So Frankly...

So Frankly...

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Port of Call: Puerto Rico and San Juan Reviews

Today, you get a double feature!  I'm not going to review just one game, but two!  San Juan use the card game version of Puerto Rico, so it seems appropriate to do them together.

In both games, the object is to build a colony of buildings which produce resources, which are then traded away.  Additional buildings allow you to modify the rules, so that you can build buildings faster, or at less cost, or receive more for your current trade. This is done by taking turns selecting a role, which sets the action for the current turn around the board.  The actions consists of building, producing, trading, or getting more resources.  Players take turns selecting roles, so everyone gets to do everything, but not necessarily what they want to do at that moment. The person who selects the role gets to modify their action (using a privilege), giving them some slight advantage.  The first person to build their colony to a certain level ends the game, at which point victory points are tallied and the player with the highest total wins. There isn't a lot of player interaction in these games, they mainly consists of forcing your opponents to do things out of sequence for their strategy, or taking the privilege they wanted for yourself.

Puerto Rico has more moving parts than San Juan.  For instance, it also requires you to provide workers to those buildings in order to produce their goods. As a result, it clocks in at about 90 minutes. It is a very well respected game, spending several years as the number one game on BoardGameGeek; it is currently at number four.

And I traded away.

You see, San Juan has all the fun and all of the feel of Puerto Rico, but without the added complexity.  It also plays in 45 minutes, which makes the "fun density" much higher.  This makes it a better game for casual and family gamers, and I think for serious gamers too. Although it may not work for the under 10 crowd. There is a slight difference in the number of players each game supports.  Puerto Rico plays with 3 to 5 players, while San Juan plays with 2 to 4 players.  That might make a difference, if I needed another five player game, but I don't.

So, my recommendation to you is that you try San Juan, which truly is an excellent game, but set Puerto Rico aside.  San Juan starts to bridge over into a "gamer's" game, while Puerto Rico is well across that bridge.

It's Your Move!