#7 ALBS, original German edition
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In 1493 Christopher Columbus discovered the eastern-most island of the Great Antilles. About 50 years later, Puerto Rico began to really blossom -- through you! Which roles will you play in this new world: Prospector? Governor? Settler? Trader? Whatever you do, you have one goal: to achieve the greatest prosperity and highest reputation! Who will have the most fruitful plantation? Who will build the most impressive buildings? And, who will earn the most victory points?
Players: 3 - 5
Time: 90 - 150 minutes
Ages: 12 and up
Weight: 1,142 grams
Language Requirements: Game components contain some foreign text, possibly requiring occasional reference to rules translation. An English translation of the rules is provided.
- 5 player boards
- 1 governor card
- 8 role cards
- 1 game board
- 49 buildings
- 54 doubloons
- 58 plantations
- 1 colonist ship
- 100 colonists
- 1 trading house
- 50 trade goods
- 5 trade ships
- 50 victory point chips
Average Rating: 4.8 in 68 reviews
A great gamers game that requires some thought each time you move, without becoming too bogged down by analysis paralysis. So many options every time you play, just when you think you have the best strategy all worked out, someone else will show you why it doesn't work..! About the only criticism I have is that there are a couple of buildings in the game that really aren't worth using; replacing them or reducing their prices would add a few more possibilities.
The game is well balanced as local trading and/or shipping may be compromised. Many ways to win even without the harbor. Unlike most games, you are not able to plan more than 2-3 turns ahead making it very challenging at times. Avoid the university unless you are in a 5 player game (or even 4). One great feature is that it only takes about 2 games to get the concept, and another 2 to observe and develop basic strategies. Our normal game times are 45 min for a 3 player, 60-70 min for a 4 player, and about 80-90 min for a 5 player game.
There is so many roles to choose from but which will benefit yourself most and hurt the rest. So many strategies but not one is a sure-win formula. All this elements are found in Puerto Rico. There has been so many reviews written about this game, I don't think I need to elaborate further. Try the game once, and you will understand what I mean. It is simply addictive and fun.
I have been aware of PR for some time but had been reluctant to buy it because the description and theme just didnt appeal to me for some reason. Finally, after reading all of the praise, I decided to pick up a copy. Little did I know it would soon become the favorite in my game collection. This game is like no other game Ive ever played. It is truly in a class by itself.
Beware though, when you open it up for the first time, do not expect to be playing within 10 minutes. There are a lot of rules (although they are well written) to absorb and that combined with the 200 or so pieces can make you question whether this game will be worth the time commitment necessary to learn it. Let me assure you that it is well worth it.
It usually takes a new player at least 1 full game to even begin to grasp how this game works. And I would say it takes 2 to 3 games before you become familiar with the functions of all the buildings and the advantages each one offers. It wasnt until our 4th or 5th game that I finally made it through an entire game without having to consult the rulebook at least once to settle a dispute over the exact function of a building in a given circumstance.
Once you get past the learning curve, though, this game becomes extremely addictive and competitive. And there is very little down time between turns because when someone performs an action on his turn, everyone else gets to perform that same action on that same turn. It is a very clever system in which you try to take a role (perform an action) that benefits you more than it will benefit your opponents.
I wont go into all the details because so many other reviewers already have, but I do want to emphasize how subtle the strategies are. In this game you dont have monumental turns. You take baby steps to victory and you slowly outscore your opponents without them even realizing it until the end (because you keep your victory point chips hidden). In the last game I played, I thought I was doing fairly well, only to find myself in last place at the end of the game. This kind of thing is common because a strategy that won you the last game can lose you this game because your opponents have changed their game plans, which completely affects yours. That is the beauty of this game.
I introduced this game to a group of friends and family and it was so well received that we now meet weekly for PR night. Ive played about 10 times now and dont see myself getting bored with it any time soon. Puerto Rico is Game of the Year in my book. Maybe even Game of the Decade. Highly recommended.
This game is so well rounded and balanced that I can't imagine anyone not liking it. I've introduced this game to four different families. All who have tried it have reacted with such enthusiasm that it gets me worked up just thinking about the game. If I could change one thing regarding this game, it would be the frequency with which I'm able to play it. I've never played a game that left you so hungry for more. My wife is not one to play games for the fun of playing. Typically she'll play along in family games just because everyone else is playing. This game, however, has lit a passionate fire in her. I took this game to my in-laws to give them a chance to play. They are not gamers as all, and unfortunately due to our time constraint that day, we were unable to finish it. But two weeks later, my brother-in-law confessed to me that for three days after we left town, he kept pouring over the seemingly endless possibilities in his head--we had played only a few rounds. I laughed. The game may seem a little daunting at first with all the many pieces, but before you've played even one game through, you'll be infected. It truly is a wonderful game. So many options in the game...so few games...
i would basically like to comment on the handful of reviews that bashed this game, and respond to their criticisms.
first of all, yes it's true - pr is not a casual game - it is a deep german board game like princes of florence or tigris & euphrates. however, it only takes half an hour to play (among experienced players) and does not require tedious analysis or good memory to play sucessfully.
although pr is more tactical than princes of florence, there is a great deal of strategy required for winning consistently. people who feel like in pr they are completely reacting to other player's moves and never make any decisions that aren't virtually forced are simply weak players who haven't figured out that establishing a solid source of income in the early game which will be converted into buildings in the mid-game which will payoff by giving points in the late game is the foundation of any successful strategy, and trust me now that the new buildings are out there are many many different ways to win at pr.
if people find the game dry or boring i can't say that they're outright wrong cause that's their personal opinion, but one thing that's for certain is that in PR there is virtually no down-time, which is something that can't be said about the grand majority of games out there.
this is basically what it comes down to: if you like games that offer thrilling suspense and where your position is largely outside of your control then PR is not the game for you. if you like taking control of resources and having a variety of tools with which to harvest them into victory, then this game is perfect for you. to draw a metaphor with settlers, which seems to be a popular game here: if you like the resource management and construction aspect of settlers, then youll love pr. if you feel that the excitement that comes with the randomness of the dice and the social aspect of the robber are much more of the highlights of the game, its likely that you won't like pr. if you like a variety of successful stategies and high replayability value (which to me are the main standards that any boardgame should be measured by) then pr is the game for you.
If one looks over the many, many reviews here for Puerto Rico, one is struch by the difference of opinion regarding it. On the one hand are the strategy gamers, those that see it as a remarkable blend of systems that mesh together into a superior gaming experience. On the other are the casual gamers who see it a fiddly pile of exceptions to exceptions, a mishmash of separate pieces to at do not build cohesively.
Who is right? Well, that would depend on which of the two camps you call home. Personally, I am a member of the former camp. I prefer deep strategy games that require careful planning. I may not be any good at it, but I prefer games that reward thinking rather than reaction.
The casual gamer should steer clear of this island, however. This game is the antithesis of the casual gaming experience. It is strategic rather than the tactical of most casual games. Long term planning is rewarded in Puerto Rico, and short-sighted players will find themselves both lost, losing, and confused.
If I enjoy the game so much, then why only four stars? Simply because a five star game should be one that affords a more universal experience, one that can appeal to gamers and non-gamers alike, and bcause few games truly deserve the highest ranking. Three stars should be the onsidered standard, four should be a superior game, and five should be that rare jewel that belongs in every gamer's collection. At the other end of the scale, two stars should be a game that falls short of the mark, but still might be worthy of occasional play, and one star should be reserved for thise pieces of gaming excreta that should never have seen the light of day. In rebuttal to the former review, Puerto Rico is NOT that excreta. but a truly exceptional gaming experience.
I would like to take a moment to comment on the reviewing process. I wrote this review in response to the one just prior to it, in which PR was labbelled as 'lame.' Puerto Rico is anything but lame, but I can see how the reviewer would not like it, as well. I think that it was just a case of a poor match between gamer and game. In that, I don't think the fault was with the game, which had no choice in the matter, but with the gamer, who had unrealistic expectation of what the game would be. With the Internet, it is now almost absurdly easy to read up on a game and get an idea of what a game is like before sitting down to play it, so there is little excuse for being mismatched with a game like this. True, one can find oneself at a home or game store and an unknown game hits the table, but the person providing the game should have done a bit of research and tried to gear the game choice to the intended audience.
