Caylus

Published on January 18, 2012
By
Players:
2-5
Multiplayer:Yes, pass'n'play and online
AI:Yes, different personalities
Universal App:Yes (there is a single app which works on both iPhone and iPad in HD)
Purchase for iPhone:Use link below to purchase universal app
Purchase for iPad:
Caylus
Price: $4.99
User rating:
GD Star Rating
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Caylus1 500x375 Caylus ipad screenshot
Caylus is something of a milestone game in the development of eurogaming. As an historical note it effectively cemented worker placement as a mechanic within the realm of board games. So for old players its nostalgia, for new players it’s a history lesson. Caylus is not a short game, and depending on the number of players you can anticipate a game halfway between 30 minutes to an hour and a half.

Gameplay

The year is 1289 and the good King Philip the Fair of France has decided to bolster his defenses and expand his borders. You play one of five master builders that seek to gain the favour of the good king by working on his castle and otherwise expanding the surrounding countryside.

As a worker placement game, your job will be to try and place your team of six workers across the available buildings for fun and profit. You will take it in turns to place a worker, at the cost of one money. However, when a player passes the cost of placing a worker increases by one. This intrinsic balancing mechanism not only affects choice of placement but how many you will eventually be able to place.

Caylus3.5 500x375 Caylus ipad screenshot

Throughout most of the game you will be attempting to collect one of five different types of resources, including food, wood, cloth, stone, and gold (distinct from money). Resources are used for building other buildings as well as contributing towards the castle, both will get you prestige points. What is particularly unique about this game, however, is that all the buildings are placed along a road that winds back and forth down from the castle off the bottom of the board. All the buildings are activated in order each turn, starting with a number of ‘powered’ buildings, moving through basic resource buildings. To build the castle, you must place a worker before it and send a batch of three different resources, which includes one food. It is the last action of any round, and you will lose points if you have placed a worker there and cannot supply a batch of goods.

Caylus5 500x375 Caylus ipad screenshot

What this means is that new buildings are added to the end of this chain almost every turn, opening up more and more powerful options of buildings. There is also a building that will convert the starting neutral buildings into a money generator for the player who selected it. This means that as the game goes on, the cheaper neutral buildings are removed from choice and the more complex and more profitable buildings replace then (sort of). Since you get prestige points if another player uses a building you built this is a key and crucial strategy. An example being if you have built the only quarry and then use the removal mechanism to remove the neutral quarry, you end up bottlenecking stone and getting a constant supply in.

The other unique feature to the game is a figure known as the provost. This figure advances along the road and only those buildings that lay behind him are able to be used. If you select a building too far down the chain, there is a chance the provost could be moved back making your placement a wasted resource. It also means that new buildings aren’t always immediately available for choice the next turn. This is a lovely mechanic because it means there is an implicit risk in the newer and more advanced buildings that eventually peters out.

The other figure of significance is the bailiff, which progresses steadily throughout the game. He will move either one or two steps each turn depending on whether the provost is before or after him. When he reaches on of three pre-determined spaces he triggers the end of a cycle of construction for the castle. When the bailiff reaches the third space, the game is over. If you’re paying attention, the placement of the provost not only influences what buildings get used, but also how quickly the game progresses.

Caylus3 500x375 Caylus ipad screenshot

A round in Caylus consists of the following 8 phases: get income (base 2 money); placement of workers according to turn order; activation of special buildings (ones with powers); move the provost; activation of other buildings in order; building of the castle; round end where the bailiff moves along the road.

Implementation

There is much to love about this implementation. There is a lot of care and detail give to the artwork, which tries to strike a balance between fidelity to the board game and to using the power of the iPad. So rather than tiles placed on the board, the vacant lots are simply overlaid with a building design. It makes the experience that slightly more immersive. The game is accompanied by an assortment of woodland, farm, and construction noises, but not much of a musical score to speak of. These are mere embellishments though.

Overall the user interface is quite good. It is intuitive and allows you to jump in. Unfortunately, the complexity of this game means that while you can very easily know what choices are available it is more difficult to comprehend their impact. This is partly because you cannot see the entire board at a glance. You can scroll around but in trying to mentally calculate some of the risks involved you’re trying to keep a bunch of information in your head at once, which can only be hampered by the need to scroll around. Additionally, I had hoped that I could get basic info about a building by tapping on it and for a pop-up menu to show. This information is there to be found, but it is not intuitively accessible.

There is not much to say about the tutorial. I am not sure it really deserves the name. It’s more of a rules prompt at the appropriate juncture. With the tutorial mode on, the screen will become immediately filled with the section on the rules relevant to the scenario whenever it’s first encountered. It’s only saving grace is that the rules are illustrated and not too difficulty to follow. Having never played the game prior to now I was able to get the game right after a false start with my first game. It might still take newbies such a dry run to get their handle on the game.

