Tag Archive | caylus

June 16, 2015

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Gili

We played on Tuesday, because Wed was even more difficult for people. A small game night even so.


Gili said she would be late, and many of my games are still in boxes so I pulled this one out almost at random. Nadine doesn’t particularly like it, but I do. It’s little like Dvonn: hard to fathom why the early moves matter until you get closer to the end game, but the more you play, the more it seems to make sense. Still, the game, like a NIM game, will suddenly kill you if you don’t plan well ahead, and I lost to Nadine by one round.


First play for both of us. We played with a variant I heard online that lets you play one part of the parenthesis and take the other one from a pile set aside at the beginning of the game. Still the game play seems rather uninteresting, especially is you have an ergo and the opponent doesn’t, and the game moves seem rather limited. I will have to look up more commentary on the game. I got the game mostly because of the cool, geek theme.


Nadine 125, Jon 120, Gili 80something

We haven’t played this in a while, because I am of the opinion that it is just too long and fiddly, and I don’t like the provost mechanic, though I can see it’s appeal. My opinion didn’t change after this play, and I think my fellow gamers felt similarly. We didn’t do TOO much provost attacking, but enough to keep people away from the end of the line unless they took the “move the provost three spaces” action. Nadine took an early lead by monopolizing all of the best buildings, including every possible way to produce stone. She must have gained 50 points from people using her buildings (more than 5 a round, I believe). I planned for the best blue buildings, but Gili squeaked out the 25 point building ahead of me. It wasn’t enough to really hurt me; after all it costs 11 points in resources to take it.

Next time we’ll try Calyus Magna Carta.


July 22, 2009

Participants: Jon, Gili, Abraham, David K, Bill, Nadine

A lovely bunch of regulars.

San Juan

Abraham 24, Gili 22, Jon 22

First play for Abraham, though he has played Puerto Rico and Race for the Galaxy, so this wasn’t much of a stretch. Of course, he didn’t know the cards as well as we did.

That didn’t stop him from putting together an awesome synergy for trading: Market Post, Well, Trading Post, and so on, all working perfectly together. Gili followed with higher paying production buildings and Aqueduct, while I had only my lone Indigo Plant the entire game, going the Quarry and Carpenter route. Word to the wise: if your opponents are crafting and trading, you’re not going to make much money unless you can benefit from their role selections, too.

Still, I had good luck picking 6 point buildings. Abraham didn’t pick any, so he just built quickly to end the game as fast as possible while he was ahead. Gili got out a Guild Hall and I got out a City Hall, but it wasn’t quite enough.


David 17, Nadine 6, Bill 2

First play for Bill (or perhaps second). David likes this game a lot, which surprises me, as it doesn’t strike me as his type of game.

Stone Age

David 160ish, Abraham 150ish, Bill 110ish

Don’t have the exact scores, but something like that. David thought he made mistakes, so naturally he won anyway, though Abraham came close.


Jon 124, Nadine 107, Gili 80ish

We searched around for a game that both Nadine and Gili liked, since they don’t like my favorite games. I’m less than enthused by Caylus, but don’t play games only if I hate them (like Fluxx). I find Caylus to be overly dry, overly long, and – strange as it may sound – not requiring too much thinking. It’s actually a pretty forgiving game if you keep your eye on the victory points. Or perhaps I just don’t care who wins, after five levels of converting money to workers to cubes to buildings to more building to yet more buildings.

Nadine took the first favor, I but I quickly jumped ahead in favors. I got to the end track in cubes, so that I could get the gold cubes I needed, and of course the end track in buildings, which is required to win. I also don’t neglect the gray buildings, whose point return is quite good, or the castle.

The provost doesn’t get much play in a three player game; I lost out on using one building on one turn, which I couldn’t really afford to use, anyway. We all seemed to have a lot of money most rounds.

And since we hadn’t played in a while, and the board is really poorly designed, Gili got confused by the rule of which level of the favor track you can use in which phase. I also reminded them about placing workers on your own building for only one coin, even after others have passed. Knowing the rules better gave me a slight but unfair advantage.


