My #2 game is Cuba
Cuba was a game that I found on BGG while searching for economic games. After reading a little about it, I put it on my wishlist as a love to have. My in-laws gave it to be as a present for Christmas of 2008. I remember opening the wrapping paper and thinking - are these games or artwork? I got Cuba and The Pillars of the Earth in that package. In my last post I complimented the artist Michael Menzel's work on Stone Age -- he is to be complimented on Cuba (and Pillars) as well. Cuba is absolutely a great looking game.
A couple days after New Years 2009, my parents came to visit and my dad and I broke out a few games. I'm always glad to try new games with my dad because he's a much stronger rules reader than I am. During that visit, we played Vikings, The Pillars of the Earth, Legends Of Football, San Juan and College Basketball Dynasty as well as learn Cuba.
Learning Cuba together was different though. I was able to take the lead because the rules were organized in a way that I understood them easily. Also, the handy player aid cards were a big help. We played through the game twice, each winning a game. I won my game by 8 points. Dad won his game by 9 points. I immediately saw this game as a game that would find a place in my top ten for a long time. Here it is at #2 and I don't see it moving in the all too near future.
I remember my first thoughts about Cuba was that it was a mix of many other games. There were elements of Puerto Rico with shipping and buildings available to only one player. There's some Vegas Showdown in there in the player mats and the spacial element of where you build your buildings (and what you choose to cover). The timing of how you play your cards reminded me a little of Notre Dame. The artwork, scoring track, and resource management are similar to The Pillars of the Earth. Taking all those games (which I enjoy) and blending those parts together and Cuba is the result. It's funny that these were my first thoughts because after I played Cuba and went back to BGG to read some more, I found this comparison, which basically echoed my entire thought process and then some.
I don't remember offhand when the expansion was announced - but when I heard about the expansion I immediately put it as a 1 must have on my wish list. I was able to buy it for my birthday in 2009. The one complaint I agree with in relation to the Cuba: El Presidente expansion is the cost. Looking over my receipts, I paid the exact same price for El Presidente' as I did for Stone Age. Regardless, the expansion board, cards, and Presidente' car are excellent quality pieces and I don't feel ripped off. As was the case with the base game, my father was the first one I played the expansion with.
There was something else special about this particular game. I blogged about it here. I had been logging games for some time, and I saw 1,000 was approaching. It was great to play #1,000 with my dad and wife.
Speaking of the wife, Jen really likes this game. We both rate it high enough that it comes in at the top spot on our combined ratings geeklist. I like it since if offers different paths to points, and I do like shipping games. Jen likes it for the buildings, and probably because she's had some success with it.
Matter of fact, as of this writing she is on a 5 game winning streak against me (and others). She loves buying the buildings that give you VP when activated. She seems to do this a lot. (Come to think of it, she's alsoa big fan of the VP spaces in Pillars) I prefer to try to acquire goods and ship them for more points, but she does mix in that enough to win.
I don't play Cuba as often as I'd like. The set up and clean up take a while, and Jen does request to play a lot. It's a rarity that I turn down a game when she asks, but I would like to play it with 3 or 4 more often than I get a chance to.
Puerto Rico has it's San Juan. Cuba has it's Havana. Havana is #16 on my top 20 list. Similarly to Cuba, Havana is a game that Jen can't seem to lose. I can beat my father, but not her.