El Grande- The Board Game
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El Grande- The Board Game

El Grande is a German style game representing Renaissance Spain, where the aristocrats or the Grandes, fight for control over the nine regions of the country. This board game won he Spiel des Jahres prize in the year 1996. This game is designed for 2- 5 players, originally published by Hans Glück in German, by Rio Grande Games in English, and was also published in Dutch by 999 Games. El Grande’s chief attractiveness lies in the fact that it is a strategy game with a unique period theme, both appealing to the casual player as well as the history enthusiast.

The game proceeds through nine rounds of play, three of which including rounds 3, 6 and 9 are scoring rounds. The scores for the players are calculated according to the positions they hold within the different regions. This games tends to be fast paced especially when two players play, and with more players the strategy deployment becomes more complicated. This is because there will be more conflict when there are maximum players trying to occupy important regional positions. If five players play the game, the calculation each player has to perform in order to find out the defeat the opponents, becomes difficult. This is where the challenge lies, with players having to perform mathematical evaluation of different regions, before they set their sights on conquering the same. Strategy includes forming tactical game plan to restrict other players’ movements, and defending oneself from the attacks of other players.

Although no dice is used in this board game, cards are which provide the element of luck in the game. Players have to make strategic decisions on the basis of their cards, including whether to score immediate points or to prevent other players from scoring. Individual armies of knights must be drafted by players in their courts and then utilised on the board to capture control of a particular province. Players have to strike a fine balance between chalking out their path to getting high scores, and sacrificing personal points to obstruct other players’ movements. The expanded versions of this game, including the Intrigue and King, do not have the random card picking element in them, rather the rules mention each player having the same set of cards at the beginning of the game, and each player using a card only once.

The challenges for the players include keeping track of the parameters that determine the politics of the region, and how much points they have to score in their next moves. There might many players vying for a particular region; this means that other players should define their line of attacks properly, so that they are in track of scoring high points from that region. El Grande falls in the category of games like The Settlers of Catan, and the Mississippi Queen; such games involve tactical decision making. The scoring system of EL Grande is unique, after every third turn, the regions are taken into consideration, and after the ninth turn the Grande with the most points is declared the winner.
May 27, 2008, 12:51 pm

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