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Caylus» Forums » Strategy

Subject: Game pacing; ending the game rss

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Tom Hudson
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Caylus is a great tactical game. It rewards those who are light on their feet and pay attention. But there are several over-arching strategies that affect the game’s pace.

If you elect the castle building strategy, you prefer a slower game. The goal here is to win by manipulating the turn order (and provost) and getting prestige via favor by building in the castle. You should try to delay or entirely prevent the two special building tiles—Lawyer, Architect—appearing. You also want a resource poor game in order to prevent a sudden windfall for opponents, if the Lawyer or Architect does get built. In a resource scarce game it’s going to take time to procure the resources to build in the castle, so you want a slow-paced game.

By the way, it may seem counter intuitive, but I think in games as I just described the best favor track is prestige. While the building track may seem like the obvious play in this situation (being the only one able to build green and blue buildings), in a resource poor game it’s hard to get the supplies for even one prestige building.

But if you elect the building strategy, you want a fast-paced game. Your goal is to make resources plentiful in order take advantage of the Lawyer and Architect. In such games, good production buildings appear nearly every turn and in order to activate them you need to push the provost far into the sticks. So the game speeds on.

The building strategy is a pretty good antidote to the castle strategy. If nothing else, it forces the Castle-favor player waste time moving the provost in order to keep resources out of the game.

We’ve only just scratched the surface of this deep game. It rewards the tactical player because each game is flavored by what and how much gets built. I think the thing that separates a Building-type game from a Castle-favor type is when and if the Lawyer and Architect get placed. If you intend a Castle-favor strategy but numerous production buildings are placed early, you should adjust. On the other hand, if you intend a Building strategy but no production buildings see the light of day, you too should adjust.

 
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Jeff Dawson
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I completely disagree with your analysis Tom. If you are going with a castle building strategy you would want a quicker game, not a slower game. A slower game allows the builders in the town to get "value" out of their investments. A game can vary from 9-18 rounds, if the game takes more rounds, the person that concentrates on building the town (at a minimum) gets more PPs than they would in a shorter game, offsetting the favor benefits the castle builder gets.
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Tom Hudson
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What I’ve found is the faster games favor the builder, not the castle-favor player because more buildings get activated (because the provost is moved into the sticks). Plus the more turns in the game, the more chances for favor in the castle.

Long games equal more favor. Short games equal less favor, hence more bang for the building buck.

We disagree.

EDIT: score->activated
 
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Tom Hudson
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The only situation in which I see the castle-favor playing going for a quick end, other than when you’re leading when the bailiff is two spaces away from the game-end space (but that’s true for all players). Is when you have enough resource to fill the castle tower with houses and end the game regardless of where the bailiff is located—a nasty surprise that!
 
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Alex Rockwell
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Putting a batch in the castle and getting favors (which arent used on the build track) provide a one time bonus and thus doesnt increase with the number of turns. Building a building provides a continuing bonus each turn, and thus is larger in a longer game.

So it doesnt make sense that a 'castle' player would want it longer than a 'building' player. The castle player doesnt have fixed per turn benefits, so they want it to be short.


I hope people dont think of these 'castle' and 'building' strategies as exclusive, like many did with shipping and building in puerto rico. Its really inefficient to not be trying to do both.
 
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John Stimson
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I agree a hybrid strategy is far more likely to succeed than a pure strategy. I also disagreee that Caylus is a Tactical game, in my limited experience it seems strategy is far more important.
 
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Seth Jaffee
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Alexfrog wrote:
I hope people dont think of these 'castle' and 'building' strategies as exclusive, like many did with shipping and building in puerto rico. Its really inefficient to not be trying to do both.

I agree here, as well as in Puerto Rico. "Building" and "Shipping" are the extreme strategis in both cases. The winning strategy each game will include some building and some shipping.

- Seth
 
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Tom Hudson
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You play differently than we do. Building a single building pays off once with little follow-up (except when others activate it). Increasing your position on a favor track increases the benefit over time—5pp each time, for example, compared to 1 pp if only taken once.

The value of favor pays off after repeated use over time. This favors (he he) a LONG game. Builders should know this. If you concentrate on building rather than favor, you’re vulnerable to those who’ve maxed out one or two favor tracks. Hence, you should strive to get as many production buildings into play as possible and quickly end the game.

