Authors: Wolfgang Kramer /
Richard Ulrich

Publisher: Hans im Glück 1998

Awards: none



At Essen 1998 Hans im Glück Spiele expanded their "El Grande"-product line with a new game from Wolfgang Kramer and Richard Ulrich: "El Caballero". "El Caballero" still is in the graphical style of the "El Grande"-series, but itīs not an expansion for "El Grande" but a totally new game about the discovery of unexplored lands.

By placing special land-tiles, showing different possibilities of coasts, land and the sea, the players construct differently shaped isles and sea-areas. By placing Caballero-cards next to placed land-tiles, the players bring caballeros onto the isles. Having most caballeros on an isle is important throughout the game, since dominance over an isle will give a player victory-points in the two evaluation-phases during the game.

The placement of the caballeros is actually quite different from the precedessor game, "El Grande". During his turn a player first receives a varying amount of caballeros to his court, depending on a card which he has played at the beginning of the round. After this, the player places a land-tile next to already placed land-tiles, and then he may bring some caballeros onto the isles which are fprming on the table. He choses how many he wants to play, and then he places a caballero-tile (the edges on the front side being numbered from "1" to "4", on the backside from "5" to "8") next to an already placed land-tile so that it touches land with one edge. The number printed on this edge of the caballero-tile must show the actual number of caballeros which the player actually wanted to place onto this isle. In the two evaluation phases, for each isle the player who has most caballeros on it is determined. This player receives one Victory-Point for each tile his isle contains, and an additional point for each Gold-Mine on his isle.

But the caballeros will not automatically stay on the map, they nay also be removed due to some different reasons. First off, a player may decide to remove one of his caballero-tiles to have it back at his court, since each player only has a limited number of these tiles. More strategic is the option to force another player to withdraw one of his caballero-tiles. Players may do this by placing a land-tile next to an already placed caballero-tile, so the the caballero now touches land with more than one edge. This forces the player owning the caballero-tile to remove his tile, losing all caballeros he has spent to place the tile. The loss of these caballeros may be prevented by buying a Castillo for the tile, alowing it, if the tile should be removed, to take the caballeros back to a playerīs court.

Additional points may be scored by buying ships for a caballero-tile. Likewise to the land-areas, sea-areas will be created. By placing a ship on an edge of a caballero which touches sea-areas, during an evaluation-phase the player will score a point for each tile the sea-area comprises plus one additional point for each fishing place. Different from the land-areas, at sea no majority is counted off. Here each ship placed into a sea-area will score the same number of points, allowing different players to score for one sea-area, or even one player with multiple ships.

Also included into the game are advanced rules which allow the placement of an Alcalde or an Grande. These may be used to fortify a caballero-tile against being removed or to score points for isles where no caballeros are present.

The game makes use of the basic-gaming principles for "El Grande" by allowing players to score victory-points for different regions. New is the fact that now the players can influence how much a region will be worth by placing land-tiles and thus expanding the regions themselves. Honestly, the build-up of the game with the land-tiles and the scoring for a region depending on how big it is strongly remembered me of "Entdecker", but with these two points the similarities already end. "El Caballero" is a much deeper strategy game than "Entdecker", since here the element of luck is very much reduced. The players have to plan carefully where to place the caballero-tiles and how to expand the isles in order to get most victory points from them without connecting other players which might have more caballeros at hand. "El Grande" certainly is the father of this game, but nonetheless "El Caballero" is a totally new game which presents quite interesting gameplay and playing mechanisms to us. In fact, I am absolutely unable to say whether "El Grande" or "El Caballero" is a better game, since - despite of the similiarities - these are two essentially different games. Personally I like "El Caballero" a lot, and I hope for more since the game surely allows expansions like cities or inhabitants.

Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games!

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Copyright © 2006 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany