April 09, 2008

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Gili, Yitzchak, Jonathan, Saarya, Tal, Dylan, Binyamin

I was late getting home, so a few patient participants had to wait on the steps outside my house for 45 minutes. Sorry! This is the first group in a long time in which my kids Saarya and Tal joined us; briefly, in Tal’s case.

El Grande: King and Intriguant

Jon 137, Nadine 133, Dylan 106, Saarya 103

Saarya chose El Grande, and I decided to try the expansion one more time. The last time we played, we found a number of things rather frustrating. This time we implemented a few house rules in an attempt to fix these irritations, but they ended up causing nearly s many irritations.

The first was to eliminate all cards that can send caballeros back to the provinces, namely cads 30, 50, and 70. It’s not a problem when such an event happens once or twice a game, as it does when we play the regular game. It’s that it happens in every single round when we play the expansion, which limits the available strategic options for most players. The end result of the variant is that players ran out of caballeros on the last round of play; this happens in regular El Grande sometimes, but not too often.

The second was that we allowed the first player to choose whether or not to do the King power or the card power, and the last player to choose whether or not to do the Intrigue power or the card power. In fact, that is the correct way to play for three players, but we were four players. The reason we did that is that last time it was too unpredictable what you would be able to do when it was your turn, which again lead to a loss in strategic options. The end result of the variant, however, meant that the king didn’t move an awful lot during the game. Which wasn’t really so bad, come to think of it.

The expansion is far more chaotic than the regular game. Again, it’s one thing for an effect to happen once or twice a game, and another for it to happen four or five turns in a row. It was a challenging game, but I’m not sure it was quite as good.

In our game, I started with a 17 point lead on the first round and kept it for the remainder of the game. Nadine was at my heels, while Dylan and Saarya remained neck and neck but well behind us. After the first scoring, I led 38 to 34, with Dylan and Saarya at 24 each. Nothing had changed by the second scoring: Jon 95, Nadine 89, Dylan 62 and Saarya 60.

Near the very end of the game is seemed that Nadine was finally going to catch and surpass me, but my little second and third place scoring in a few minor regions kept me ahead. Dylan and Saarya didn’t think they could catch up, so they were just jockeying not to be last. However, Dylan actually had a pretty amazing comeback at one point and was only a few points behind Nadine for a round.

Taj Mahal

Gili 47, Jonathan 45, Binyamin 38, Yitzchak 36

Jonathan’s first game, and I think possibly Gili’s first win.

Race for the Galaxy

Yitzchak 36, Binyamin 35, Jonathan/Nadine 31

Jonathan’s first game. Binyamin and Yitzchak both love the game. Nadine took over for Jonathan at the very end of the game when he had to go.

Jon 46, Nadine 32, Binyamin 29

We played a game of this after they finished theirs. Binyamin was convinced that you need to have three 6-point buildings to win. He ended up having 3 of them, but they were all pretty worthless buildings. Nadine had dozens of 6-pointers in her hand and built 4 of them, also all pretty much worthless. Meanwhile, I couldn’t find one to save my butt, of course, so I had to go a different route.

I was essentially the only one able to consume goods for points, even by the end of the game. So I just kept doing that, netting 8 points every other turn and building whatever I had available while they were developing. I was able to build something because I was also pulling a few cards in for producing and consuming each. I ended up building a 6-pointer: the military power card which was worth the two points printed on it. I had 29 consuming points, which is what ended the game.


Dylan+, Nadine/Tal, Jon

Dylan’s first game. Nadine started off playing while she was finishing off RftG, and Tal took over for her to finish the game. Neither Nadine nor Dylan dumped at all, while I dumped 9 cards. Ouch. Even so, and even with a -2 chip, I still ended up with 7 points at the end of the game, which I thought was pretty impressive.

It wasn’t quite enough, however, as they ended up with 9 and 11 points, or something like that, which included their points for not dumping.


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