$10.00
Recommend
190 
 Thumb up
 Hide
28 Posts
1 , 2  Next »   | 

Puerto Rico» Forums » Reviews

Subject: A Pictorial Overview: An edition of Puerto Rico with illustrated buildings - isn't it about time? rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Ender Wiggins
msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb


Introducing Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico enjoyed a long reign of dominance for several years at the top of the BGG rankings. And even though it tussled with Agricola for the number one spot for some time, and has since been passed by the current #1 Twilight Struggle, it still enjoys a strong following, and can rightly be considered a quintessential and highly influential euro that offers much enjoyment and replayability for gamers.

Yet there is one respect in which Puerto Rico is showing its age. After all, it's been around since 2002, so it first appeared almost a decade ago! For the most part it has stood the test of time, and its gameplay holds up well even when measured by the standards of the latest and newest crops of games - many of which are indebted to it and influenced by it. But if there is an aspect that could be improved, it's that the components could do with a visual makeover, particularly the building tiles. The plain text-only purple buildings are starting to look somewhat vintage and austere, and are just not up to snuff when compared with the artistic production values witnessed in the components of most newer euro games today.

In this review, I'm not going to address the gameplay of this modern classic - there's already 77 reviews that cover that more than satisfactorily, and I doubt that we need a 78th. But what I will review are some of the components, and more specifically, I'll review some of the illustrated tiles that are available for the game (if you know where to look for them!).

THE ORIGINAL ARTWORK

The buildings in Puerto Rico

By the standards of 2002, when the game was released, Puerto Rico was a fairly impressive product even for its own time. We're not just talking about the game-play here - that, obviously, was outstanding for its time, as the history of modern euro games has more than amply demonstrated since. But the components themselves had enough about that them that was attractive - the colonists were made out of solid wood tokens (many editions even came with extras in case you lost some), and the tiles and boards were constructed out of thick durable card. There was even enough artwork to help enhance the overall effect, with some nice illustrations on the role tiles, player boards, and plantation tiles.

It was - even for its time - a fairly polished product, except perhaps for one thing: the building tiles. The various production buildings were at least distinguished by colour, which served well to make gameplay easier, but the violet buildings were just that: violet. Plain violet. Not that I dislike violet, but I do like pictures. Part of the reason for the plain look, of course, was due to the need for the violet building tiles to contain the necessary text which explained their unique effects. And certainly they've served their purpose well. But as euro games have come to generate some serious momentum in the wider world of gaming - much of it even owing to Puerto Rico - we've also come to see higher production values. There's good reason to think that if Puerto Rico had been produced by a large and successful modern game publisher today, we'd at least have seen some illustrations on these tiles.


Puerto Rico building tiles on the player board

The buildings in San Juan

We fast forward to Puerto Rico becoming a parent. In 2004, Puerto Rico begat a son: San Juan. This card game featured many of the same buildings and ideas, but with the larger canvas available due to the introduction of playing cards, the talents of renowned game artist Franz Vohwinkel were harnessed to provide the artwork for the various buildings featured in San Juan. Vohwinkel was illustrator for the original game, and a plethora of other well known game titles. You can admire some of his artistic skills at his personal website, www.franz-vohwinkel.com.

The results were beautiful, and San Juan succeeded not just on the level of transforming much that gamers loved about Puerto Rico into a card game, but now also included some wonderful artwork.


Comparing the production buildings for San Juan and Puerto Rico

UPGRADING THE ARTWORK

From San Juan to Puerto Rico

Is there a way to teach an old dog new tricks? And would there be a way to get this wonderful artwork from San Juan back into the original game that had inspired and fathered it? When I stumbled across this image, I knew that the answer was: yes!



This takes the beautiful artwork of Franz Vohwinkel on the San Juan cards, and implements it for the Puerto Rico tiles.


San Juan cards with matching Puerto Rico tiles

The Base Game

So how did we arrive at these wonderfully illustrated tiles? There is a story behind the illustrated Puerto Rico buildings that you see here, and it begins with BGG user Sebastien Pauchon. In 2005 he undertook the ambitious project of porting the images from the cards of San Juan to the building tiles of Puerto Rico. What you see here is the fruits of his work, which first appeared in the BGG image gallery here and here, and which he made available on his personal website pauchon.com (for personal and non-commercial use only) in more than half a dozen languages. (Note: the tiles pictured below show Pauchon's work as it was later reworked and supplemented by others involved in the project).


