[MITx 11.126x] Activity Break: Play a Game

Note: Originally posted as a forum activity for the MITx 11.126x Introduction to Game Design course at edx.org

My favorite type of board games are worker placement, so for this activity break I thought I’d try my hand at the great granddaddy of worker placement games; Caylus (specifically the version found at http://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/8323/item/1851164#item1851164).

How complex are its rules?

The actions available in Caylus are relatively straightforward, but the complexity comes from the repercussions of every move taken. I played two games back-to-back and lost both, mainly because I didn’t have a strategy going into either game and even the rudimentary AI was able to build up and make smarter moves than I was able to, however I feel this is a strategic issue rather than one that I can blame on the complexity of the rules.

How difficult was it to learn how to play?

I don’t feel the game was difficult to learn on a mechanical level, however I have to admit that the AI program didn’t allow me the possibility of making any moves that broke any of the game rules. If I were to have to try and explain the rules of the game to other players, I would most certainly make several mistakes as many of the action spaces are simple mechanically, but likely would not make sense explained out of the greater context of how the game plays.

Given the relative simplicity (or complexity) of its rules, what kind of gameplay was possible?

Considering the fantastically poor performance I displayed in both games, there is most definitely a large number of strategic routes that players can take; focusing on gaining favours, focus on upgrading buildings, focus on heavy manipulation of the provost, etc… I certainly plan to play this game many more times and plan to purchase a physical copy for my collection, mostly due to the fact that this game is incredibly fun and there doesn’t seem to be any one dominant strategy, giving it a long shelf life.

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