Okay, this game is surely one of the famous Euro Games that every Euro gamers knows very well. If you’re Euro gamer and never heard of this game before, then get a pen and strike your name through the list of Euro gamers. I won’t say myself as a Euro gamer, but i do like Euro games, and this one is no exception, in fact, this one is one of the best in my rating. No, i don’t have a copy of the game, but, i plan to have one someday. So, what makes this game so different from other Euros? I don’t know about you, but almost all my friends who like it, would shout the same answer. Yes, this Euro game, might be the only one (at least from all Euro games we know) Euro game that suppress the involvement of luck in the game play. Mostly, Euro gamer dislike luck, they really think that a brilliant and smart games are supposed to be based on the strategy, planning and tactics that can be carried away without the interfering of luck, and Caylus is one of the games that apply to that principle, designed by William Attia under the banner of Ystari Games. Okay, let’s start with the overview through some basic aspects.
1. The Theme
Well, as i stated before, this is Euro, and it doesn’t need a theme to make it deserve praises. But, if i must say, the theme is about the building of a castle by King Phillip the fair to strengthen the borders of the Kingdom of France, which is built in Caylus, a humble village that soon gonna turn into a city with the arrival of craftsmen, workers, traders, and many more, seeing the good prospect of the event.
2. The Artworks
Now, for me artworks are really important, since i always think that visual aspect is one of the important things that should be considered. I never bought a game just only because it has great game play, great game mechanics or even it’s designed by your favorite designers or because it sold cheap. I do strongly believe that the games you buy is
going to be in a line up of collections and they’re supposed to be great in visual, game play, background story, components and anything else. So, where does this game hit? I must say frankly, the artworks really really sucks, double thumbs down. Let see the cover of the box, all your vision will be focused on the harrowing figure of a king (only because he’s wearing a crown) holding a staff. In his back shown the view of a castle and it’s surrounding environment. Sounds normal huh? Well as you can see the artwork, there is something odd in the image that really want me to turn my vision the other way around. Did they cannot get a better illustration on the king? Oh come on, look at his face, he’s a grumpy stubborn and selfish old king holding a staff. He’s more looks like a Scandinavian metal band vocalist in the age of 40 still doing concert of the past golden age holding a mic stand. Don’t you agree? The image on the back? Oh well, it’s a concert stage in the middle of the forest made to look like a castle for the thematic purpose. And you would get the same opinion with the board, should be done better in the illustration. This is the main reason i hold back my purchase, and i hope this brilliant game will be republished with new artworks. Cyril & Arnaud Demaegd, the men behind the superb artworks of Olympos (are you kidding me? They sure improve a lot since then).
3. The Game Components
After reviewing the artworks, i guess the component doesn’t share the same state, the components are good with lots of wooden bits and markers (lots of resources cubes and house, worker and player markers). The building tiles are bit kinda old fashioned (because the artworks) but it shows pretty good. I noticed the deniers are kinda easy to worn out, maybe because the frequency of the game hit the table.
4. The Game Play
Being as one of the heavy euros doesn’t make it different from any other euros, and yes the goal of the game is to collect as many VP as possible, and the player with the highest VP at the end of the game, wins. The game consist of 3 stage of scoring (you can say 3 stages of castle development progress). In these stages the king arrives to check on the castle development and grant players who contribute with favors. At the last stage, the game ends and the final scoring is made. With his turn, a player can do actions by placing his workers in the tile / space available (with paying 1 deniers for every worker). All these tiles will resolve in order after all the player has passed. The first player to pass get 1 denier and also add the cost of placing workers by one for other players. This will make worker placement more difficult / costly for other players. There are several sections in the board that can be used by players, and this will provided basic actions that always open for public each turn. And 5 building tiles that placed randomly (red tiles) which give players other actions (just like basic actions but they’re randomly placed). In the last tile there are 2 white markers known as bayliff and provost. Provost will determine the movement of bayliff, if the provost position is in the front of bayliff at the end of turn, the bayliff will proceed 2 steps forward (this will determining the scoring round or end game). But if the provost is in the same place or behind the bayliff, the bayliff will only move 1 step forward.
Players will have option to choose action like gain resources, build structures, gain deniers, take first player and many other options. As the game progress, there will be more building tiles in the board and more possibilities to choose for the players. In the scoring stage, the castle development will be scored and players that did not fulfill the minimum requirements will be penalized and players who does qualify will be granted favors from the king based on his contributions to the castle that round. After all players passed their worker placement order, all the actions in the board are resolved. These actions are resolved in certain order, the basic actions, basic tiles actions, building tiles actions,building castle, using favors and update bayliff movements.
5. The Replay Value
Well, the game really pays off if you’re looking a great simple game but really a brain burner to make your way into the first position.When i actually play it for the first time, i kinda didn’t know what to do and how to make all the actions clear. But after several plays, i could give a challenge to experience gamers. And yes, this game really doesn’t have luck factor (the only luck factor is on the randomized basic tiles, which really doesn’t considered to be luck). So, no luck, a typical euro favorite kind of game. The only thing that lies in the middle between you and the victory is your strategy. In this game first player is really important, since it can decide who’s gonna get the most wanted place in that turn, and also when you play this game you must carefully plan your strategy, scout other players interests and plans and also provide backup plans. For the game is so open, player can always look and determine other players resources and plans. To be honest, you can say it doesn’t have high replay value, cause for several plays you will know what you should do each game. But, the players interactions are really interesting in this game, so i kinda having fun with it while my brain being burned.
My Thought of The Game
Actually this is one of my most favorite games and yes i would want to have a copy if it’s not because of the lame artworks. Surely this game really put your planning and laying out strategies into test and i love to play it again and again. I juts wish it will be re-printed in the future with better, much better artworks. A heavy and smart game that has simple rules but deep and rich game play with great interactions through challenge and direct conflicts. For this game, me and my friends agreed that it’s best for 3 players (okay 4 players still counts).
You also can view this review on boardgamegeek.com here.