Production buildings


Small violet buildings


Large violet buildings

So how does it come together? It's functional and beautiful:


The game in play with illustrated tiles

Expansion #1: The New Buildings

Sebastien Pauchon had also made similar tiles for the official expansion (here), and with some adjustments these were translated into English by Mateusz Nowak (here).


Expansion #1: Large violet buildings


Expansion #1: Small violet buildings

Expansion #2: The Nobles

When a second expansion appeared for Puerto Rico along with the first in Alea's Treasure Chest, BGG user kungfro decided to take up the torch, and continue the project (here). With the help of Grzegorz Kobiela, he adapted some of the images from the San Juan expansion cards, and made various other adjustments and edits to the overall work.


Expansion #2: All building tiles

EDITIONS WITH ILLUSTRATED BUILDINGS

Print-and-play

The initial project is available on Sebastien Pauchon's website www.pauchon.com. The current and more complete form of the project, as polished by kungfro, is in the BGG files. Here you can download a 3 page PDF, with all the buildings in their illustrated glory, including the buildings from the original game, as well as ones from the first official expansion, and the second expansion that appeared in the Alea Treasure Chest:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/42234

But now how to translate this wonderful concept into print? I could never make this myself, because I lack the technical expertise and skills for producing print-and-play products. Enter this young man: Andrew Tullsen, who is very active here on BGG. Andrew is an enterprising BGGer who runs his own print-and-play production. He specializes in making prototype games, for example, for designers who self-publish. In other words, Andrew has the very skills I lack, and was just the guy I needed to turn this digital concept into real tiles for me. I'm happy to put in a plug for him - you can read all about his services on his extensive geeklist (here).

Andrew usually needs a month or two to put something together, but I was more than happy to cover his costs, and although it meant some waiting time, the end result was more than worth it. A few comments on the quality of the tiles, in the interests of full disclosure: As far as I can tell, the tiles have been hand cut, and so there are some tiles that have on their edge a thin strip of the colour of the adjacent tile. A couple of tiles appear to be from the edge or corner of the cardboard sheet, and the printing didn't completely cover everything, resulting in a sliver of cardboard visible along the edges. If you're a perfectionist, you might find these things irritating, which is why I mention them. But I can overlook them, because in the larger scheme of things they are only minor niggles, and the overall result looks fantastic, and I'd much rather be playing with these illustrated tiles than the more mundane and dull look of the original ones! They're also double-sided, and made of thick cardboard stock. The pictures you see above are the tiles Andrew Tullsen made for me, so judge for yourself how good they look. It adds tremendous aesthetic appeal and somehow adding some more visual appeal seems to help enhance the game experience in an unexplained way, so I'm happy with the result.


Illustrated buildings at game setup

As an added bonus, in addition to the two expansions, kungfro's file also includes artwork for replacing the original Factory and University buildings with adjusted tiles that reflect the suggestions of the designer for improved gameplay. For those who are unfamiliar with this variant, apparently in an interview the designer and developer have remarked that if they were to have made the game today, they would have reversed the costs of the Factory and the University, in order to make the often neglected University more attractive, and without eliminating the viability of the powerful Factory. For details and discussion, see here and here.


Original and variant tiles for Factory and University

Commercial editions

French edition

Will a commercial edition with illustrated buildings ever see the light of day? In March 2010, publisher Filosofia announced a French edition featuring Sébastien Pauchon's work incorporating the San Juan artwork. Although complete component sheets reflecting the artwork of this new edition are available in high resolutions from their website (see the links at the bottom of this page), I've not seen pictures of this in print, so I can't confirm whether this edition ever became a reality.


Planned French edition by Filosofia

Polish edition

A Polish edition published by Lacerta has appeared, which includes the expansion, and features colourful artwork on the building tiles, although it's quite different from the San Juan artwork by Vohwinkel.


Published Polish edition by Lacerta

Home made editions


Karim Chakroun's player board


Mike Doyle's role cards
Many enthusiastic gamers have tried their hand at a complete redesign of Puerto Rico. Among them is Karim Chakroun, who has contributed to the artwork and graphic design on numerous games. You can read about his work on a custom redesign in this thread.