A typical turn for the castle-favor player during the later stages of the game generates 10-20 pp. More with the Joust field or a building that also provides favor. This compares very well with the builder, who may or may not be able to get an architect.

EDIT: reply to Alex
 
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Tom Hudson
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Yes, I agree that Caylus is a tactical game, as I said at the outset. Paying attention and remaining flexible is key. This is the charm of the game.

In a four player game, it’s hard to force the game down a particular path, although one should have a plan and try to implement it. The key, I think, is when the Lawyer and Architect come out. If early, it favors the builder; if late or never, it favors a castle strategy. And, as I said, long games favor the castle strategy too.
 
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Seth Jaffee
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november wrote:
If you elect the castle building strategy, you prefer a slower game.

You couldn't be more wrong here.

Quote:
The goal here is to win by manipulating the turn order (and provost) and getting prestige via favor by building in the castle.

While spending actions manipulating turn order rather than gathering cubes to send to the castle, how is it possible that you will win any favors for Shipping? How does turn order really help with a Shipping strategy, other than being able to be first to place in the Castle, or to place in the production buildings?

Quote:
You should try to delay or entirely prevent the two special building tiles—Lawyer, Architect—appearing.

It is not possible to delay or prevent these buildings from being built or used. The only way to even try is to place workers in the Carpenter and Mason yourself and then either not build (that would be an interesting tactic), or build something else.

Quote:
You also want a resource poor game in order to prevent a sudden windfall for opponents, if the Lawyer or Architect does get built.

In a resource poor game, how do you plan to accumulate batches to ship? Actually, there may be something to this point you've made. In a resource poor game, it may be unlikely that your opponents will have the batches to send, and thus they may spend their resources "more efficiently" on buildings (2 cubes for VPs ratehr than 3). Thus, perhaps you'll have no competition in the castle, and if you can manage to dominate the small amount of resources in the game, it might work out. This might be the one time the resource favor track could be truely useful - for a Shipping strategy in a resource poor game.

In order to MAKE a resource poor game, one might consider the Lawyer and then replacing cube producing spaces with Residences.

In any case, this strategy would CERTAINLY favor an abrupt game end, as EVENTUALLY the production buildings will be built and their resources utilised. If a Shipper can manage to bring the game to an end before people can afford the Blue buildings, then perhaps it's a viable play.

Quote:
In a resource scarce game it’s going to take time to procure the resources to build in the castle, so you want a slow-paced game.

In a slow paced game there are up to twice as many opportunities to build and use the Lawyer, Mason, and Architect. If you are not trying to use those buildings yourself, then you probably want them activated as seldom as possible.

Quote:
By the way, it may seem counter intuitive, but I think in games as I just described the best favor track is prestige. While the building track may seem like the obvious play in this situation (being the only one able to build green and blue buildings), in a resource poor game it’s hard to get the supplies for even one prestige building.

In the strategy I just described, one where a Shipper is trying to rush the game and keep the resources light, it's possible the Prestige track would be a good way to boost points with the theory that they will get you a lead which other players won't have time to overcome. However, it's likely that such a strategy will require the Income track (because you want to place your workers on the Goods, not the markets), and potentially the Resource track. I don't know that there would be enough favors for the VP track also. I WOULD like to see an attempt at pushing the income and VP tracks and rushing the game end to see if it's possible, or what buildings would facilitate it. I haven't determined yet ow to go about such a strategy.

Quote:
But if you elect the building strategy, you want a fast-paced game.

General concensus is the exact opposite. the longer the game goes on, the more VP's and use you get out of the buildings you build. I suppose it depends on which buildings you build, but the longer the game goes on, the more Blue buildings you can build, and the more your buildings outscore the batches sent by the Shipper.

Quote:
Your goal is to make resources plentiful in order take advantage of the Lawyer and Architect.

This may be true. More likely you want to dominate the resources that ARE available. In the games I've played, it's the Shipping strategies that require lots of cubes, not the building strategies. You only need 2 cubes to build the buildings (until the end when you want the big buildings), and you can only build 1 gray building a turn. Pushing the building track will of course be very helpful for ANY strategy, but especially the builder because it allows more residences and blue buildings to be built.

I'd go as far as to say the Builder wants a resource poor game.

