- BOARD GAME CORNER: PUERTO RICO - by Lee Wood (Views: 622)Thursday 24th March 2011
Editor's note: Board Game Corner has been moved to a Thursday column. Expect it every Thursday!
Puerto Rico Rio Grande Games - £29.95 (RRP: £36.99)
Puerto Rico is a game based on building up your plantation in the new world. Players compete against each other to become the person with the greatest wealth and respect in the new world. To do this each player must take on a variety of roles throughout the game. Of course there is more than one way to achieve this goal, players can build plantations, grow and produce goods, sell goods, ship the goods back to the home countries and even build new buildings in the city. All of these actions will help to increase your standing in Puerto Rico, but relying on one alone is never enough.
The game is played over a series of turns in which each player will choose a role to take on for that turn. Each role has two actions associated with it - the general action and the privilege action the general action can be taken by any player that round, however the privilege action can only be taken by the player who selected that card. The roles available are:
- Settler - Allows new plantations to be grown
- Mayor - Allows players to get more colonists
- Builder - Allows players to buy buildings
- Craftsman - Allows players to produce goods
- Trader - Allows players to sell goods
- Captain - Allows players to ship goods to the home country
- Prospector - Generates doubloons [money]
At the start of the game one player is randomly given the governor card this means that that player is first to pick their role for that turn. When a player selects a role they then execute its action (if desired) and takes the privilege action (if desired) then the player to their left takes the action (if desired) and this continues until every player has had a chance to take the action for that role. Then the player to the governors left chooses one of the remaining roles and carries out the actions. This happens until each player has taken a role for that turn.
As there will be some roles that are not taken at the end of that round the remaining roles are sweetened [add one doubloon to it] when a player selects a role with doubloons on it they add these to their personal supply.
So what do all these actions actually mean? Plantations come in different varieties: tobacco, sugar, coffee or indigo and these allow players to product goods (with the craftsman) however it has to be noted that a plantation on its own does nothing you need a colonist to work the plantation for you! The same goes for buildings you can build a building but unless you have someone staffing it you do not get any bonuses from its effect. Some buildings allow more than one colonist to work in it meaning that more goods can be stored/produced increasing the buildings effectiveness. Each player will start with a small number of colonists, but it is the job of the Mayor to attract new colonists to the city and it is only by using this role that players can increase their pool of colonists.
As well as building and growing players can ship or sell these. Shipping is done via the Captain and allows players to put their goods onto ships ready to be sent back to the old world. The problem is that the Captains of the boats are fussy and they will only carry one type of good, they wont take a good another boat is carrying, and they wont leave until the boat is full. This means that a careful player can plan to maximise their use of the Captain and leave the other players unable to ship their goods effectively. Of course the goods also have a use in the city itself, these can be sold via the Trader and give the player a cash boost in the form of doubloons.
So how does one win a game of Puerto Rico? One requires the most Victory Points at the end of the game. Victory Points can be earned in several ways, directly from shipping goods home, the VP value of their buildings and any bonus VP from occupied large buildings. The game end can be caused by one of three conditions: at the end of the Mayor phase the supply of colonists has been exhausted, during the Builder phase a player builds on their 12th building space, or during the Captain phase the last VP chip is used.
When playing the game I have found a few key things to keep your eye on. When the ships are full to take goods home they sail, when this occurs each player has to jettison excess goods they own (can be mitigated with a warehouse). A sneaky player can manipulate the situation to make the ships sail at a time to cause their opponents to lose a large number of goods, putting them at a large disadvantage. You also need to ensure that you have the right number of colonists, but not too many! A building with no colonists to man it does nothing for you, but on the flip side a colonist with no job to do does nothing as well.
The game itself lasts a good number of turns (~15) and it allows players to come into the game with a strategy in mind. The one drawback to this is that if a player goes hard and fast for one strategy and no one tries to compete/interfere they will always win you need to keep your wits about you and pay attention to what everyone else is doing fortunately there is no private information so you do not require a long memory.
I have played this game a good number of times and find it enjoyable and is a good introduction into euro-style games for those who are unfamiliar with them. The games one flaw is that it can be too linear in peoples tactics, but this can be mitigated by using the expansion to the game (optional replace buildings which can be used in part or whole) which is not too expensive to obtain.
We want to make the board game article series a regular thing on the site, so any improvements we can make just leave a comment or email Lee.
Lee Wood - Lee@xtremetrades.co.uk
- David G - March 26, 2011, 21:24 Hi, nice explanation. however, I think your photo of the governor card is from San Juan rather than Puerto Rico.
Another useful tip for beginners is to not always take the role that benefits you the most. It is sometimes better to identify and take the role that helps you whilst doing little for the other players.
- Nick - March 30, 2011, 23:13 Hi Dave,
The governor card mix up was my fault. It has now been changed. Hope you're enjoying the articles. Should have the new game Nightfall up tomorrow.