I have taken in upon myself to try to be the Roger Ebert of the boardgame world. I may not like a game, but I try to analyze why I did not enjoy it, and try to imagine who the intended audience might be for that game. I suggest other reviewers try to take a more egalitarian approach as well.
I just need to counterpoint my predecessor here. All the gamers I've played this with have loved it. No accounting for taste of course, but it's a pretty easy game as far as rules go. Figuring out how to win is trickier because everything your oppenents are doing will impact you--but that's the fun of this gem.
Also, 1 star?! I can't imagine any justification for giving this game anything less than 3 stars--and even that would be a bit outrageous.
This game is meant for everyone from friends sittin' around bored to the most serious gamers. While it takes only a minute to learn, this will take a lifetime to master. Along with Union Pacific and Settlers of Catan (and all the expansion packs) this is among the elite of all games. Seriously consider adding it to your library!
This game is even easier to play than its cousin, Princes of Florence. When we get together at our favorite spot in Shawnee, Kansas--Tabletop games, I see a table cramed with Alea product. I'm an addict myself Taj Mahal, Princes, Puerto Rico and I'm def'n buying Mammoth Hunters. Last night we played a 3hr. games of Traders of Genoa.
But it is the best of the series by far. And a Free expansion? unheard of stateside. Kudos.
I wanted to put my two cents in about this game. I have owned Puerto Rico for some time but only recently got a chance to play it and was I ever wowed. This game was fun for everyone who played, even those who don't tend to be very competetive. For some, it was a sandbox in which they got to interract with others and build a colony they could be proud of. For the others, it was much more cut throat. The funny thing? The ones who played it 'sandbox style' won the game. Anyway, I highly reccomend this game to anyone with one caveate. For those of you hoping to buy a game you can take out of the box and play right away you might be dissapointed. The rules are intricate (though not complicated) and the game play requires a solid understanding of how the rules work. Be patient, learn the rules, and believe me, it'll pay off.
Puerto Rico is destined to be a classic, it is simply a fun game. I enjoyed it the first time I played it and it seems to get better each time. No one sits, doing nothing, waiting for their turn to come around. Everyone plays on every turn (mostly).
Puerto Rico has depth and a single winning strategy seems elusive. It is the right length for what it offers, coming in at about 90 minutes. Expansions are available for free on this website and casual or non-gamers can get the hang of it easily enough.
DO BE CAREFUL how you introduce Puerto Rico to non-gamers, the mechanics of the game are unique enough that their eyes may glaze over if you explain it thoroughly. The best way to introduce non-gamers to the game is to let them watch a few rounds prior to playing.
Buy this game if you enjoy board games at all.
Initally the game is intimidating to set up. Seemingly hundreds of pieces, lots of piles and tile placement.
Then you begin to play and have FUN!
I had the benefit of learning the game with people who owned the game before me. Nonetheless the general mechanic was easy to pick up and the flow of the game picked up immediately. Each round the players assume a different role in the development of the Island of Puerto Rico. Each role has advantages in different rounds. The roles change with each round of play. The tactics shift and change depending on what roles one's opponents choose, the resources available and the developments one has been pursuing on their island. There are multiple strategies one can employ and the tactics used in each game change whether or not you play with the same group of players. One of my favorite purchases.
Conclusion- Deep, strategy game in which you attempt to build your version of the the island of Puerto Rico. Tons of replay potential. Intitial complexity pays off in strategic options available. Set-up gets easier with each play. I highly recommed this game!
this game is perfect (in my opinion). cool theme-similation. nice mechanics. little, limited but significant randoming factors. some player interactions (well, it's still cool to talk somebody to take the role you want them to take). deep, multi-level and diversed strategy. perfect lenght. play with different players or different number of players (3, 4 or 5) and you will have a completely new game, new situation and new chanlenge to deal with.
finally if i really have to pick something out, it's kinda a hell to set the game up. but i would still want to give it a 6-star if i can!
If you love strategy you will love this game and you have several choices on how to gain victory points. Shipping and/or building is usually a must... It takes 1-2 games to really get your head around this game, but once you do, you will see everyone around you building up their little territory in Puerto Rico. I think the best choice of a predecessor to this game is Princes of Florence. Beware, Puerto Rico is highly addictive!
PR is by far the most involving game that I have ever played. the last game that my group played was nail-bitingly close until the very end. 5 points (5!) divided the first through fourth (me!) place finisher. This game is as close to perfection as has ever been made. For those rating this game lower because of alleged 'lack of support' from Rio Grande Games does a disservice to the excellence of this game. Rate the game for what the GAME is worth, not the company. BTW, Rio Grande Games is a company that sells, alot of spare parts for ALOT of their games (just check their website). It's a shame that parts get lost, but lost parts are not their fault. Game on!
Puerto Rico is the best game out there, at least that I know of. Why? Every game is different. There are a huge number of strategies, any of which can win depending on conditions in the particular game. Everyone I have introduced it to adores it and these people range from my mother who just likes to have a good time playing, to gamer types who like to drain their brains trying to win. The antagonists of this game claim that what is wrong with it is that there is no winning strategy. I say that is what makes Puerto Rico the crown jewel of boardgames. I say, if you can find a strategy that wins every time, the game has reached the end of its life, and that this will never happen to Puerto Rico. It is too well designed.
Puerto Rico is a true gem of a strategy game. It gets constant replayings in our group, and each game is different.
I disagree with an earlier post here, and let me explain why.
Claim: There is no strategy, only reaction to what everyone else does.
There is plenty of strategy in Puerto Rico. If a player merely reacts to what others are doing, he can't possibly win. Better players will study opponents' holdings and anticipate what they may select in the next round; then, determine the player's own requirements and, according to one's strategy, manuever through the anticipated moves --- and stay ready to alter course if an opponent makes a particularly strong move.
Claim: There is no planning, only the search for what will help you the most on that particular turn, and not help everyone else in the process.
I repeat my previous comment about anticipation. The better players think 2-3 turns ahead, keeping a keen I on the number of colonists and VPs remaining in the pool.
Planning is critical to this game. A player must have a strategy in mind, and then plan out which products he will concentrate on, and which combination of buildings will optimize his earnings and VPs. This is critical when it comes to deciding on what to buy, because you've got to have enough doubloons to afford it.
Planning the end game is very important.
Claim: . . . with the almost complete elimination of luck it gives the illusion of a heightened strategic element when no strategy is possible. You can only react to what the other players do, what you receive from their actions, and then adjust your needs accordingly. There is no opportunity to be proactive, only reactive.
The competitive players are pro-active; the weak players react to their moves. A player has a chance to be proactive every turn, if he plans properly.
Claim: I don't really agree with the replayability factor. The beginning of each game is fairly predictable. For the first 5 rounds, the governor picks the mayor at the start of the round. For the last 5 rounds, the governor usually picks the captain. Given that an average game lasts 15 rounds, that leaves only 5 rounds in the middle, where there actually are a few surprises in the turn order.
I've never seen a game of Puerto Rico that follows this pattern. It's indicative of players with little or not strategic imagination, or a weak grasp of the rules.
Puerto Rico is a terrifically competitive and tense multi-player strategy game that ranks up with the best of all time. The recently released 'expansion' buildings have made it even richer.
Puerto Rico is no doubt one of the best games I have ever played. The reaction after my first game was: 'I've got to play this again'. Now after my 20th playing, the feeling is as strong as ever. If its First Place finish in the 2002 Deutscher Spiel Pries (German Game of the Year Award), and award for Games Magazine Best Advanced Strategy Game 2003 is any indication, it may become the standard by which future strategy games are judged.
Its appeal stems from two brilliant qualities: First, the game seems to defy the application of a consistantly winning strategy; formula approaches dont work. This is what lends the game such a high re-playability factor. In fact, your only real strategy is to be flexible because the game's player driven mechanism makes it that way. Secondly, there is the agony of decision making that confronts you because of the fluid, ever-changing situation. Multiple choices, multiple paths to victory, each one never a sure thing. How do you decide which path to follow ? Can you jump strategy in mid-stream ? Is it too late to alter course? Most importantly of all, what are my neighbors doing? Real challenging stuff here.
