game review

Caylus

Highly recommended to me by my local game shop, I bought Caylus for a day of games with friends. At a first glance Caylus is a complex game of construction and economy. It may be a little bit daunting for the non-gamer but somebody with some experience it is fairly easy to learn and play. The object of the game is to score prestige-points by contributing to the construction of the king's castles and the accompanying town. There are many ways to score points, and several long term and short term strategies emerge. The game is best understood as a complex economic system gradually set up by the players as the game progresses. There are buildings to be built, resources to be harvested, privileges to be earned, money to be made and points to be scored, all of this in several different ways. You cannot do it all at the same time, so you are always stretched between different priorities. You also have to keep an eye on what the other player might be doing. Their plans and actions might foil yours.

The game is well-designed. Although knowing the game is a distinct advantage, first-time players can immediately play along as the scores are usually fairly close. There are many rules and effects, but all of these can be 'read' from the symbols on the board. The game mechanics are nice and simple and the system as a whole is balanced. As an added bonus, it plays relatively well with two player, even though it is better to play with the maximum of five.

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