Abraham 45, David 31, Nadine 20ish

The only card that trashed other cards was the Thief, and it trashed your opponent’s cards. David used Thief a few times only to realize that he was helping rather than hurting his opponents by trashing their coppers. Abraham drew a completely synergistic deck which drew itself in total on every turn.

David reached a buying power of 19 on one turn, which is the most I’ve ever seen.


Jon 12+, Bill 6

First play for Bill. A learning experience. I really really love this game, because, while conflict is an option, you don’t lose much if you lose a combat. The object is to gain points, not territory. And no dice rolls!

Bill was trailing on my Know-hows, and working at expansion, ignoring my immanent poise to strike. I then swooped in an sacked two of his temples, netting two destroyed temple points, one “five cities” point, and one “seven seas sailed” point in one turn. Since it was getting late, and I was now winning 12 to 6, I suggested he resign, which he did. But he liked the game.

August 19, 2008

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Elijah, Zack, Gili, Hillel, Avraham, David K, Saarya

Game night was a day early, owing to a conference I’m attending tomorrow night. We didn’t have a chance to test my prototype. Zack attended last year, but his family went back to the states. He’s here for a few weeks, but tonight will be his only game group appearance. Elijah also returned after a long absence.

Year of the Dragon

Nadine 101, Elijah 97, Hillel 92, Zack 83

First game for all but Nadine, who had to explain it a few times as players slowly arrived at the club and needed to hear the explanation from the beginning.

Nadine writes: Zack lost points due to getting the least explanation due to coming late. I only won because no one [else] had played before.


Jon/David 84, Avraham 74, Gili 58

We played about half the game and then I got up to let David finish my position when he arrived. I’m not thrilled about the game anyway.

I gave David an ok but not thrillingly good position. He promptly made a mistake in his inherited position and lost ground. And yet, he still won the game. Go figure. This was Avraham’s first play and he underestimated the importance of Green/Blue buildings. Gili missed out on the second and third castle scoring (she had one house in the last castle section; none in the second).

Cosmic Encounter

Elijah+, Saarya+, Hillel, Nadine

Hillel’s first play. All of them were a little rusty and came to me with rules questions. Even so, they made several mistakes, throwing into question the game’s results. For instance, they played the Vacuum as the one who selects which tokens the other player loses, which is deadly. Elijah and Saarya won on a joint comp/comp.


Jon/Avraham 1025, David/Nadine 875

I opened with a Grand Tichu, which I made, and we both went out first to boot. A 400 point lead. I called and made Tichu again. Then David began to call Grand Tichu and Tichu, and after several rounds, we were only ahead 60 points. I won the last game with a Tichu, and that settled it.

In every hand, David and I had our cards down first; of course, being Avraham’s first play, and Nadine dividing some attention in the first few hands with Cosmic, this was understandable. In nearly every hand, either David or I called Tichu or Grand Tichu; Avraham and Nadine never called it. And in nearly every hand, David and I went out first, leaving Nadine and Avraham to play for third. Too bad David and I weren’t teammates.

David made a Tichu where both Avraham and Nadine had bombs and he didn’t. His Grand Tichu was also helped by getting passed cards to complete both a bomb and an inside eight card straight. I had a single bomb, on the last hand, which I broke up to play a 10 card straight, followed by a three of a kind. I was left with a 9. David eventually played an 8, letting me go out.


June 18, 2008

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Jonathan, Gili, Yitzchak, Shirley, David K

Gili and Binyamin were absent last week attempting to teach some non-gamers how to play Settlers, apparently without much success.

Princes of Florence

Jonathan 63, Nadine 62, Yitzchak 61, Gili 58

I set this up, but then moved to another game and Nadine took my place. The scores are really close, as you can see, and this was Jonathan’s first game.


David 116, Jon 68, Shirley 68

Shirley’s first game. I generally don’t like playing this, as it takes too long and is too fiddly. And, when you know you’re losing, you get to know that for a few hours. That’s what happened here. I had a nice second round, but the Provost kept knocking out everything I wanted to do, and David was just miles ahead structurally by mid-game.

