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El Grande: König & Intrigant
original German edition
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from 3 customer reviews
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Hans im Gluck
Players: 2 - 5
Time: 90 minutes
Ages: 12 and up
Weight: 279 grams
Language Requirements: Game components contain substantial foreign text. An English translation of the rules is provided.
- 18 Action cards in each of 5 colors
- 5 Caballero cards
- 1 King card
- 1 Intrigant card (Villain card)
- 1 Overview card
- 2 blank cards
Average Rating: 4 in 3 reviews
I must admit that I really like El Grande in all of its forms - the plain, the K&I, the Gross Inquisitor and the Players Edition cards. El Grande plays differently depending on which set of variables you choose as the mechanism for play.
With the K&I cards, you no longer use the separate power and actions cards - instead they are combined with numerical values from 10 to 180 (10 is the Intrigant [spy] and 180 is the Konig [King]. Each player selects from his original 18 cards 13 to play over 9 rounds.
The order and mechanics of play are similar to EG as before - no one can play a card of similar numerical rank and the lowest contributor goes first in subsequent rounds.
With the possible actions already in your hand, you can make more interesting decisions in each turn. The caveat here however, is, if you have played the lowest card in a given round, you must perform the Intrigant action. If, because others have played cards below the one you chose, you will be forced to perform the King action instead of the extra scoring round or other bonus you had hoped to collect!
This means that 'the best laid plans of men and mice...' etc can go a bit awry, but it is very amusing.
The K&I expansion is really a very different game of EG, but one that if you are an aficionado you will really enjoy. I also highly recommend the Players Edition cards - 11 more choices are that very interesting (and came from player feedback)... with 29 choices at the outset of a game of EG and with only 13 available 'slots' to fill, each player can build his/her own set of action cards in such a way as to be able to play the game largely in their own personal style (aggressive, passive, sneaky, etc). It is hard to go wrong with these additions.
Most game expansions are of the type that add a few bells and whistles, or slightly improve the gameplay, or allow extra players to participate. Knig & Intrigant is about as far as you can get from that kind of expansion.
Knig & Intrigant ('King and Villain') instead rips out the entire engine of the original El Grande, and replaces it with something that behaves quite differently, but equally well. First, take all the power cards (the ones labelled 1 to 13) and all the action cards (the ones that you form into five stacks beside the board) and put them away. You won't be needing them for Knig & Intrigant. Instead, the expansion provides cards that do both the job of selecting turn order and your special action for the turn. Each player gets 18 cards, showing both a power (from 10 to 180) and a special action. Players each select 13 of these cards and put the others away for the game.
The next bit works rather like the original. In turn, each player selects one card and plays it. The power numbers on the cards determine the order of players for this round. They also determine how many caballeros the player may move from their court to the board, with the highest number played earning the most and the lowest number getting to move the fewest.
Players get to perform their special action on their turn, with one important twist that really changes the way the game is played. The highest power number played doesn't get to perform the special action that is on the card. Instead, the player assumes the role of the king and is allowed to move the king to a different region. Likewise, the lowest numbered card gives its player the role of the villain. This player moves one foreign caballero, or all of their own caballeros in one region, anywhere else on the board. (In a 2- or 3-player version of the game, rather than automatically replacing the card's special action, the affected players can choose to take the new action instead if they wish, or keep the original action.) The rest of the game is played as it is in the original El Grande.
The cards are of course in German, but there are only 18 of them so there is not much to learn, and as always, the images on them are self-explanatory. They may be played with the original Hans im Glck board or Rio Grande's English translation. Rio Grande was due to release an English language version of both Knig & Intrigant and the other El Grande expansion, Grossinquisitor & Kolonien, in late 1999.
The numbering of the cards in Knig & Intrigant has left large gaps of unused numbers, suggesting several expansions. Hans im Glck has already released ten additional cards which can be obtained by mail from the publisher. There is also a Player's Edition, contining 11 more cards written by fans of the game.
Knig & Intrigant still has the feel of the basic game of El Grande, but it plays quite differently. To El Grande owners, for the price of an expansion, it is effectively an entirely new game.
The other reviewers have adequately covered the strengths of this expansion, and I'll echo them and say this is a very good expansion and well worth the money.
BUT, and this is a big but, there is a lot of German to cope with here and fiddling with translation sheets is a particular hassle in this case. I've always liked this expansion a lot, but the German on all the cards has always been an obstacle to playing it and as a consequence we have never played it as much as I'd like. Fortunately, Rio Grande should have an English-Language version out early in 2000.