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Store:  Family Games
Genre:  Abstract Strategy
Format:  Board Games


English language edition

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Product Awards:  

Ages Play Time Players
10+ 60 minutes 2-4

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Product Description

Pueblo--the ultimate building challenge! Work with the other players to create a mighty home for the Chieftain, stone by stone. You are a craftsman but you cannot let the Chieftain see your trademark stones, or you will be penalized. The longer you play, the more difficult this task becomes! Take on your opponents and become the Chieftain's Master Builder.

Product Awards

Games Magazine Awards
Best Abstract Strategy Game, 2003
Deutscher Spiele Preis
8th place, 2002

Product Information

  • Designer(s): Michael Kiesling, Wolfgang Kramer

  • Manufacturer(s): Ravensburger Germany, Rio Grande Games

  • Year: 2002

  • Players: 2 - 4

  • Time: 60 minutes

  • Ages: 10 and up

  • Weight: 1,468 grams

  • Language Requirements: Game components are language-independent. Manufacturer's rules are printed in English. This is an international edition or domestic edition of an imported item.


  • 1 game board
  • 1 counting board
  • 27 colored building blocks
  • 16 neutral building blocks
  • 1 chieftain
  • 4 counting stones
  • 1 white marker
  • 4 order of play cards
  • 4 cult sites
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Product Reviews


Average Rating: 4.1 in 9 reviews

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by Scot
Just deep enough; excellent 'screw your neighbor' factor
December 25, 2002

Too many games these days are just too deep or complicated for play at the end of a workday. This is just the right mix. The Chieftain who walks around assessing penalties provides a great screw factor. The tension between building as the play develops and trying to position your pieces for a favorable endgame (one last walk around EVERY space) requires short and long term planning. Could the game bog down without a time limit per move? Perhaps, but actually most times there aren't too many choices to slow the game down. Excellent scoring system overall; the endgame allows tension to remain until the last penalty is assessed. Deserving of best abstract game!

by Rick Z
Simple to learn and yet surprisingly deep play
October 06, 2002

I have always enjoyed games with building blocks based on polyominoes like quintillions by Kadon. This one is very straightforward to learn and yet provides solid depth for strategy.

So far, I have only tried the game with two players. Planning ahead is critical. Sometimes it is better to take a penalty or two so that you can avoid having to play a piece on a higher level. Also, moving the chieftan so that you have a better advantage two plays down the road, adds to the planning. I am looking forward to the extra complexity three or four players will add to the game.

If you like games that require spatial skills, prefer faster paced over slow and methodical, then Pueblo is the game for you!

If you like Torres...
August 29, 2002

this one is sure to please. Kiesling and Kramer prove again that complex strategies can be built on a foundation a few simple rules. Large pieces, evocative artwork and the clever mechanics of where to move the chieftain and how best to hide your pieces in a 3-D environment make for a rewarding game that clocks in at under an hour. Enjoy.

'If I had a hammer, I'd hammer in the morning...'
July 17, 2002

Pueblo comes to us from the winning team of Kramer & Kiesling. It is a departure from the 'civilization'' building scheme they created in Tikal, Java, and Mexica. Two to four players are given 'x' amount of colored and neutral building blocks, depending on the number of players. On your turn, add a block to the game board, then move the chieftain (a kind of building supervisor). Wherever he stops, he surveys what colors he can see, and gives them penalty points. So you want to place your pieces carefully to keep them as well hidden as possible while constructing the pueblo (large house). After all the blocks are placed, the chieftain takes a final survey around the structure, again handing out penalty points to any colored blocks he sees. Low score (least penalized) wins. By far, the smallest set of rules Ive ever seen from these two designers. There is also an advanced 'pro' version that adds a 'Tikal' bidding phase and restricted building areas.

