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Subject: Puerto Rico: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly rss

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Matt Thrower
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Puerto Rico - at time of writing the #1 game on the 'geek. Glancing through the reviews currently on offer it's hard to find anything negative said about the game. Indeed, somewhat to my surprise, it's hard to find much said in the reviews about much other than a rules outline and how absorbing it can be. I thought it might be interesting to spend some review space talking about both the positive and the negative points, as I see them.

The Good

Let's not be shy and hide PR's light under a bushel here - we'll start with what I see as the #1 triumph of PR's design: it manages to play a lot heavier than it feels.

Since that comment is somewhat cryptic, it probably deserves some elaboration. As game geeks, I'm guessing we're all familiar with some of the famous abstracts like Chess and Go. If you're playing seriously, these game are hard work to play. They require a lot of long term planning and a lot of analysis of the variables of the current situation to see what's the best move. They induce what's commonly called "brain burn". It's entirely possible to come out of a closely-fought game of Chess feeling too drained to want to attempt another game.

PR also has a lot of variables and a lot of viable strategies. It's full of difficult, tip-the-balance decisions. Yet amazingly it doesn't induce the dreaded brain burn and indeed a play of PR usually leaves me wanting to play another game instead of wanting to go home and lie down. How does it achieve this?

I think there are two big secrets to PR's success in this regard. Firstly, it's very much a game of fast, flexible tactical play. Long term strategy is vital in PR but once you've got to grips with the basics of the game, the choice of strategy to go for is not usually difficult to see and is partly foisted on you by factors beyond your direct control - the draw of plantations and the choices of other players. Indeed, it seems to me like PR actually discourages too much strategic analysis by presenting such and ever-changing and flexible face because it's difficult to predict what role choices other players will make. The meat of the gameplay choices in PR are in the shorter-term tactics of the game that you need to master to gain your longer term goals - and these choices are fiendishly difficult and balanced on a knife edge. There are a variety of workable options at every stage of the game and never enough resources to do everything you need to do. Furthermore, the way the various options are interdependent on one another is just a breathtaking piece of design. In this way, PR manages to really tax the brain without ever feeling like a strain.

The second point is that because it each turn roles chosen by the other players are no longer available to you, you tend not to be presented with a completely bewildering array of choices to overwhelm you in the way that, say, choice of moves in Go can. Rather there are a limited number of potential moves but the difficulty lies in trying to see which is actually the best - all of them will advance your position but trying to pick the one which will advance you most while proving detrimental to other players is extremely hard. So again, you're faced with tough choices without it seeming overwhelming. Clever, clever stuff and PR manages to completely avoid the analysis paralysis trap that many nonrandom games fall into.

This achievement in design is, to my mind, so huge, so massive that you'd have enough right there to recommend people give this game a whirl but happily there's more. Even though PR eschews random factors it still manages to present an ever-changing face that rewards multiple plays. There's never a fixed path to victory and you must adapt not only to the changing circumstances of different games but the changing circumstances of different turns! I believe that the game has managed this as a welcome offshoot of the way it concentrates on tactical factors as described above.

You want more? Okay then: it's fast playing, it has very little downtime, there are opportunities to play nasty if you want to and it neatly avoids most of the old fashioned design problems like kingmaking. Satisfied now? In truth, a lot of modern games manage all these things though and how important they are depends on your point of view. I still maintain that the genius of PR lies in the depth of it's tactical play.

The Bad

You'll have gathered thusfar that I like PR. It's fun to play and it's staggeringly well designed. But, best game on the 'geek? Not to my mind, but it's a personal preference of course. Let me tell you where I think the game slips up and you can judge for yourself if you think you'd count these issues as problems were you to pick up and play PR.

Firstly, although the game plays fast and limits downtime, the setup is fiddly and time consuming. Now this might seem like a perverse thing to say but I find this far more offputting in a game like PR than I do in a much longer game, no matter how good PR might be. If I'm going to sit down to 3-4 hours of gaming, I'm prepared to invest 15 minutes setup for one long game that I'm going to enjoy. Spending it three times over to setup three games of PR just starts to seem like a waste of filler game time. Granted this is a minor point, but it still irks me - besides I'm building up here .

