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Subject: The wonderful and powerful gate! rss

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Adam Berkan
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I've read a lot of people here who don't seem to understand the power of the gate. Everyone has heard that it is more useful in 2 player games, and even in 3 player games it's value is substantially reduced. In 4 and 5 player games it's almost worthless, although you might find a use for it occasionally.


I wanted to try to explain to people the reason I think the gate is great. The key to understanding it is understanding the power of a resource lead. Having more batches than your opponent(s) lets you control the castle. You can guarantee that you'll win the next favor, and if you play well you can use your lead to ensure favors for multiple turns. Making other players play batches that don't earn them favors is very powerful.

The gate is a very important building because it allows you to both make use of a strong resource lead and it allows you to negate your opponents resource lead.

(BTW I've assumed that if you're on the gate and no one is in the castle you'll obviously go to the castle and build one batch for the favor)

I find it's value is explained in a few simple situations:



1. Wanting to go last in the castle because you're resource rich.

This is a situation where you have more resources than your opponent. If you go to the castle first you'll have to build as many batches as he can build to prevent him from winning, but then he'll build 1 batch and now he'll have a large advantage in resources. If you go last in the castle you will build 1 more batch than him and will end up with the same or slightly more resources than your opponent.

Example:

A has 3 batches, B has 4.
If B goes to the castle, then A, B builds 3, A 1. Now it's A has 2, B has 1. This is good for A.

If B goes to the gate, and A has goes to the castle first, then A builds 1/2/3 and B builds 2/3/4. A and B end up with the same number of resources. Better for B.

If the example is changed to A has 5 and B has 6, the result gets even more extreme as letting A go to the castle last forces B to build 5 and A builds 1. A now has a resource lead of 4 batches!


If you know you can beat your opponent for the favor and you can both build more than 2 batches, you'd rather be last. This way you only consume one extra batch vs. your opponent. In this way you can (almost) guarantee that every extra batch more than your opponent you have will turn into a favor.

A lot of the "hoard cubes early" strategies use this as a way of cashing out those cubes for tons of favors at the end of the game.

In 3/4/5 player games it's still best to go last, but it's harder to get a big lead in cubes so it's a less common situation.



2. Wanting to go last in the castle because your opponent is resource rich.

Similarly to the above point, if you have less resources than your opponent you want to go last in the castle. He will be forced to play enough batches to tie the number you could produce, and you can just play 1. This gives you the resource lead.

Example, A:4, B:6
If A goes to the gate and B goes to the castle, A follows. B must build 4 batches to ensure the favor, and then A only builds 1. Now B has 2 batches and A has 3. A has taken the resource lead and can now bully B in the castle.

This is another "Always" rule. If your opponent has a lead in batches and will win the favor anyway, you want to go last so play on the gate instead of the castle.



3. Wanting to go to the castle if someone in particular doesn't.

This is a 3+ player situation. If there's one player (X) with more batches than you, but you can beat the other players, you only want to be in the castle if X doesn't go there. Sometimes you might be predicting that X is going to build a prestige building or maybe you just think he might have other plans than the castle this turn. In this case you can play on the gate and only go to the castle if X doesn't. This works best later in the turn when your worker has the choice between a crappy building or the gate and you expect that a crappy building will be left.



4. To force your opponent who goes last to go to the castle.

In 2 player sometimes the other player could beat you, but you don't think they'll go to the castle. They know that they'll still have a batch lead next turn so as long as you don't go to the castle (in which case they'd follow and beat you) they're happy doing other things this turn and will go to the castle next turn (and beat you then).

In this case playing the gate forces your opponent to play in the castle with their last man or give you an easy favor. This is especially useful if your opponent had a better use for the last man or the resources. They'll play one batch and lessen their batch lead.

3+ players this could still happen...



5. To force someone to play their workers differently so they can win the castle.

If you have a batch lead over someone, and they play to the castle first, and then you play to the gate, their remaining workers will probably be spent trying to get the resources necessary to win the favor. This frees up your workers to take the jousting, gold mine, bank, architect, whatever else. If your opponent takes the good buildings and doesn't get the resources to win, you go to the castle and beat him. If he does get the resources, you got to take all the other powerful jobs, and you save your resources (and lead) for the castle next turn.



6. A play on the gold mine (or any good building just past the provost).

This play is different in that it has nothing to do with the castle. It is a combiniation you can play with the merchant's guild. Typically you first take the guild, and then the gate. If someone else takes the gold mine (or something good past the provost) you will push the baliff back. Otherwise you can move your gate worker to the gold mine and then use the baliff to make it a safe square.

You can combine this with going last; After everyone else has played all their workers in "safe squares" you can place your last worker on the gold mine, and then move your gate worker to another dangerous square. Thus you get two good buildings when others get none. It cost you three workers (because of the guild) but it's worth it. Other players probably got one ok building and one crappy building. If anyone plays to a dangerous square of course, the baliff can go the other way and your last worker and gate worker go somewhere else.

