Still Hard Going for Laurelists
Defending champion Greg Thatcher looked
spiffy in his El Grande Centurion shirt but was unable
to advance this year.
The five survivors gather for
the 2007 Final.
Better scheduling enabled El Grande to increase its
numbers this year. It also helps that the game was reprinted
not too long ago. There were 21 individual winners for this
year's semi-finals, and two no-shows allowed six runner-ups to
Thursday's Final was a fairly high-scoring game. Relatively
few pieces got removed from the board by means of the cards in
the 2 stack. Both Veto cards came out, as well as all three
scoring cards from that stack. Only one scoring card was Vetoed
while one other one (Dial a Region) was burned. And this game
became (almost) all about the scoring cards.
Mike Hazel is an El Grande veteran and the lone former
laurelist among the finalists, and focused on securing first
place scores in regions as well as making generous use of the
Castillo. He succeeded in getting a good number of his pieces
on the board early, although they were fairly concentrated.
Robb Effinger and Winton Lemoine also did a pretty good job
of building up board position, but not putting as many pieces
into the Castillo as Mike.
Robb started off the scoring on his first turn with a "Score
the region with the Most Caballeros", and he manipulated
the board to score twice, borrowing Rich Meyer's home region,
thereby jumping out to a lead which he would maintain for the
duration. Robb played three scoring cards throughout the game,
and was so well positioned that he was often a minor beneficiary
of other players' scoring cards. In the end, he scored as many
points on other players' score cards as his own, for an impressive
total of 56 points from scoring cards alone.
Mike, and to an extent, Winton, continued to dominate the
main scoring rounds, but they could not overcome the gap. Mike
came close in Turn 8, when the "Score the Firsts" card
allowed him to score 23 points while Robb only scored 6. However,
his hopes were dashed in Turn 9, when the "Score the 6 and
7 regions" card came out. Rich bid first, but no longer
had his 13 card, so Winton played the 13 to execute the card
since it scored 15 points for himself. Unfortunately for Mike,
it only scored 1 point for him while netting another 8 for Robb.
This finally secured first place for Robb while Winton and
Mike battled it out for second . In the end, the two were tied,
with Winton winning the tiebreaker with more unused pieces.
This year I tried a somewhat controversial rule regarding
the use of the Veto card to stop special actions partway. The
feedback was mixed, but there were more complaints than not.
I personally feel that it became overly cumbersome without adding
much to the game. I expect I will revise the rule next year
to only allow partial vetoes of Intrigue actions, or perhaps
no partial vetoes at all. Feel free to send me comments before
next year. I worked up an Excel spreadsheet detailing all the
moves of the Final which I can share upon request.