El Caballero Tile-Laying Game Overview
Back in April we featured Boxcars from Rio Grande Games and told you how much we thoroughly enjoyed it. For our family it was the perfect mix of strategy and luck, and the inclusion of recognizable train lines that we regularly see pass through our town was a welcome bonus. We even went as far to name it our favorite game of the first half of 2014! This week we have another Rio Grande Games offering to present and we’re hoping it lives up to Boxcars!
El Caballero (Spanish for “the knight” or “soldier”) is a true strategy game where you follow Christopher Columbus by exploring the islands he discovered. You ‘capture’ land masses and defend them against other armies, as well as deploying ships to fish the waterways to increase your wealth.
Players take turns adding to the map by playing an area tile on each turn. You also deploy your Caballeros to control the islands, with the player having the most men on a land mass receiving a scoring bonus.
If you recall reading about Boxcars, you know that not only did you need to determine which properties to buy and which route to take, you were also subject to the luck of the dice roll. Not so in El Caballero, all decisions are your own, right down to the order of your turn. This game is definitely a thinker – no distractions please!
El Caballero is rated for ages 13+, and I would definitely recommend sticking to that age range unless you have someone reading and explaining the rules to everyone. My 9 & 11yr-olds took to it just fine, but only after we read and explained (and re-read and re-explained) the rules. Because the theme is Spanish, it made for some confusion (Caballeros vs. Castillos, etc.), so we ended up calling them by their American names (soldiers vs. castles) so they better understood it.
The game lasts only seven rounds, with scoring only occurring after rounds 4 and 7. This leads to some very interesting strategy decisions in those rounds. Do you go last so you can control the outcome? First so you can control the direction of the map? There are a number of other play options to deploy if you can afford them (adding castillos to protect your troops, purchasing ships to fish and even playing a special card that allows you to play two area tiles in one turn instead of the normal one).
There is even an expanded set of rules that add governors and a Grande to each player’s courts. Thankfully, Rio Grande Games publishes their rulesets online so you can determine ahead of time if the game will be a fit for your family and friends, or in case you ‘misplace’ your copy!
This is the first true 100% strategy game we’ve played and have to say it is a lot of fun. The instructions were a little difficult at first since this was our maiden voyage into this type of game, but once we began playing we found ourselves not needing to consult the rules at all until the scoring round. And then, it was only to make sure we were scoring the board correctly.
El Caballero is but one of a great line of games from Rio Grande Games. Pick up a copy for under $30 on Amazon. Drop them an email to let them know you’d like to see more of their products on SahmReviews!
Do you enjoy strategy games? What are your favorites?
14 thoughts on “El Caballero Tile-Laying Game Overview”
Sounds like a fun game! Thanks for the review!
I will certainly check this game out! Sounds a little bit like Risk (I think!)
Oh this sounds like a fun game. I know my son would love it. He likes games that require a lot of stratergy and plotting and planning.
My boys are still too young for this, but it sounds really cool, so maybe I should get it for my hubby & me?
This sounds like a great challenging game. Looks fun.
Sounds like a great game for the family and one that me and the kids may enjoy. Thanks for sharing. Will have to check it out for my family
Looks Like A Great Games My Son Will LOVE This Great Review Thank You!
What an interesting sounding game, I love all these games you come across you make me missing sorting through bits in the charity shops here 🙂 x
I’m glad you noted about the instructions. I’m so guilty of moving on if the instructions are too complex, but if I know it’s worth the effort, I’ll press on. 🙂 This sounds like a really cool game.
What a fun game to play. This would make a great one for family game night.
This sounds like it has quite a bit of educational value to it. Seems like this could possibly be played in a school setting on a day where a teacher might want some free play for the students. Also sounds like this is for Middle School on up.
I think this is a game that my family and I would enjoy together. I love the sea part to it. 🙂
I think this seems like another really awesome game! I love that games are fun but I really love that they bring us all together! 🙂
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