Players: Marcel, Marije, Jan, Bruno and René (that's me).
"El Grande" was a game that I hadn't played for quite a while and was itching to play again. Since we were with five players this evening and "El Grande" plays very well with that number, we finally got to play it again. Everyone had played it before so we got started before too long.
I received Old Castille as my home region and started out with my usual strategy of trying to get as much blocks on the board as possible and trying to spread them out over several provinces as effeciently as possible, victory point-wise.
Marcel was able to play the highest powercard in the third round, allowing him to move the King to his home region Granada and be the sole scorer there. He also snagged first place in Catalonia with a single cube from the Castillo. Jan en Bruno got in each others way in their home regions Aragon and Basque, robbing each other of their Grande bonuses.
Marcel was in first place after the first scoring round, followed by Bruno and me a little bit behind and Marije and Jan tied for last quite a bit down the scoring track.
In the fourth round I choose an action card that scored 7 points for Bruno and 5 for me and Jan. Bruno was surprised by this act of altruism on my part, but my reasoning was that it put me closer to Marcel, at that moment the leader in the game, and thus put me in a better position to win the game. Bruno did not forgot this and later in the game, when he had the choice to choose an action that would help either me or another player, he choose the action that helped me.
Meanwhile, Jan and Marije fought their way back into the game by agressively focussing their game on their Grande regions and perhaps one other valuable region. I got into a fight with Marije over the control of Valancia where I had put the 8/4/0 scoring marker. I managed to keep it until the second scoring round, but lost it shortly after that. I wasn't too sad about that, as I had run out of caballero's in my court and could use the redundant guys in Valencia for my last few actions.
The scores were pretty close after the second round. Marcel had fallen back though, having lost control over his home region, and was in last place during the third part of the game. Bruno had taken over the lead, closely followed by Jan, than me and finally Marcel and Marije.
During the third and last part of the game I saw my lead in my Grande region Old Castille threatened by Marcel, desperate for points. Since, I had run out of guys in my court, I had trouble dumping a lot of guys on the board and therefore had to concentrate on getting the most out of the low-valued tactical cards.
Thanks to some special scoring cards Jan had managed to take the lead, but Bruno and I were close enough behind to make the last whirl on the wheel exciting and I knew it would decide the game. I had four guys in the Castillo and my first idea was to give up on my home region, since I was afraid that Marcel would also choose Old Castille to maintain his lead there. I thought it would be better to take over the lead in Granada from second place. At the last moment I changed my mind and took the gamble to deploy my guys in Old Castille, because I reasoned that I wouldn't be able to win the game if I didn't take any chances.
The gamble worked, since Marcel opted to play his guys somewhere else, allowing me to regain dominance in my Grande region. This was especially important, because the 4/0/0 score marker had been placed there, making a second place useless. Moreover, some other players also chose Granada to deploy their guys from the Castillo, which would have rendered my extra guys there useless anyway.
After the final tally I was in first place, a few points ahead of Bruno, then Jan, Marije and Marcel. It was a great game of "El Grande" that was exciting until the end.