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Subject: Contesting Castile rss

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Jon G
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Eben and I had a chance to break in El Grande this weekend while our better halves were gardening. So we began a two-player game with Eben in Old Castile, me in New Castile, and the king in Sevilla. Most of the game would hinge in the Castillian provinces and Granada.

First third: Eben began by placing the 8-pt scoreboard in Granada and populating it. That left the king boxed in against Portugal, so I moved His Majesty to the northeast and diversified into Catalonia and the Basque lands, which I would hold all game. There was a bit more sparring in the northeast, and I was able to score New Castile for 9 while Eben gained an edge in the Galicia and the Castillo. He tried to raid New Castile from the Castillo, but I was able to reinforce and hold into by a lone cab. But when the points were tallied (NC: mine; OC, Granada:his), Granada and the Castillo allowed him to make up the points and end ahead by one, 33-32 as I recall.

Second third: The fourth round began badly for me. Eben had the first bid, score the 6-7's was available, and the king adjacent to Castille. He wisely bid 13, placed two cabs to take New Castile from me, and scored 15 points. Things looked ill for me, so I concentrated on moving the king about the board, placing lots of cabs, and strengthening my overall position. Eben responded by withdrawing from New Castile and spreading out to the edges as well. In round 6, I bid 12 to gain an edge in Old Castile, and move the king there to secure it. This time I held a slight edge in the Castillo, and the potential to take Granada if he did not defend it. Instead, I used it as a bluff to take Valencia while he reinforced. When the points we added up (NC, OC: mine; Granada: his), I found myself ten points ahead.

Final third: By now I had control of seven provinces, and Eben resorted to intrigue actions to adjust this. However, I also had more cabs on the board, and moved the king almost every turn to increase this advantage... I think I put 13 cabs on the board in the final three turns, versus his 5-6. The final blows were invading Granada and locking with the king, and raiding Old Castile to tie it in the final scoring (NC, Granada: mine; OC: tie). I won by... hmm... a lot.

Observations: I can see I'll like this game a lot. Unlike a lot of the "bid your troops to various jobs" games, El Grande limits the mobility of placed cabs, creating enough stability to allow for strategy. I gather others enjoy the chaos of 4-5 player games, but 2-player was elegant and almost chess-like... in a good way
The two main points of strategy I deduced were the strength of moving the king (those 5 cabs seem almost too good, since placing the king was often as powerful as any of the other cards), and the importance of having two cabs in the Castillo... this gives you the ability to reverse many provinces, forcing your opponent to play defense while you raid their second-best lands. I had expected to have more of a shortage of cabs in my court (admittedly, I never bid the 13 or 10), but there were always enough to play 3-5 cab cards on 8 of my 9 turns. Thoughts?
 
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Joe Grundy
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That's a good report.

One note... the mobile scoreboards change the value of 1st place, and thus affect the Special Scoring outcomes. eg the 8 point mobile scoreboard would mean Granada is no longer a "6 Point Region", so should not be scored by the Special Scoring: 6/7 Regions card.

This is only detailed under the first Special Scoring: All "4" regions rules, but says "This is true for all other special scorings".
 
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Jon G
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We caught that. Granada stayed at 8pts all game, so it never scored with the 6's & 7's cards. Of course, it wasn't very helpful to Eben to put the mobile scoreboard on Granada because not scoring on special cards cost him as much as it gained by being worth 8 points.
 
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