A bit about game-play: Each player is essentially a plantation owner in old-world Puerto Rico. He must decide which crops to plant, which refineries to build, and how much labor to allocate. The goal is to acquire victory points by shipping goods to Europe and by constructing new buildings in town. Money is just a tool; it is victory points that count in the end. In order to do this, players must decide upon a planting and shipping strategy based upon the circumstances that the game offers to them. Sometimes growing cash crops is the way to go; sometimes growing plain-old corn and shipping like crazy is the way; sometimes you've got to do both; and sometimes the best thing is to just copy your opponents. Bottom line: be flexible.
The game is driven through a role-choosing mechanism like the kind seen in 'Citadels'. This is a very clever and appealing device which makes for some tricky and sometimes nasty game-play. Just when you're trying to setup a play, someone comes along and chooses the role you were hoping for. There go your plans! In essence, the choosing of roles provides ample opportunities to either benefit or damage the prospects of your opponents. Many times have I blundered by unknowingly assisting my opponents with the roles I've chosen. Conversely, opportunities exist to play the 'spoiler' by picking roles your neighbors arent prepared for. For example, selecting the Captain when another player cant ship, or store all his goods. Another 'spoiling' move is to stuff the trading house to prevent other players from selling their goods. In sum, one must watch the workings of his or her neighbors in order to exploit them.
Best of all, like most great games, Puerto Rico is a contest of skill and chance plays a small role. There are no dice; each player determines his own destiny, as well as the destiny of others. The choices that each player makes ultimately determines how he will fare when it comes time to tally up victory points. You are given the choices; it is up to you to make the most from them. For players who enjoy a challenging, highly replayable game that offers many ways to win, Puerto Rico is the way to go.
Best thing about this game is that the luck factor is almost completely eliminated from this game. You roll the dice once to see who goes first. From then on it's pure stategy. Our gaming group meets every Friday and Puerto Rico has been on the agenda ever since we were introduced to it.
If you like Settlers of Catan and you want to try something new then this is the game. Puerto Rico has it all! Playing at first may seem daunting but after a couple of runs at the game the principles are pretty simple.What I really like about Puerto Rico is there is really no luck factor. You have to be aware of what your opponents are doing and then determine your own strategy. There are so many different ways to win. I can't wait to share this game with others. Happy Gaming!
I enjoyed playing it with a friend so much that now I want to buy it for myself. It was a lot of fun. I thought it was more of a thinking game than others that I've played, but I enjoyed it a lot. It was challenging but I enjoy challenges.
This game lives up the hype. It is a great game and this, coming from a very critical and avid game player -- me. My friends and I can't wait to play Puerto Rico again and again and this says a lot since we love to play games but are highly critical of the games we play. Puerto Rico's rules seem confusing and lengthy in the beginning, but once you play its actually very easy. The choices you can make, the multiple ways to win, and the sheer strategy make the game enjoyable. This is a must have for games who like their games to have little to no luck and more strategy.
Puerto Rico is fantastic. Easy to learn, but the strategy is still there. I would much rather bring this game out then just about anything else in my collection. The game has good production values and has a nice eye candy factor. Everybody should own a copy of this wonderful game.
Don't be scared off by this game being categorized as 'Advanced Strategy.' Despite the large amount of rules that this game has, (in my experience) it is actually quite easy to explain. The rules are very intuitive and fit very well with the theme.
Just demonstrate how to gain a victory point by shipping a good (i.e. demonstrate how to do this without the role-choosing mechanism), then repeat this demonstration, slowly adding more and more detail.
As for strategy, tell new players that there are basically only two ways to get victory points and two ways to get money. THEN tell them about the buildings.
I've played this game a dozen times, now. Each time it was a different game and each time called for a different strategy on my part. The more I play the more I want to play. I know a lot of people like me. I wonder if there will be a 'Puerto Rico Players Annonymous' some time in the future?
The most fun/interesting/frustrating thing about this game is that there's no magic bullet: no one strategy that will win it. There's a small amount of randomness generated by the game, but most of the variables are due to player choices. The game players soon start to incorporate politicking. Or just picking on whoever appears to be in the lead. We always want to play another game after finishing one. That's the sign of a great game!
The best thing I can say about this game that hasn't already been said is that the 'formula' for victory changes so radically from game to game that it defies a player to identify a slam-dunk winning strategy. Each players individual strategy directly affects everyone else at the table, so even though the mechanics never change, the situations in which to use them almost always do. This gives Puerto Rico a replay value far above most of its sibling Euro games. As much as I enjoy its predecessor Princes of Florence I'm afraid it will gather a lot of dust by comparison because of the higher degree of interaction among players. Every choice of roles affects not just your board, but your opponents as well. This gives it the edge over Princes, which is isolationist by comparison.
As it's getting to be gift-giving time you should definitely consider this gem for the serious gamer on your list. The strategies are too complicated, varied and subtle to recommend as a family game (Settlers or Carcassonne are better choices), but this is by far the best advanced strategy game I've seen in 2002.
After having played this game many times I've come to enjoy it even more. If you're looking for a game in which the mechanics are complex enough for a 'gamer' yet not mind numbingly so, all players are constantly involved, luck plays only a very small part, the successful strategies are many and varied, the backstabbing is veiled yet decisive, and most games end with even casual players wanting 'another go', then look no further than Puerto Rico.
Inspired by childhood fascinations with games of all types and sizes, I started collecting Rio Grande and other board games. I started inviting a group of friends from work to join me in game nights every couple months. The group of statisticians, physicists, quantitative analysts and programmers just love Reiner's games with their simple, mathematical beauty, but we have recently begun expanding into the new games in my collection such as Settlers of Catan and Lowenherz. Last week, the reviews online tempted me to buy a new copy of Puerto Rico.
We unwrapped it, and started counting the zillions of little chits with a little trepedation. The instructions were long, the details daunting. I had printed helper sheets from online sites that proved to be of some assistance in clarifying and simplifying the structure of the game. After 45 minutes of reading, discussing, and setting up pieces, we began a five person game.
What a gem!
I just cannot say enough about this game. Even with only one playing (and, believe me, there are many more to come), we were all hooked. The initially daunting instructions are just a little too detailed in their descriptions. The game is actually pretty easy to learn, so don't be turned off by the initial investment.
The balancing of resources, subtle pressure to get other players to accept certain roles during their turn, bribery in the extra value of roles on certain turns due to the gold associated with them, dynamics of picking a strategy that most assists yourself without providing similar marginal assistance to others -- so many things to think about and hypothesize about and consider. A rich range of interesting options. I expect future games with substantively different outcomes and winning strategies.
It was all around very impressive, captivating, and enjoyable. A clear competitor to Reiner's games, as well as most others that come to mind from my collection. In fact, I would put it at or near the top of my list right now:
1) Puerto Rico
2) Settlers of Catan
3) Through the Desert
6) Lord of the Rings (with expansion)
7) Modern Art
Try them all -- you will love them. But try Puerto Rico if you haven't already. Sure to be a classic and sure to win more awards. Happy gaming!
Puerto Rico is a great game. One of the best to come along in a while.
Having only played once, it takes a full game to comprehend the rules but by the end of the game you've become aware of the many decisions needed for success.
The game has all the right ingredients to keep it at the top of many gaming groups, as it rewards a variety of strategies and depending on who your opponents are, strategies will vary from game to game.
There is a good balance of elements I like... multi-player action, several tough choices, a bit of luck but mostly the seduction... to keep you playing again and again.
Lots of good stuff going on here and I'm looking forward to several more games.
It's a real winner.
Much has been said in all the reviews before, but this has been the game that in the past two years, I've been most excited about, such to the point that it's always a matter of convincing people to play one more game right after. It is constantly forcing players to make interesting decisions, and avoids the multi-player solitaire feeling of Princes of Florence almost entirely. Well done all around.
As soon as you finish reading this review, seriously, go out and buy this game.
I haven't played too many 'german-style' type board games (hey, I haven't even played Settlers yet!), but so far this far surpasses any other game I have ever played. Some say the player interaction isn't as present as it should be... well, I haven't experienced that problem yet, and the interaction involved is quite strategic, as your choice of role may not only help you, but screw over one of your opponents.
Minimal luck is involved in this game, and I absolutely hate games based on luck.
The bits are good, however, they are quite easy to lose, especially the colonists.
