mutual building. The Provost was at times being moved back 8+ spaces to make workers redundant (6 in one instance). Cutting edge buildings were in the main useless.

This all resulted in a very tight game and heavy reliance on the neutral buildings as near the bridge as you could get. In this sort of game the 5th position becomes very powerful. The castle became the main source for points.

I guessed that if a scoring track goes to 100 its not just for show and our low scores mean we aren't playing efficiently. However the spread of points between 6 players was only 3 in the 2p and 7 in the 5P.

Your mega score is impressive but I have never encountered an oportunity to max out on Prestige buildings, gold has been in way too short supply and only the church has ever been built once. Despite only marching at one space at a time, the bailiff reached the tower scoring marker way before any buildings came close and the lawyer was frequently manoeuvred out of play.

I'm sure scores will rise as we wise up to better strategies but this was the point of my thread to get some pointers on how to achieve this.
 
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Johan wrote:
Quote:
Scoring Track: In my two games the top scores have been in the late 40's(2 player) and 30's (5 player), and only one prestige building was built. When we first played PR the top scores were in the 20's because we weren't maximising shipping and building. What sort of top scores are possible?


You do mean that you have gone round the scoring track once, and that the score really is in the 140's for two players, right? On average, I'd say that in our four two-player games, we've had about 130 points each, so I am concerned that we are doing something incorrectly. Last time I played, the wife got about 160 points (she managed to build three prestige buildings, including the 25 point one), which is the highest score I've seen.


The scores you mention seem very high, but I suppose with 2 players everything becomes easier, including building several prestige buildings (almost unheard of in multiplayer games I have been in).
 
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Tom Key
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3 games so far, 5P, 3P and 5P. Works better with more than 3 I think.

Have yet to see a Prestige Building built! Interesting twists have been the game won on the gold mine (each cube is 3pts at the end without having to do anything with it! - ie for the cost of placing one worker) and the game where my wife came from last place to first with 3 jousts (and a couple of other bits) for 15 points.

I guess we're still figuring out how much you have to watch other people's plans and work together to foil them (eg. picking the joust even when you don't want to) and how much you do your own thing to win.

The difference for me with PR is that in PR you can maximise your advantage / minimise your disadvantage no matter which role is picked when. With Caylus, you seem to get stuck more with the spaces/buildings that are left, so its more crucial to get your early workers in exactly the right spot.

Yep, still learning...
 
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Jesse Mundis
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Johan wrote:
Quote:
Scoring Track: In my two games the top scores have been in the late 40's(2 player) and 30's (5 player), and only one prestige building was built. When we first played PR the top scores were in the 20's because we weren't maximising shipping and building. What sort of top scores are possible?


You do mean that you have gone round the scoring track once, and that the score really is in the 140's for two players, right? On average, I'd say that in our four two-player games, we've had about 130 points each, so I am concerned that we are doing something incorrectly. Last time I played, the wife got about 160 points (she managed to build three prestige buildings, including the 25 point one), which is the highest score I've seen.


I've never seen scores like that, though I've only played 4 and 5 person games. Our winners are in the 50-70 point range for most games. Even prestiege buildings aren't a sure win. Last game I built the 25 point castle and came in *last* in a 4 player game.

This is a tough game to master, but I'm guessing that the two player games may be doing something incorrectly with typical scores being that high. Either that, or t 2 person dynamic is *very* different.
 
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Johan L
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I would guess the differences come down to playing style and group think. I suppose you can focus your game either on improving your own position (which we both have been doing) or you can focus on reducing the position of others. Both these basic strategies are probably viable, at least in two player games, but it would be interesting to play with more players to see if this still holds.
 
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Emile de Maat
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Johan wrote:
I would guess the differences come down to playing style and group think. I suppose you can focus your game either on improving your own position (which we both have been doing) or you can focus on reducing the position of others. Both these basic strategies are probably viable, at least in two player games, but it would be interesting to play with more players to see if this still holds.

Score also depends a lot on whether you've got a resource-rich or a resource poor game. The speed of the bailiff also has an impact.
 
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Tom Key
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Played 2P for the first time 2 days ago. It is a very different feel. It moves a lot faster, and you can certainly do more of what you want to do each turn, because there aren't three other players placing workers before its your turn again, thereby spoiling your master plans. As a result, it is easier to spot tactics and change plans accordingly. For example, after 3 goes of trying to keep up with my opponent building in the castle and earning favours it was clear I was going to have to do something else. I concentrated on buildings while she continued on the castle. I was able to joust a few times to make up some of the favours. Now whether she should have changed tactics again as a response to me and whether this would have been a sensible strategy at that point, I'm not sure.

Ultimately, while there was the interaction, there was something lacking for me - perhaps it was just too easy with 2. We ended with scores of 155 vs 140 (thanks to a building in the last round). Prestige buildings also came out for the first time in a game I've played. So again, it seems higher scores are possible with 2 as so much more can be achieved.

However, on balance, I prefer the Puerto Rico 2P variant to Caylus 2P. Perhaps we should have tried harder to mess each other up, but a game based more on spoiling your opponent rather than succeeding yourself is less fun for me. ("hey, lets see who can do least badly at this").

Just my 2p
 
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