El Grande Is Still My Favorite
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In the fun board game El Grande, you play one of five colors of cubes – red, blue, yellow, green, or brown. The smaller cubes are technically known as caballeros, but since that’s too long to say all the time, we simply refer to them as “dudes”. You also have one larger cube which is your Grande.
The overarching goal of El Grande is to place your dudes so they have majority control in as many of the 9 regions of Spain as possible. You especially want control after rounds 3, 6, and 9 when each of the regions is scored.
Most of your dudes start the game in the provinces; that is, the general supply (in our case, a Plano box). You play a power card to bid on turn order and to move some of those dudes from the provinces to your court; that is, your personal supply.
From your court, you’ll promote from 1 to 5 of them to the board based on which action card you select. The action cards usually throw all kinds of twists into dude placement and scoring.
The one rule that is never broken in El Grande is that the King, a tall black figure, has total control over the region in which he currently resides. Nothing can go in or out of his region.
Therefore, controlling which region the King is in is a very significant part of game play.
Therefore, gaining control of the one action card, which also allows you to promote 5 dudes to the board, is very important.
Therefore, playing a high power card (numbered 1 through 13) from time to time is a very strategic move.
The catch is that high power cards allow very few, if any, dudes to be moved from the provinces to your court. Another catch is that you can only play each power card once during the whole game.
El Grande is a game where you need to pick on the leader. Obviously you don’t want that player get too far ahead. However, it is possible to catch up even when there’s a big gap on the scoring track, which is located around the edge of the board. What helps is that the other trailing players will usually help each other gang up on the leader.
Controlling the regions of Spain in El Grande isn’t exactly like controlling regions of the board in Blokus, but it’s equally important in both board games.