Other than that, gameplay is fantastic and it actually gives you a sense of accomplishment when you see your flexible plan work and win the game for you.
Princes was great. Puerto Rico is far beyond great.
GO. BUY. NOW!
I find myself concurring with Randall Peek's review ver batim (below). He has expertly captured the essence and value of this marvelous game.
To his review, I would merely add that after 5 playings, I find I am still challenged to develop a winning strategy. As Randall noted, this game is about resource management, and in this realm, it has few peers when it comes to strategy and enjoyment. Players must strike a fine balance in his/her resource management to win, and maintain it throughout the game despite challenges each turn from the opponents. Rarely does a game pose to its players difficult decisions each and every turn, with each decision impacting on the decisions and fortunes of every player.
Puerto Rico is both extremely challenging and fun. The serious gamer's collection is incomplete without it.
We've bought this game in his original version (German) and received a little translation sheet in our language (french, i'm living in brussels / belgium). Wooow, rules were terrible when you've decided to play the first time. It took more than 3 hours, because at each tour we had to re-read the rules and compare them with the colored and pictures german booklet.
This game is really exciting, no dead time, every player are always playing, that's great.
Of course, i've now found a beautifull PDF file with the full french translation. Now everything is perfect, and we're really enjoying this game.
Buy it, it worth a play !
This is the closest I've come to the perfect game. The fact that everyone does the same action on everyone's turn keeps all engaged in the game. There are no huge lapses like in other games as you wait until your turn is up again.
It also has depth in that several different strategies can be used to win, and the best strategy often changes as you try to fill niches that your oppenent aren't. There is the shipping strategy, the building strategy, the rabbit sprint and force end game strategy, or a combination of these.
If you like the game too, add a rating. I'd love to see this one at the top of the ratings list.
This is a exceptionally good game in the style of princes of Florence and Handler von Genua.
anybody who enjoyed these games will love Puerto Rico.
Lots of different tactics work to win.
There is a facinating play in the timing of the differnt roles.
Me and my friends love it.
My advice invest.
Then play and play again.
What a great game! The amount of directions you can go in this game seem staggering. The downtime is minimal (if any). Trying to figure out which role to pick (and when to pick it) in order to maximize your return while minimizing your opponents is probably the main focus of this game. Don't let anyone tell you that there is no player interaction. When I choose the 'Captain' and 3 other players groan because they know they can't ship or store their goods, then I call that interaction! This is NOT 5 player solitare. Puerto Rico also plays well with 2 players. Head on over to boardgamegeek.com for a 2 player summary. But before you do that...BUY PUERTO RICO RIGHT NOW!
Steve Zamborsky <[email protected]> from Berea,
Ohio said: 'If this doesn't win the 2002 Spiel des Jahres...
...then I'll eat my copy of Puerto Rico. Little wooden colonists and all (a little A1 sauce, and you can eat a lot of things you never thought you could).'
Anyway, I finally got round to playing Bloody Peurto Rico last night. Guess who got the job of counting out the 100 victory points? And guess who got the job of counting out the 75 little settlers. And guess who got the job of arranging all the goods at the bottom of the board. Grrrrrr, bloody Peurto Rico... so many bits, so much preparation! 'This better be good!' I thought.
And then, I get screwed over royally all through the game. Everyone picking on me, making my goods spoil, making sure I can't sell anything... mutter, mutter, grumble stamp. Bloody Puerto Rico! What's all fuss about?
But despite all that, I think this game is a winner. I want to design a coin counter style settler counter so you can tip all the settlers in a hopper at the top and type in 75 (or how ever many you want) and push a button and it counts them out for you. That would improve sessions of Bloody Puerto Rico immensely ! :o)
Great depth, great balance, nice bits, excellent scope for being a bastard to your fellow players... lots of interaction, little downtime. All good. I can't wait to play Bloody Peurto Rico again actually!
I was originally not as impressed as I expected because the game was rather complicated (lot's of little things to keep track of, many buildings to learn, and special rules for many occurances). I also thought that winning and losing was often determined by the randomness of the phase orders that other's chose. One game I got 73 points simply because everyone chose the exact phase I would have wanted them to choose. As our gaming group began to understand the subtleties better, the game started to seem less random. I am now thouroughly captivated by the game. Even so, do not EVER try to teach this game to non-gamers!
Puerto Rico raises the bar for the ideal gaming experience in my opinion. I bought a copy after playing it the first time at ORIGINS 2002.
After only three games, it seems that the strategy depth has barely been scratched. As mentioned, long-term strategy may be futile as the economic environment is constantly changing. Being flexible, and being able to adjust your tactics will pay off.
There is more competition than in Princes of Florence, but the fun sense of creating your own empire is still there. Any game like this which is enjoyable to play even if you don't finish on top gets high marks from me. The competition is relatively gentle- it is more jockeying for position and taking advantage of opportunities than it is outright destruction of what your opponent has built.
I also felt like two of the games I played ended too early, just as my infrastructure was being completed. But in both of those games, one or more players had both a Hacienda and a Hospice in play, and we were placing a colonist on the extra plantation as it was taken. A subsequent reading of the rules revealed that the extra plantation does NOT get a colonist with it under these conditions. If we had played it right, the slower colonist drain rate would have allowed the game to continue for a couple more rounds at least.
There seems to be a myriad of potential paths to victory, so the replay value should be very high. What am I doing writing this? I could be playing Puerto Rico!
...then I'll eat my copy of Puerto Rico. Little wooden colonists and all (a little A1 sauce, and you can eat a lot of things you never thought you could).
This game is outstanding; make no mistake about it. I thought that you would be hard pressed to find a board game that would not only rival, but surpass Princes of Florence for replayability, theme and game design. Well, here it is, folks. I certainly won't go on and on about the clever mechanisms and flawless gameplay; it's all been done before. Just purchase a copy and see for yourself. You won't lose. Trust me.
Puerto Rico is, indeed, a wonderful gaming experience. Rather than rehash a lot of what has been said, I will simply point to a few major points as to why this game is a big favorite of ours...
1. The level of player interaction is wonderful. Sure, it sets up looking like a candidate for the dreaded 'multi-player solitaire' label, but, in actuality you are in constant conflict with your opponents over a variety of issues:
- the choices of the roles
- picking your plantation tiles
- the limited number of the buildings
- the loading of the ships
All of this combines to make you feel like you are very much in competition with other settlers.
2. The lack of downtime is unparalled in similar, turn-based games. Like another one of my absolute favorites, Traders of Genoa, all the players have plenty to do not only on their turn, but also on each other players turn. There is rarely a break of more than fifteen seconds or so where you have nothing to do. This is especially excellent when compared to games like Tikal, Settlers of Catan, or Princes of Florence (all good games) where it can seem like quite a while between turns.
3. The strategy is ever changing. You must adapt in this game if you wish to win. Often your favorite strategies will become unavailable making you find new ways to gain those precious victory points.
All that said, I do have one complaint that I was wondering if anyone else had run into. That is that in the game (the 3 player variant especially) it seems that there are not quite enough colonists...thus, running out of them in the mayor phase seems to end almost all the games. Occasionally, this ending seems rather abrupt as it does not allow for the game to really have a 'complete' feeling. My group has actually begun playing 73 rather than the suggested 58 colonists in a 3 player game...and upping the four player game by 15 colonists as well. I'll readily admit that this whole complication could be specific to my group (perhaps we too often select the mayor), but we were having a few too many games where one person would get a lead and then just exploit the mayor option to end the game quickly.
Anyway, that is a rather small complaint for this rather grand game. I recommend it wholeheartedly.
Puerto Rico is by far the best game I have played this year. After playing it the first time I'd ordered it within the week. Whilst it does have a number of mechanisms taken from other games the game balance is quite simply superb, with no one strategy seeming to be predominant.
The Key to winning Puerto Rico as far as I am concerned is to evolve your strategy throughout the game. To those who say there isn't enough interaction and worrying about what you can do to others by choosing roles in addition to what can be done to you needs to play the game some more.
For example, I had the round from hell in the last game I played which probably cost me the game. There was no room in any ship to ship my commodities, so I lost all but one, Both buildings which I was going to pick got taken that round during the builder phase, and then the trading house got filled up preventing me from selling. Boom a possible win went down to last.