At one point, I had the decision to move the provost back up 1 to 3 spaces, but I was only considering the space nearest to the Provost, and what would happen if David moved it back to that spot. I decided that the space didn’t matter enough, but I would let David decide. I missed the fact that he could move it three spaces, knocking out two of mine. It was a 10 point loss for me (no building in the castle, no favor) and a large loss in momentum, too. And it hurt Shirley prettily, too.

It was just a matter of how much he would win by. A lot, as you can see.

Notre Dame

Yitzchak 71, Nadine 58, Jonathan 56

Another first game for Jonathan, but he didn’t fare quite as well (though decent enough).

Magic: The Gathering

Jon+, David+

We simply cut 60 cards for each player from the stack of remaining unplayed cards, eliminating a few of the duplicates. Without drafting, one doesn’t feel like one has as much to do with one’s own success. In this case, David had the better deck. Building and playing still have a lot to do, but not enough.

I won the first game only because David was stuck at two lands for nearly all of it. And it was still close.
[DK: Well close is an exaggeration. I was holding my own, which was very surprising for only two mana over many many rounds. Jon neglected to mention that my two mana was after a mulligan down to 6 cards since my first draw was mana short. And this was with a 40 card deck with 17 mana.]

The second game wasn’t a walkover for David; I managed to bury three of his creatures. But he had more ways of delivering the pain than I did.


May 14, 2008

Participants: Jon, Jonathan, Nadine, Yitzchak, Dylan, Ari, Bill

We’re back to a weekly Wed schedule after the various hagim. Also, Bill returns from the U.S. for a few weeks, to try once again to introduce us to the joys of roleplaying outside of D&D. Ari has been with us before, but not for a long time.

It’s Alive

Jonathan 60, Jon 52, Nadine 49

I introduced Jonathan to the game, and we played the advanced version. Nadine got all the Villagers, while Jonathan seemed to get all the coffins. Nadine still completed her board first. But in the end, Nadine only scored 49, even with the 5 point bonus, while Jonathan scored a hefty 60: 44 on his board, and 16 coins.

Robo Rally

Jon+, Jonathan, Nadine, Yitzchak, Dylan, Ari

We weren’t sure how long we wanted to play this, since we were waiting for Bill to come and start a roleplaying session. So we chose a single board and a single flag. And each robot had an option, two of which were very painful (if they shoot you, they switch your program for theirs/they push you instead of damaging you). What could go wrong?

Turns out nothing, for me. I saw that the game could be won in three turns with perfect cards and play and no interference. Somehow or another, I actually did it. The whole game went three turns, which was an hour.

On the very first turn, my cards were Move 2, Move 2, Move 1, Turn, Turn. I almost left them like this, when suddenly I realized that it would be safer to start with a Move 1 rather than a Move 2, so I switched cards 1 and 3. That was the key to winning. Everyone else went in front of me and I just shot them or pushed them. If I had done it as I had originally planned, someone would have fallen behind me and eventually shot or bumped me.


Dylan 17, Nadine 16, Jon 5

I’m amazed I got a score above negative, actually. It didn’t seem like it for a while.

I came up with a variant for the game right before playing. I mixed up all the chips upside down, stacked them into four stacks of seven, and then flipped them right side up onto the four cards. We knew what the top chip of a pile was, but not what the next one was going to be. Colors and numbers were completely randomly ordered.

Turns out to be a blast. The scores are higher, since more people can acquire 5’s, which makes the game more interesting, and not simply who takes the last chip, which is often what happens. Give it a try.


Ari 103, Yitzchak 92, Jonathan 71

Jonathan’s first game. I didn’t see what happened.

Universalis / Children of Fire

Bill (GM), Jon, Dylan, Nadine

CoF is a light roleplaying system based on angels which you can download for free. Dylan and I had pre-made characters. Nadine claims that she had made one once when Adam had been planning to run a session, but either she never gave it to me or I couldn’t find it. So she had to come up with a character as we played.

