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El Grande

From the Database of Home of the Underdogs

GAME DESIGNER:Klaus-Jurgen Wrede

GAME DEVELOPER:Rio Grande Games

GAME PUBLISHER:KOCH Media

Copyright 2004, KOCH Media

El Grande is a decent PC version of the excellent board game of the same name, coded by the same company (Germany’s KOCH Media) who released the PC version of Carcassonne. The original board game is a great tabletop strategy game for 2-5 players where players fight for control of the provinces in medieval Spain. As a leader (Grande), your job is to lead your men (caballeros) to occupy provinces and score points (representing influence in the game). The game has won several awards including the prestigious “Spiel Des Jahres” and “Deutscher Spiele Preis” in 1996.

Although this PC version of El Grande is similar to Carcassonne PC in terms of features and graphical detail, it is unfortunately not as polished as Carcassonne. Although the interface does show you exactly what is going on, the message text and graphics go too fast, so that you end up having to review your turn step-by-step to see what happened. Worse, the AI in the game is quite bad. Computer players use very simple strategies, and seem to always try getting the king card no matter what the situation is. When computer players decide to do an intrigue, the game slows down significantly, causing up to 3-4 minutes of delay (a very long time in computer gaming terms). Computer players do manage to win from time to time, but more out of luck (my bad or their good) than solid code.

If you cannot find friends to play the board game, this computer version may be a temporary replacement. For PC gamers, the game is still worth buying at the new low price of less than $10, but don’t expect Carcassonne-level AI. Like Carcassonne, the game’s default language is German, but you can toggle it to English by editing the config file.



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