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Subject: El Capitán - Meanness in the sea! - quick review rss

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Tiago Perretto
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Thinking about my next move.
So, if my only options are these, then I shall...

El Capitán is an area control game with management of money and travel routes. During the game, players try to have more influence in the commerce in several cities and expand their business in order to grab some juice bonus money; they will build warehouses, in order to gain money, while also trying to make a lean route with their ships, in order to best seek opportunities and don't lose the timming of placing a house somewhere. Since travel expends money, and the person with the most money will win, is important to expend well.

El Capitán is a smart game, but also somewhat mean - warehouses keep being deactivated, and although is free to open it again, many times the player must spend time and money to do this, losing also the opportunity to open a new warehouse or making a fortress (which also nets the player money). Furthermore, El Capitán is rather dry - there isn't truly a feel of navigation or trade; pick and deliver often works very well in passing a sense of commerce and trade between places, but El Capitán lacks this, going just for the area control and movement.

El Capitán has some surprises with the travel cards, but once the players have a good amount of money (around the third round), while is still relevant to save money, the need to build beforehand routes isn't completely there anymore, as the big tickets, which normally cost more, can do the trick, and sometimes they don't even cost more.

Yet, in spite of its flaws, El Capitán is clever enough to allow for a tight and exciting game, with lots of planning and timming involved. Moving to the right place in order to take a majority, making your fortress worth more and hitting someone else at the same time, can be very satisfying. The look of the game - with darker tones and not all that inspired and inviting - can lead people away from it, but El Capitán has enough strong points to be worth at least a try.


Image credit: Nekrataal
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