Spiel 2014 Preview: El Gaucho

Posted by James (admin) on September 23rd, 2014

El Gaucho gameEl Gaucho is a eurogame of cattle ranching.  From reading the rules, it sound like a fresh mix of game mechanics is a light, fast game which appeals to me.  On the board is a pen for rolling dice, rows of cows to be gained in the paddock, and special action areas.

Each round, a set of dice are rolled and players take turns to take two of these dice and using them to take actions.  One action is to use the dice to gain cows from the paddock.  If a player uses dice whose total exactly matches the large number on the cow’s tile, they place one of their workers (Gauchos) on the tile standing up.  A player can place a Gaucho lying down on a tile if their dice matches the smaller (and easier to obtain) number on the tile, but it takes a second dice matching this small number to then make that Gaucho stand up.

At the end of a round, if a row of cows in the paddock has a Gaucho on everyone one (standing up or lying down), cow tiles with Gauchos standing-up on them are claimed by their owning players (and cow tiles with lying -down Gauchos on them remain where they are as new cow tiles are added to their row).  When a player gains cows, they place them in rows according to their type and new tiles are always added to the right of any existing row.  However, there is a catch: Cows placed in ascending or descending numerical order are fine but, if a newly placed cow breaks this sequence, the current row of cows must be sold immediately, and then the remaining cows to be added start a new row. For example, if you already have a row of brown cows numbered 12-8-6 and have brown cows numbered 9 and 5 to add, you could add the 5 first (making the row 12-8-6-5 and then adding the 9 means you must sell the row as it would break the descending value sequence.  When sold, the amount of Pesos earned is equal to the number of cow tiles being sold multiplied by the highest single tile value.

El Gaucho coverInstead of claiming cows, players can use specific dice results to place one of their Gauchos on one of the various action spaces.  Each player is limited to one action space of each type of action (which means players can not be blocked).

During their turn, and in addition to using dice for actions, a player can remove a previously-placed Gaucho from an action space to use its ability (but only if it was placed in a previous round).  The actions allow players to do things like insert a cow tile in an existing row (rather than add it to the end), or pretend you have an extra dice of any value, or sell a herd for extra Pesos, or steal a cow from an opponent, or replace an opponent’s Gaucho, etc.

When the stack of cow tiles runs out (not literally), the end game is triggered and the player with the most Pesos wins.

Whilst this may be a light-to-medium weight eurogame, it looks like it contains a continuous stream of small choices and tactical plays.  There seem to be opportunities to combine different actions cleverly for great effect too.  A player can have a larger plan which will reap lots of Pesos, but they will need to react to what is happening for it to work.  Plus, there’s a slight puzzle element to it when it comes to placing cattle together.

I can see some interesting decisions between using two dice to claim one high-value cow with an upright Gaucho, or two lower-value cows with two lying-down Gauchos and then using further actions to stand those Gauchos up.  With only 8 Gauchos, players will probably need to balance the amount they have on cow tiles and the amount they have on special action spaces.  Plus, there’s room for denying opponents tiles you can see they may want, and even some humourous screwage too.  Sounds fun and really appeals to me.

More info and the rules will be available soon on Argentum Verlag’s site, but for now you can read the rules on the game’s BGG page.

For more Spiel 2014 previews, check out my Spiel 2014 Previews page which lists the games on my radar with links to their previews too.


2 Responses to “Spiel 2014 Preview: El Gaucho”

  1. Nashman88 Says:

    “I can see some interesting decisions between using two dice to claim one high-value cow with an upright Gaucho, or two lower-value cows with two lying-down Gauchos and then using further actions to stand those Gauchos up.”

    It strikes me that you won’t always necessarily want a Gaucho standing up on high-level cows – if you are collecting a herd in ascending order, and you have several Gaucho’s on different pastures, the other players can fill out the pasture with the high numbered cow and force you to take it before you can collect the lower numbered cow.

    Looks very interesting!

    Any idea when it will be on general release for those of us in the UK?

  2. James (admin) Says:


    Good point on using the lying-down Gauchos which could be good for reserving a cow for collection in a later round – sounds like a good tactic. I didn’t have space to explain all the action spaces in detail and there is one which allows an opponent to replace your Gaucho with a standing one of theirs, so the reservation isn’t completely guaranteed.

    Not sure when it’s coming through general distribution. Some of the online UK stores (such as Gameslore and Boardgameguru) have it for sale, but maybe because they brought back stock from Essen.



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