Universalis is a points base storytelling experience where it costs you points to introduce items or events that change the story, or to interrupt. The point was to create the setting for the CoF game. The whole things took about twenty minutes, during which I was trying to wrap my head around my first non-D&D RPG experience. In the end, the story setting was pretty much what Bill assumed it would be.

In, CoF, the three of us angels were sent down to Wichita to examine why a lot of prayers have been coming up to heaven, as well as complaints about strange abuse cases, crop circles, and loss of memory. I think we’re supposed to think it’s aliens, but obviously it’s some sort of demon activity.

My character looks a bit like Dream from Sandman, but with a wolf motif and always has a wolf with him and a rod that can glow. I am distracted by the suffering of animals over humans, which I hammed up a lot. Dylan’s character is a short portly guy with a glass eye. And Nadine’s character looks like a 17 year old girl with blue hair and weird colors (think Delirium from Sandman). We made an impressive looking group. Wherever townsfolk ask what we’re doing in town, I just say that we’re here for the sci-fi convention.

So far, we’re hitched a ride to a motel, heard some complaints from the townsfolk. Then we scouted out at night and I rescued a 16 year old boy from a crazed dog (or vice versa, depending on who you ask). That’s it for two an a half hours. We got interrupted a lot and had fun.


August 23, 2007

Participants: Jon, Gili, Adam, Binyamin, Yitzchak, Saarya

Game night this week was moved to Thursday night since I had to take Rachel to the airport on Wed night.

It’s Alive

Jon 48, Adam, Gili, Saarya

Requested by Adam and Gili as an opener while we waited for the other two to arrive. I requested that we play th advanced version, since we played the basic version last time.

Adam got hit by two villagers, but also got two coffins. Gili got one each. I managed to escape unscathed, only seeing a coffin when I needed it to win on my last turn. The other players were not very far advanced when I won, which is kind of unusual.


Yitzchak 94, Jon 78, Adam 68

Not my favorite game, but at least I had to do some planning and thinking this game. I won’t play Caylus with more than three players, and only some players at that.

I thought I was doing well, and I would have been much closer if I hadn’t lost out on one favor I needed to build my second blue building. It couldn’t be helped, as others needed it too, and I had to choose what to invest in. Yitzchak had the most favors this game, and while I didn’t think he used them amazingly well, he did so well enough to win handily. His last round was a perfectly planned building strategy of 4 houses in the castle and the largest blue building.

Tigris and Euphrates

Binyamin 6, Gili 5, Saarya 5

I don’t know how the game went, but Binyamin insisted that I write down the scores. Gili and Saarya appear to have tied.

Princes of Florence

Binyamin+, Gili, Saarya

One again, Binyamin won by a narrow margin, and Gili and Saarya both tied right behind him.

Cosmic Encounter

Yitzchak+, Adam, Jon, Binyamin

Adam insisted on us each playing three powers. And to add to the confusion, he was the Pentaform and Binyamin was the Reincarnator. Then I went and foolishly played the wild Reincarnator somewhere in the middle of the game, which was dumb, as I had a good position and good powers. Even though I ended up with the Disease as a new power, I never had any bases with enough tokens on them to spread for a victory.

The game was pretty long and drawn out. Other than that, it was fun. We all hovered around 4 bases for a bit of time before Yitzchak won by shear exhaustion of all other cards.


July 25, 2007

Participants: Jon, Nadine, David K, Adam, Gili, Yitzchak

A relatively quiet evening. Actually, I kind of like it that way.

Lost Valley

Nadine++, Jon, David

This was one of my few recent unplayed purchases, and I was happy to get it to the table.

Lost Valley is a game of discovering terrain, acquiring resources to swap for gold, trading the gold in for better equipment, and getting even more gold. The one with the most gold wins. Like other games of this sort, a person who is ahead has a tendency to stay ahead, but not entirely, as resources become depleted in the area you are working, and your cart becomes fuller giving you less maneuverability.

