The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Tycoon/El Capitán

Among my recent acquisitions are the deluxe El Capitán. I’ve always liked Tycoon, and often played against the computer opponents done by Stan Hilinski. But I never picked up a copy (despite a few opportunities). The main reason? Box size. That long thin box just doesn’t fit conveniently in my game bag. (This is a serious issue … games that are tough to carry, like Battle Cry, don’t get played nearly as much as they should. If we gamed at my house, that wouldn’t be such a big deal).

Anyway, the reprint goes to a normal sized box (slightly larger than an Alea Big Box, I think, although they might be the same) and also solves a few other issues — it plays 5 players now (instead of 4) and has a few rules to make the 2-3 player game better, and some expansions. I picked up the “deluxe” edition with Mike Doyle art … I’m not really sure what the deluxe edition adds, although my copy came with a few expansions as part of the game. I haven’t tried them, but I’m pleased that a game I liked got a better form factor…

Written by taogaming

March 20, 2010 at 6:41 pm

Posted in Reviews

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  1. My dealer tried to push this one on me when it first came out, but at the time I knew nothing about it. Right now, I still don’t know much about it, but it’s not like you’re trying to get my money so El Capitan is going on my consideration list. Thanks!


    March 20, 2010 at 10:18 pm

  2. Let us know if you think the artwork on the whole adds or detracts…


    March 20, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    • I think it looks nice. We’ll see how functional it is. In general, I’m ambivalent about Doyle, he does sacrifice functionality for looks; but often it’s a minor sacrifice for decent returns. On the other hand, the Titan board probably makes the game unplayable if you don’t already have dozens of games under your belt (at least, so it seems to me). My only nit on Capitan (not having played) is that I personally dislike the jitter in the 3×3 grid of cities (some cities off-center or rotated). We’ll see if playing with new players reveals any issues…


      March 21, 2010 at 9:01 am

  3. I feel like this game has potentially brutal AP issues after mid-round 2. For me it did at least. Round 1, once you know the rules, should basically be just optimizing your movement using the travel cards available, and it seems clear to me that you should rush to proliferate in round 2, but once that’s done the choices become mindbending.

    Part of the problem with basic movement is that the grid and the city to city movement cards are so abstract; you can’t really use standard map skills to guide your moves, but you have to read every card and consider them if you want to get max value.

    The later rounds become complicated because, not only do you have to navigate using the nonintuitive card system, you have to (a) figure out how much you gain from placing x houses in each city [possibly considering instead your net gain for each move versus foes who are ahead/just behind you] and (b) predict opponent moves and (c) plan your next move in advance and (d) continually track which houses are bumpable in all cities and (e) predict which city will have the most houses in it and therefore be most valuable for a fortress.

    Our game seemed to flow fairly well, but I could see it slowing down significantly once people get the idea, which is backwards from the way things usually work.

    Fred Bush

    March 23, 2010 at 8:37 pm

  4. […] a comment » Regarding El Capitan, the graphics are slightly awkward, the game play is reasonable. I’ll need to try it with the […]

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