Quote:
In such games, good production buildings appear nearly every turn and in order to activate them you need to push the provost far into the sticks. So the game speeds on.

Well, the provost will move ahead once, then the production buildings will be behind the Bailiff and there will be no more need to push the game on further. Maybe 2 to 4 turns during the game it will be necessary to push the provost up, not 9.

Quote:
The building strategy is a pretty good antidote to the castle strategy. If nothing else, it forces the Castle-favor player waste time moving the provost in order to keep resources out of the game.

Well, in this case you're right and you're wrong... using a building strategy against a shipping strategy may encourage your opponent to move the provost allright... but it will probably be moving forward.

Quote:
We’ve only just scratched the surface of this deep game. It rewards the tactical player because each game is flavored by what and how much gets built. I think the thing that separates a Building-type game from a Castle-favor type is when and if the Lawyer and Architect get placed. If you intend a Castle-favor strategy but numerous production buildings are placed early, you should adjust. On the other hand, if you intend a Building strategy but no production buildings see the light of day, you too should adjust.

Now here I wholeheartedly agree. You can't really go into a game of Caylus, especially a 5 player game, with a hard head and a determination to do either a building or a shipping strategy. Just like it's not always great to go into a game of Puerto Rico with a mindset to ship lots of corn no matter what. You have to deal with opponent's actions and see what's available to you. If someone ahead of you in the turn order is doing the same thing you are, and they will beat you out of favors in the castle every time, you can't very well keep to your shipping strategy.

- Seth
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Tom Hudson
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@Seth
Un-oh, a Quoter. I avoid this type of thing because I’ve found it to be a waste of time-this type of thing being someone cutting up a post into little bits in order to “rebut” it item by item. So I’m only going to skim your post—sorry.

You think that a castle strategy favors a fast game and I disagree with that based on 10 playings (with a cutthroat group to boot). So I’ll just leave it at that, regardless of the “general consensus” you to point to with authority.
 
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Jeff Dawson
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I don't know that we were trying to cut you down as much as presenting an alternative point of view. I hope this doesn't chase you off.
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Tom Hudson
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Oh, not to worry. I have thick skin. Based on experience, I’ve learned to leave the Quoters alone. We disagree and I’m fine with that.

My position is based on my playing experience with some pretty good and competitive players. Based on our plays, slow, resource poor games in which the lawyer and architect are built late (or not at all) favors the castle-favor approach. So someone always tries that. The counter is to get the necessary buildings in the game as quickly as possible and move the game along before the favor guy maxs out any favor track.

Then the fight is over who can leverage the buildings the quickest. You’d be surprised how slow the games can become when at least one player wants a slow game. And don’t forget, even if three players want a fast game, there’s still plenty of turns in which the provost moves back—applying the “screwage” as we call it.devil
 
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Seth Jaffee
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Here's a repost of my post above. Wouldn't want to be labelled "a quoter", and more importantly I wouldn't want Tom to miss out on any commentary because he's predisposed against particular post formats. Maybe now he'll answer some of the questions on his reasoning instead of calling me names.

While spending actions manipulating turn order rather than gathering cubes to send to the castle, how is it possible that you will win any favors for Shipping? How does turn order really help with a Shipping strategy, other than being able to be first to place in the Castle, or to place in the production buildings?

It is not possible to delay or prevent Lawyer, Mason, and Architect from being built or used. The only way to even try is to place workers in the Carpenter and Mason yourself and then either not build (that would be an interesting tactic), or build something else.

In a resource poor game, how do you plan to accumulate batches to ship? Actually, there may be something to this point you've made: In a resource poor game, it may be unlikely that your opponents will have the batches to send, and thus they may spend their resources "more efficiently" on buildings (2 cubes for VPs ratehr than 3). Thus, perhaps you'll have no competition in the castle, and if you can manage to dominate the small amount of resources in the game, it might work out. This might be the one time the resource favor track could be truely useful - for a Shipping strategy in a resource poor game.

In order to MAKE a resource poor game, one might consider the Lawyer and then replacing cube producing spaces with Residences.

In any case, this strategy would CERTAINLY favor an abrupt game end, as EVENTUALLY the production buildings will be built and their resources utilised. If a Shipper can manage to bring the game to an end before people can afford the Blue buildings, then perhaps it's a viable play.

