Caylus is brought to you by Ystari Games, a French publisher, and Rio Grande Games, a Mexican company famous for the games El Grande, Carcassonne, and Puerto Rico. It was published in 2005.
Caylus was designed by William Attia. The illustrations were done by Cyril Demaegd who runs Ystari Games, his brother Arnaud Demaegd, and Mike Doyle.
- 1 game board;
- 1 white “bailiff” cylinder;
- 1 white “provost” disc;
- 40 denier coins;
- 30 worker cylinders (6 each in 5 different colors);
- 100 houses (20 each in 5 different colors);
- 35 marker discs (7 each in 5 different colors);
- 140 resource cubes;
- 40 building tiles;
- 1 rulebook;
The main goal of the game is to build the King’s castle in the humble village of Caylus. Each player is responsible for several workers that contribute to the task. You build the castle itself and the town surrounding it to get additional actions. You can gain prestige and Kingly favor with the help of the right actions. There is also collecting resources, manipulating the turn order using your workers, and providing services to other players.
There is no luck in Caylus – forget about blaming the dice. The game is all about your strategy, your fate is entirely within your hands. But you must not forget your opponents: the game is highly competitive and interactive. Your strategy has to depend on what others do, you cannot build it independently. If you need to use a specific building and it is the building owned by your opponent, remember that going there will get your opponent extra victory points.
A lot of different strategies are possible in the game, so Caylus does not get tired even after you have played many times. It will always find a way to twist your brain anew – there is no way of perfecting Caylus.
Caylus is a classical worker placement game. Every turn you place your workers in the village. On the game board, there is a passing area which has numbers from 1 to 5. The smallest visible number is the price you pay to place your worker. So, if you decide not to place another worker, you cover up the cheapest price and now everyone will have to pay 2 deniers instead of 1 for placing a worker. This is one of the moments in the game that lead to different possible tactics: sometimes it is more profitable to pass (not place your worker) to get your opponents to pay more or to pass as well if they cannot afford the price.
One of the distinguishable features of the game is the Provost. He makes sure that workers placed in the village actually work. The Provost travels along the road around which the village is built. Only the workers before him have to work, the ones he cannot see slack off. You can bribe the Provost to move away from your opponents’ workers. So, whenever you are placing a worker, you have to remember that other players will be bribing the Provost to move, which may lead to him ignoring your worker completely.
Kingly favors include victory points, deniers, resources, and building opportunities. You gain those by taking various actions.
Constructing buildings is very important. There are many different types of buildings, and sometimes you have to think a lot which one you should choose to build. At the beginning of the game, there are just two places to place your workers and build something. Initially, you can only build wooden buildings. If you want to build a stone building, you have to build a mason first. If you want to build a residential building, you have to create a lawyer. If you want to build a monument, you need an architect.
At the end of the game, players trade their remaining resources for victory points. The one who has most victory points wins.
For those who like Caylus but find it too challenging, there is Agricola. There are many similarities between the two games: both are about worker placement, in both games you construct buildings, the mechanics of the games are very much alike. While in Caylus you build a city around a castle, in Agricola you run a farm. Agricola may seem a softer version of Caylus, in fact, its authors were highly influenced by Caylus. But Agricola stands as a fascinating game on its own, and many players prefer it: there is less spite, less tension, and the game itself is easier to understand and easier to play.
A game that is closer to Caylus in its depth and complexity is Tigris & Euphrates. It is another board game classic famous for being overwhelmingly challenging and complicated. Here, the action takes place in the ancient lands of the Middle East.
Le Havre also often gets compared to Caylus. Here, you develop the town of Le Havre. Le Havre was inspired by both Caylus and Agricola. Like Caylus, it does not leave anything to luck. Le Havre takes longer to play, as you spend a lot of time making decisions in the game – every turn you have to choose between multiple opportunities.
Caylus Expansion: The Jeweller
This 1-tile expansion was given away for free at the Essen 2005 Fair. You can use it to trade gold for points. Now you can download the tile on the Ystari website. The Premium Limited Edition also includes the Jeweller tile.
Caylus Magna Carta
Caylus Magna Carta is a reimplementation of Caylus. It includes cards, money, resource markers, worker pawns, the Provost, and castle building stones. In this game, there is no board. Each player has a set of cards, which are used as a face-down deck. On his turn, a player opens a random card and has a few options:
- build a new building;
- pay to draw a new building card;
- pay to draw a fresh hand;
- pay to place a worker;
- build a prestige building card;
Once everyone has passed, the cards go to the Provost.
Colors of the cards tell you who they belong to. You can place your worker on somebody else’s card if you pay them.
At the end of the game, you get victory points for castle stones, money, resources, and built cards. The one with the most victory points wins.
Caylus available as an iOS app. You can have from 3 to 5 players. You play either with real opponents or with AI. There is an option to play online, but you have to really trust your virtual opponents here not to quit on you for all the time the game runs.
The digital version of Caylus may be a brilliant and not too expensive way for someone to get acquainted with the game before buying it.
You can download it on iTunes – .
Board Game Arena
You can play Caylus on Board Game Arena – http://en.boardgamearena.com/#!gamepanel?game=caylus (both real-time and turn-based).
Q: Is Caylus easy to learn?
A: No, it is not. Especially, if you do not have someone to teach you how to play and you are consulting with the rulebook. A couple of first plays will probably confuse you, and you might not be able to fully enjoy Caylus until you understand how the game mechanics works, but it is definitely worth applying a little patience – once you get the grasp of the gameplay, unlimited possibilities will be revealed to you.
Q: How long does a game of Caylus take?
A: The rules suggest that it will not take more than 2 hours even with 5 players, but in fact it can take up to 4 hours, especially if some of the players are new to the game. Apart from that, the length of your gameplay depends on how long you like to think about your moves – in Caylus, there is a lot to think about.
Q: Is the 2-player version of Caylus as exciting as the multi-player one?
A: Caylus is designed for companies from 2 to 5 people. However, the recommended number of players is 3. With just 2 players, you cannot fully enjoy some of the most interesting aspects of the game – manipulating the turn order, bribing the Provost, passing. The interactive element is less developed with just 2 players at the table.
Q: Agricola, Caylus, and Le Havre: which one should I choose?
A: All the three games have a lot in common, and all are highly estimated by gamers. Caylus might be the most challenging and competitive one. Agricola is probably the easiest one, but you have to study the rules really carefully, there are lots of details. Think which theme allures you more: a farmyard (Agricola), a castle (Caylus), or a seaport (Le Havre). Another game you could try is Pillars of the Earth. It may be easier for beginners and more depends on luck in this game.
Caylus is considered one of the most complex boards games. While it can appear to be a drag for beginners, it is a real treat for hardcore gamers and admirers of tough competition and pure strategy. You are in total control of your actions as there is no luck element. The variety and depth of the game will not disappoint you.
All pieces are made from wood, the buildings are on sturdy stock. The board contains numerous reminders that save you from endless referring to the rulebook.
You can buy Caylus on Amazon.