This is a great game if you love something Ive referred to in past reviews as 'The Screw Factor' Each player is out dish out the most penalty points to the other players while keeping his own points down. As I look around my game room, its hard to find a game (other than my golf games) that tests you to keep the lowest score. (Im sure they are out there, I just dont own them!) Pueblo starts off very quickly, but becomes quite an exercise in planning as the pueblo rises, leaving less ground area to work with. The higher your exposed color, the more points you could be caught with. While there are no alliances per say, I found my gaming group bantering about if you move the chieftain past me, Ill return the favor...'

Clean easy rules, solid building pieces, nice game board makes Pueblo a great game to own. I do recommend getting a 'lazy Susan' to put under the game board though, as all players are constantly rotating the board to see what can go where, with as little exposure as possible. Slows down towards the end game, as everyone analyzes the placement of their final pieces, but not to the detriment of the game. Pueblo offers a nice change of pace to 'game night' but can be easily taught to practically any family member. (Hey, even my wife caught on!) Sorry Honey... guess Ill be sleeping outside my pueblo tonight!

July 09, 2005
I like that Pueblo requires a different kind of strategic (spatial) thinking than the resource management/strategy games I usually play. I don't expect it to get stale, but I have only played it once so far.
3D Tetris
December 08, 2003

When I first saw the video game Tetris, I thought it looked quite boring. Then I played, and found how addictively fun it could be, especially when played against a human opponent. So when I saw Pueblo, the blocks immediately reminded me of Tetris and the game looked like you fit blocks together, just like Tetris. So I purchased the game, hoping that the game would be fun enough to get me past its abstract theme (Im not a huge fan of abstract games.)

So is Pueblo a good and fun game? The answer is yes, its a quick, fun abstract game for 2-4 players. Unless you cant play a game without a good theme, I think you would enjoy this fun yet deep game. Now for my usual longer answer

First, a short description of game play.

Each player is given a number of blocks, according to the number of players in the game. They receive a number of blocks both in their color and in a neutral (tan) color. All blocks are the same shape (unlike Tetris). Basically, the blocks are 4 cubes connected in a way so that from every side, three faces are showing. The playing board is placed in the middle of the table, and the scoring board next to it. The playing board has 100 squares in a 10 by 10 grid. The grid is split into four quadrants, each composed of 25 squares. The outer thirty-six squares make up a path on which the chieftain moves around the inner sixty-four squares the playing area. Each player places a little pawn of their color on the scoring board, which is just a spiral-scoring track from 0 to 100.

One player starts, and then each player takes their turn in order. On a players turn, they do two things. First, they place one of their blocks on the board. Then, they move the chieftain one to four spaces on his track and give out points. When placing blocks on the board, there are some restrictions, but mainly, the blocks can be placed anywhere you want. After the player moves the chieftain, points are scored. If the chieftain is not on a corner, he looks straight down the row in which he stands. Any color he sees gets points according to the height of the color. For example, if the color showing on the fourth level is red, then red would get 4 points. If the chieftain lands on a corner space, he instead takes an overhead look, giving one point to each color in that quadrant that can be seen when looking straight down at the board.

Now, it should be noted that points are a BAD thing in this game, and a player should try to avoid being seen by the chief. After every player has placed all their blocks, the chieftain takes one more walk around the outside track, stopping on every square, and scoring it. After this final scoring round, whichever player has the lowest points is the winner!

There are two variants to the game, which can be added separately or jointly. The Demolition version follows the basic game. After the final round, each player then takes turns in order again. However, this time, they are removing a block, then moving the chieftain. When the last block is removed, the game is over. The Pro version adds two things. Cult sites are the first. The are little L shape cardboard pieces that are placed on the board before the games starts at the players discretion. Nothing can be built on top of these sites, making space even more valuable. The other thing the pro version adds are auctions for turn order. As going first is a valuable thing, it is auctioned off twice a game (three times if playing jointly with the Demolition version). Points are used to auction with, with the winning player paying (moving their piece) the amount of points they bid. Small changes to the rules, but both these variants change the basic game quite a bit.