Arguably even more impressive is the amazing work by highly respected board game artist Mike Dyole. He's not just come up with new artwork for the current components, but a complete and radical overhaul of the game and how the boards work - without changing the actual gameplay. There's debate about the extent to which the component changes successfully converts the game's mechanics to make them more functional, but one thing is clear: it's a thematically impressive presentation, and judged purely on the basis of aesthetics it's absolutely outstanding. Details about his concept and accompanying artwork can be found on his blog here and here.


Mike Doyle's vision for a completely redesigned game board

There's a lot more we could show - over the years many keen gamers have upgraded their copies of Puerto Rico with a variety of creative and impressive additions and enhancements.



Puerto Rico: The 10th Anniversary Edition

A case for an edition with illustrated buildings

I'm very pleased to be playing a copy of the game with illustrated buildings. No, it doesn't really affect the gameplay, but it makes for a more enjoyable experience, and helps prevent Puerto Rico from showing signs of its age, and puts it more on par with the kind of components seen in most newer games. As such, it helps this classic retain some of its appeal for a new generation of gamers who might be coming across it for the first time, and adds an extra layer of things to appreciate for long-time players of the game like myself.

Unfortunately most of us wouldn't have the technical expertise to produce something like what's shown above - at least, not something of any real durable quality. And let's be honest, most of us aren't interested in doing that either - we'd much rather see a commercial edition with a higher standard of artwork, that we can buy straight off the shelf in our local game store. In other words, what we really want is for the publisher to step up to the plate and do this for us.

And why not? As many others have said, it seems like a no-brainer thing to do, and there's good reason to think such a move would be commercially viable. Puerto Rico is still a strong seller, and there's good reason to expect its popularity to continue, despite the wide variety of new games appearing on the market. I believe that an upgraded edition of the game - at the very least featuring illustrated building tiles - would be very well received by longtime fans of the game, and perhaps convince them to retire their well-worn copy in favour of a more visually appealing game. Furthermore, it could go a long way to making the game more endearing to people playing it for the first time.

A plea to the publisher

2012 will mark the 10th anniversary of Puerto Rico. This would be an ideal time to put out an upgraded edition of the game, which could include the above illustrated building tiles, and perhaps some extras. A deluxe version of the game could also include some of the expansions, perhaps some rule variants and tweaks (e.g. the Factory - University price swap), certainly the rules for the official two player variant, and maybe some other component upgrades. If that's too much to ask, then at very least an edition that includes Franz Vohwinkel's artwork on the building tiles would already go a long way to improving the visual appeal of the game.

Puerto Rico is a fantastic game, and its enduring appeal is fast from fading, so if any game deserves this kind of makeover, Puerto Rico is the one. It's been a big seller both in Europe and North America, so it would seem that the numbers would back this up. The gameplay is strong enough to compete with the best of today's games, and is success will be ongoing on the strength of its established reputation, if only it's supported by components that match the quality and visual appeal of the newer games emerging off the press. By the looks of things most of the hard work has already been done, because digital versions of the concept for illustrated buildings are ready to go. The tenth anniversary in 2012 would be the perfect time to make this happen.

Clearly I'm not alone in expressing such sentiments. There's already at least one thread on BGG, pleading for the publishers to produce an edition of the game with higher production values, and perhaps a few other small tweaks:

Puerto Rico – 10th Anniversary Edition?

How about it Alea, and Rio Grande? You publish it, people will buy it! An edition of Puerto Rico with illustrated buildings - isn't it about time?



------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
mb The complete list of Ender's pictorial reviews: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/37596

Subscribe to this list to be notified when new reviews are posted.
  • [+] Dice rolls
Greg CZ
Hungary
BUDAPEST
Budapest
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Have to agree. It looks waaay better with the illustrated buildings. It was the first thing I did with my German copy is to print the illustrated buildings on A4 sticky paper, cut + paste them on the blank side during (half)watching a film one night. Was good to see my picture in you article.
Recently I pasted the Hungarian version on the other side, so German became EN/HU version.

And also have to agree that it would be time for an upgaded edition. With better coins perhaps?

Another vote for a new edition:
10 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Shane Walsh
Australia
Adelaide
South Australia
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Yes it certainly is about time and I would buy an updated version in a heartbeat for three reasons :
1) The appeal of the game would certainly be enhanced .

2) My role tiles/cards are getting pretty tatty as are the buildings etc.