In a slow paced game there are up to twice as many opportunities to build and use the Lawyer, Mason, and Architect. If you are not trying to use those buildings yourself, then you probably want them activated as seldom as possible.

In the strategy I just described, one where a Shipper is trying to rush the game and keep the resources light, it's possible the Prestige track would be a good way to boost points with the theory that they will get you a lead which other players won't have time to overcome. However, it's likely that such a strategy will require the Income track (because you want to place your workers on the Goods, not the markets), and potentially the Resource track. I don't know that there would be enough favors for the VP track also. I WOULD like to see an attempt at pushing the income and VP tracks and rushing the game end to see if it's possible, or what buildings would facilitate it. I haven't determined yet ow to go about such a strategy.

General concensus is that the longer the game goes on, the more VP's and use you get out of the buildings you build. I suppose it depends on which buildings you build, but the longer the game goes on, the more Blue buildings you can build, and the more your buildings outscore the batches sent by the Shipper.

It may be true that as a Builder you want to make resources plentiful to make use of the Lawyer and Architect. More likely you want to dominate the resources that ARE available. In the games I've played, it's the Shipping strategies that require lots of cubes, not the building strategies. You only need 2 cubes to build the buildings (until the end when you want the big buildings), and you can only build 1 gray building a turn. Pushing the building track will of course be very helpful for ANY strategy, but especially the builder because it allows more residences and blue buildings to be built.

I'd go as far as to say the Builder wants a resource poor game.

Regarding moving the provost forward every turn in order to make use of production buildings... After the provost moves ahead, the production buildings will be behind the Bailiff for the rest of the game and there will be no more need to push the game on further. Maybe 2 to 4 turns during the game it will be necessary to push the provost up, not 9.

Using a building strategy against a shipping strategy may encourage your opponent to move the provost allright... but it will probably be moving forward.

I wholeheartedly agree that you can't really go into a game of Caylus, especially a 5 player game, with a hard head and a determination to do either a building or a shipping strategy. Just like it's not always great to go into a game of Puerto Rico with a mindset to ship lots of corn no matter what. You have to deal with opponent's actions and see what's available to you. If someone ahead of you in the turn order is doing the same thing you are, and they will beat you out of favors in the castle every time, you can't very well keep to your shipping strategy.

- Seth
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Tom Hudson
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That’s better but—man!--you like to type.

Now, Seth, you can take this with a grain of salt, but your post leads me to believe you haven’t played Caylus very much. How else can you question the value of manipulating the turn order? Or why would you conclude that the builder would prefer a resource poor game?

If you have played the game a lot, then I tip my hat to the designers because the game offers and even richer and more VARIED game than I believed possible.
 
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It is possible, Tom, that your experiences are due to the way your group plays. Thus, in your group a long game favors someone who leans towards more focus on the castle, while in most other groups the reverse is true. Though your experience is based on 10 plays, it is 10 plays with one group. In small groups research we would only count that as a single data point

-MMM
 
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Seth Jaffee
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I've played about the same amount as you have, 10 games (give or take 1, I haven't been counting) - some at BGG.con, some at home with 2 or 3 different groups, and some on BSW. I'm not questioning the value of turn order at all... what I'm questioning is what it's got to do with a dedicated shipping strategy, as you described.

And I haven't concluded that a builder would prefer a resource poor game, but rather that a resource poor game may favor a building strategy. My conclusion that a resource poor game may suit a builder more than a shipper is based on the costs of shipping vs building. In a resource rich game, a shipping player will not have any problem getting his batches to deliver, and thereby earning his Favors each turn. In a resource poor game, the shipper may find it difficult to come up with the proper cubes to make batches. This is exacerbated when other players are also delivering batches to the castle. On the other hand, buildings only require 2 cubes, and almost any combination will do. So a builder can build brown and gray buildings all day long while slowly accumulating cubes for a blue building later. So it appears that a resource low game may favor the builder, especially if more than 1 player is trying to ship batches.

Now consider this:
Once they put their worker in the Mason/Carpenter, a builder is assured their building (assuming they have or get the appropriate cubes and don't get provost jacked of course, but it would take carelesness to be shut out like that). A shipper is not guaranteed the favor simply for placing in the castle. In a resource rich game, more people will be able to assemble batches, and there may well be more competition in the castle for favors. So resource rich games may also favor the builder (who can just as easily as before collect resources for big scoring later while building Brown and Gray buildings in the meantime).

