Caylus, the newest strategic board game from Big Daddy’s Creations, is now available from the app store. Requiring balanced gameplay, a little foresight, and a dose of luck, Caylus provides strategy fans with another solid title.
- Nice presentation with plenty of relevant info at the ready
- Pleasant soundtrack
- Simple tap or drag controls
- Single player against varying AI difficulties, as well as pass-and-play and online async
- GameCenter integration an achievement system
- Initially confusing ruleset
- Steep difficulty curve that will turn off casual players
Much like BDC’s previous offering, Neuroshima Hex, the game’s rules can be a bit daunting at the start. There are a variety of buildings to learn about, functions of characters to get a handle on, and ways to earn/spend deniers, the game’s currency, that must be understood. The main point of the game is to curry the most favor with the land’s king, Philip the Fair. As a master builder, you accomplish this goal by making choices that create structures to bring glory to the king’s domain. The gaming area presents you with a road leading to a castle, with various small buildings placed along the roadside. You and your opponents each have 6 workers to place, in turn, at these locations. Placing workers will cost you money, and although passing your turn also earns you some, you’ll miss out on potentially greater earning opportunities by doing so. After players have completed the placement phase, the king’s bailiff and provost take a stroll along the road to witness the progress and bestow upon players the king’s gratitude. The king looks kindly upon players who provide resources and work toward the creation of his castle. There are a number of other smaller accomplishments that can earn favor, too. Focusing on one aspect of gameplay can earn some cred, but the neglect of the rest will cost you dearly. The goal is to figure out how to strike a positive balance while preventing your competition from besting you. One way is to pay off the bailiff and provost to take a shorter stroll along the road. The less ground they cover and people they see, the fewer favors are handed out to those who took the risk of positioning themselves farther along the road. It’s a fun game that requires a good deal of thought and a good handle on the rules. The tutorial does a nice job of introducing a variety of aspects to get your feet wet, but a few solid playthroughs and careful attention will go a long way to making you a stud.
Graphically, Caylus reminds us a lot of Carcassonne, another terrific strategy game. The hand-drawn imagery is similar, as is the use of banners to convey relevant info. The colors are somewhat muted to reflect a more serious and thoughtful tone. Small details like minor worker animations add a bit of charm, and a wealth of info can be offered through charts that slide in and out of view as needed. Opponent turns play out quickly and don’t offer a lot of helpful info if you aren’t paying careful attention at all times. It can be easy to get confused and miss out on what is happening. The soundtrack provides a pleasant backdrop during the routinely lengthy games. Controls are tap-based and simple to use. Workers are dragged from you banner to the target locations. Confirming and canceling decisions is as easy as tapping checkmarks or Xs on the banner. Moving the baliff/provost forward or backward requires tapping a plus or minus sign. It’s all very intuitive.
Replay value is great, as each attempt to play will certainly produce vastly different results. A selection of AI opponents with varying skill levels are always at the ready in the single player option. Local pass-and-play and an online async offering are also available. GameCenter integration allows for a dozen achievements to earn for added replay value. A universal app for $4.99, Caylus is an engaging 4-Dimple challenge.