I saw the pre-publication Puerto Rico from a distance at Essen last year, but never got a chance to play. Since it hit the shops I have remedied that failure again, and again, and again. If the mark of an outstanding game is that it gets repeated play, then Puerto Rico hits the spot.
Why is that? Puerto Rico has the fascination of other 'growth curve' games like Outpost or Settlers, where the challenge is solving the puzzle of maximising your position, and doing faster than the rest, but with some subtle interactions that lift it above the rest.
The prime driver is the selection of 'jobs' by each player in turn that continuously reworks the sequence of play. Need more 'colonists'? Then take the mayor, and eveybody gets some, but you get more than the rest. On the other hand, do others need colonists more badly than you do? Why not let it wait for bit, and take some income instead?
The buildings you construct determine your strategy, allowing the cultivation of different crops, various game advantages and also scoring victory points, so the ideal is to pursue a different course from the players to your right, who will usually be doing their thing before you do yours. On the other hand, everyone hates to lose a building opportunity, and there is a strong incentive to buy the best thing you can afford, even if it skews your long term strategy.
There have been suggestions that no long-term strategising is required. I would rather say that you need to balance long term and short term requirements. A spot of delayed gratification is good for the score, but don't overdo it.
I've played this game over 20 times, and every time it is very good (except that if there are some very slow players who take forever to make a play, the game feels less good but still good).
I do win my fair share of the games, but that alone is not what makes me love this game so much. I really love a game if, when I lose, I always know where it went wrong and what I did wrong. Sometimes a player doesn't do anything particularly wrong and is outperformed by the winner by a few points, but if one loses by a larger margin, it is always due to a clear mistake: the number one cause is mis-spent money (spending money on a building which ends up being useless), but there are also others such as a mis-chosen role (taking the craftsman and letting the other players get more points than oneself) or plantation. Because of the multi-player dynamics, it is not always easy to look a few turns ahead, but after those few turns, one's mistake becomes painfully obvious as his building is sitting there unused.
The game is true to its theme and has innovative mechanisms (or rather, an innovative and functional blending of familiar mechanisms, some may say) which is fun to play. Highly recommended.
This gamer can't ask for more than what Puerto Rico delivers! This game has the players procuring and maintaining plantations and factories. To garner the goods that translate into victory points, one must hire enough colonists and earn enough gold to sustain the facilities that produce them.
The mechanism that sets this game apart is the alternating roles that the players can choose. Each role has a particular skill necessary for good production--each role is crucial. The challenge is the choice of which role to take at what time.
The game scores high in interaction, challenge, theme, and quality bits. The only disadvantage I see is a slightly steep learning curve. However, once you have played it once, you should be ready to jump in on the next game. And if you're like me, you can't wait to.
I have not played Princes of Florence. I have not played Traders of Genoa either. And I probably wont play either of these two games or Citadels because Im too attached to Puerto Rico. If it were the first of these games, Puerto Rico would be hailed as a visionary breakthrough. But it came after all of them so we think we know the territory; people comment on similarities to the aforementioned games, the familiarity of certain mechanisms, etc. How quickly we grow accustomed to wonders.
The major strength of Puerto Rico is its impeccable balance. Seyfarth has accomplished this in the subtlest ways. For example, requiring the colonist ship to be filled with the minimum number of colonists plus one colonist for every vacant building position vastly improves the appeal of choosing the Mayor in the next round. And because money is disturbingly scarce in this game, adding a doubloon to each unchosen character ensures variation in future character selections. I am most impressed with the value of the large purple buildings at games end. Each is scored in an entirely different way and has the potential to amount to a high number of points, yet will only do so for a specific players island.
Player interaction is below average, which is neither good nor bad just something to note. What is unique in this game is that in the stillness of the moment, everyone is always involved. And I go on record to say the deepest, most intelligent games dont require player interaction. I quite enjoy the internal thinking. What is more prominent in the game is how the players actions interact. This creates a new look and feel to every game. It also prevents the development of one surefire strategy. In fact, victory isnt luck-based at all it is the result of difficult decision-making, a vigilant watch of other peoples moves and reading their strategies, and an intuitive sense of timing. It doesnt feel like solitaire to me at all, as one person described. To me, it is like a four-player chess match (I insist that four players is the perfect number for any game because of balance) in which all the pieces are in plain view, yet one person has figured out how to win then we realize everyone has figured out their own strategy and the strategies thwart each other. The one with the most contingency plans will inevitably win.
I have owned this game since its release in English and I refrained from reviewing it until I could completely understand and experience it. I am thoroughly pleased with this game the intelligent design, the quality of components, the theme are all to be praised. Even if it doesnt suit your personality (I believe good games dont always bode well with different peoples personalities), Puerto Rico should be recognized for elevating a standard we expect for all of the games we invest our time and money in.
This is the best game that I've played in a long time. It takes a little while to explain the rules to new players but the game is not difficult to grasp. The most important concept to explain to new players is that they have to consider how others will benefit from the role that they choose.
It appears that the last reviewer (and somehow his entire group) completely missed the boat. He asks three questions and then preceeds to give Puerto Rico lows scores on all of them. I would give PR med-high scores on all three counts. If you think that this is a game where your actions do not affect somebody else, sometimes with paralyzing results, then you don't 'get it'. If you play this game as if it were multiplayer solitaire with the group that I play with then you'll consistantly lose by 15 or more victory points.
I will give my review of Puerto Rico by providing a report of last night's playing of this game:
Joe, Art and Dan arrived at my house last night shortly after 8:00. We started playing Puerto Rico and probably were about 30 minutes into it when the power went out (due to severe thunderstorms we are having here in the Midwest).
Despite being submerged in total darkness in my basement, we never once considered not continuing the game. 'Hey! This is Game Night! Come hell or high water, we're going to keep playing!'
So we placed candles at the four corners of the table and went on with our business. Joe Clementi proved to be a quick study as he expertly gained goods and was able to keep all of them after the Captain Phase with his large warehouse. Joe also took advantage of his hospice by always having colonists in his plantations and buildings.
Dan and Art seemed to struggle with production from the outset. Once again, Dan pointed out the advantage that the players who start with a Corn Plantation have. However, Dan and Art were hording quarries with their construction huts. Dan also had a hacienda which made his Settler Phase extremely valuable.
No big buildings were ever bought, as money always seemed to be in short supply. In fact, I was only able to garner 7 victory points out of my buildings, while the other three guys tallied at least 14 points a piece in their cities.
However, a couple of healthy Captain Phases was all I needed to claim the victory, though Joe made a huge run at the end that almost clipped me.
The Final Scores were:
Puerto Rico by candlelight was fun.
I have now played this game with 3, 4 and 5 players. It plays well (though differently) in all three variations. The more people who play, the greater the challenge, in my opinion. Buildings are more scarce, the Captain Phase is more cutthroat, and there are fewer 'good' roles to take when it is your turn when there are 5 players. But regardless, this is an outstanding game.
Anyone who tries to compare this game to another is crazy. There is no game like this one. The only one that I think might come close would be Traders of Genoa, since all players have an opportunity to benefit from other people's turns. So you have constant dilemma 'Will this help me more than everyone else?' Often times, it is not that apparent.
I've only played this game once, and already I can tell that it is a classic. It has the 'pick a role each turn' mechanic from Citadels/Verrater, which I love. However, Puerto Rico is even deeper than those games, because there are more things to keep track of.
Adding one coin to the unused roles each turn is a simple but brilliant idea. It is now impossible for a role to sit unused for long.
The only downside to the game is that I can't play it over my lunch hour. The one game I played took about 90 minutes. Of course, I've got Carcassonne, Ra, and Citadels for lunchtime...
Folks, it's a great time to be a gamer. I mean seriously - we've got it made. The quality and variety of excellent games these days is almost mind boggling. And they keep getting better. Here I was content to have a nice evening with friends and a good session of Tikal, Settlers, or Traders of Genoa, etc....
...Enter Puerto Rico....
For any of you who've read any of my reviews, you know that I'm a stickler for good looking game components. Puerto Rico has that and then some. The component design, artwork, and layout are all the best I've seen. In fact, interactive use of game components, from planting your crops to creating your City to manning your fields and buildings to loading up the cargo ships with your goods creates an atmosphere that directly connects you with the game play.
