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Subject: Winning at Caylus rss

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Wayne Ellis
United States
Evansville
Indiana
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We've played over 10 games now and while it is yet very early, I wanted to offer a few thoughts on what has worked and not worked so for in our games.

The basic thoughts.

Double check your moves before committing your workers. So far every time a new player sits down to play they commit a worker to something that they can't accomplish. Just think about your moves before deploying a worker.

Stay in the upper half of the turn order. You will get the choice locations plus you will many times be able to deploy an extra worker. I have found this to be well worth the cost.

Watch your money. Always project how much you will need for your next turn and make sure to have enough money back.

Don't be left out of the castle. It is a 7 point swing to be left out of any given phase. Plus you are giving up favors to other players without challenging for them. (More on this later)

Winning Stategies

Caylus is a hard game to win but an easy game to lose. Most games (even 5 player games) end up being fought out by 2-3 players. It's easy to set yourself up for failure and put yourself in position to be fighting just to keep out of last place. We are still new to this game with just over 10 games played, but we have seen several strategies work well so far.

First Turn - We have found that either building 1-2 woodcraft buildings on the first turn or being first to the castle and earning the favor are the 2 best opening moves. Typically a farm is built first since it will earn the PP almost every turn the rest of the game. A first turn trip to the castle is very powerful if you can earn the favor. If not, it's probably not a great idea.

The favor victory - The most lopsided game that we have experienced was due to one person dominating the favor. He delivered to the castle most turns (winning the favor every time) and put a worker on the joust field on most turns. He had his money and PP's up to the max soon after the scoring of the walls section and was able to deliver (5 PP each turn for the favor), use the joust (5 PP), and then if he did manage to build it would possibly be a church (another 5 PP). The key was that he completely dominated the favors and when nobody else seriously challenged him for those favors. Don't overlook the possibility of using that first favor track. It can be very effect if nobody else steps up to stop you.

Prestige! - This has probaby been the most common method of winning. Since it takes several turns to accumulate the gold to build these buildings, you must be in control of your turn order. Many times I have seen somebody stockpile several gold only to lost their position and watch the game pass them by without being able to build a single building. Turn order is a must. I also recommend building an architecht early on so that the provost is not a threat to stop you from building. Always have a few deniers back in case the entire group wants to move the provost past you thereby shutting down your build. The most powerful building is the 25PP (in my opinion) but if you have advanced the fourth track then you can still build the 14PP building with a favor and then use the favor for the 7PP building with a favor. You end up with the exact same cubes as the 25PP building. You would only have 21PP but would still have 1 favor leftover. This method is very effective but it takes a lot of planning to make sure you don't get down to the end of the game when you are trying to pull of your moves and end up not being able to do them.

Balance - I would best sum this up as looking for the values each turn. Keys to this would be to have complete control over your money, picking up the favors when you can get them cheap, and looking for an opening from you opponents. Many times your opponents are working so hard on trying to complete their tasks that they completely leave open easy ways for you to pick up a lot of easy PP without having to work extremely hard for them. This sounds like simple common sense but it is not that easy to do this.

The castle - The castle by itself will probably never win you a game. I want to stress that the main reason to go to the castle is for the favors. Don't go if you don't feel like you're going to win. Pick up enough money with the favors so that you aren't constantly using your workers for money and then work hard on the 4th track or possibly the 1st track. If you use the first track then you need to be committed to getting at least one favor almost every turn so that you can use the 5PP repeatedly. One other thought on the castle - only drop the number of goods you need to get the favor. If you can drop three loads but one will win the favor then save the other two for next turn.

Many times the games come down to picking up that last turn gold or buing those 3 extra PP's at the church. This game is normally very close and maximizing those PP on your last turn can be the difference between winning and losing.

I don't normally write articles and this game is very new so I hope something in here helps. I am by no means an expert and I'm still learning but this is just what I've found that has worked so far. I think Ystari has hit a home run with this game! It's much better than Puerto Rico because the game isn't determined by the actions of the worst player in the game. If you haven't played it, give it a try.

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Wayne Ellis
United States
Evansville
Indiana
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I want to add onto my previous post and try to be a little more specific with a particular strategy that seems to work well.

Dungeons phase - The should last 3-4 rounds. During this time only put your workers in the castle, on cubes, and on turn order, and on the joust field. Make sure and drop 2 loads thereby earning 1 favor per load and earning the extra favor and the end of the phase. Move up the money track 1 time and the building track 2 times. When you see it is getting ready to go to the walls phase have yourself in position to either be first to joust field or to the castle to earn that 4th favor. Remember that you have resisted the temptation to build any buildings, collect any income (ohter than from favors), sell any cubes (never does this on the 4:1) or move the provost. Stick with your strategy.