In short, I am more or less of the opinion that the entire game favors the building strategy over any shipping strategy, and the Castle is merely a way to augment your score and push up the Building favor track. Caylus is not so much a "two roads to victory" game as it is a game about building, with a special bonus given for putting cubes into the Castle instead of into buildings - either as a sneaky way to make buildings (Track #4), or to get income (Track #2).

november wrote:
That’s better but—man!--you like to type.

Actually, no... I'm a big fan of quoting, and word processing. It's not as if I had to type all that again.
 
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The player who benefits more from a long game is the one who will have the highest scoring potential late in the game.

It only takes 4 favors on the PP track already to be able to get 5 point for another favor. And it only takes 2 favors on the build track to be able to build a 6 pt stone building for a favor and one cube.

Is this 'builder' player honestly getting so few favors that they dont have any advancement on these tracks, so that favors do nothing for them? If so they are playing a losing game.

Realistically, the 'favors' player has taken more favors and has used them to score 5 points more times, but both of these players are going to be able to reach a point where late in thegame a favor is valuable to them, to the tune of a few points.

Since they can both score well off a favor, and can both compete equally for them, there is no advantage to either in a new turn, except that the favor player probably has a lead due to alreday having scored more points with them earlier. But the builder player will gain a point each time someone uses their building, so they will, if they fight for favors as they should and get as many as the other guy at this point, be gaining points because they can gain points for no effort off their buildings.

Essentially, one player is taking points now (favors and PP track), while another is investing in the future (building things which generate points per turn). Each turn which occurs, the player who invested gets a return on that investment that helps them catch up to the player who got ahead before.


Another reason why someone who has built the castle more and made buildings less wants it to end faster is that they already spent cubes in the castle, and will be getting bonuses and not getting the points minus for lack of houses in the castle section. But maybe the other players have not. The faster the scoring round comes, the less time the others have to get in, and the more chance they will miss the bonuses and lose points.


I think that if near the end of the game, someone has completely ignored the castle all game and hasnt gotten any favors, and is continuing to ignore the castle and allowing another player to get all the favors each turn for 5 points each, then the player ignoring the favors is just playing very badly. Everyone should always spend some energy fighting for favors, and should at least advance some favor track to be getting good benefits.

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sedjtroll wrote:
In short, I am more or less of the opinion that the entire game favors the building strategy over any shipping strategy, and the Castle is merely a way to augment your score and push up the Building favor track. Caylus is not so much a "two roads to victory" game as it is a game about building, with a special bonus given for putting cubes into the Castle instead of into buildings - either as a sneaky way to make buildings (Track #4), or to get income (Track #2).


I think that both aspects of the game are critical to doing well, and that timing of when you spend your resources in the castle is important. You want to spend your resources efficiently. If you make a batch in the castle, and it gets you both the points and the favor for building the most, that was efficient, since you got a bonus. You also want to meet the cutoffs to get bonus favors (2 houses in section 1, 3 houses for 2 favors in section 2). This often allows you to get more than 1 favor per house built!

If you are getting this, then the castle is very efficient. 3 cubes for 3-5 points + a favor is about as good as 2 cubes for 2-6 points and a few points later on for a building. Plus, if you are winning the favor for the turn, your opponents arent. Early on, the comparison is 5 pts + favor for the castle, versus 2 pts + about 6 more for a building. Late its 3 pts + favor for castle, versus 6 pts + a coupl more for a building. Both are pretty fair. If you can get more than 1 favor per house in the castle thats more efficient. If you get less, then the builds are more efficient. Its all about doing the most efficient thing you can, with your resources.

Long term strategy is about setting yourself up so that you will be able to make more efficient moves than your opponents (for example, advancing the build track so you can do cool things with it). Short term is tactical and is about getting and spending resources efficiently.
 
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sedjtroll wrote:

In short, I am more or less of the opinion that the entire game favors the building strategy over any shipping strategy, and the Castle is merely a way to augment your score and push up the Building favor track.


Fair enough, but I would say Caylus is a game about favor and building is just one road to that goal. A healthy disagreement.

In my first 2-3 games of Caylus, I played with fiends and family in fun, non-stressful games. These were all high resource games in which several prestige buildings were built.

