The El Grande Expansions
English language edition
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This product contains supplemental material for the El Grande game. To use this material, you must have a copy of El Grande. The material offers you three new ways to play the game.
In Intrigue & the King, each player has 18 or 31 cards that replace the action cards from the basic game. Before the game begins, each player chooses 13 cards to be his action/power deck for the game. The players use these cards instead of the action and power cards in determining turn order and special actions.
Grand Inquisitor & the Colonies adds four new regions, the Grand Inquisitor, and new action cards to support these additions. The new action cards are in two new stacks, giving players seven options on each turn instead of the five from the basic game.
By combining the two, you can play The King & the Colonies. In this game, you use the action/power cards from Intrigue & the King, and the new regions, the Grand Inquisitor, and the new action cards supporting them from Grand Inquisitor & the Colonies.
Players: 2 - 5
Time: 90 minutes
Ages: 12 and up
Weight: 710 grams
All-Time Sales Rank: #250
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.
- everything from Groinquisitor & Kolonien
- everything from King & Intrigant
- everything from King & Intrigant promo cards
- The Joker, Bridgebuilding, and Quarantine cards from King & Intrigant Player's Edition (not included are the Moving Day, Pushing, Civil War, Alliance, Revolution, Danger of Collapse, Whirlwind, and The Queen cards)
- 155 action/power cards
- 5 Caballero cards
- 1 King card
- 1 Intrigue card
- 1 summary card
- 2 blank cards
- 4 new regions
- 1 Grand Inquisitor
- 4 Grand Inquisitor Caballeros
- 16 gold/ware tokens
- 12 action cards
- 30 Caballeros
- 2 limit tables
Average Rating: 4.4 in 8 reviews
If you have original game El Grande, you souldn't miss this great expansion.
This expansion consists of two set -- one add extra place into the game (ships, France, and more) and the 6th and 7th stack.
Another expansion combines action card and number card into one card, so if you play this expansion, the original actionl card and number card will not be used.
Expansion gives more places and more action card for you to choose, thus gives you more strategy to be used in the game. Since more strategy is used, more time is needed in playing this game, but it doesn't matter as it is a great expansion that you need it.
To use expansion, you need to assume that all the players are familiar of playing the original game, otherwise let them familiar the original game first before adding this expansion.
This expansion is not expansive, and it contains two sets of expansion, so it is worth buying this expansion.
It seems that [page scan/se=0052/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]Cosmic Encounter set the stage for later games in many ways, including issuing expansions that added complexity and components to the basic game. El Grande, as a Spiel des Jahres winner, was a prime candidate for expansions. There have been three expansions to date, including the free Grandissimo set, and they have added tremendously to gameplay.
'Intrigue and the King' changes one of the fundamental game mechanics, but many would say that the new system is not only simpler, but better than the base game. Rather than using a power card to determine what order a player will get to choose between action cards, the player now picks a power card that establishes turn order as well as the action. The only variable now is how many caballeros a player will put on the board. The action cards have a dizzying array of options and players can customize their card selection to suit their preferred styles of play.
'Grand Inquisitor and the Colonies' is much more traditional in its approach. New areas are added to the board and new stacks are added to the action cards available. Moving caballeros with the intrigue cards from the original game had always been perceived as a weak option, but with the colonies and the bonus points available there, moving caballeros has suddenly become much more appealing. The Grand Inquisitor himself makes an appearance along with his own black-clad henchmen. Courting his favor can have a dramatic impact on the game.
Either or both of these expansions can be added to the standard El Grande game, and play is changed in lots of entertaining and thought-provoking ways. Combined with the free Grandissimo expansion, El Grande has become a game system that can be tailored to suit your mood. Highly recommended.
This is the English reprint of the Konig & Intrigant and Grossinquisitor & Kolonien expansions for El Grande, along with a good chunk of the cards from the original K&I promo cards and K&I Player's Edition mini-expansion. About half a dozen of the cards from the Player's Edition were dropped, including cards I won't miss like the Whirlwind and Pushing, but also one or two good ones, like the Alliance and the Queen.
Both original expansions were highly recommended, and so this combined set is too. It's especially nice to finally have English Konig & Intrigant cards after all this time. If you liked El Grande, these expansions are first-rate and a tremendous value.
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.
It's usually a given that expansions for games that seriously change the games' mechanics are bad news. They so seldom work that most publishers have wisely given up trying, and instead focus on expansions that allow extra players to participate, or that tweak one or two little things in the game.
