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Subject: Question for Ytsari About Resource Favor Track rss

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jbrier
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Thanks to friends who went to Essen and more recently BSW, I have had the chance to play this wonderful game about 25 times or so already, and I am very impressed with how balanced all the different approaches are, and how much thought has gone into the minor details (e.g. building costs and vp payouts, starting resources, etc).

That is, with one exception - the resource favor track.

I understand the importance of getting a gold without having to fight for it on the board; in fact, I think having 1 gold as the last reward is perfectly fine. The problem is with the middle spaces on the track. they are just FAR too weak to merit an investment, and it is so obvious that it hurts (at least from my limited experience of 20-something games plus discussion with some other similarly experienced people from different gaming groups no less).

Clearly, the usefulness of each track depends on the specific conditions on the game board, which differ from game to game (Sometimes the building track can be amazing, and other times not as good, for example). But it seems that for the resource track to be useful, you would have to have a level of scarcity of resources on the board that statistically is overwhelmingly improbable. To elaborate - I once played a game where the lawyer came out early and was used every turn so that by the mid-game the resource situation was dismal (this is also taking into account a slow moving baliff + the relative absence of other prod. bldgs, the latter of which now I realise simply occcured from lack of experience on part of the players). In this situation, the usefulness of the resource track became apparent to me, because it gave the player who had invested in it an edge over everyone else when it came time to muster resources for more castle building.

However, all it took for the rest of us to "catch up" to her strategically was to invest once in the resource track ourselves. The truth of the matter is, steps 2-4 of the resource favor track are BAD. There is virtually no progress, and it is ridiculous that a level 4 favor is only paying out 1 cube.

I don't like making rules ammendments to games, and I probably won't ever implement this in real life, but if it were up to me I would have made the resource track thus:

1 food / 1 anything / 2 food / 2 anything / 1 gold

Ultimately, I would just like to know how it is that a game that has otherwise been thought out so well has this faux pais (sp?). It's too bad, because if the game really were flawless from a design point of view I would give more serious consideration to the possibility of dethroning Puerto Rico as my favorite game (a game that itself has design inadequacies but that is nonetheless more elegant).

Either way, I love CAYLUS, and I can't wait to hit the 100 plays mark (probably by the end of the month if not before meeple ). I'd just like to know what the thought process of the designer and his team were when arriving at the decision to make the resource track so weak.





 
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Brian Newman
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Two cubes is huge in this game. There have been times when I've had 8 cubes and it's only been via a favor that I've gotten the ninth, that let me build 3 castle sections.

Two cubes of anything can get you an automatic grey or brown building for free.
 
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Mik Svellov
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ANY cube is good when the neutral production buildings have been rebuilt into residential areas for the rich and famous...
 
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Scott Tepper
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John, Re:
verandi wrote:
faux pais (sp?).


It's "faux pas". That's French for false step. We use it to mean a social blunder.
 
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Jeff W
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verandi wrote:

1 food / 1 anything / 2 food / 2 anything / 1 gold


I played only about 7 games so far, and I agree with you on the assessment that the middle portions of the resources track is too weak. My "fix" (which I've never tried either) is also similar (it basically shifts the fourth column over and adds 2 of anything:

food or wood / cloth or stone / 1 -> 2 trade / 2 anything / 1 gold


 
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jbrier
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junesen wrote:
verandi wrote:

1 food / 1 anything / 2 food / 2 anything / 1 gold


I played only about 7 games so far, and I agree with you on the assessment that the middle portions of the resources track is too weak. My "fix" (which I've never tried either) is also similar (it basically shifts the fourth column over and adds 2 of anything:

food or wood / cloth or stone / 1 -> 2 trade / 2 anything / 1 gold




I like yours too


I respectfully disagree with the comments above that disagree with me

While having an extra resource can make a big difference at the right moment, it is extremely hard pressed to be AS GOOD as having invested in one of the other tracks up to the third or fourth level, REGARDLESS OF THE SITUATION, which is why it is too weak.

It is certainly possible that at some point in a game I will choose the FIRST favor on that track, and that food will come in handy, but that isn't the same as making a long term investment in a track, which in the case of the resource track only pays off when you get to gold, and for all that investment you would have been better off pursuing another track.
 
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jbrier
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The underlying "principle" at work here is that the value of a track correlates with how difficult it is to obtain those goods using other methods, i.e. without getting favors.