You can combine this with the inn to a powerful advantage. Play on the guild, then the gate, and then players start passing. If one player is short on money you might predict that there will be early passing. Now place all your remaining workers on dangerous buildings and then move your gate worker to the gold mine. Plus now you're last on the bridge so you get last move of the baliff. It does leave you vulnerable to a group baliff push against you, but if players are cash-poor or unlikely to cooperate it can work.


---


Often these uses for the gate are not mutually excusive. You can play on the gate to force someone to gather resources to defend their castle build while you take the jousting, and then later play to the guild to take the gold mine.

So I hope everyone who has read this understands the power of the gate now. Especially in 2 player games, if either player has a substantial resource lead you should (almost) always play to the gate instead of the castle.

Enjoy your caylusing...


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David Kahnt
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Ze Ace wrote:

Plus now you're last on the bridge so you get last move of the baliff. It does leave you vulnerable to a group baliff push against you, but if players are cash-poor or unlikely to cooperate it can work.

I think you mean provost???

Interesting article btw...

-DK
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Rafael Mantovani
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I find it very useful too, for the same reasons you mentioned.
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B. Huddleston
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Interesting analysis on using the gate. I don't use it much myself.
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Luis Dominguez
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I agree with the usefulness of the gate. IT IS a great place for making strategies in a single turn.

One of my favorite uses of the gate is the one that you describe in 6.

When you manage to place workers in the guild and the gate, you will see other people asking themselves about your intentions. You have managed to declare: "If those buildings are not for me, they will not be activated by anyone else"

Remember that, normally, buildings near the provost are more powerful and attractive for players (and for you) than the other buildings.
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James Fehr
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Excellent article! This gives me lots to think about for my next game.
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Tim Seitz
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The the gate is under-valued by a lot of players, I think your analysis is a bit static. It's not just a one-turn exchange.

If I am always last in the castle, then I will need to spend more resources in order to earn favors, since ties go to the earlier player. At some point, I will lose any resource lead if I am always spending more resources.

Example: If I go to the gate, then opponent goes to castle and builds 2. I need to build 3 to get favor, but now they are up one batch. Next turn, they can go to the castle again, and build 1 or 2, and I likely won't be able to match that, so I won't go to the castle. Then they can build 1 and get the favor, leaving us equal in resources again. IF I do go, then they can build 2 again, and so on.

IMO, I often find it better to go to the castle first, to win the tie-breaker.

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Adam Berkan
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If you and the other player(s) are likely to tie for resources, then you want to be the first one in. And if you can't beat the first one in, you may not want to be in the castle at all. But if the player with the resource lead goes to the castle every time (as they should) it could take a long time before you can afford to compete with them. So they'll go to the castle alone and only spend one batch, thus keeping their lead as big as possible. The gate lets you force him to either spend more than one batch more than you, or lets you get a favor by spending one batch more than him.

The gate is for any time you have an imbalance of resources. In this case the person with more resources wants the other player to spend lots of resources, and still lose the favor by exactly one build.

The player with fewer resources wants to play none or very few resources while the stronger player plays lots of resources.

In this case both players want to be last. Look at my example 2 above. If the resource leader goes into the castle first, he can spend all the resources the second player can afford, but have the 2nd player only play one batch. This is terrible.

Quote:
If I am always last in the castle, then I will need to spend more resources in order to earn favors, since ties go to the earlier player. At some point, I will lose any resource lead if I am always spending more resources.


I don't think it's ever a problem to spend an extra batch to get the favor. That's what your pile of resources are for. It's far more important to make sure that you _only_ spend one batch more than your opponent.
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Robert Clark
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"A has 3 batches, B has 4.
If B goes to the castle, then A, B builds 3, A 1. Now it's A has 2, B has 1. This is good for A.

If B goes to the gate, and A has goes to the castle first, then A builds 1/2/3 and B builds 2/3/4. A and B end up with the same number of resources. Better for B."
OK, maybe I'm missing something about the gate, but why couldn't you do the same thing in the second situation just by not playing a worker into the gate, and instead just playing your worker on some other square and then play your next worker on the castle. In a 2 player game, you would (at worst) pay a single money more - which you would hopefully make up by whatever space you choose.

Why waste an early turn order pick on doing something you can just do normally with a later choice? The right to be last is not really something I've ever felt the need to fight for.
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Flash Foxy
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The analysis is interesting and while I dont disagree with the tactics I feel good play in Caylus is alot more reactive. If you start with the idea of going into the gate as being a good option more oppertunities open up.

Far too often we forget the oppertunity cost of placing on the gate over other alternatives and learning the timing of it really differs depending on how many people are playing and what their current status is with cubes and coins.

I also want to point out an issue that keeps getting ignored and that is - the reward for paying cubes to the castle is victory points + favours - and making the biggest donation in a round and winning a bonus favour is a ....bonus. A bonus you want to win and avoid others winning but investing large ammounts of cubes in the castle to win one bonus favour is not always a bad thing, You still get favours + victory points.

In most games we play the donation track gets filled up, people wanting to invest 3 or 4 to earn the bonus favours and stopping others from gaining the bonuses. In this scenerio along with the others stated earlier by others in the thread, going first is the advantage, not last.