I would characterize all my competitive games as resource poor. Not only were resources scarce, but money was tight, and each action was dear. Getting the Joust field or going first was extremely important. Remember that going first means you can place a worker in the castle first, which means you win the favor on ties. And you only go to the castle for the favor.

In these types of games the castle-favor player has a huge advantage. When we discovered this, we deliberately tried to head him off by ensuring that the mason/lawyer/architect get built early. What we found is that if there is even one castle player, getting more than one or two prestige buildings on the map during a game is an accomplishment.

I did not intend for this thread to be a discussion about the two best strategies because I don’t think there are just two. If you implement a castle strategy unopposed, that’s just poor play by your opponents. The reverse is true as well. I view them as approaches, or tendencies.

When I next play, I’ll pick one and look for the tipping point—when the mason/lawyer/architect gets built. If I play the builder strategy and those building s come out early, I’ll press on (and I’ll try to speed up the game). If not, I’ll start fighting for the castle (and slow the game down).

Caylus is a great game. Another thing I’ve noticed in all my competitive games is that money (or lack of it) is also key. In every instance, a player that could have won didn’t because the eventual winner had more money, often just a single denier more.
 
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Regarding number of games played and the quality of the experience one can garner from playing, the absolute best place to get that right now is on BSW. You can play a lot of games whenever you want, and the designer is online a lot both playing and watching games. Barely a week after its debut there, the level of play is quite a lot stronger than what one is likely to see in ftf play. Here are a few things I've learned so far from playing there (keep in mind I'm excluding 2-player from consideration in these remarks):

1. Using the carpenter during the first "epoch" of the game (the dungeon) is almost always a terrible move. You can use the building track to get a wood building during the early game, at a cost of only 1 cubes and a favor. When you place a worker on the carpenter, the cost is 1 buck and 2 cubes plus the opportunity cost of the worker placement, which is almost always either 1 cube or 1 buck (placing the worker on a production space or passing first). The carpenter tends to use 3 cubes and a buck to get a building that doesn't immediately give back cubes or bucks; meanwhile, someone else who simply hoards cubes and angles for castle favors gets more points and the same number of wood buildings.

2. Building the Lawyer and Mason tends to suck. Building stone buildings is one of the best and most efficient sources of points in the game. 1 point when others use my Mason is not even close to enough compensation, even considering I get 4 initial points for the Mason. It also helps people who aren't using the building track, which is bad if I am using the building track. The Lawyer has similar problems, making it easier for people to live without the building track and/or favors. These two buildings aren't nearly as good as the production wood buildings, which someone else will choose every turn and effectively amount to a per-turn point income.

3. Having a big hoard of cubes allows you to scare everyone away from the castle, allwoing you to go there almost every turn and build one piece for one favor. You can support this technique by placing a worker on a 2-food production building when good opportunities arise, thus further swinging the food supply in your favor. See #4 for where all this extra food goes. Assuming reasonable tactical play, the player who knows this fact and uses it will tend to defeat people who don't by 15-25 points.

4. The building track is quite strong, because it simultaneously generates free cubes, free moves and gives access to actions which are not necessarily available on the board. You can intentionally avoid having a Lawyer, Mason or Architect while discounting your purchases by one cube. In addition, most of your building activity can be initiated not with worker placement, but with free actions generated at the castle (favors). That saves you time and money while increasing the quality of your actual worker placements.

5. The money track is weak. For the money track to be stronger than the other tracks, there must not be a cube=6 wood building (or a lot of residences) and there need to be wood and stone buildings that allow the purchase of cubes and/or points. All an opponent needs to do to erode the value of the money track is build the cube=6 building. It is not that difficult to maintain decent cash flow without the money track.

6. The cube track is weak, in large part because the wood and stone production buildings are so good that cube-poor games are rare. The building track is already giving away cubes, so the only thing the cube track is doing differently is giving better access to gold.

