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Subject: El Grande of Christmas Break rss

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Josh Lacey
United States
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Michigan
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Opening Salvo:
I got this game on auction for $30. I was excited to play it as any game that stays in the top 20 for nearly 20 years has got to have something going for it right. I read the rules Friday (and really liked what I read) as we expected to play a 3 player game Saturday...only to have one of the gents bail. This ended up being for the best as we got to play it for the first time 4 player today (Wednesday) instead.

The Players:
Yellow - Me (Yes, I put myself first...what of it)
Blue - Anna (My wife)
Red - Kevin (Good Buddy)
Green - Jessi (Kevin's wife)

The Provincial Draft:
All players in the south. The King held court just north of us.
Blue - Seville
Yellow - Granada
Red - New Castille
Green - Valencia


Scoring Phase 1:
Red opens with a 14 point scoring action on the first move of the game, to run away with the lead. At the start of round two, Kevin already knows he likes this game. Other then that, everybody else is just trying to get a feel for the game. Yellow having been the only player to read the rules plays a little heavier in the Castille then others. Otherwise the round flies.
Red - 42
Yellow - 28
Green - 27
Blue - 23


Scoring Phase 2:
The game starts to drag in the middle as focus drifts a little from the game to the cell phones...the inevitable "this game is slow comments" start to slide from those spending time on the phones and missing their turns. I may have retorted about spending time on the phone slowing the game down, and a renewed focus begins about round 6. Unfortunately the renewed focus does not work in my advantage. Overall the board retaliates towards Red, and Green (my biggest competitor in most regions) turns her focus to me (Yellow) causing a bit of a shift going into the last 3 rounds of the game.
Red - 80
Blue - 70
Green - 69
Yellow - 62


Scoring Phase 3:
To put it bluntly, Red runs away with it. However there are those who wish to fight amongst the scraps of those superior to us. In the end, Yellow (me) tries to be clever and maximize influence in the south. However instead of moving the King to Galicia to maintain my control over the south east I move the King to "Ba? Country" (sorry first time playing and the name is covered on the picture). This allows Red to move the King to Aragon. Now I do remember this region because during the game my wife commented about that name being familiar. Kevin and I said it sounds like Aragorn...to which my wife responded, "Who?"...WOMEN!!!...she apparently was thinking about Eragon (yeah I read them)...anyway moving on. So by Red moving the King to Aragon, Green ends up being able to play in Valencia, which in the end allows her to slide into 2nd place alone.

Final Scores:
Red - 116
Green - 99
Yellow - 95
Blue - 94


Final Thoughts:
I liked it. A game where there is simplicity in play, but depth in decision making. I clearly did not play very well overall, but part of that I put on myself for forgetting the "King 5" card could be used to place the King anywhere on the map, and not just into an adjacent region. The game itself offers variance, forethought and flexibility, again with an extremely simple game play mechanic. I can see this being one we bust out somewhat consistently on our Saturday morning game days with the guys. Also, I do feel the more I play this the more I will like it. I tend to be overly concerned with others "feelings" which can detract from my own enjoyment. Both of the ladies indicated some level of "boredom" for lack of a better word which made me wonder if I should have brought this out instead of enjoying the game fully. In the end though, my wife did indicate that she thought it was pretty good after she figured it out...so maybe there is hope to get it on the table with her again.
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Joseph Betz
United States
Hamburg
Pennsylvania
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Usually when someone jumps out to such a big lead after the first scoring they get beat up on by everyone.It is odd to see red maintain the lead for the whole game.
 
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Josh Lacey
United States
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Michigan
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That's good to know. I think Kevin probably played the game best, and overall we probably were not playing it very well due to it being the first game for all of us. Your comment makes me more optimistic about run away leaders being an issue.
 
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Joseph Betz
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Yeah I think it is rare to see a runaway leader in this game as most people will mess with whoever is in the lead. I know some people think it is better to not jump out into a lead just to avoid being targeted.This is still a really great game though.
 
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