The mechanic is unique, but reminded me of Princes of Florence and Traders of Genoa (which is a good thing, as far as I'm concerned). There is little down time, and each player is faced with a wide variety of options each turn.
There is very little luck in Puerto Rico. The game is heavy on strategy, but doesn't leave you so mentally spent as an evening playing Tikal.
My only criticism about the game are the rules - there are a few missprints between the rules and the board that are rather annoying, and there are a few sections of the rules that are vague. But with a little effort these issues are quickly sorted out.
This is a must-have for any game collection.
'Puerto Rico,' as of this writing, is the new kid on the block for deep strategy games. It is the newest entry in the much-heralded Alea line of 'games for gamers.' If the early buzz and my own experience with the game are any indication, then it is a worthy entry into this company.
At its heart, Puerto Rico is a business game, with players contending with each other for various limited resources and producing goods for shares of a limited pool of victory points. On its surface, it is a game with similarities to some of the most celebrated games of recent vintage. The combination of business core game and trendy game mechanics results in a very satisfying game experience.
As mentioned in other reviews, there are some consmetic similarities to Princes of Florence, with each player individually maintaining a map of their properties. This game has less of a puzzle quality, though, as the placement of the buildings is of little concern. PoF is a more sedate, intellectual experience than Puerto Rico, which can be quite raucous as players contend for a very limited supply of buildings, colonists, victory points, and cash.
The game also bears some similarities to Traders of Genoa, in that each player has the opportunity to benefit from every player's turn. ToG allows players to make deals with the active player and take actions out of turn. In this game, players will usually benefit from whatever choice is taken by the active player, although the active player will have the greatest benefit.
The greatest similarity between this and other games is to Citadels, in that each player takes a role from a set of available roles and taking the associated action. In Citadels the selections are secret until revealed, and lots of the fun of the game is anticipating which player will choose which role. In Puerto Rico the emphasis is more on acquiring the right role at the right time, since the phases of the game are tied to the various roles, and roles will vary greatly in value depending on a player's current game situation.
While Puerto Rico is a deep game and not for the casual player, I still feel compelled to give it five stars since it is such a sterling game design. This is one of the best and deepest of the heavy strategy games on the market, and well worth the investment to learn and play. Highly recommended.
I played several games of Puerto Rico yesterday with the number of players varying from 3-5 and found it works well with any number.
With 3 players it is a more strategic game that requires more precise play. With 4 players things happen more quickly and one finds it harder to be ready for the various phases. With 5 players it seems to be a chaotic land grab that almost defies any kind of planning. However you can influence the game greatly by your pick and it forces the other players to modify their choices .
This game has so many small interacting things happening that it will play different every time. We felt that by acquiring Construction Huts and quarrys early on it allowed one the ability to purchase Wharfs. A Wharf is basically your own ship which allows you to ship a single type of good each Captains Phase. This can be quite helpful when the three ships are either full or half loaded with items you don't have preventing you from shipping your goods. One of the problems with this strategy is that it leaves you short of money. Everything has a price in Puerto Rico.
I have played most of the new releases coming across the pond from Europe and this one stands head and shoulders above the others in the past 6 months. Unless something spectacular comes rolling down the pipe this would be my pick for the 2002 Game of the Year.
I'm a huge fan of the Alea big box series, so I was expecting great things from Puerto Rico. Even so I was suprised at how much fun it turned out to be! It's similar to Princes Of Florence and Traders Of Genoa in some ways. Gameplay is comprised of a lot of small loosely related decisions. Also, of the many different pieces, chits, tokens, markers, and counters, ALL of them are quite handy. However, in both of those other games, player interaction is mostly limited to dickering over who gets what resources. Puerto Rico presents a greater depth of player interaction, since choosing a role allows everyone to take the associated action. Thus, poor decisions can help others far more than they help yourself, but a wise player can anticipate opponent's responses, and choose roles accordingly.
Princes of Florence is good, but Puerto Rico is even better.
1. There are no auctions. Players, in turn, pick one of n+3 options (n== number of players). Much faster than auctioning. 1st player rotates each round, so you can try and set yourself up to be in the right position for the turn where you get first choice.
2. Unchosen options get cash added to them each time they are unused, so 'poor' options are eventually balanced with the good ones.
3. Victory points are hidden, and the game is usually close enough that you're not sure who is ahead.
4. The game doesn't end at a predetermined time, so you can't usually do a suicidal-if-it-wasn't-the-last turn move.
5. While Princes of Florence can vary greatly depending on numbers of players, this game seems to scale well (haven't played it enough to make this a definitive claim).
Puerto Rico is the brainchild of Andreas Seyfarth who has already produce many notable games, such as Manhattan and Waldmeister.
The game theme covers the development of plantations on land, different types of building and then the sale of the products back to Europe. Each player has an area of land to grow crops such as corn, indigo and coffee and a separate area to place buildings. In this way it is similar to the excellent Princes of Florence (also by Alea/Rio Grande).
But the main system in the game is the use of roles that each player can choose. You see, there are more roles to play than players, so you have to select the one that feels best for you. Will you be the mayor? He attracts colonists to work in the buildings and plantations. Will you be the builder who gets can apply his skill to create buildings more cheaply? Or the captain, who allows the players to sell the goods that the craftsman has produced to the ships waiting to sail for Europe? There are more roles that provide challenges along the way.
The answer depends on the current state of your development. If you already have more goods stacked on the wharf awaiting despatch that your opponents, then you'll choose the captain. But each role can only be selected once each round, so you may have to select a role that is less ideal for you. Either way the choices are interesting and provoke a great deal of thought.
The game ends in a variety of ways - no more colonists available, no more victory point markers (which means that there has been plenty of trading with Europe) or when one player has filled all the land plots with buildings.
Just when you think you've worked out a good strategy, another player selects a role that you wanted or the building you would have liked and you have to re-consider what to do.
Although you are developing your own area, you have to monitor what everybody else is doing to see how you can gain an advantage over them. What an absorbing game! I predict it will be one of the major hits of 2002. I have played the game now 5 times in quick succession and each game has been different and compulsive playing.
I was excited when introducing this new game to friend's and family. But they found the rules tedious and difficult to follow. It seemed best to just go through the game and learn as we go.
1) Game strategy is constantly changing with every turn. You cannot decide at the beginning of the game how you will go about winning. You must constantly adapt to the situations at hand.
2) A true test of wits when played against real gamers.
1) Apparently a difficult learning curve for most individuals.
2) Only play this game with true gamers with high attention spans.
3) People don't like playing this game right after its finished. We usually move on to Settlers of Catan.
It makes me sad that I can't give this game 5 stars. I wish it was a bit more enjoyable. Maybe if everyone's spirits were up then it would be more fun. But if you're a true gamer, and you have at least 2 other people willing to play, you should give this one a try
This game is very enjoyable but sometimes I feel that luck or fate or sheer reactivity from other players takes centre stage rather than the focus being on strategy and calculated planning. Thius means that your turn is a series of decisions based on other people's options rather than an overall strategy. Also can be a tad fiddly. Highly recommended, but I prefer El Grande for pure startegic action.
I remember when I first played the great game of Modern Art. I thought it was the best thing since those upside-down easy pour ketchup bottles. I soon realized that it was hard to find others to play it, and that the downfall of the game is it's subtle complexity and the very thing that makes it so good, nailbiting hard decisions. Hard core gamers will be in love with this. Others may find it a bit to taxing on the gray cells.
Don't get me wrong, I love the game. But, the German invasion of well made family fare that combine skill and luck with simple rules have made me look at games like this in a different light. I loved the SPI classic Empire of the Middle ages and Avalon Hill's Third Reich, but the truth is I haven't played them in years. Modern Art sits on my shelf rarely played, and I wonder how much playtime I will get with this one.
Puerto Rico is a great place to work. Bermuda is fun. Fun or work? You be the judge. Me, I'd rather play Wildlife. More FUN with a capital F, more choices with a capital C. Puerto Rico forces you into one strategy. Wildlife makes you think on your feet...All the time.
