It's about time we played this gem again. It is ranked # 2 on my Top Ten list, yet I've only played it once. Lenny Leo, John Moore, Jon Comeaux, Jay Ouzts and I were the El Grande's seeking to expand our influence across Hispania. The others actually trusted me in translating the German cards ... the fools! Just kidding -- actually, everyone was given a hardcopy translation of the cards.
After a round or two, everyone was understanding the powers the cards conveyed based on the illustrations on the cards.
In rounds one and two, several 'scoring' cards came up early, allowing certain regions to be scored. I scooped up on these cards, scoring the regions where I would benefit the most. It worked. I zoomed out to an early and impressive lead. Several others began whining that the game was already over and I had won. Of course, I did my best to dissuade them of this opinion, claiming that it was well within reach of all players. Unfortunately, this tactic didn't work. I was branded with the dreaded label of 'perceived front-runner'. Our group's motto is "He's winning ... kick his ass!" Well, they did.
Jon Comeaux's sole role in the game from that point on was to destroy me in whatever manner possible. Every adverse card was aimed my way, and the others jumped on the bandwagon. Following the second scoring round, I was still leading, but my lead had shrunk to half of what it once was.
The hits continued through the final three rounds. I thought I still had managed a victory, but the quiet Jay, who had left me alone and concentrated on his own scoring (letting the others do the dirty work) sneaked into a victory by a narrow three victory points over me. Order of finish: Jay, Greg, John Moore, Jon Comeaux, Lenny.
I've played El Grande twice and finished second both times. Maybe that's why I rank it as my second favorite game!