El Grande

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Rating Summary (52 Total)


Best-with-5. One of my favorite games. Decisions to be made at every step of the game. Everything is so perfectly balanced. Short turns in different phases. Can be played tactically, but it gets better when you develop a strategy. A tiny bit of randomness to keep the game different each time that you play. I also own the El Grande Expansions but those end up adding a little too much and don't enhance the game - just make it different and a little longer. El Grande on its own is just an awesome, awesome game. INCLUDED: El Grande Expansions


Nearly a perfect game. I would never pass up the opportunity to play this one, and I often pick it as my pick. My current #2 game, behind Acquire.


GAMEPLAY Players are Spanish Grandes, or lords, vying for the favor of the king. In sequential order, players choose a “power card” that dictates their turn order (high card goes first this round while low card goes first in the subsequent round) and how many Caballeros they can recruit (high cards offer fewer Caballeros while low cards offer more). After turn order has been determined, players choose one of five randomly turned up action cards, add Caballeros to the board according to the number of the action card, and decide whether or not to execute the action. A scoring round happens after three rounds, and a game is nine rounds total. When a player adds Caballeros to the board, these pieces may only be placed in regions adjacent to the king or in the Castillo. The Castillo is scored during the scoring round and then all the Caballeros from the Castillo are moved to a region on the board. THOUGHTS While Catan was what got me into modern board gaming, El Grande was my first board game love. It is a masterclass in how a game can have a stripped-down design and ruleset and still provide tense decisions at every turn. Conflict is simple, there is a lot of take that, the cards are well balanced, the dynamic of court and provinces is an interesting push/pull, the Castillo creates a lot of great tension, and the staged scoring keeps your head in the game. I know some people think El Grande plays with five and only five, but I also like the less-restrictive game at four players. One of my gaming goals is to try out the King & Intrigue expansion; I understand that’s how Kramer and Ulrich originally intended the game to be played but the base game as it is presented now was deemed to be more friendly to new gamers. Viva El Grande! PROS -The Grandaddy of the tactical, area-majority genre: this game is and always will be a classic. -Stripped down graphics and design don’t obfuscate what is a tense Euro that really could have had any theme. -With maybe the exception of one or two, the action cards almost always allow players to do something interesting on their turn. -The Castillo is an extremely cool addition: it’s like a mini-game of chicken and memory. NEUTRALS -El Grande has been criticized for being swingy and for being a game about bash-the-leader. I don’t find either to be a problem but this is good to keep in mind if you’re new to the game. CONS -In the older edition I have, the score track does not have any numbers… lame.


This classic area control game can be pretty chaotic and thus somewhat hard to play long term strategically, but that's half the fun. Maybe a tad complicated for new players, but it is definitely never boring despite all the cubes.


7.8 / 3-5p Best 5 / 60-120m / Overall 40 / Strategy 31 / 3.09


First game was with 3 players. An area control mechanism that we found didn't play like a rethemed version of risk. Can see this becoming one of our favourites due to cards providing replay ability and variability.


Own Decennial edition


No Review Description


2-5, 90m


This game is in a class of its own. So simple to teach, yet gameplay is incredibly deep and complex. It's a highly tactical game (in other words: interactive); you are continually forced to react to your opponents' decisions, and I find this to be a wonderful thing. El Grande is exactly the all-time area control classic you've always heard about. All other El Grande descendants are just adding mechanical ornaments for the sake of it. This is the one to play. The base really requires 5p to shine, but it scales beautifully across player counts with the King & Intrigue expansion, which also adds a strategic element that the base game lacks.


1play. 5 players. It is not that this is a bad game but a game that I certainly wouldn't want to play again. I didn't like the feeling of being trapped in one area. There didn't appear to be any flexibility in placing my cubes. I should also note that I played this game when I first got into boardgaming but I still get the heebee jeebies when I think about it. Not one I would play again. 2009-09-19 Bought at Fallcon 22 2010-10-16 Sold at Fallcon 23


I would never get this to the table but it's damn fun.