So when two expansions for the 1996 Spiel des Jahres, El Grande, were released, I wondered how they could possibly improve on the game. One of them, Knig & Intrigant, actually doesn't; rather, it rips out many of the game's mechanics and puts another equally good system in their place. The other expansion, this one, is more pedestrian in its approach and simply adds some flavour to El Grande. Yet despite the track record of this kind of expansion, Groinquisitor & Kolonien does not take away from the game it extends.
At its most basic level, Groinquisitor & Kolonien ('Grand Inquisitor and the Colonies') adds a number of regions (France, America, the Mediterranean and the ship) to the board. These four regions are represented by oddly-shaped board pieces that sit in opportune places on the regular El Grande board. Unlike the nine regions of Spain, these regions have special rules about who may occupy them and how the occupation is managed. America and the Mediterranean are accessible only indirectly through the ship. France may only contain three caballeros, and the ship and America both have special spaces that can be occupied for a bonus. Additionally, caballeros can collect goods (gold in America, wares in the Mediterranean) which earn bonuses when the caballeros bring them to Spain.
Complementing these new regions is a number of new action cards which form a sixth stack that players can choose from, as they do in the basic El Grande game. These cards usually have two effects. One is the regular effect of these sorts of cards: move a number of caballeros onto the board and perform a special action (some of which are diabolical). The other effect these cards have is to introduce new goods to the Mediterranean and America, sparking a new rush of caballeros to the colonies to collect them.
Some of the cards also refer to the Grand Inquisitor, the other major plot device of this expansion. The Grand Inquisitor does not go on the board, but instead resides in a player's court. While the Inquisitor is present, that player may move another player from the provinces to the court, or from the court to the board. Additionally, four black caballeros roam the board, acting for the Grand Inquisitor, and are counted as caballeros of the controlling player for scoring purposes.
The third advantage that the Grand Inquisitor grants is control over the limit table, a tile of six or ten (depending on number of players) spaces, upon which caballeros are placed; for that region, only the caballeros on the limit table are scored, and all others in the region are ignored. If, when the limit table is moved, there needs to be a choice made as to which caballeros are placed on it and which miss out, the decision is the Grand Inquisitor's. Control over the Grand Inquisitor is therefore shortlived, as players vie for its special powers. Ownership of the Grand Inquisitor is effected through a single-action-card seventh 'stack', akin to the stack that contains the King's card.
Those are the basic mechanisms of Groinquisitor & Kolonien; the only question remaining is how well it plays. The answer is surprisingly well, with no feeling of the expansion being grafted on. The Grand Inquisitor and Colonies blend seamlessly with the basic game play, and subtly with each other. One effect of the expansion is that scores seem to be higher than the basic game. This is not surprising because there are new regions, more victory points to be had from gold and wares, and more choice among the seven action card stacks for the action that gives the most points. Additionally, the action cards in the first stack, with their 'intrigue' actions that allow players to move caballeros at will between regions, are now more powerful as they allow caballeros to bypass the ship and teleport straight to America or the Mediterranean onto goods. This addresses a slight imbalance in the original game.
I'd recommend Groinquisitor & Kolonien unreservedly, but the need is probably no longer there. Owners of the English-language edition of El Grande will be unlikely to need this expansion, as Rio Grande Games has released The El Grande Expansions, an expansion containing English translations of both Knig & Intrigant and Groinquisitor & Kolonien in the one box. Both expansions can in fact be combined to form a hybrid expansion (though I have not tried this), giving three ways to play El Grande aside from the basic game. This is not even counting the free Grandissimo expansion.
If you already have El Grande, the plethora of expansions gives you an inexpensive way to have several more games with the same theme. If you don't own El Grande, these expansions are an excellent excuse to get the basic game as well. One of the multitude of variants is bound to please.
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.
This expansion to El Grande had all the signs of being a klunker - expanding with a few new areas and a bunch of special rules. There is France and 'The Ship', which are areas but work somewhat differently from the usual areas, and the New World and Mediterranean which have special rules for getting to (via the Ship, of course), and new rules for Gold, Wares, and the Grand Inquisitor (but of course!). Mostly just a bunch of chrome, you might think.
When you actually play it, it works surprisingly well. All the new bits put more emphasis on the 'relocation' cards, which are now more powerful (they were always perceived as weak in the past) and provide a lot of options. The Gold, Wares, and variations for the new regions provide a welcome change from the standard game, which could get a bit 'samey'. In general, there are a lot more options for tactical play, which opens the game up a lot in my opinion. The price is some added complexity, but it's really not too bad.
The expansion integrates cleanly with the original El Grande, but does not include any Konig & Intrigant style cards; to play with both expansions you use a mixture of the action card styles, which also works surprisingly well.
All in all, well worth the money and adds some interesting dimensions to what is already one of the best 'gamers' games' of the last 10 years.
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.