El Capitan: Preview III

QWG has given me permission to say a bit more about El Capitán and feature some new art here. The designers of El Capitán are Wolfgang Kramer and Horst-Rainer Rösner. I’m hesitant to say that this is a remake of a game they created in ‘98 called Tycoon as so much has been improved and special features/expansions added to the game. I’ve not played Tycoon, myself, but based on the changes, it sounds much better to me.

Firstly, as you might remember, Tycoon had genuine problems with the art. When QWG approached me with this title, I looked up Tycoon – as I was unfamiliar with it – and was shocked by the production. It looked nothing like a German game but more like a bad mass market production. As such, this really must have taken away from game play and, consequently, sales. (I’d post an image here, but it is so bad, I wouldn’t want non-English speaking/reading visitors to mistake the art for mine.)

The designers and publishers have spent a great deal of time refining the game and looking for new opportunities to refresh this title. Most of the changes I’ll mention at another time. One change I will mention here is the cities, themselves. The distribution of types of cities (more valuable, mid range, and least valuable) is different than Tycoon. Also of note is the addition of 3 expansion cities (Portuguese cities) which will be located on the left side of the board. Anywhere from 1 to all 3 of the cities may be added in a game, if one desires. The interesting thing about them is they all have unique powers/features which should add to the replay value significantly. For instance, one of these cities includes a pirate feature which seems an interesting twist.

One of nine city “boards” that lie on the captain’s table within a folded cloth. There will also be 3 “expansion” cities included in the game which can be placed off the board.

Most of the art is near final and I really like the way it is looking. The board, which I will show in another post, is an image of something like a captain’s table. On it are framed city boards that are set within the rippling of a blue cloth. The combination of wood ornamentation and blue cloth looks very rich. Pictured above you can see one such city. Along the top left are the two ports and top right the two fortresses. On the track players build their warehouses in the city. Darkened spaces relate to renovation areas that trigger renovation. The half darkened space is special renovation triggers for fewer players. A payout value is located in each space for the first majority. (Second majority is half that amount.) Dropping the second majority number was very helpful in reducing the visual clutter and focusing attention to the number patterns that make up the board. Given that second majority is always half, it is an easy matter to figure out. Each city portrays a different scene and a different pattern which is appropriate for that place. The cities span the Mediterranean from Spain, France, Africa, Greece and Egypt to name a few.

Image of one of two types of loan cards.

– Mike