On March 19th, I played Caylus for the second time. I wasn't very thrilled about the game after the first play, in October 2007: my memory is of a never-ending and brain-busting game. Maybe I played it too soon, before I had done my proper 'apprenticeship' of other, less heavy games. I therefore took the opportunity to give it a second go, hoping I would appreciate it better this time. Indeed, having meanwhile played other action-selection games, like Pillars of the Earth, the game mechanics made much more sense this time, and the game proceeded smoothly and quicker than 2 years before, but it was still not enough to get Caylus into my favourite games list. I freely admit it's a well-designed and challenging game, with many paths to victory and opportunities to balance long-term strategy with think-on-your-feet tactics, but at the end of the game I feel more exhausted than exhilarated.
It's the kind of game where you derive some masochistic pleasure from having to take tough choices and sadistic pleasure from seeing your opponents wrench under the choice of the least bad option. (In that respect, I give plenty of pleasure to others: this time, I must have taken almost 5 minutes to decide upon one of my actions. I can't remember Matt's and Chris' comments, but I'm sure they were supportive... I have in my notes that Matt often tried to start playing when it was actually my turn, which may have been his sub-conscious way to tell me I should hurry up.) Back to the kind of game: since I'm not a masochist, I prefer shorter and less heavy games, like In the Year of the Dragon. From what I read elsewhere, these long economic development games should give us players the sense of having actually achieved something after a long and arduous struggle against all odds. Somehow, I didn't get that feeling in Caylus but I do in Year of the Dragon. Maybe because in the latter we have the palaces and workers right in front of us, and see them grow and shrink, whereas in Caylus our buildings, workers, and contributions to the castle are spread all over the board. I also noted that we often made mistakes regarding the colours. I'm starting to wonder what is the impact of the physical manipulation and layout of resources during a game on the immersion of players in the game's world.
Well, enough philosophizing. In the end, Matt produced the most gold and won with 57 points. Next, Chris with 52 points, me with 47, Keith with 42 (and the most prestigious buildings) and Ester with 38.
Next I played Cartagena, with David, Big Nick and Huggy, who won. At the start of the game he was attempting to do 4 actions in a row. As with Matt before, we must always watch what these absent-minded players do... 😊
At the other tables, Steve brought Goa and played it with Paul H. and Sam, David brought Katana and played with Ricahrd, Damen, Huggy and Julian, and Jackson brought Sumeria and played it with André, Manuela and Big Nick.