Geryk Analysis: Rise of Legends: Bruce Geryk couldn`t Caylus
Brooski - Features - Comments - 06/01/06

In order to get across todayís game design point, I need to tell you sort of a story. About boardgames. Or more specifically, about a boardgame. I promise it wonít be too long or excessively painful. The whole thing sort of dawned on me while I was playing Rise of Legends, which probably explains why I lose at that game so much. There is this game called Caylus, which ostensibly is about building a French castle in 1289. Sort of the pre- pre- Maginot I guess. Throughout the game, you place little wooden markers that represent French workers on little cardboard squares that represent stuff that you build French castles with. You collect colored blocks that I assume represent stone, wood, cheese, and whatever else is called for by the backstory, and use them to gain points, which you use to win the game. Itís all kind of abstract, except for the winning, which is very tangible.

I donít want to interrupt myself, but when you play the Alin, which research track do you level up? Do you have a preference? Maybe you should think about that while you read my story, just like I think about my story when Iím playing the Alin.



Iíve played Caylus a bunch of times, and after each game, I think I have a new insight into how to win. First I thought you needed to send workers to the castle itself. Then I decided it was best to build production buildings. Then I thought I had it all figured out, and built prestige buildings. Then I thought it was all a trick, and tried building the non-standard production buildings Ė you know, the ones that donít get used very often, but are worth more points.

I know you donít know Ė that was just a figure of speech. My point is that based on repeated playings, my idea of the best strategy kept changing. Each time, I adjusted my analysis, relegated old strategies to the discard pile, and formulated new plans. Sometimes I won, and sometimes I lost. But what absolutely stunned me was that every time I decided that something absolutely, positively could not work, someone came along and kicked my ass using exactly that strategy.

In Caylus, if you donít actually build the castle, you get penalized for it, because goddamn it this is a game about building a castle. Of course, there is a lot of other stuff to do, and one time, this guy completely crushed me by doing everything except what you are supposed to. It was like he was mocking me. Each scoring round, if you havenít built any parts of the castle, you lose points. You still gain points for other things, but you not only pay a penalty, but you donít get royal favors, which is kind of creepy, yes, but itís an abstract game so just let it go. What this guy did was amass a giant hoard of gold, which most people use to build valuable buildings, but he used to just collect and score points at the end, because yes, you do get points for gold, but nobody really keeps it until the end, because Ö I dunno, maybe it never occurred to them. It occurred to this guy, and in order to carry out this strategy, he had to build a whole bunch of stuff, in a specific way, and keep me from doing certain things. In the end, I think it was kind of a joke. Like Kobe Bryant beating you in basketball while balancing a fruit basket on his head. If he can do it, then why not? I was the one who had to tell the king we never built his castle.

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