Second the game's carefully constructed balance can be very easily thrown out of kilter if one player isn't sure of what they're doing. As described above at any point in the game all the potential role choices can seem attractive options - it takes experience to learn to pick the two or three best options from all those available. However, the game is so delicately balanced that someone making a bad choice, leaving the next player in turn to grab the best choice can totally throw the game, resulting in a situation where the inexperienced player can no longer win and the lucky recipient will be very hard to catch. The game's hidden VP approach ensures that no-one might find this out until the totals are added up at the end, but it still happens. How much of a problem this is for you depends on who you game with - in a tightly-knit regular group it might never become an issue but then again if one player goes off and practices endlessly with PR evolver then it might become an issue. Either way I have to put this down as a small stain on an otherwise hugely elegant design.

The third problem for me is the aforementioned lack of player interaction. Now, we must be fair about this - there most certainly is player interaction in PR and very rewarding it can be too. Sometimes it pays to take a role to stop another player from taking it, and sometimes it pays to take the captain or trader specifically to nerf another players use of resources. A very astute player can gain a tactical edge by trying to predict what choices others are going to make based on play styles and personalities. All of these aspects are definately player interaction, albiet subtle interaction. What PR is missing is the social negotiation, bargaining and dealmaking that are such a feature of many multiplayer conflict games and some trading/auction based Euros. To my mind it's these aspects that really help to keep a game fresh because they're unpredictable without being random so I seem them as a vitally important ingredient of any game I'm going to want to play long-term. PR lacks them and, as such, although I'm still having fun with the game I can very much forsee a day when this will end. PR, engaging though it is, is basically a game of analysis and number crunching and although it does it's best to spin out it's viable table time by offering so many different potential options and scenarios it's going to end up going in circles eventually.

The final point, and the one to my mind which is most open to personal preference, is that it's an extremely dry game. As already discussed, interaction is limited. Because the best choices are so difficult to spot and things are so carefully interlinked it's rare to watch someone make an unusual "killer" move to universal amazement and praise from the other gamers. Similarly it's rare to get much of a "you bastard" screwage moment for the same reasons. I have no doubt these moments do actually exist in the game, but you're not likely to realise they've happened until after the game end, if at all! The theme is completely tacked on so the immersion factor is all about the gameplay choices rather than any feeling of being there or identifying with the poor colonists working hard down there on your game board. I tend to prefer games that aren't so dry: I don't see why you can't have gamplay immersion and thematic immersion - I can think of several games that manage it. Your mileage may vary.

The Ugly

It's about slave trading. Doesn't come much uglier than that!

This final section is of course just randomly added to make up the name of a famous western, but it gives me some space for concluding remarks. PR has one standout factor, one thing it does well but my word does it do it well! And my word, isn't it a big standout factor! It is a unique game but not, in my opinion, one without it's flaws. It is, I think, a game that everyone should try but certainly not a game that everyone will love.

My final rating? An 8.
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Quote:
What PR is missing is the social negotiation, bargaining and dealmaking that are such a feature of many multiplayer conflict games and some trading/auction based Euros.


Having read some of your comments on BGG I noticed that this is one your main criteria for determining whether a game has player interaction.

In the old days before Euros, most games did not have specific rules for deal making, but players, nevertheless, would go about deal-making. I've never seen a multiplayer game (including Puerto Rico) where players couldn't make alliances/deals.

I personally remember loving this political aspect that could be applied to any multiplayer game. But after a while it felt like every game was turning into the same game of politics no matter what we were playing. Furthermore I was getting bored of that game because it was the only one I ever played.

Has any one else ever felt this way?