3) I accidentally sat on the box lid about a year ago , crushing it out of shape ! modest

So do it guys - give us a new Puerto Rico to love ....
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Michael Sosa
United States
Newark
Delaware
flag msg tools
I will break him.
mbmbmbmbmb
I'm sure an improved version, perhaps as as the 10th anniversary edition, would sell well. Although I wonder if the Caylus Special Edition was succesful. I bought a copy of that one and would do the same for Puerto Rico. I will add though that there is a certain charm with playing original versions of games....
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
Minden
Nevada
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Guaranteed sale here. The overall visual drabness is the only thing that has kept me from buying the game. Without a bit of pizazz, such a complex game would be a hard sell for my group.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
L. Scott Johnson
United States
Columbia
South Carolina
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
Illustrations are nice when there's space for them. For the chits the size of Puerto Rico buildings that need cost, VP, workers, and function text, including the illustration is a drawback for my experience: I'd rather have readable function text.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Rob Vespa
United States
Cincinnati
Ohio
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Great article - Thanks for taking the time to put that together. I've yet to play Puerto Rico with my group, but it'd be nice to do it with these updates. Very nice. A deluxe 10th anniversary edition is a fantastic (and logical) idea. The publisher should send you and those who've contributed to the "new" versions free copies. ;) That work by Doyle is especially nice.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Caleb
United States
Seminole
Florida
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Personally, for a dry, thinky game like PR, I prefer dry, abstract artwork. I'll keep my original and won't be interested in a flashy reprint. I concede that many likely disagree and it might possibly be a commercial success, but who knows? The last "anniversary edition" that got a lot of buzz was the El Grande one, but that was probably more for all the expansions being included, like the recent Carc and Alhabra big-boxes.

Plus, hasn't PR been continuously in print since its original release? I would think an upgraded anniversary edition would be a lot more desirable if the original were long out of print.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Hawks
United States
Apple Valley
Minnesota
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
leaxe wrote:
the first thing I did with my German copy is to print the illustrated buildings on A4 sticky paper, cut + paste them on the blank side

This is exactly what I'm considering doing.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bart de Vos
Netherlands
Groningen
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
I wholeheartedly agree!
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ramsay Jackson
Canada
Ottawa
Ontario
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
i would buy that reprint, no doubt.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Peter Marchlewitz
Canada
Unspecified
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
Totally agree, Enders.
I hope this happens for this fantastic classic.

1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
flag msg tools
Bitter Acerbic Harridan
mbmbmbmbmb
Rulemonger wrote:
Illustrations are nice when there's space for them. For the chits the size of Puerto Rico buildings that need cost, VP, workers, and function text, including the illustration is a drawback for my experience: I'd rather have readable function text.


I agree. Yes, the Puerto Rico tiles look dated and boring, but I'm not sure popping on a lot of art will necessarily make it better. I bought Florenza a while ago and, while I like the game, I find it ridiculous to try and read the fine print on the tiles. It's next to impossible to figure out what you have, let alone what your opponents have. And very hard to teach to anyone new since they can't read them.

If they put art on the tiles, they'd have to find a way to have the information large enough so you can easily read it. There must be way to update without sacrificing a very teachable game.

I do admire the work that went into this! There has to be a way to just make the type larger or something.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Greg CZ
Hungary
BUDAPEST
Budapest
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
she2 wrote:
There has to be a way to just make the type larger or something.


I always had the urge to create larger tiles to be more visible around the table but never did it. Perhaps in the 20th year edition...
(Also on the player board there is a lot of lost space...)
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Железный комиссар
United States
Madison
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Cool review.

I've never once felt disappointed by Puerto Rico's production quality. But if it bugs so many people, by all means, add a bunch of itty-bitty illustrations.

laugh
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Shane Larsen
United States
Pleasant View
UT
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
I got my copy of Puerto Rico used from a game store that rents. So it had seen its play before I got my hands on it. The reason I did it that way is because the components are so un-special in the first place, I didn't mind buying a used copy.

Now, if a new edition came out with nice illustrations and--I may be shooting for the stars here--those sweet boats and a trading stand like pictured above--, an included expansion or two, and a couple variants and changes to rules, I would pre-purchase as soon as it's announced.

