Shannon A. (shannon_a) wrote,
Shannon A.

Reef Encounter v. Caylus, Round Two

I did end up going to EndGame today. I was still feeling somewhat fuzzy this morning, but I really wanted to play a couple of games, so I headed out. It was a good decision because now, having just returned home, I've got a very mild headache, but am feeling otherwise pretty good. I'm wondering if I got hit by a 24-hour flu, because I was really achey this morning.

In any case, as I'd hoped I got to play both Reef Encounter and Caylus, and I can now better see them as comparable games, and I think I'd agree that Caylus will probably be a better game long-term.

One of Caylus's flaws that I noticed today: error intolerance.

First, it's entirely unforgiving of player errors. I didn't plan right for the last round, and that assured me of a third-place finish, when if I'd been able to manage favors or building spaces better I might have been able to place higher. (It's hard to say, I ended up 15+ points behind, but I'd been in the lead most of the time up to that point, and my point difference was due to not getting to build a prestige building.)

In addition: player error can also mess up the game. People making bad decisions about what to build, what to use, and how to move the provost can really drag out the game in a way that's actually not beneficial to anyone. I actually think the mechanism where the provost/bailiff can move either 1 or 2 spaces is a bad one because it can dramatically skew game length if people don't know what they're doing. (For the second time our game just whizzed along, with the provost only getting held to the slower speed a couple of times, and I'm sure that's how the game was intended.) Yes, it can allow some interesting tactics on a turn-by-turn basis, but it doesn't come up too often, and you have the potential to pay heavily for it.

The main thing going for Caylus is that it seems to have a decent amount of variety. Different setups can slightly change the tenor of the early game, and what people build as the game goes on can have a huge effect. There's also a good balance of strategies, where it feels like you take meaningful and different decisions on a turn-by-turn basis. And the overall resource management is intricate and interesting.

I also went in this time accepting Caylus wasn't a strategic game in most ways, no matter what it looked like, and that helped me to enjoy the game more.

Reef Encounter, meanwhile, despite its similarly indie origin still feels like a much better polished and developed game. I think I mentioned in my last entry that one of the few development concerns I have is that the first couple of rounds of play are largely wasted.

However after played the game twice in very short succession, I'm less convinced that there's a huge variety of different strategies. Each game you need to do the same things: build out coral; protect coral; score coral; and start moving up your coral's dominance. There's not a lot of different paths, and a few different methods (such as blocking a side of a large coral path with more of your own) seem like dominant ideas when you can implement them.

That doesn't change what I said yesterday: it's still a very beautiful and clever game with great moments of discovery, but I can also see less replayability down the road.

So I think I give Caylus a nose ahead in round two.

I played one other game today, which was Traumfabrik. It's yet another original and different Knizia auction game. I'm sad that the new U.S. edition won't have the cool real movies & actors of the original, but that's the constant march of U.S. IP protection. (Soon we average folks won't have any rights to do anything.)

David G. was kind enough to bring Traumfabrik because it was on my list of games from the 100 that I wanted to play, and now I can knock another one off.

The games I want to play and haven't:
  • Tichu (#10)
  • Die Macher (#22)
  • Showmanager/Atlantic Star (#28)
  • RoboRally (#32)
  • Torres (#33)
  • Wildlife Adventure (#34)
  • Tikal (#39)
  • Traumfabrik (#43)
  • Lowenherz (#44)
  • 1830 (#45)
  • Daytona 500 (#53)
  • Schnappchen Jagd (#57)
  • Wizard (#58)
  • Stephenson's Rocket (#61)
  • Elfenland (#66)
  • Ave Caesar (#68)
  • Breaking Away (#71)
  • Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (#73)
  • Taboo (#74)
  • Hare & Tortoise (#75)
  • Was Sticht (#78)
  • Un Reinfenbreite (#84)
  • Battle Cry (#85)
  • Code 777 (#89)
  • Chinatown (#91)
  • Royal Turf (#92)
  • Capitol (#95)
  • Mamma Mia (#96)
  • McMulti (#97)
  • Africa (#98)
  • Dvonn (#99)
The ones that I've tried out on the computer, and like, and thus should play the real thing:
  • Acquire (#11)
  • Taj Mahal (#23)
  • Battleline (#29)
  • Can't Stop (#54)
  • Blokus (#60)
The ones I don't care to play:
  • Time's Up (#17)
  • Crokinole (#18)
  • Roads & Boats (#37)
  • Titan (#47)
  • Ricochet Robot (#52)
  • Diplomacy (#56)
  • Hannibal: Rome v. Carthage (#59)
  • Smarty Party (#62)
  • War of the Ring (#77)
  • Age of Renaissance (#83)
  • Gipf (#88) -- played on computer
  • Carabande (#94)

So, with Traumfabrik I've now got a 58/100 rating, or 63/100 with computer plays. Wildlife Adventure, Elfenland, Chinatown, Capitol, and Africa are my top 5 that I'd really like to play of what remains.


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