by Lenny Liang
January 19, 2012
Caylus has come to iOS. If you are a fan of European-style board games, that's all you really need to know. You've probably already stopped reading this and have gone to buy it. Caylus is an extremely respected game, placing high in the rankings on the popular game site boardgamegeek.com (BGG). The site has also given Caylus' mobile version glowing reviews.
In the words of writer Brad Cummings:
Caylus on the other hand is a game that should not work on iOS. The game is heavy, long, and requires your full brain to play. There are micro turns and complex strategies that may not be easy to recall. The miracle is that Caylus by Big Daddy’s Creations manages to surpass all of these worries and overall impress. It is the finest example of a complex euro-game on iOS thus far.The finest example of a complex euro-game on iOS so far? That's some high praise indeed. Is the game really that good? The short answer is maybe, but only for people who like this sort of game. It is important to note, however, that the folks at BGG eat, breathe, and bleed board games, much like we do apps. The casual user may approach the game from a very different perspective.
For those unacquainted with Caylus, or other games in the same vein (think Settlers of Catan, Puerto Rico, and Carcassonne), it is a strategy game with a heavy emphasis on strategy. You participate in a number of activities including gathering resources, deploying workers, activating buildings, and building the King's castle. The object of the game is to acquire prestige points, but the path to those points can be extremely varied and complicated. You do not just read the game instructions; you study them. I've played Settlers, Puerto Rico, and Carcassonne, but have yet to try Caylus. It took me over an hour to fully digest the rules of the game, and I still have yet to grasp the intricacy of the different strategies involved. As alluded to by Cummings, it is impressive that a game so complex translates so well to app form.
I would not be surprised to find Caylus inaccessible to those new to this genre of games. An app like Carcassonne might be a better gateway into the wondrous world of Euro board games. Also, as noted on the Caylus site, the current version has some bugs and crash issues. Users have also asked for an improved multiplayer mode. Overall, Caylus is a great game and a worthy buy. It might not be perfect and it might not be for everyone, but those who love Caylus the board game will enjoy Caylus the app. Caylus is available in the App Store now for $4.99. It is a universal app for both iPhone and iPad.