One of the things I like about "designer games" is that the designers try to experiment with the idea of player interaction. Some games succeed more than others, but it reinvigorated my interest in games. El Grande and Taj Mahal are examples of games that in my mind have a lot of player interaction, but in very different ways. They could, or course, be played in a deal making sort of way if you wanted.

I'm staring to feel that as far as negotiation exists in a game it should be implied by the game play. Through the Desert is a great example of this.

You could play it open negotiation style: "I'll not play a camel here if you don't play one there", "If you let me get this oasis I'll block a third player from doing something you don't want him to", etc.

Or you could play it such that your aggressive or conciliatory intentions are based solely on where you place a camel. No words have to be said and players who understand the game will see what's going on. This allows players to be social in ways other than arguing, threatening, lying and bullying and enjoy the intricacies of the game itself without only seeing the game through the filter of the always-played negotiation game.
 
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Ryan O'Rourke
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I broke the game out with some Puerto Rican friends and that was the first thing they commented on, "oh, the little dark skinned slaves." Working and trading slaves is definitely a prominant part of the game, there is no denying it, regardless of whether it's "about" that or not. It may be historical, but not everybody wants to recreate that part of history.

Ryan
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Matt Thrower
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generalpf wrote:
No it is not. It includes colonists (who historically were slaves) but the game is not about trading slaves. It's about producing and shipping or selling goods.


I stand corrected. It's not about trading slaves no, but it does feature slave labour to produce goods as facesnorth correctly points out. You are, I think, splitting hairs.

Quote:
Having read some of your comments on BGG I noticed that this is one your main criteria for determining whether a game has player interaction.


Yes. I have attempted to be a bit more objective in my review here in acknowledging that there are other forms of player interaction but it's the dealmaking aspect of interaction that I find most compelling. Indeed it's the single biggest thing I look for in a multiplayer game.

This made me think of a whole interesting article I could write about strategy and balance in multiplayer vs two player games, but I wouldn't know where to post it. I'll save it for another day, unless anyone's desperate to hear my thoughts now.

Quote:
But after a while it felt like every game was turning into the same game of politics no matter what we were playing. Furthermore I was getting bored of that game because it was the only one I ever played.

Has any one else ever felt this way?


Personally no: or perhaps not yet. But it's a very interesting observation. I find that this social aspect of gaming keeps things very fresh because you're usually making different sorts of deals with different people depending on the game situation.

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I'm staring to feel that as far as negotiation exists in a game it should be implied by the game play. Through the Desert is a great example of this.


I'm not familiar with Through the Desert: from what I know about it it's everything I try to avoid in a game. However, you make a good point. On the flipside I would say that certain kinds of games - multiplayer wargames - lend themselves much better to this sort of negotitation than other games and it'd be a shame if it had to be specified in the rules of these sorts of games. It'd make Risk comletely worthless for a start. However, with more modern games perhaps it would be advisable.
 
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Trevor Murphy
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rayito2702 wrote:
I personally remember loving this political aspect that could be applied to any multiplayer game. But after a while it felt like every game was turning into the same game of politics no matter what we were playing. Furthermore I was getting bored of that game because it was the only one I ever played.

Has any one else ever felt this way?

One of the things I like about "designer games" is that the designers try to experiment with the idea of player interaction. Some games succeed more than others, but it reinvigorated my interest in games. El Grande and Taj Mahal are examples of games that in my mind have a lot of player interaction, but in very different ways. They could, or course, be played in a deal making sort of way if you wanted.

I'm staring to feel that as far as negotiation exists in a game it should be implied by the game play.


Man, I totally hear you on this one. I used to think table talk negotiation and strategy discussion was all part of the fun, but my group's last game night opened my eyes to the potential problems. First we played the driest Modern Art game I can imagine, %90 of it table talk about probability and whether what someone was about to do was 'wise.' Then, a 5-player PR game in which the two corn players openly colluded and bargained for an early advantage. I don't particularly like playing 'stop the committee'.
 
