El Grande

Rio Grande Games, 1996, 2-5 players, ages 12 and up. El Grande is very much in the same tone as other German-designed games produced in recent years (the Catan games come immediately to mind); namely, a simple strategy game with no bloodshed and not a lot of excitement. The game itself is very nicely produced with high quality componants. The rules are simple, straightforward and make it easy to jump right in and start playing. Unfortunately, like a lot of simple games, it's just not all that interesting. Ostensively, the game takes place in Spain during the 1500s, although the setting really isn't that important to the game itself. Players take turns placing pieces on different Spanish provinces and during "scoring turns" earn points for having the most (or second most) pieces on a given pronvince. Excluding a few bells and whistles, that's pretty much the extent of the game (which takes about 90 minutes to play). All in all, this is not neccessarily a bad game, but I don't think people will find it compelling enough to pull out and play very often.

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