Tonight was Steve's choice and he had chosen Buccaneer, a game by Stefan Dorra, and Marquis. This plan went out the window when Jo arrived unexpectedly with Richard, making us 5. On to plan B, we switched to the next game on the BGG top 10 list we hadn't played which was El Grande. We last played this in early January 2006, so we were a bit rusty on the rules plus we were going to play the expansion that added America, France and the Mediterranean.
El Grande starting positions
We took a bit of time to go through the rules so we didn't start playing until well past 8.00pm. Now I like EG, it's a game that gives you lots of decisions and quite a bit of interaction with the other players, the edition we were playing was the german so Steve had to give all a quick translation each round as we turned over the action cards. As most of you probably know each player has a set of cards numbered 1 to 13, each player, starting with the start player plays a card, the following player cannot play the same number. When everyone has played, the player who played the highest number chooses an action card from the action card stacks, the other players then do the same, starting with the next highest and so on. The number of men on the card you played lets you put that number from your province on to your court, ready for immediate use. The number of men printed on the action card lets you put that number of men on the board, you can perform the action before or after this has taken place.
Going through the rules
The game is played over 9 rounds, after the 3rd, 6th and 9th there is a scoring round. I won't go into the rules in depth here (see BGG for more details of that), but the Castle is a nice addition to the scoring round enabling you change ownership of a province before it is scored. The expansion adds not only France, America and the Mediterranean, but a ship that enables you to get to those distant shores. The benefits of getting there include obtaining gold and goods which can score you more points.
Garry and Richard trying to understand the rules!!
Once you get going the game plays pretty smoothly, the action cards let you do all manner of things, re-positioning not only your own men but other players as well, moving the King, getting a card you've already played back into your hand, scoring certain provinces and a lot more.
The king guards a province full of caballaros, while Valencia looks pretty crowded as well
We didn't finish until well after 11pm so the game probably took best part of 3 hours. In the end it was a pretty close finish between Jo and Richard, with Richard just edging it.
Richard 111, Jo 106, Colin 96, Steve 76, Garry 69