I have been gaming more and I thought I should give you a quick update to what I have been playing. Last night, at my regular gaming session at Darren's, we played El Grande, it was my second try (the last time was a year ago...) and Darren estimated he had played it 20 times, the other John twice and Bruce has probably played it more the Darren.
El Grande is a game of area control, nothing more nothing less. The beauty of the game is how you control the areas. Every turn, starting with the lowest player, you play a power card and this determines your turn order, with the highest number going first and the lowest number going last, with the added fact that the higher the number the less caballeros (not Guy, he never shows up) can move from the provinces (standby) to the court (readied). The first player then moves his caballeros to the court, and then choses his action card. Action cards do two things, they allow you to move caballeros from the court to the board and they have special actions, such as "Move the King" or "Score areas". The action cards allow you to move anywhere from one to five caballeros from the court to the board (the king allows 5). You score points on the board every three rounds (except for special scoring cards).
Point scoring works as this: Each area has a scoring tile, scoring between 4-7 points for first and 0-3 points for third (second ranges from 0-5, fourth and fifth range from 0-0). If there is a tie, the players get equal to the standing lower (2 players tied for first each score second, 2 players tie for third score fourth, AKA 0).
That is a good enough description of the game, I followed a strategy of this: caballeros in the court and in the provinces score 0, caballeros on the board have a chance of scoring. All four of us had all our caballeros on the board, so it seemed to be the prevalent base of everyone's strategy.
The game is not complex, it is just a hard game to win for new players. My first game I was crushed, finishing 30 points behind the winner, my second game was better, I finished 12 points out of first.
Today at work Tonny, Colin and I played Ticket to Ride, a game I am far more familiar with then El Grande. Tonny and Colin are both new to it. Tonny got an unfortunate set of cards and finished the game with 27 points as he completed no tickets. Colin completed his tickets and finished with 98 points, I completed 6 tickets and ended with 127. I am going to see if I can arrange for more people at work to play, maybe we can play some 4-5 polayer games.