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Daniel Corban
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Hey, did you know The Settlers of Catan is about genocide of the natives on the island so paleface can come in and build productive cities?
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Wow nothing brings Geek Guys out of the woodwork better than posting that Puerto Rico might not be the end all be all of gaming (I traded my Puerto Rico for a deck of 54 standard playing cards so I can play with myself without any interruptions). Keep hope alive, one day the world will awaken from their slumber and we will dethrone this oppressive game from Geekdome, “I have a dream.”
 
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generalpf wrote:
Splitting hairs? There's an enormous difference between saying a game is about something vs. saying it contains something.


You're splitting hairs.
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".... Glancing through the reviews currently on offer it's hard to find anything negative said about the game. Indeed, somewhat to my surprise, it's hard to find much said in the reviews.."

Read (not glance at) the bottom ratings. They have plenty of objective criticisms & opposed conclusions to yours.shake
 
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robartin wrote:
generalpf wrote:
Splitting hairs? There's an enormous difference between saying a game is about something vs. saying it contains something.


You're splitting hairs.


Exactly. Which is why The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly is a movie about stubble.
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generalpf wrote:
Todd, I'm not concerned with the reviewer's opinion on Puerto Rico. I'm concerned with the spread of misinformation that the game is about trading slaves.


Then why was the Craftsmen role titled Overseer in the original German version. Rumor has it that it was changed exactly because of the implied slavery aspect.
 
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Wow, thats all I got to say is wow.
 
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MrSkeletor wrote:
I agree, there is nothing stopping you making deals and alliances in every game you play, but in most Euros - and I include PR and Through the dessert in this - deal making would pretty much feel like cheating. It just feels more natural to do in american games than it does in (most) Euros.


Interesting statement. For me, engaging in negotiation during a game is sort of like arguing for half an hour before a game of Puerto Rico over who gets to sit to the left of the new player. I don't really feel it's cheating, it just gets in the way of the game itself. If players have fun playing this way, I don't want to stop them.

I get the impression you are implying the Euros are designed to make players feel bad about deal making. If they do, I have been brainwashed without even knowing it. I don't recall going through any sort of classes on how to be a Euro-snob, but once I started playing Euros I really got tired of having negotiation cobbled onto every game.

Quote:
I think the problem is because Euros are so obsessed with 'balance' and non-randomness, if two players team up its all over for the other guys. There is just no way to come back from being ganged up on in most of these games.


I think the gang-up issue is no different in a Euro than it was in any of the old style of games.

You have hit on one of the other reasons why I don't like the negotiation aspects of games. It comes across to me as a mechanism used to even out unbalanced starting positions and smacks of laziness on the part of the designer. I know for most designers this is not the case but I have to be really impressed by the game to get beyond my prejudice.
 
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(Hi, Matt: no counterpoint review on this one...yet--I need to play more PR.)

The good:

I think you got the good pretty right. I think what gets PR its high geek rating is that superb tactical/strategic balance, in combination with the minimal evaluation time for experienced players.

The bad:

I think you overstate the setup time, especially if you're replaying with the same number of players. Tips: count your workers (you may have more than 100); then you can just remove the unneeded ones without counting the needed ones. Likewise with VP chips.

Your balance comments are on the money and generally acknowledged.

I think you're unfair about social interaction. The picking of a role to remove the value of the role from another player is a serious interaction. In addition to blocking trading or shipping, or shipping away goods, you can use a role before an opponent is ready to use that role effectively, such as building when an opponent doesn't have the money for an effective build.

Not every game is Diplomacy, though in what I think of as the Diplomacy Effect, all games tend to become Diplomacy if a player has recently played it--you get into that everything-is-negotiable, everything-is-fair frame of mind. Nothing prevents PR from being played this way, but it should be so agreed before the game.