Puerto Rico has become a game night favorite so much so that we now typically have two games of it going on simultaneously. The lack of a clear route to victory, most aspects of chance eliminated, and a thorough set of rules has made this a solid substitute to the typical conquest oriented war games that we've played. What then is my dissatisfaction? Well, recently, I lost 2 5 point victory chips and contacted the company for support to get some replacement pieces only to find that it's Rio Grande's policy to not sell replacement parts. They have barely enough to sell me my two missing chips for a buck, but from my discussion if I ever lose an indigo I'm screwed. Being the perfectionist gamer that likes having all of his pieces this infuriates me. My attempt at reasoning with Rio Grande was responded to with a take it or leave it attitude. So much for support...
There's nothing revolutionary about this game. No new game mechanisms, no new art styles, no new game component pieces to marvel at. There is no strategy, only reaction to what everyone else does. There is no planning, only the search for what will help you the most on that particular turn, and not help everyone else in the process.
So why all the attention and rave reviews?
Because hidden behind the bland framework of a Settlers rip-off, is a clever mesh of game components previously seen in many other games. The choice based turn style has been seen is other games (Citadles and El Grande), and with the almost complete elimination of luck it gives the illusion of a heightened strategic element when no strategy is possible. You can only react to what the other players do, what you receive from their actions, and then adjust your needs accordingly. There is no opportunity to be proactive, only reactive.
I give it 4 stars because of it's cleverness, and because of it's sturdy game components. I don't really agree with the replayability factor. The beginning of each game is fairly predictable. For the first 5 rounds, the governor picks the mayor at the start of the round. For the last 5 rounds, the governor usually picks the captain. Given that an average game lasts 15 rounds, that leaves only 5 rounds in the middle, where there actually are a few surprises in the turn order.
Make sure that you count all the pieces BEFORE you play the game. Even the colonists!
Putting away the pieces after the second game, I counted everything and found our set had 108 colonists.
This meant that we played one extra round before exhausting the colonists and that extra round decided the game in favor of a player who would not have won otherwise.
I finally got to play this game. An interesting aspect of this game I found was the unpredictability of it, although the random elements were minor. And yes, there IS player interaction, but it is more along the lines of players affecting the turn order and what everyone can do by what they do. The end result is a game that is subtle, but where players can have a major impact on what everyone else is doing, just in an indirect way. The interaction also ends up being complex in its nature, to the extend where it feels random, but isn't.
This is definitely worth trying at least once.
Puerto Rico is an 'Advanced Strategy' Game. As such, the 5-star ratings are in most instances coming from advanced gamers, who have regular gaming nights and enjoy an hour of brain-draining strategy and tactics. Good on them! The game is certainly 'perfect' for them.
However, there are many non-gamers and casual gamers out there so I've decided to give them an alternative viewpoint to this 'perfect' game.
Firstly, with essentially no luck or random elements in the game, the game isn't fun (probably as much fun as passing a Law exam). If you play games to relax and enjoy with friends, then I suggest you steer away, there are better games out there that will satisfy this criterion! (You will probably find that most people who own Puerto Rico also own and love Settlers, to make up for the fun they miss out on when playing the 'perfect' Puerto Rico). In fact, the game theme, appearance and game play is quite dry and boring. If you are a casual gamer, Puerto Rico is not one you are likely to bring out of the closet and introduce to friends in preference to games such as Carcassone, Settlers etc etc. But if you have pesky neighbours, playing a game of Puerto Rico with them should be enough to send them packing.
Secondly, there is no real interaction - players are really only doing their own thing and the only interaction (I should re-term this as 'consideration of the effect on others') is in the choosing of what role to play (not that you even have to communicate during that process), or when people are complaining about how difficult it is to set up the game. If you like to interact/trade/bluff/bargain with other players then Puerto Rico is not going to satisfy your social needs.
In spite of what I said above, I appreciate that people playing Puerto Rico aren't really doing their own thing, and are influenced by the choices of others. That is OK if you want your options in the game dictated by your opposition. You have one turn per round to choose the role by which time the 'choice' of role is usually obvious and/or severely restricted. Puerto Rico is essentially everybody playing everyone else's game for them as well as their own. If this sounds too much for you, and/or you'd rather have plenty of options and complete control over your game, then steer away from Puerto Rico.
I hope this review gives non-gamers and casual gamers who might be 'sold' by all the claims of 'perfect'and '5 stars' something to think about before they fork out their hard earned cash.
Just a matter of 'horses for courses'.
I continue to be in the minority wrt Puerto Rico.
I find the interaction and strategic element very low.
For me a game feels short on interaction when my decisions are pre-dominantly driven by playing the game system almost to the exclusion of other factors such as:
- Do my actions adversely affect somebody else
- Do somebody else's actions adversely affect me
- Is everybody else spending my turn trying to influence my decisions because they believe that my actions can/will affect them
PR scores low on all these. Not as low as say Lift Off. But lower than 18xx, E&T, Daytona 500 etc.
As for strategic depth, well it just isn't there. Like many German games it is incrediably tactical. You don't have grand plans you make the best you can of each turn with little regard for the future.
Three of my fellow players thought likewise. The rest of the world doesn't. C'est la vie.
Would I play again if asked? Reluctantly - I'd be bored for most of the next 90 minutes.
I'm sorry. I cant be bothered learning the strategy behind 15 some odd functions and their optimum interaction with each other and the 8 other turn actions. It's just too difficult and there is too much thinking. It's unfortunate my gaming friends tarting playing this completely unfun game. In other words: HATED IT.
Last year's Best Advanced Strategy winner continues to attract a passionate following of keen strategy gamers. (See August 2003 GAMES, as well as page 4 of this issue.) Each round, the starting player assumes a role (Settler, Builder, Mayor, etc.) and gains a privilege associated with that role. The others in turn perform the actions of the role. You'll add plantations to your board, introduce colonists, choose one of many buildings to increase your productivity, produce goods, sell goods, and export produce. You could spend a lifetime exploring the many different strategies and making difficult decisions along the fascinating road to acquiring the winning Victory Points. Puerto Rico is exotically rich in challenges and delights.
So many roles, so little time, so much indecision! You must erect buildings and establish plantations in order to win the most Victory Points. Start your turn by selecting one of the many tempting roles (Settler; Mayor, Builder, etc.) available. After you execute the role's action (gaining certain privileges for selecting it), everyone in order executes the same action. This role-selection process repeats with all the other players. The Settler adds a plantation to his map. The Builder buys a building. The different types of buildings confer a wide range of benefits and/or Victory Points. The Mayor adds colonists to activate plantations or buildings. The Craftsman causes settled plantations to produce goods. The Trader sells one good. The Captain causes goods to be loaded onto ships, for Victory Points. Even the ending offers a choice of scenarios. Play stops when settlers or Victory Point tokens are exhausted, or when one player has run out of map spaces on which to build. This unsurpassed strategic masterpiece will bowl over keen gamers everywhere.
It was the most highly rated game at Essen by those lucky few who had the opportunity to play one of the pre-production copies on the Alea stand and since then the anticipation has been building for the rest of us. The situation is similar to the one we had with the Lord of the Rings film: we wanted it to be great, we had been assured that it was and we had been told to wait, with the danger that the expectation would be such that living up to it would prove impossible. Fortunately, with the game, as with the film, the buzz after publication has been as great as it was before, and this time we don't even get the final scene snigger, when Sam and Frodo declare their undying love and sail off into the sunset.
The scenario could hardly be more enticing. You have a Caribbean island to run and that is going to involve creating a local economy, shipping goods back to the Old World and building a town which will both aid your efforts and bring you prestige. This is a lot to translate into game terms and the impressive thing about Puerto Rico is the way that it has all been brought seamlessly together.
Each player has their own board and your first thought when you see it is likely to be Die Fürsten von Florenz. You have been given a garden and you are being asked to cultivate it. However, the similarity is superficial and your second thought should be to forget about it. The task and the problems this time are very different from those in the earlier game. The board has two main areas, each with twelve spaces. On one you will place your buildings; on the other your plantations and quarries. The buildings will bring you victory points at the end of the game and advantages during it. The plantations will produce the crops that, suitably processed, can be shipped home, netting you more victory points. The quarries will help you with your building programme in a game where money is tight.
