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Subject: Gold is Good rss

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Mark Smith
United States
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Terry, whose thus unsuccessful efforts to play (let alone procure a copy of) Caylus are becoming the stuff of ETG legend, was eager to give Caylus a go, and Kevin and I were eager to oblige. Kevin has played a handful of times, and this was only my second game (not counting a few solo efforts).

Just as I was about 3/4 finished with teaching Terry the game, in walks Jim (with his dog), and since the other table was already a few turns into something, he eased into our table, changing our threesome to a foursome and greatly diminishing everyone else's chances of winning. Based on my unscientific sample of sessions I've witnessed, Jim ALWAYS wins at Caylus.

I'll skip any detailed recitation of how this game is played, because I think that's already been covered.

This game flowed by smoothly, with Kevin and Jim generally alternating in the lead and Terry and I trying to stay within striking distance. It was a generally gentlemanly game, with very few nasty provost moves. Maybe everyone was being nice because it was Terry's first game, or maybe everyone was just hoarding their cash. We'll never really know.

Gradually, Kevin and Jim started to pull away, and I struggled to stay close. It seemed that generally Kevin and Terry were able to perform their actions when they needed to. At a couple of key moments in the game I found myself positioned to do something but lacking one resource (argh!). Jim made excellent use of the "all workers only cost $1" spot several times during the game (how does he ALWAYS seem to be on that thing?!).

The mechanisms in this game are individually not complex, but when layered one atop the other, there are an awful lot of implications to be considered at every turn, including the need to monitor what your opponents are up to. I LOVE that about Caylus, but it does create a fairly steep learning curve for the game. Terry's standing on the points track gradually started to show the effect of this learning curve, and a rule-teaching error on my part (apologies, Terry) didn't help matters. I relied too much on my recollection of what the various symbols on the buildings meant, and unintentionally misled Terry as to the value of the Church (you get a favor when you build it...I led Terry to believe he would get a favor every time someone besides him used it). When Jim correctly stated the actual benefit of the building, Terry said he would have built differently had he known that, but gamely soldiered on without complaint.

A more severe error on my part (and Kevin's and Terry's) was in our failure to notice and respond to what Jim started doing about mid-game, gathering gold at every opportunity. As we were to see in the final scoring, Jim ably exploited our lack of vigilance.

Nearing game end, I found myself in an awkward position, in which I had an opportunity to make a provost move that would have hurt Kevin, with me as the primary beneficiary, and Jim as the main beneficiary. Jim and Kevin were in the lead (nearly tied, but Jim had a visible pile of gold awaiting the final scoring), and I was in a fairly close third. Kevin was going to build a prestige building, and I had the free provost move and could have stopped him. Doing so *might* have allowed me to finish second, but would have absolutely assured Jim of the win (which appeared fairly likely anyway). It was the first time we had noticed a "kingmaking" situation of this nature in Caylus, and in my readings on the game I haven't seen any significant amount of commentary about this coming up very often, so I think it was probably just a peculiar instance. I refrained from making the move, not feeling that it would be right for me to hurt another player's chances at the win unless I thought I had a legitimate shot at it myself. Kevin built his building for 14 points, but Jim's 24 points for holding 8 gold at the end of the game put it out of reach.

Final Scores:
Jim 86
Kevin 77
Mark 64
Terry 44

Jim 9
Kevin 9
Mark 9
Terry 8.5, but could go higher

Kudos to Jim, who always wins Caylus.

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