Excellent recommendation, Ender! I hope it happens.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Antonello Piemonte
Germany
munich
Bavaria
flag msg tools
a new edition (10 year anniversary) will be available at Essen this year. See this interview with Stefan Feld (in german, but use your favorite online translator), check last question:

http://www.brettspielblog.ch/nachgefragt/stefan-bruck-produk...
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ender Wiggins
msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Update from the publisher:

Jay Tummelson of Rio Grande Games has just posted the following in response to our calls for an upgraded anniversary edition:

riogames wrote:
I too like the idea of a special 10yr anniversary edition. If we do one, it will certainly have upgraded graphics and components. I suspect it will be a limited edition and not replace the "standard" PR. I also expect it will be much more expensive than the regular PR. Also, we will not make the upgraded components available separately. As soon as I have information on whether and what we will offer, I will make an announcement. Thanks

Jay

This sounds promising!
9 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ender Wiggins
msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
And here's the relevant quote from the May 5th interview with Alea's product manager Stefan Brück:

Quote:
Zu Essen planen wir eine – aufwändige; neudeutsch würde man wohl sagen:”gepimpte” – Jubiläumsausgabe zu unserem größten Erfolgsspiel, Puerto Rico, das vor 10 Jahren in Essen erstmalig (und mit nie mehr dagewesenem Erfolg) präsentiert wurde.

Very rough translation with the help of Google: "At Essen we are planning a `pimped' anniversary edition of our most successful game, Puerto Rico, which was presented for the first time 10 years ago in Essen (and had never seen before success)."

Great news!
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Hunter Shelburne
United States
San Marcos
Texas
flag msg tools
Check out Weaponsgrade Tabletop on Youtube!
mbmbmbmbmb
EndersGame wrote:
Update from the publisher:

Jay Tummelson of Rio Grande Games has just posted the following in response to the calls for an upgraded anniversary edition:

riogames wrote:
I too like the idea of a special 10yr anniversary edition. If we do one, it will certainly have upgraded graphics and components. I suspect it will be a limited edition and not replace the "standard" PR. I also expect it will be much more expensive than the regular PR. Also, we will not make the upgraded components available separately. As soon as I have information on whether and what we will offer, I will make an announcement. Thanks

Jay

This sounds promising!


Not to someone who owns the original and doesn't have the budget to appropriate for multiple copies of the same game . Why not offer it separately like Animeeples for Agricola or something?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ron D
United States
Davis
California
flag msg tools
Mercury is my dog's name.
badge
I like hats.
mbmbmbmbmb
Weapon wrote:
Not to someone who owns the original and doesn't have the budget to appropriate for multiple copies of the same game :(. Why not offer it separately like Animeeples for Agricola or something?


Wo knows what they might change for an anniversary edition? If they go all out with upgrades, they will probably change the player boards as well as the building tiles. Once they do that, all that remains is a fistful of wooden bits and tokens, and even they might get upgraded.

I doubt they will go through all the trouble of a premium-priced anniversary edition just to add pictures to the tiles. I bet we get premium coins like in the Caylus limited edition set.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Avri Balofsky
Israel
Beit Shemesh
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Ok, I want a set of these buildings. Wow.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Michael Sosa
United States
Newark
Delaware
flag msg tools
I will break him.
mbmbmbmbmb
The Caylus special edition was $99 MSRP and later the price when down to ~$60. I would expect something similar for PR. And I will be buying. Others can look forward to lots of cheap used PR boxes on the market.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
| Scott Kinzie |
United States
Denver
Colorado
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Ender, thanks for the excellent posting and plea to the publishers.

Back in January 2010, I asked about plans for a new revised version of PR with better graphics in a thread here. The generally neutral responses from BGG'ers and no publisher response lead me to make my own building tiles with Pauchon's graphics (thinking there was little chance for a new version). It was a lot of work, but I was very pleased with the results and everyone that plays my "pimped" version is jealous because the building tiles look so much better than the original bland versions.

Now, I'm excited about the 10th Anniversary version Jay mentioned above and I'm certainly in for a copy even if it will be "much more expensive".
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Calavera Soñando
United States
Tucson
Arizona
flag msg tools
mb
Putting images on Puerto Rico building tiles is like putting a frosting on a birthday cake made of sawdust.

Still a thumb for your enthusiasm and energy. Even if I don't share your tastes I always appreciate your thorough approach.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
1 , 2  Next »   | 
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.