Sunday, November 30, 2008

Goin' Old Skool (El Grande, Tigris and Euphrates, Santiago)

Ah, El Grande. I missed you.

I was thinking the other day that it would be interesting to look up when was the last time I had played a few of the games that I claim are my "favorites". The result was disappointing.

El Grande, probably my favorite game, hadn't been played in nearly a year and a half!

Last week, I brought it along in the hopes that there would be time at the end of the evening, but no dice. Lucky for me, Shemp picked it this week along with Tigris and Euphrates and Santiago.

El Grande

Roughly 4 rounds into the game, Luch was far in the lead, Shemp was in second and Kozure and I were trailing. Luch made an offhanded remark that he was not in the mood to choose intrigue, and simultaneously mentioned that he normally loses at the game. It was a Seinfeld-ian moment, because we all kind of realized he was probably in the lead because he was playing the opposite of the way he normally does (there was a time when Luch was referred to as Hapi on this blog. This was a reference to the fact that He Always Picks Intrigue). Anyway, after the realization, he started choosing Intrigue more, and promptly lost the lead he had.

Shemp leapt into the lead. He managed a couple of very nice point grabs with single caballeros (the efficient, german one, no doubt). I was making a comeback, partly due to the backlash Shemp was receiving for being in first place... but would it be enough?

It was. The last scoring round was unpredictable, but when the dust settled red (me) was in the lead.

Tigris and Euphrates

T&E is my second most played game if you count BGG online games, but my actual face to face games have been few and far between. I love the game, but the analysis paralysis it brings to the table makes it well suited to turn based computer play. Face to face, and with two players much less familiar with the game than Shemp and I, the game played out quite differently. I suppose you could say that with the pressure of time, the game developed less optimally than it typically does online. I developed a long skinny kingdom in the north that I *never* would have built normally. I paid for it, too, because Shemp started disaster tiling in strategic locations to swing vast parts of my kingdom to his control. Kozure had retreated to a corner of the board where he was benefiting from a monument. Luch was the swing in the three way battle going on in the center of the board. Although I had a large presence on the board, my score was weak in blue. When the score was tallied, Shemp was the obvious winner and I was tied for last.

We finished with Santiago. Although we had difficulty remembering to distribute the new money every round, in general the game went smoothly. A large crop of green beans allowed me to win the game. Since Santiago is a difficult game to talk about, I won't really try. Fun, though.

I had a great time playing these older titles. There are certainly some lessons in recent game design that seem to have come in vogue after the release of El Grande and T&E.. notably variable turn order mechanics and downtime minimizing. These aren't things that bother me if the game is engrossing enough, as these ones are for me, but Kozure was visibly "antsy" throughout much of the evening.

Sorry, Kozure. I'll be picking El Grande again in the near future!

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