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Teasers for Puerto Rico 1897, Wingspan: Asia Expansion, and Clever 4Ever

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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Board Game Designer
From gallery of Photodump
Today's post is filled with teasers for various forthcoming games, starting with a brief look at (yet another) new version of Puerto Rico from designer Andreas Seyfarth and publisher Ravensburger: Puerto Rico 1897, which should see retail release in October 2022.

In 2020, Ravensburger released a new version of Puerto Rico to match the graphic look of its relaunched alea line, which started with Las Vegas Royale in 2019. That version, at least in the U.S., seemed to vanish from shelves quickly, but game buying had picked up for the industry as a whole due to Covid, so that's not necessarily a surprise.

In July 2021, however, The Atlantic published an article by Luke Winkie titled "The Board Games That Ask You to Reenact Colonialism", an article that leads off with Puerto Rico as an example of a history-based game that ignores who that history has been done to. An excerpt:
So that's Puerto Rico, the game. In Puerto Rico, the real place, the Spanish empire started enslaving the indigenous Taíno people shortly after Columbus arrived on the island during his second voyage, in 1493. The first African slaves arrived in 1517. By 1560, the total population of captives numbered about 15,000, and in 1560, plantation holders started branding slaves' foreheads with hot irons in order to adjudicate any potential kidnapping cases. It's all a little uncanny when you set down a brown "colonist" marker, but the original instruction manual for Puerto Rico offers no commentary on the terror of human displacement that it echoes. The game's animating principle — as much as it has one — is that this island was empty and dormant until the West arrived, bringing with it a golden age.
(The article has a number of errors that someone deep in the hobby will recognize, e.g., Rio Grande Games was not the originating publisher of Puerto Rico, and BGG users have rated the game more than 60,000 times, not "reviewed" it. Anyway...)

The article ends with this teaser:
When I reached [Ravensburger] for comment, a representative told me that in 2022, it will release a "re-imagined version of the game globally, created in partnership with a culturally diverse and representative team." This time, they said, it'll be "set in post-independence Puerto Rico, and it won't include themes of colonialism."
The cover image of this version has started appearing on retail sites, but a representative at Ravensburger told me that the official announcement is still to come. What might differ in this version? Based on this retail listing, the components appear roughly the same.

Video Game Publisher: Ravensburger
The "1897" in the title is a clue. In a 2021 BGG thread about changes in the 2020 edition of Puerto Rico, Jason Perez of Shelf Stories notes that he reached out to Ravensburger, and in September 2021 he wrote, "I advocate for a new edition of Puerto Rico. One still called Puerto Rico. But one that shifts the historical perspective. Stay tuned to developments so that I can show, rather than tell, what I mean." And in a June 2022 Facebook comment on the newly revealed edition, Perez wrote: "Slavery [in Puerto Rico] was abolished in 1873. 1897 is the year they won autonomy from the Spanish colonial government. It was the most free Puerto Rico ever got before the US took over in 1898."

For more background, you can turn this November 2021 interview with Ravensburger editor André Maack that mentions the difficulty of balancing game clarity with accurate representation.

Stonemaier Games has announced a Q4 2022 release date for Wingspan: Asia Expansion from designer Elizabeth Hargrave and artists Natalia Rojas and Ana Maria Martinez Jaramillo, revealing one new card for now and promising "to reveal one bird card per month in the monthly Stonemaier Games e-newsletter". Bird teases are a thing now, I guess.

Board Game: Wingspan Asia

• Designer Wolfgang Warsch and publisher Schmidt Spiele will continue their cleverness in the late 2022 release of Clever 4Ever. No details at this point — only the cover — but you can make out some of the score sheet behind the dice, so have at it!

Board Game: Clever 4Ever
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