On Sun, 31 Aug 2003 13:42:38 -0000
> But in retrospect, I think we may have played the game slightly wrong;
> there's a card with a "round" arrow in it; Mark said this was the
> ending of the game. I kept thinking it was a weird symbol for a game
> end, and then last night realized that maybe it meant we were supposed
> to change turn directions. Does anyone know for sure?
The last round card is placed 15 cards up from the bottom of the draw
deck and is played as follows (transcribed from English rules on the
When the last round card is drawn, this indicates it is is the last
round. Place the card to the side to remind all the players. Then
the player draws his next card.
Translation: when the last round card is drawn you continue playing the
current collection of set cards until they are all taken, and then the
As a house rule I've come to vary this arrangement to:
The last round card is placed 3*N cards up from the bottom of the draw
deck, where N is the number of players in the game, and thus acts as a
signal that the end is approaching. The person who pulls the last
round card then has the option of either pulling another card and
signalling that the current round is the last of the game, or of
taking a set and thus extending the game by one more round.
Once a last round card has been pulled under this variant, other
players can continue to pull and add cards to sets, but the game is
limited to the length decided by the player who pulled the last round
I can't say which is better: the variant or the original rules. The
original rules add some uncertainty to a card counter's life as the last
15 cards in the deck will (mostly) never be played. The variant allows
the player who pulls the last round card to make some rather messy and
difficult probability decisions as to the current state of the game
versus what the next round will look like, as well as the ability for
the other players to mess with his decision by pulling more cards or
I should probably post this on the 'geek as a variant.
> I have no idea how El Grande ended, because Mark, Shelley and I all
> left at this point.
This was the first time Chris, Roy, and I had played El Grande, and
think it was Allan's second ever game. I led for almost the entire
game, with Larry in close pursuit and Allan hop-hopping between just
ahead of me and back in the middle of the pack. I can't say this was
due to any great brilliance on my part: I just went for setting maximal
point differential in the scoring rounds and left everything else to
fate. Larry seemed the only one with a real plan. Chris and Roy I'm
afraid made heavy weather of the game (tho they were clearly enjoying
the game), and in particular both seemed to have a serious knack for
managing to make placements that other people profited by screwing up.
Chris in particular amassed a huge collection of caballeros in his
Oddly, and this was unplanned by me, both Larry and my placements were
either continuously protected by the King, or far enough outside of the
areas Allan, Chris, and Roy were contesting (and were directly valuable
for them to contest), that we remained mostly unmolested. To some
extent in this regard the game fracted into a game between Larry and me
with Allan chiming in now and then, and a second game among Chris and
Roy with Allan popping in as the default target for them. I'm curious
if this sort of internal fracting is typical, was a product of our
rather scattered initial placements (I was in a corner, Larry in the
middle, Chris and Roy together on the right side, and Larry near them at
the bottom), or was a product of how our range of skills/familiarity
with the game intersected those initial placements.
While I didn't track time, I'd guess that we were heading for a 120
minute game versus the rated 90 minute game its normally rated at -- not
bad for a first play. For a game so obviously prone to AP we seemed to
make good time of it with moves moving along at a reasonable clip. The
massive effect of actions on board stake and how that affected your
position worked well to keep everyone involved even when they weren't
We ended just before the third and last scoring round as the mall was
shutting down. I was in the lead again with Larry not too far behind
(~8 points back AIR). I had broad earnings across 5 territories (first
in three), with Larry having big earnings in two (7 + 6 + bonuses IIRC
and a second in a third). I don't know if I could have managed to
retain my lead into and through final scoring -- much would have
depending on King movement and it would have been a close thing. I
suspect Larry would have taken it due to his far more clever use of the
Castille than I managed. Allan was a fair chunk (20 or so?) back behind
the two of us, but had a board position that looked able to mature into
some serious scoring in the last round (more pieces on board than anyone
else, just all clumped in a couple locations). My suspicion was that he
could make a serious point leap in the last round if Chris and Roy
didn't have their evil way with him first. Chris and Roy I'm afraid
tailed seriously. Roy occupied the tail position, but while his scoring
had accelerated in the last few plays (actions which scored), and his
board position had improved a fair bit, he was way back there. My
suspicion was that Chris, Roy and Allan would be fighting for third on a
fairly equal footing if Chris and Roy fully ganged up on Allan. Larry
suggested, without going into details, that they might be able to go
even for first or second with enough luck and good play despite our
lead. If so it would have to be a question of very selective predation
on other players.
Allan took several pictures of the board and bits in play which he's
promised to pass on later for those interested.
Quote of the afternoon (and I have absolutely no idea who said this,
Hey, my dingus isn't sticky!
Which was said in reference to the arrow on the area selection disk
being loose and not holding its position when set. This was possibly a
little more funny in situ due to the disturbingly phallic shape of the
King piece and the rather baby shit brown colour it shared with Allan's
pieces. <Baby shit loft, range, and splatter story ellided>
J C Lawrence
---------(*) Satan, oscillate my metallic sonatas.
He lived as a devil, eh?
Evil is a name of a foeman, as I live.