Some comments on the game:

1). Components: The components for this game are top-notch. The block colors are nicely done, and the blocks themselves are of high quality plastic. Theyre light, stack well, and generally are easy to work with. The little tokens and chieftain token are nice, and the boards are also nice, decorated with an ancient New Mexican design. The box is very nice, square, and holds all the components well has spaces for the smaller ones. A small white chip is provided with the game to help you remember where the chief starts when you move him around the board for his final walk. You could use your finger, but adding this unnecessary but useful piece is a nice touch. Overall, I was impressed by the quality of the components.

2). Rules: The rules for the game came in a booklet with five languages each taking up four pages of rules. As the rules for the game are both simple and short, so are the printed rules. But, since some of the rules can be a little confusing, colored illustrations on how to place blocks, score blocks, and move the chieftain are extremely helpful. I found that this game is very easy to teach and learn. People pick up on the game rather quickly although not on the strategy.

3). Strategy: Im still not sure what the best strategy for this game is, as I dont do very well at it. I know that you must try to keep at all costs from getting your blocks up high, as that can produce a lead in points that can be rather devastating to you. There are plenty of places to place your block each turn, but not too many so that analysis paralysis sets in. Every turn, a player will feel like there is no good place to put his blocks and thats a good thing. One should just strive to put their block in the least worst place. There is also a little strategy when moving the chieftain. As with many abstract games, there is no luck, but in this game, it didnt bother me that much.

4). Variants: I like the pro variant quite a bit. The auctions are nice, as going first is good, and going last is horrible. However, the cult sites really help the game out. They can take up to 12 spaces on the main board that cannot be built on pushing the blocks to the higher levels, and generally making the game hard. When teaching people the game, Ill teach the basic version first but then quickly move on to the pro version. The demolition version isnt quite as good. In my opinion, it just drags the game out longer. Yes, the winner may be different, but its not that big of a deal. I would play it if I played Pueblo all the time and needed a change.

5). Fun Factor: The theme is definitely pasted on to this game. Its an abstract strategy game, through and through. Yet I had a good time playing. It wasnt rip-roaring fun, but the game was amusing and quick enough that I enjoyed it. Part of it was getting to build with the cool little plastic blocks. Then the Tetris feel seems to bring in a lot of people too. All Ive shown this to so far, have enjoyed it. Also, it makes a good two-player game. I enjoy the multi-player game much more, but its a good game that I can pull out for my wife and me.

So I have to give a high thumbs up to Pueblo. If you need a theme to have fun, then look elsewhere. But if you want to build little blocks, and have a lot of fun doing so, while making agonizing decisions, then this is the game for you. Its a short, fun, abstract game.

Tom Vasel

A refreshing abstract strategy game.
August 24, 2002

This is an outstanding addition to the genre of abstract strategy games --- one that seems to appeal even to gamers who don't usually like abstract games.

There's a lot of player interaction, as the placement of each and every block effects other players and the placement of all other blocks.

The rules are very simple, and can be explained in less than a minute to adults and children. Yet, the strategies demand players think in three dimensions, and try to envision what effect their next move will have on opponents' and their own future moves.

Game components are excellent, and functional.

Playing in less than an hour, Pueblo is an excellent game for both family gaming and the more serious gamer. I highly recommend this game.

I loved this initially but...
January 13, 2005

the game got stale more quickly than I expected. I have to admit that the 3D quality of the game is very attractive but the strategy seemed pretty straight forward after 3 tries and the game lost its appeal.

This is a great game to sit in a ski lodge by the fire in Santa Fe New Mexico. People would sit down and play while drinking hot cocoa and Kalua then return to the slope. It is a great game for family reunions. It is not a great game to take out once a week and play several times because it loses its shine fairly quickly.

Not my cup of tea
November 02, 2002

Pueblo falls short in my estimation for two reasons:

1. I'm not a fan of abstracts, and this one doesn't give me any compelling reason to make it an exception.

2. Contrary to Rick Z.'s assertion, this game is _highly_ susceptible to analysis paralysis. If you want to play this game, I would recommend using a one-minute sand timer.

Other Resources for Pueblo:

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