Caylus2 500x375 Caylus ipad screenshot

Lastly, the biggest issue in my opinion has to be the semi-constant crashes. The game crashes enough that it’s noticeable, but not enough that it’s unplayable. Granted that might be because I’m on a ‘semi-obsolete’ iPad 1, which doesn’t seem to receive nearly as much testing and support as the latest model, however I don’t think that should be an excuse. In fact, I can typically rely on the program to crash when I start a new game, forcing me to reopen the program and resume the game.

Verdict

8/10: The game itself more than makes up for the implementation errors. I think they made a few design choices that were wrong, particularly around critical things like the tutorial, but you can still sink your teeth into the game.

Caylus, 8.2 out of 10 based on 206 ratings

Review By: Angelus Morningstar

Completed a Masters of Jurisprudence at University of Sydney. I am an activist, dramaturge, and instigator of strange mind experiments. I’m a storyteller, and I mostly tell stories about people. These aren’t always stories you’ll find written down, they can be stories told over a coffee, told by firelight, told through art act and lifestyle. Of course, we all tell stories. We love our little fictions, lies and dreams – I just like to embellish a bit more than most. My current project of substantial size is called Eidolon. It can be found here: http://www.eidolon.me
Players:
2-5
Multiplayer:Yes, pass'n'play and online
AI:Yes, different personalities
Universal App:Yes (there is a single app which works on both iPhone and iPad in HD)
Purchase for iPhone:Use link below to purchase universal app
Purchase for iPad:
Caylus
Price: $4.99
User rating:
GD Star Rating
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Share this review:

17 comments
Rafael
Rafael

Anyone know how to avoid the game crash in the final score? I never finished the game because of that...

Agman
Agman

After playing this version 70 + times since downloading, i have to say that it is disappointing that they would release a game of this caliber, with so many flaws. Was this game not play tested before release? i guess the rules of the game were meaningless to the developers. also, the AI can only win if it uses the unfair advantages it gains at the castle. i am sure the flaws are able to be updated , I hope that happens soon. i love Caylus, one of the best games out there, this is a very good app. Just needs some repairs and stronger AI,

Agman
Agman

What a great game , such a deep game with many paths to victory. The app AI is farly challenging, not alot of provost movement. Great practice for the board version. AWESOME SITE, love it , i have found many of my most played games by the reviews here. Keep up the good work

Earnest To
Earnest To

This iPad version of Caylus is great, especial to us the veteran players.

Bill
Bill

The game is absolutely awesome ! However, even with the most recent patch, on the first turn, the computer is cheating when playing at the castle by only paying 2 cubes. Stealing you the points, the possibility to block him AND the king's favor, which means the game is unplayable against a computer.

Capnlanky
Capnlanky

Love this game. Also, this site is great. I have it bookmarked and check it frequently.

Marc
Marc

Great version, thumbs up!

VyC
VyC

One extreme big drawback - worst multiplayer ever. In 5 days I have made around 3 moves total in 4 games. There is no lobby, no option for non-async play, no gamecenter. Seriously flawed in this respect. Other than that 9/10, but before they fixw multiplaywr, cant give more than 5/10 overal score.

James Bruce
James Bruce

My initial frustration with this game were the complete lack of a tutorial and some really basic misunderstandings. Like, the fact that you choose a wooden building in order to build, or that the building list is available on one of the tabs. It's still a really enjoyable game, but definitely a learning curve that needn't be there.

OneRandomGeek
OneRandomGeek

I bought this last night and look forward to giving it a try this weekend. I just wanted to say that even though I have been a board gamer for years (just about since birth, really) I am fairly new to euro style strategy games and discover a lot of games for the first time through your website and subsequently playing them on my iPad. It's actually even lead me to buy a few of the actual physical games from Amazon to play with my friends. Which makes me think that you should also add a link to buy the physical game from Amazon (for those games that have a physical version that is) under the iPhone/iPad links for those who are interested. Amazon has an affiliate program and that might bring your site additional revenue. I don't work for Amazon, I just appreciate your site and the service you provide and would like to see you succeed and grow for years to come.

Jazz
Jazz

Lack of an undo button was frustrating for a newbie but I suppose understandable. It should prompt you if you make a clearly foolish move though, such as choosing a building favour that you dont have resources for (because you cant seevall the boards at once and therefore should have chosen a different favour). AI is very dumb. I won my first game and didnt really know what I was doing. Won next two games with stronger AI opponents and Im still new.

Mythbuster
Mythbuster

Well, you should also write that they know about the problems and that an update is on the way ...

DarthWayne
DarthWayne

It's a pain. It only seems to do it if you win. But can't find a way to stop it.

leo
leo

please, write email to support of the developer to notify the bug you found, so they correct it

James Bruce
James Bruce

Thanks man, that's a great idea! Will certainly try that...

OneRandomGeek
OneRandomGeek

Hey, I see you added the Amazon link! That's great. Hope it helps!

Trackbacks

  1. […] in every aspect of its origin, owes much of its design to Euro-style worker placement games like Caylus, Le Havre, or Stone Age. Set in one of the most famous campaign settings of the Dungeons & […]