Another time you may wish to go last would be to cement turn order. Often you are happy with your position and placing in the stable will start a chain reaction lasting several rounds, which you wish to avoid, yet others 'may' go in there and you wish to pass. A move to the bridge followed by a reactive reposition is of value providing there are still worthwhile alternatives on the board. I personaly will use this tactic with great success once or twice in a game. And if read properly this move has dividens.

But given the bridge can also be used in combo I will still be placing on it several times during a game.
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Joshua Noe
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The one thing I do not understand is point #2, especially in a 2 player game.

If your opponent has already played on the castle, why on earth would you play on the gate, when you can simply play on the castle? Unless you are trying to bluff your opponent into thinking you might go elsewhere, which, unless you are using the Merchant's Guild combined with the gate, is sort of pointless in a 2-player game.

Can someone clarify this for me?
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Adam Berkan
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schuwa wrote:
The one thing I do not understand is point #2, especially in a 2 player game.

If your opponent has already played on the castle, why on earth would you play on the gate, when you can simply play on the castle? Unless you are trying to bluff your opponent into thinking you might go elsewhere, which, unless you are using the Merchant's Guild combined with the gate, is sort of pointless in a 2-player game.

Can someone clarify this for me?

If you want to play in the castle, but your opponent hasn't played there yet, you should play on the gate instead. If they play in the castle (they're first) you move in behind them. If they don't play in the castle then you move to the castle and build one batch for the favor.


This second point is just the converse of the first. Just as the resource heavy player wants to be last in the castle, the resource light player does not want the heavy player last. So if the resources are imbalanced, take the gate instead of the castle. Almost always a better play...
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Bernd Wechner
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I'm not impressed. The arguments outlined seem to presume that favour winning is central to your victory strategy. I've thus far played one and a half games only but still, two reactions I feel are:

1) you can achieve a victory without focusing on favours. I never detected any such sharp foucus in our games and indeed the favours seem pretty lame on the whole and not outstandingly better than competing options. In essence to get a favour by playing batches you throw multiples of three resources at a time into it and you can get more or comparable leverage out of three resources in a lot of other ways I think.

2) Even if you want favours, between those you get when a castle stage is complete and those you get with a coin and purple resource I don't see that getting the extra favour due to first place in castle building that turn makes a huge difference, certainly not big enough to unreservedly warrant paying a coin to play on the gate. And to make things even worse for gate playing the tie breaker is being first in the castle and that makes a big difference too when resources aren't wildly imbalanced.

No, I'll bear these in mind when next I play, but for the moment I am still of the view that the gate is a very near worthless space as described. So marginal that I've yet to see anyone play on it (though have hear rumour of others doing so ;-).

I mooted a rule change last we played which I think would make a significant difference to the value of the game. Even so not wildly like it would be in huge demand, but enough to make it as a attractive as many others perhaps. It is simply this:

Modified Gate Rule: When the gate is played you can move you piece to any other vacant space AND if you like play that space immediately.

Why is this so interesting? Mainly because it means you can if stuck gamble not only on the gates utility as described in the article above, but also use it to alter the sequence of some plays. For starters it's interesting and would be interesting to see what utility it could be put to. One that came to mind was, if lucky, being able to acquire a resource you need for another action in time to do it (the catch being I don't think resource fields are often left empty if ever). It was just an idea.

In any case I think it would be prudent to find a rule which sees the gate more often played thus reflecting that is it is appreciated and valued by players as much as the other spaces.
 
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Dana Black
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Just curious... 2-player game, first turn of the Walls phase, we are both relatively cash poor and resource poor. I am at the Gate, my opponent is at the Castle. He has food for 3 batches, and won't be getting any more food this round. I have enough for 1 batch. Assuming I can't make more batches this turn, should follow him to the castle, or take the 2-stone quarry that would allow me to make 3 batches next turn?
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blackdt wrote:
Just curious... 2-player game, first turn of the Walls phase, we are both relatively cash poor and resource poor. I am at the Gate, my opponent is at the Castle. He has food for 3 batches, and won't be getting any more food this round. I have enough for 1 batch. Assuming I can't make more batches this turn, should follow him to the castle, or take the 2-stone quarry that would allow me to make 3 batches next turn?

surely not follow on castle

then it depends on the rest of the resources and buildings down

but probably the gate is a mistake too

why go on gate if you cant put any pressure on castle?
if there is nothing to safe on phase 1, you should just pass once you completed the possible moves to get stuff

 
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Matt Shields
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There are still reasons to go to the gate (for example, sometimes I don't want to commit to an action until I see what you do.), but I agree that you shouldn't go to the castle from the gate in this situation.

You should only follow someone else to the castle from the gate when:

1) You are pretty sure you can build the most and get the favor, or

2) You can force your opponent to build more than they want by going there. Usually this second reason is why I do it.

Or I guess maybe if it's the last turn of the phase. Sometimes.

But just following them there when you can only build one block is pretty useless. You can do that later, when you're going there anyway. And later you can a favor for it. In fact you might be better off literally doing nothing with your guy, just so you can build up more blocks for later.
 
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