At the heart of the game is a collection of jobs and each turn you will take one of them. In a 3-player game there are six to choose from: mayor, builder, captain, settler, craftsman and trader. With four players you add a prospector to the list and with five a second prospector. In all cases the number of jobs exceeds the number of players by three and this excess is used very cleverly as one of the ways in which money is brought in to the game. The other artful aspect to the jobs idea is that when you make your choice, you aren't just giving yourself the right to do something, you are giving everyone the right to do it, but in a way that offers you a small advantage. For example, were you to choose to be the builder, every player would have the right to erect a new building, but you would get first choice of the ones still available and you would get a discount on the cost. Were you to become the mayor, each player would receive at least one new settler, but you would get at least one more than anyone else. On each turn only one player can choose each job and if you exercise a little cunning, you can often make your choice a method not just of giving yourself a small edge in an area that is currently important to you, but as a means discomfitting a rival.
Plantations are acquired when someone selects the settler role and they come in five types: coffee, tobacco, sugar, indigo and corn. All are equally valuable when it comes to earning victory points, but not when it comes to earning money, when the order in which I have listed them is that from most to least both in terms of sale value and production costs. What happens when the settler is chosen is that each player gets may take one of the face-up plantation markers, of which there will be one more than the number of players. Having chosen it they place it on one of the plantation squares on their board, where it stays for the rest of the game. The settler's edge is that not only does he get first choice, but he can decide not to take a plantation and to take a quarry instead. The other players do not have this alternative. Why would he want a quarry? Building costs. Quarries do not produce items which can be sold or converted into victory points, but, provided you have settlers working them, they will reduce the cost of any building that you erect. You have your own source of stone and that makes things cheaper.
The craftsman is the trigger for production. When he is chosen by someone, all the plantations produce goods, provided they meet two conditions. These are that the plantation must contain a settler marker (the fields don't work themselves) and, in the case of everything but corn, the town must contain a building (again manned) where the goods can be processed. The craftsman's bonus is an extra processed good of his choice.
And that brings me to buildings. These come in three types but all have two characteristics in common: they cost you money to erect and they are worth victory points at the end. Type one are the production buildings: indigo plants, sugar mills, tobacco storage and coffee roasters. These have a basic cost between 1 and 6, are worth between 1 and 3 victory points and will process between 1 and 3 units of raw material. At one end there is the small indigo plant, which has a rating of 1 in all three categories and at the other is the coffee roaster, which costs 6, is worth 3 VP and, provided it has two settlers working in it, will convert the yield of 2 coffee plantations into coffee beans for sale or shipping. Each of these production facilities will take up one of the spaces in your town.
Also taking up one space each are the buildings of type two and these are a mixed bag, ranging from a small market up to your own private wharf. None of these buildings are components in the production of goods, but all give their owners advantages and privileges. The markets (small and large) bring in extra money whenever you sell goods, warehouses give you extra flexibility when it comes to shipping goods, the hospice and the university will give you extra settlers and the wharf your own ship - which can be an enormous advantage when you have victory point earning stuff to get back to the Old World. Of course, to get these advantages from a building it must have workers in it.
The buildings of type three take up two spaces each, cost 10 and are worth 4 VP. They don't bring any advantages during the game but instead offer bonus victory points at the end, with the amount dependent on how well you have met their individual conditions. For example, one will give you an extra victory point for every 3 colonists you have at the end of the game; with another it is between 4 and 7 VP and is dependent on your number of plantations and quarries.
Putting up buildings requires money and this comes into the game in one of three ways. The first concerns that surplus of jobs over players that I referred to earlier. At the end of a round, when everyone has chosen a job and undertaken the activities associated with it, there will be 3 job cards left unclaimed. One gold piece is put on each of them and this money will go to the next person who takes on that particular job. So the post that didn't look attractive this round will look more so next. This is clever, as not only does it give players extra things to think about, it ensures the overall balance of the system by making it certain that no section of the economy will remain neglected for long.
The second source of money is the prospector. Taking on this role brings you 1 gold piece. This which doesn't sound much, but since nobody else gets anything from his activities, you still have the sort of edge over the competition that comes with the other jobs. And in practice it will often be more than 1 GP, as the card tends to be one which isn't taken every round.
Source three is the trader. Money can be raised by selling things on the island, but the demand for goods is a small one. The way it works is via a card which has four spaces on it. This will take one of each of four different types of good, paying a basic 4 for coffee, 3 for tobacco, 2 for sugar, 1 for indigo and 0 for corns, with these prices being raised if the person doing the selling is either the trader or the owner of a small or large market building. These sales take place when someone becomes the trader. The trader starts by placing one item on the card and collecting his money. The right to sell then continues round the table until either all four spaces are filled or players are in the position where they either can't or don't wish to sell any more. This ends the trader's turn. If the card has been filled, it is then emptied; if not it remains partly full, which will make for restricted trading next time.
That just leaves the captain and the shipping home of goods. There are three ship cards, whose capacity varies with the number of players. On the captain's turn players load their goods and the rules governing this are carefully framed.
- Each ship will only carry goods of one type - all sugar, all corn, whatever.
- Players take it in turn to load goods and on their turn may only load goods of one type. Player turns continue until no more loading is possible.
- On your turn, if you can load something you must. What is more, you must load as many of that type of good as you are able. If you have a choice of what to load, it is your decision which you load.
- You can't load goods of a type on ship B if there are already goods of this type on ship A. This applies even if ship A is full.
- When no more loading is possible, each player with goods left on the quay forfeits all of them bar one. And that means one good, not one type of good. The only way to avoid this loss is to have a warehouse. A small warehouse will save one type of good and a large one will save two.
- When no more loading is possible, full ships set sail, returning empty ready for the next time that the captain role is chosen. Ships that are only partially full stay where they are.
It will be clear from that description that this is very much a game for gamers. There is a lot going on and if you are to do well, you will need to pay attention to all of it. That means money, people and production. You need a sufficiency of all of them and this is not that easy to achieve. If you don't generate enough income, you will fall behind in the buildings race and that will cost you their benefits during the game and their victory points at the end. A shortage of people will result in empty buildings and empty fields. Buildings need workers if they are to operate and plantations need workers if they are to produce. If you don't produce enough, you won't have enough to ship in order to gain the victory points that you will need if you are to keep pace with your rivals.
You also need to keep an eye on what other players are doing, as it will affect what you should be doing. There have been a few assertions to the effect that Puerto Rico is another instance of multi-player solitaire. All the ones that I have seen and heard about have been from people who have only played the game once. Beware the expert who has only played the game once. You may have your own little patch and there may be lots of routes open to you, but there are also lots of ways of hindering your opponents. The trader rules provide a few and the shipping rules a good number. To take just a small example, suppose that the player on your left is short of money and that in an attempt to deal with this he has a coffee ready for market. His plan is to take the trader and sell the good for a healthy 5 (more if he has one of the markets). Taking the trader yourself wouldn't stop him, since you don't have a coffee of your own and there is more than one space still open on the card. However, if you were to take the captain, he'd have to ship the coffee, leaving him with none to sell and still short of money. The order in which you load your goods on to the ships also gives lots of scope for messing up other people's plans. The kippering possibilities might not have big labels on them, but they are there and you need to be aware of them.
The game is also not one where you can go in with a pre-set plan. Flexibility is important, particularly when you have more players. The reason for this is that there is a shortage of nearly all of the buildings. There are only two of each of the type two buildings and only one of each of the type three. You are not going to get all the ones that you want, because other people will beat you to some of them and when they do you are going to have to adapt. For example, if you own one of the large markets, you are well on the way to dealing with your need for money, but there are only two of them available. Someone is going to miss out and if it is you, you will need a financial Plan B. What other people are growing will also affect you. At present one of the theories is that a "corn strategy" works well, since although corn doesn't sell for much, it also doesn't tie up workers on the production side. This is true, but if you find that your right-hand opponent is also following this line, you better make sure that you get one of the wharfs and the private ship that goes with it, or you won't be shipping much of the stuff home.
Puerto Rico won't appeal to everybody. Nothing ever does. However, for those of you who like games with a bit of weight to them, this is undoubtedly the pick of 2002 so far and it will have been a very good year if I am not making the same judgement come December. The game takes from 3-5 players. I have tried all three and it works equally well with all of them, though the flavour does change as the numbers go up and the competition for particular buildings and combinations of buildings becomes more intense. Very impressive and thoroughly recommended.