7. Due to #1-6 above and many other reasons, there are two main effective strategies developing on BSW:

A. The "building track-castle hoard-prestige track" strategy. You focus on getting cubes and winning the favor at the castle as often as possible. Ideally, the other players use the carpenter and leave you with the pre-eminent cube hoard, so you can just intimidate them away from the castle and build one piece over and over. The first 3 favors are converted to 2 wood buildings, preferably both production but possibly one production and one cube=6. You then spend the midgame doing the same thing at the castle, using the joust and castle favors to build stone buildings (near the gold mine, these are production buildings to guarantee a cube supply, but after that they are the non-Architect 6-pointers until they are all gone, then finally the Architects). In the endgame, you use a favor to grab a residence and finally one of your endgame favors to upgrade it to a prestige building. Extra favors which can't be spent on the building track go on the prestige track. In the middle to endgame, the worker priority is usually on the joust, the gold mine or any opponent's building that gives 2 food. Strategy A does not mind a longer game, though eventually all the stone buildings are gone and/or opponents are under time pressure to grab a prestige building and it makes sense to move things along.

B. The "pure castle hoard" strategy. This strategy does the hoard-and-intimidate tactic described above and sinks all the favors earned into the prestige track. Little attention is paid to the provost, since the castle and not the bailiff will be deciding when the game will end. Executed properly, B beats A at the castle because A is spending cubes to build stuff on the building track, along with cubes and money at the joust. B's hoard ends up bigger than A's so B gets the marginal castle favors that A needs. In addition B builds the castle quickly enough to prevent A from building as many stone buildings, along with preventing anyone else from easily playing a prestige building. B definitely *does* want a short game.


I haven't yet seen enough sessions where these two strategies were consciously played to know what that collision looks like, but I'll be seeing it over the next week or so on BSW. I hope that the result is that A=Rock, B=Paper, and an as-yet-unknown-to-me C=Scissors. That is, if a player shows up and does B, knowing that it will probably defeat anyone doing A, the other player(s) can decide to try C which will nullify some of A's advantages. I'm not sure what C would look like, but if it exists it will probably involve using wood buildings to create a cube-poor environment (since both A and B do well when cubes are easy to get). So far, openings that try to do that are weak strategies, but that could change if the duel between A and B creates a certain recurring environment in which C could thrive.

Another possibility is that if one or more players notice on turn 2 that they are likely to fall out of the castle competition, they can defect and use the carpenter to build a series of non-production wood buildings. It would be very annoying to be running A or B and have only one's own buildings to occupy to get more than one cube. It is also possible to incorporate a bit of this anti-production strategy into A as a counter to B, though I'm not sure how well that would work.

Anyway, in a few thousand more BSW games over the next few weeks, we'll probably see the results needed to know most of these answers.

Jim
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Tom Hudson
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I haven’t played online, Jim, but if what you say is true, it coincides with what I’ve seen. The next question is, is their a counter to it? As I’ve said, we played the early lawyer/architect (it worked in our last game) but who knows?
 
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Sean McCarthy
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Nice post, Jim. I really enjoy reading that kind of stuff.
 
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In comparing experiences with you, Tom, my first question is: What is the "usage model" for the wood and stone (brown and grey) production buildings in your games? Are they almost always used by the owner's opponents, and do the owners fully expect and invite this? That's one of the major efficiency tests for a given group of players, from what I've seen.
 
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Brian Bankler
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Alexfrog wrote:
The player who benefits more from a long game is the one who will have the highest scoring potential late in the game.

Is this 'builder' player honestly getting so few favors that they dont have any advancement on these tracks, so that favors do nothing for them? If so they are playing a losing game.

Realistically, the 'favors' player has taken more favors and has used them to score 5 points more times, but both of these players are going to be able to reach a point where late in thegame a favor is valuable to them, to the tune of a few points.



First of all I want to thank Tom for this discussion. It's provocative. (I think that Tom Lehmann has argued similarly, and will be fleshing out those arguments soon).

One point is that while the 'builder' (player who used carpenter/mason) should have one favors track, the 'castle' heavy player will probably be maxed (or near maxed) on two. That means if the game can end so that the each player only gets one end of game favor, that helps the builder. Probably by 3-4 VPs. If you assume that the each turn short costs 1 VP, that's still a gain.

You may also prevent the castle player from using the architect on the last turn, which would free up another favor (probably a stone building).

And you'll reduce the number of favors by 2/turn shortened, which will hurt players who have a chance to max out more tracks.

Anyway, I don't think either of these strategies can be done 'purely.' Much like PR, a large point of the game is making the best move that your opponents leave you.
 
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