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Subject: Session Report: Strategy rss

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April Weimer
United States
Silver Spring
Maryland
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I’ve played El Grande twice now. During our first session the game was between four players, Mike, Steve, Troy and myself. This was the first time playing for all four of us. We read through the rules, having some discussion about the mechanics of playing the power cards during the first turn and subsequent player turn rules. At first we were confused and tried selecting the first player of the first round by using whoever played the highest power card to go first, which turned out to be a good method of selection. We were also confused and picked the power cards back up after playing them and caught the mistake after a few rounds. Once everyone was getting a hang of game play Mike started taking a commanding lead, mostly using movement of the King as a strategy for getting the most Caballeros into as many higher point Regions as he could. Then using placement of his Caballeros from the Castle to boost the numbers in Regions he was holding second place in. Over all this strategy worked well and Mike maintained a commanding lead most of the game. The remaining three players spent their time ambling though the game trying to take over everyone else’s home Region. Troy and Steve staying 20 spaces back from Mike, but remaining neck and neck with each other and me bringing up the rear. The game ended with Mike winning, Troy placing second, Steve third and me dead last. Overall everyone was pleased with the mechanics of the game. The only complaints being that the Action cards were on the small side and would be better if they were bigger.

Our second session was played a few months later. Mike brought his copy to a gaming session planned by a friend of ours and I encouraged everyone to play. This time we played with 5 players, Mike, Steve, Cassia, Chris and myself. There was a quick explanation of the rules and game play commenced. This time we just chose Mike to go first as the most experienced player. Mike took a quick lead following the same strategy as the previous game. I started using the Action cards to move Caballeros around and upsetting the balance of the home Regions. After a few turns a truce was made and the home Regions were allowed to return to their owners. My strategy throughout the game was to place the most Caballeros into the Castle, score the castle and then place the Caballeros in a Region I held second or third to try and score first in more Regions. During the first round of scoring Mike and I were in close competition for first, followed closely by everyone else. I kept with my same strategy and took a commanding lead during the second scoring, but every one was still close. The strategy everyone seemed to be using was to hold onto first place in three Regions apiece, and then try to gain control of first in more Regions right before the scoring round. This worked best for Cassia, who jumped into the lead and won the game after the third round of scoring.

The major difference between a four player game and a five player game is that with more players the players in the lead seem to change a lot more and scoring seemed to be more unpredictable. Though part of this was also the fact that in the first game everyone was still learning, where in the second the two “new” players are avid gamers and more likely to pick up and vary strategy to win. Overall this is a well planned out game, easy to play with simple rules and great for 3-5 players. I’ve never played with two, maybe one day I’ll try, but this is one game bound to be better with more players.
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