This is why the money track is weaker than VP or building track, because VP's and buildings are more difficult to obtain than cash. Gold is certainly not very easy to attain on the board, but then neither is it by using the favors track laugh , or more aptly put it requires a less rewarding investment than let's say the building track which gives you the blue bldg eventually but on the way gives you each other type of bldg at a discount (!).
 
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Karis Shem
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Verandi,

During the tests, the ressource favor was stronger (i can't remember exactly how it was, but i think it was really close of what you and Jeff suggested).

Once again, this proved far too strong and unbalanced. 2 anything or 2 cubes can be a great advantage in the midgame. This way it's much more easy to ensure a favor for the best builder of the castle, a cathedral or a place at the joust...

That said, i don't think that the ressource track is so bad. It works perfectky with the builder track or with a builder strategy AND it gives you an access to gold. When there's a lot of people (4/5), you've got to fight a lot for obtaining gold. If you plan to build several prestige buildings (or big ones), i think an "easy" access to gold is not weak.

Another example. If the game is cube screwed with only a few ressource production building on the begining of the road (lawyer, mason for example), then the ressource line is strong (and the ressource line with 2 cubes way too strong).

Regards,
Cyril


 
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Jeff W
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The way I compare the tracks is to see how they differ from employing a worker at a building. Looking at the fourth column:

VP - You can get VP at the Church or the Tailor, this favor is better than those because you don't have to spend the 2 cloth or the (doing an extrapolation here) 3 deniers.

Money - You can use the (wood) marketplace to get six deniers, but you don't have to give up a cube.

Resource - This is equivalent to the (wood) peddler, except that you give up a cube instead of 2 deniers.

Building - This is equivalent to the Lawyer, with a 1 denier discount.

So everything gives you something "better" than what is available in the available buildings except the Resource track. The VP track seems like the best deal, but you have to invest up to it and the buildings are likely to be more rare. Also what makes it weaker is that there are many alternatives to getting the resources in town, not so with the other tracks.

In the final column, the VP wins out big. The money track is the weakest, and the Building track can be very strong because it gives you an opportunity which is often denied by provost play. The resource track is only third in desirability. I don't mind the money track being weaker at the end because it is stronger in the beginning.
 
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jbrier
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playing this game a little more I do realise that perhaps two resources would be too strong... it is unfortunate however that in anything less than a 5 player game the resource track just isn't feasible relative to the other tracks. As much as I find myself wishing I could get gold and not being able to in the mid to late game, I just can't fathom bypassing investment in some other favor track just to obtain that privilege. But I am trying....
 
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Karis Shem
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I think it's quite feasible with 4 players too.

And with less the 3 players, you can easily play 2 favors. It's possible to play lines 3 & 4 (with the possibility to build bigger - or multiple - blue buildings in the end).

One more food can make the difference at the beginning of the game (for creating 2 batches and "steal" the castle favor).

Regards,
Cyril
 
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jbrier
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Yes I totally agree that the 1 food can be a great favor to take early in the game. Like I said originally: the first and last spaces on the resource track are just fine. The problem is of course with the middle spaces, because getting just an extra cube in the mid-game is nearly worthless compared to a favor at a middle space on any of the other tracks. The problem is of course: what do you put in those middle spaces that's better than 1 food but worse than 2 resources...

I do feel better about the track than I did when I originally wrote this thread however, since I've come to realise the importance of hoarding resources in general and I see how with more players or with a resource poor game this can be a feasible track to pursue.
 
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Karis Shem
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The fourth step is certainly not as powerful as 4PP or a green building, but it may prove very useful :

At this point, of the game, there's a stong possibility to possess at least a serie of cubes of the same type due to the presence of the grey productions (abnd if those grey buildings are not there, then playing the ressource track was a great idea !)

-You can use it to create some cubes you don't possess (one food against 2 woods, as wood is often quite rare in the mid/engame).

-As a consequence, with this power you can also easily create one additional batch and put some pressure on the castle.

-You can also win the "cathedral race" (one food against two stones). To obtain those five stones before another player trying to build the same prestige building than you.

Once again, this track is not ultimate, but it doesn't have to. It's possible to win the game without playing too much in the castle and with only a few favors. In this kind of game, the two best tracks are certainly money and ressource, and if you can find your money elsewhere, a fast access to gold will certainly be rewarding in the end.

Regards,
Cyril
 
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