The Merlot of Strategy Board Games

Some games are so rich, so complex and so varied, that it takes every bit of mental energy you have to make it to the end. And while Caylus is certainly demanding (there are a fair amount of rules to cover), it is also one of the most rewarding games I’ve ever played.

The concept is that each player is a master builder who is working to build a castle for the King of France in the thirteenth century. Along the way, they will build buildings, collect resources, and court royal favors for some much-needed boosts along the way. The buildings get built along a road, which serves to plot the progress of the game as well as add to the theme.

Caylus is not a game for casual gamers who like light, simple games that play quickly. Caylus is for those who are willing to give it all they have for 2-3 hours while the game unfolds like a tapestry before them. Open-minded gamers usually love it, but everyone else starts to lose steam after an hour and a half. It’s either an acquired taste, or one that appeals to those who are open to trying something radically new. And in my opinion, it doesn’t get much better than this.

The Breakdown

  • Decisions: 5/5. It doesn’t get much richer than this. Each turn you will either be making a lot of guestimations, or else performing mental gymnastics to keep track of what’s going to be coming in and what’s going out. If you’re like me, you will love this level of tactical depth, provided that you don’t overthink the game or cling to tightly to your plans. There’s always something you can do if you look closely enough!
  • Artwork: 4/5. Visually, this game is classic Euro all the way. The resources are wooden cubes, the workers are colored cylinders, the tiles are cute little buildings, and the board looks like a painted canvas, which is a nice touch.
  • Replayability: 5/5. How is it possible that a game with an almost identical setup can vary so much from game to game? I don’t know, but depending on what buildings people build, the game can go in one of a thousand different directions. Talk about exquisite game design!
  • Awesomeness: 5/5. This one is a legend, a game for all time. Each time it comes out of the box I get excited, like it’s Christmas morning. So fun!


Bottom line: If you don’t like long games, give it a miss. But if you are willing to put in the time, you won’t find many better games out there.

  • Decisions 100% 100%
  • Artwork 80% 80%
  • Replayability 100% 100%
  • Awesomeness 100% 100%