Walls phase - Earn a favor the very first turn. This is a must! Plus set yourself up to earn another favor the second turn of the wall phase. Ideally durning this phase you will drop 3 loads at the castle and earn 2 favors for the 3 loads and earn 1 favor at the joust field. Use the first 2 favors to build gray buildings. First build the building that nets you 2 pink and 1 purple cube. Next build the building whereby you receive 2 purple and 1 pink. The 3rd favor could be used for money or possibly a green building. During this phase you will be collecting cubes, positioning yourself to go first, trying to earn at least 2 favors at the castle, and earning at least 1 favor at the joust field. Try to stay away from the other places as much as possible. I look to be the first one back when all of these are places are full so that I can get the extra denier thereby reducing my need for money. Once you earn the 2 additional favor at the castle for the end of the turn, you should have 2-3 green buildings built and if there isn't a gray building that earns you gold, build it now. Another very good move during this phase is to use the joust field to build a gray building with a favor attatched and then move the 4th track to receive a green building. This will bring us to the towers phase.

Towers phase - During this phase you should be accumulating a huge amount of cubes every turn due to building the 2 gray cube buildings early in the walls phase. Your primary goals during this time is to accumulate gold, continue to earn as many favors as possible at the joust field and castle, and keep yourself first in the turn order, and accumulate lots and lots of cubes. You should easily drop 4 loads at the castle during this phase and earn at least 2 favors for doing so. You should be first to the joust field at least twice during this phase. Move the 4th track to the end with your first favor but continue to build green and gray buildings until you have enough gold to start on the blue buildings. Focus on buildings that will produce gold and make sure and have about 3 green buildings total at this time. You very well could have favors to burn at this point in time as your need for money will probaby diminish. If so, then go ahead and start moving the victory point track. Also during this phase it is very important to control the provost. You should have a huge advantage on money, you should be controlling the castle, and you should be concentrating on obtaining gold. Once you can build blue, go for the 25PP building but if not then build building that will earn you 14 PP plus a favor or two. Remember to stockpile gray and gold cubes during this phase. You will also needs several purple for the joust fieild. The other cubes will just be for delivering your loads. If you can slow the game down at this point to last 5 rounds, you could possibly build 3 blue buildings for a total of 42-53 PP and earning a favor or 2 in the process.

At the end of this phase you should have 4 loads delivered to the castle which would give you another 2 favor. Use these for more buildings if possible, sometimes you can advance the first track to the 3rd or 4th PP, or else take green buildings or money if you can't do anything else. Your first option would be to hold back cubes that would allow you to build the 6 PP gray buildings assuming you're out of gold. Always manage your cubes and money so that you know you will have what you need for your next turn.

I did this twice last night and both games I won by over 20 PP per game. It seems to work well but if you fail to manage your cubes or money any strategy will fail. Try this and let me know what you think. As we all play this game more I'm sure that there will be better ways of playing to earn more points.
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david landes
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oak hill
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I am also fairly new to Caylus with only a dozen or so games. I would add that the strategic choices, and the structure of the game choices, varies an awful lot depending on what buildings happen to get built and also what buildings get covered by residences. In our most recent game, among the wood and stone buildings, a bizarre twist caused only one resource building (2 cloth or one food) to be built among all the wood and stone buildings. As the residences promptly covered the initial resource buildings, we wound up playing a VERY resource poor game. The player who won drilled the 'denier for Prestige points' (4 denier for 5 points) building and raised about 20 PP for the game... about as good as any prestige building...

The key is mixing the more obvious tactical choices for each individual worker placement, with a feel for an overall strategic direction which the specific developing game enables, and combining that with an awareness of critical choke points for opponents that you may be able to squeeze out of best options in their persuit of their overall strategy.

And also.. nice write-up and thanks for those thoughts.
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Russell Bryan
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Lexington
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Wayne8348 wrote:
The most powerful building is the 25PP (in my opinion) but if you have advanced the fourth track then you can still build the 14PP building with a favor and then use the favor for the 7PP building with a favor.


If I'm reading you correctly, then this move is not legal. If you use a favor on the building track to build the 14PP building, you can not use the favor from that building to build again. You would be using the same track twice in the same phase, which is not permitted.
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Wayne Ellis
United States
Evansville
Indiana
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You're correct Russell - I wrote that wrong.

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Randy Reith
United States
Colorado Springs
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Wayne8348 wrote:
Walls phase - ... Another very good move during this phase is to use the joust field to build a gray building with a favor attatched and then move the 4th track to receive a green building. ...


I believe this is an illegal move also since the joust field gives you a favor which you used to build, you cannot then use the favor from the gray building to build again.

Also, I'm wondering how many players were in your games?
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Nicholas
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rrvball wrote:
Wayne8348 wrote:
Walls phase - ... Another very good move during this phase is to use the joust field to build a gray building with a favor attatched and then move the 4th track to receive a green building. ...


I believe this is an illegal move also since the joust field gives you a favor which you used to build, you cannot then use the favor from the gray building to build again.

Also, I'm wondering how many players were in your games?


A big thumbs up for thread necromancy by busting someone on an illegal move two-and-a-half years after they post it... never give up the fight!arrrh
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