The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

2,500 more words about Caylus, and “Strategy”

Rather than post it (which is a pain), I’ve just started adding to a document. New sections on timing, more about the opening/midgame/endgame, number of players, ‘building chains’, flexibility, resources. And other thoughts that I’ve had.

Is Caylus Strategic? More so than PR. There are “positional” affects (things that aren’t immediately tactical, but that affect play). Larry brought up an example of “If I’m doing the shipping strategy, I’m going to want a harbor, or If I’m doing the factory, it will change my builds.” Well, that’s certainly true, and you can see “I want this, then this, then this.” But I’m not sure it’s positional. You could model the same effects as ‘evaluation of future values’. If I have the factory, it’s better if I have lots of good types. Ditto Harbor, but the Wharf wants specialization. My current position makes those better (or worse), and I don’t have to look ahead to see it. If I get them, they make future plays better (or worse). Also, other players can’t really affect this (except by buying buildings before I can). These buildings have effects in the future, but they local to me. There are second order effects, to be sure. If I know that other players are building or shipping, I can expect them to pick the appropriate roles more often.

On the other hand, if everyone builds resource buildings (or doesn’t) then the Caylus landscape changes for everyone. I think it’s strategic (over my last several games, I’ve thought about ‘board position’ issues, and these form quite a bit of my new verbiage). I still consider PR mainly evaluational + tactical. I think about the future in both games, but my thoughts are more definite, and more complex in Caylus. In PR, I just come up with a plan (I’ll buy A, intending B, C & D) and then look at the tactics.

I think this may be due to the competition for buildings (actions), unlike PR where the roles (actions) are shared by all player. But I’m not sure.

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Written by taogaming

January 6, 2006 at 6:24 pm

Posted in Caylus

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5 Responses

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  1. The more I play the more I’m convinced the construction track for favors is the only way to go. The money and resource tracks should only be used in a pinch (like when you need the money for your next turn, or have two or more favors coming and you need the resource for the construction track). The VP track is the only other one that can compete, and that has to be pushed early to have a hope of getting up to where it’s worthwhile (4/5 VP). The construction track pays off much earlier.

    Look at relative VPs here. Cumulative gain at each step of the 5 favors:

    VPs:
    1: 1 VP
    2: 3 VP
    3: 6 VP
    4: 10 VP
    5: 15 VP
    Money:
    1: $3
    2: $7
    3: $12
    4: $18
    5: $25
    (should translate to vps, but not much more than 2/1)
    Resources:
    1: 1 resource cube
    2: 2 resource cubes
    3: 3 resource cubes
    4: 4 resource cubes
    5: 4 resource cubes, 1 gold cube.
    Construction:
    1: nothing
    2: one wood (4 VP) pay one resource
    3: one wood, one stone (10 VP) pay two resource
    4: one wood, one stone, one lawyer (12 VP + $1 a turn) pay three resource
    or
    one wood, two stone (16 VP) pay three resource
    5: one wood, one stone, one lawyer, one prestige (~16-26 VP + $1 a turn) pay three resource (already subtracted prestige building cost from VP)
    or
    one wood, three stone (22 VP) pay 4 resource

    This doesn’t even count the extra vps for opponents placing on the buildings, or the power of picking what buildings show up next, or the $1 placements when other players pass.

    Think of it another way. Compare a favor to a worker placement. There are direct analogues to the money and resource tracks, so the favor track in these two columns only duplicates a possible worker action. The top of the resource track just barely gets to the value of the gold space. For getting multiple resource cubes it’s much weaker. The top of the money track is better but not tremendously so than the 1 resource/$6.

    There isn’t a direct comparison for the VP track, but there are stone buildings that allow converting money or resources to VP. The favor track is weaker than these buildings at the bottom levels, better at the 4 and 5 VP levels.

    The construction track, however, is better than a worker placement starting immediately from the 2nd level. It allows you to build a building at a 50% resource discount or to build it at all in the case of the prestige building.

    frunk

    January 6, 2006 at 8:35 pm

  2. The more I play the more I’m convinced the construction track for favors is the only way to go. The money and resource tracks should only be used in a pinch (like when you need the money for your next turn, or have two or more favors coming and you need the resource for the construction track). The VP track is the only other one that can compete, and that has to be pushed early to have a hope of getting up to where it’s worthwhile (4/5 VP). The construction track pays off much earlier.

    I agree, having played 10 games. The real issue (IMO) is that the construction track gives you resources (via discounts) actions (via building) and VPs (via buildings and conversion to prestige). It even gives money (lawyer with a discount). It’s easy for the construction track to produce 15 VPs with five levels _and_ provide resources, etc etc.

    Brian

    January 6, 2006 at 10:05 pm

  3. A game can have equal parts strategy and tactics and I feel that PR is one of those. My experience with Caylus is that it is a bit heavier on the tactics – for example, the provost. I’ve also found that PR gets mighty repetitive.

    jacob

    January 7, 2006 at 12:08 pm

  4. Larry, actually I *do* think of Chess as a tactical game; the fact that computers are so good at it would seem to be further evidence, as I don’t think computers think strategically.

    But I do think of Go as a strategic game, so I agree the distinction is not absolute. At a certain degree of complexity – the degree at which it actually becomes impossible to practically analyze – a completely open, luckless game could be strategic.

    But at the level of complexity we’re talking about in German-style games – several leagues short of Chess or Go – it does seem to me that a game will require something hidden, or something random, to generate really satisfying strategic gameplay.

    This is all mitigated by the fact that I can’t define what a “strategic” game is. But I know it when I see it 🙂

    Chris Farrell

    January 9, 2006 at 12:34 pm

  5. This is all mitigated by the fact that I can’t define what a “strategic” game is. But I know it when I see it 🙂

    Like Chris, I too feel that the heaviest strategy only happens in games with hidden information. I think the two types of strategic game Chris is talking about (chess vs hidden information elements) both involve putting into effect a plan that will win them the game. The differences between them is
    (1) in chess the plan works because the particular opponent may not know the counter for the move that is done. **So in this case strategy works because the countering set of plays is not identified or known.**
    (2) in the hidden information game strategy works because hidden information means time to react may not be possible (as in when I use a strategy of deploying my starting forces on my southern border instead of my western border catching my foe unprepared) Here a countering play may be known, but its too late to put it into effect. **So in this case strategy works because the countering plays are too late to use**
    So for me strategy is at its heaviest with the second hidden information option. At least that is my stab at this for now.

    Ray Petersen

    January 10, 2006 at 5:27 pm


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