El Grande: Grandissimo
English language edition
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This is an English-language, promotional expansion to the game El Grande; 30 more action cards which add two additional stacks to the play of the original game.
This is a free promotional item from the manufacturer. We reserve the right to limit quantities of promotional items.
Players: 3 - 5
Time: 90 minutes
Ages: 12 and up
Weight: 48 grams
Language Requirements: This is an international edition or domestic edition of an imported item. Game components are printed in English. Manufacturer's rules are printed in English.
Average Rating: 3.5 in 2 reviews
'Grandissimo' is a free expansion to the very popular El Grande game. It adds several elements to the game which increase the choices available to players without adding terribly to the complexity.
The expansion is housed in a small box and consists of a set of 30 cards that are NOT compatible with the size and shape of the English cards supplied by Rio Grande. These cards match those available in the original game and the German-launguage expansions, even though these cards are printed in English. These cards can be used with the English language cards, but be prepared for a very disconcerting difference between these and your other cards. If only Mr. Tummelson had been able to print the English cards on this type of card stock.... Ah, wishful thinking....
The new elements included are a sixth and seventh stack of cards to add to the normal five. Stack six is much like the first four stacks, with multiple cards. The actions on these cards are quite powerful, and I can see that these cards will be extremely popular.
The seventh stack, like the fifth, consists of a single card, which allows a player to take either the queen card or the jester card. These cards aid in the movement of caballeros in various ways. While more useful, it is less likely that a player will be able to hold onto the queen card for long.
Other cards represent Portugal and the Jail, with rules for each. Portugal is really just an extra small region, while the Jail allows caballeros to be removed temporarily from play.
The final element that is added is ships, which allow caballeros greater access to coastal regions. There are no cards to represent ships, but this is easily corrected with a couple tokens borrowed from El Caballero... You DO own that fine game as well, don't you?
While Grandissimo adds some nice new options to the game, it really does not add so much that it should be seen as a necessity. If you have El Grande and are placing an order with Funagain, by all means order this and add it to your set. Add those rules that appeal to you and leave the rest alone. Between this and the coming El Grande Expansion set from Rio Grande, you will have more ways to play this excellent game than ever before.
Randall already explained what this new expansion is, so I won't do that :). Grandissimo is decent, but not great. The problem is that the new set of action cards for the 7 pile is a very mixed bag. A number of them are vastly more powerful than anything in the game so far (there is a card that cancels all other actions this round, a card that allows you to take a second action card and save it for a later turn, a card that effectively takes the King out of play until after the next scoring round, and several others). On the other hand, the Jester is almost useless.
Still, you can prune down some of the most overpowered new cards (in fact, the rules suggest that you remove any cards you don't like); and some players will probably like the new, more dramatic and off-beat events. This still leaves us with two problems, though: firstly, it's now a lot easier to get Cabelleros onto the board. Without all the new regions of Grossinquisitor & Kolonien, you tend to get a lot more piled up into all the regions. This can make the game feel decidedly wierd, and it's easy to run out of Cabelleros in the last few turns.
Secondly, I believe many of the translations from the original German cards are weak. The base English-language El Grande game from Rio Grande has similar problems, with some crystal-clear German text being translated to somewhat unclear and confusing English. A number of the card texts in Grandissimo are similarly unclear, and while the rules are OK, sections of them (for example, the first paragraph) are completely incomprehensible. These were clearly either not translated with care or neither edited nor translated by somebody with a firm grasp of English.
Anyway, at the price ($0), pick them up. They're worth a shot. But don't expect a lot.