There are dozens of little things you can buy to enhance your powers, three types of resources needed to do things on the board, random event chips you can pursue, and common buildings you can build that anyone can use. The idea of the latter is to gain more benefit than any other player by building them in an area where you are and others aren’t.

We first started by playing out a round or two to get the feel of the game and then restarted. Nadine is somewhat impatient when it comes to new games, and was fairly convinced already that the game had too much luck or didn’t make sense. Patience!

We then played a game out. Nadine took an early lead having gone first and acquired the early river gold without much trouble. Unfortunately, she kept hanging around in my area. This is a problem in the game, because you don’t want to expend resources building access to treasures only to have someone else then waltz in and take them.

Meanwhile, David was by himself slowly panning for and collecting gold. Only when we managed to convince Nadine that she was better off striking out on her own did she move ahead. She then mined some gold out of the mountains and won fairly easily.

The first several moves were played extremely slowly because the players kept trying to figure out how to do way more than they could in a single turn. They kept reviewing and reviewing what could be done hoping that there was some way to do a lot really quickly.

Eventually we realized that this was not how the game worked. Finally we just did our teeny single action each round, and the turns became very quick.

When the game ended, we were all convinced that somehow Nadine had received a huge advantage from her first turn. And this was complicated by having received twice as much from her random gold chips as we did.

These face down treasure chips are a favorite among designers, but, while they advance the theme, they don’t really advance the game play. I prefer the Through the Desert idea where the chips are placed randomly but are placed face up.

In addition, the random discovery aspect works fine so long as it always provides at least something to do, like when you draw tiles in Tigris and Euphrates. In games like this, however, if you draw tile after tile of the same thing that is useless to you, you can’t get much out of it (which is what happened to Nadine in the second game).

You could just play the game the way it was designed and write up the results to the story of the game, which is fine for some people. Our little group likes better play and planning to be more obviously rewarded, however, so we try to mitigate these types of random events.

One way would be to always assign the gold chips in a certain order to newly discovered lands (e.g. a single gold for the first two chips, and then 2 golds for any additional chips on a land). And/or have players decided which type of terrain or terrain type they will be discovering next.

In our second game, we didn’t do anything that radical. Instead, we looked at the startup of the game and decided that the initial discovery of a few gold while everyone else remains poor is too much of a swing in luck. To mitigate this, we gave each player two gold to start with.

The result of this is that each player could start the game by buying something which will color the strategy he will be taking (a sieve or a fishing rod, for example), or set out hoping to be the first to gain the easier gold.

Our second game was much tighter and more balanced than the first. Nadine had some bad luck with her tile draws, and the river closed into a loop quickly, which made the game end by ice flow. David bought a sieve initially, but then failed to use it properly. We thought that maybe the events were very powerful, so he found and used four of them. While the events are good, the time and material he lost in pursuing them ended up not being worth his while.

Bottom Line: I think it’s a really good game. After two games, we still have many many avenues of strategies and tactics yet to explore, and the changing nature of the game is always enjoyable. While the rules are not always thematically sensible (a cart can carry extra stuff but a horse can’t?) most of them add to the game play.

There are a number of rules issues not covered entirely well. I had to make up some of the rules as we went. I’ll look online to see if our questions have already been covered by others.

It was fun, and we were all willing to try it again, even Nadine.


Yitzchak 121, Adam 111, Gili 92

This game took four and a quarter hours and I’m glad I wasn’t involved in it.

We build six prestige buildings among us. I build three, Yitz built two, and Gili built one. –Adam

Power Grid

David 17, Jon 16+, Nadine 16-

We always play the game with the top four plants arriving from the stack face up. This eliminates the biggest element of luck from the game, which is one person getting a better plant while others have no idea if another large one is coming or not.

Even so, David managed a coup in acquiring the best plants. Nadine’s situation looked hopeless – her income was generally only two cities for most of the game, and she powered none – while I would have been fine except for my production capacity.

We were ready to throw in the towel early, but we decided to play it out. Somehow, even though David still won fairly handily, Nadine and I both made a good comeback before it ended. I ended up beating Nadine by a single dollar.