Anecdote: I was in a six player Empire Builder game recently when an experienced player started Diplomacy-style negotiations with a beginning player to drop a safety load of sugar so three sugars would be available in San Francisco. A friend also in the game pointed out later the experienced player's offer to rent track for a couple turns was way under the value of the sugar--I don't know, as I was studiously not paying attention, for reasons that will soon be clear. The beginner agreed to dump the sugar. As it happened, in true backstabbing, Diplomacy fashion, I needed sugar and was one move from SF (both of which facts were publically available knowledge), so I pulled the sugar right out from under the experienced player. Hey, I hadn't agreed to anything! The point is, you can turn almost any game into Diplomacy, but what variety in gaming would there be if every game were determined by Diplomacy-style negotiations?

I tend to agree that the theme is tacked on. Part of the bad is that PR appears to be an economic simulation, but applying a principle like economy of scale doesn't work. I would describe PR as a brilliant abstract game, with a theme tacked on to act as a mnemonic. The theme is useful, but nothing unique to the Puerto Rico location. The locale could have been Bombay or Ceylon or any port.

The Ugly:

Slavery. Bah! As you say, and I agree, the theme is tacked on. PR is less about real slavery than a wargame is about real killing. And how ugly is slavery compared to firebombing cities in WWII, Nuclear War, chemical weapons use in WWI, scorched earth policies throughout history, etc., etc., etc.? And to hear some complaining, you'd think 16th-19th century slavery was the only slavery that ever happened. Imperial Rome and Pharonic Egypt had widespread slavery for much longer periods, for just two examples. And for at least a millenium, the difference between slavery and serfdom was just the name throughout much of Europe and Asia. But, if PR causes people to think of the evils of real slavery, I'd call that a good thing: better than forgetting about it or pretending it never happened.

Back to the game: You want ugly? The manual is lacking any comprehensive overview of the game. The rules are all there in detail, but nothing gives you an overall feel of the game. I bought PR cold, without even having seen it played first. It took a kind gamer's time explaining the game to remedy the manual's fault in not giving me an overview. By contrast, I had no problem playing heavyweight Caylus from reading the rules.

Also, presumably to get that fine balance, the rules are seriously non-parallel, which is not emphasized in the manual and frequently trips up beginning players. Some privileges happen at the beginning of the turn, but the Craftsman gets his at the end. The Captain gets one point for all deliveries, while the Harbor gives one point per delivery. Etc. The BGG list of commonly misplayed PR rules is much smaller than my personal list of rules I've seen misplayed (which will eventually make its way to BGG).

Fortunately, the ugly goes away with some games played.

I don't know if it's good or bad, but PR changes pretty seriously with a different number of players. Some advise taking a prospector early on to get a doubloon for yourself without benefitting other players. Good luck in a 3-player game.

I forget my rating for PR, but it's very high because no other game I know does what PR does in balancing tactical and strategic play.
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Hmmm...a slave trading game? That could actually work. Already I can picture my player character standing in Charleston, looking out at the Atlantic, and screaming, "Where the hell's that Amistad?!? I had a lot of VP's riding on that!"
I don't mean to be offensive, but let's face it. History is offensive. 90% of strategy games take place in a historical period. If you honestly take offense at game mechanics, then don't ever play Monopoly again. Those capitalist swine ate your grandparent's savings for breakfast!
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MrSkeletor wrote:
rayito2702 wrote:
I think the gang-up issue is no different in a Euro than it was in any of the old style of games.


Disagree. With 'american' games you have dice and randomness which effects the outcomes of choices. In Euros such as this you don't. It seems to me the way to win at most Euros is to be the one lucky enough to follow a strategy that no one else is, you'll shoot ahead while your opponents are busy competing for the same 'resources' or whatever.
Therefore if 2 players are 'blocking' your strategy while no competing with each others you have next to no chance of winning. ...


It seems to me you're making the case that Euros and old-styles both allow gang-ups--which I agree with. Randomness isn't that much a factor. If a couple Monopoly or Settlers opponents trade with each other and not you, the chance in the games is very unlikely to save you. Likewise in direct interaction games like Risk or Pirateer (if you would call that a Euro), or in Ticket to Ride Markin where I've seen a good player blocked by competing opponents (but the same would have happened if they were cooperating). And in non-chance games, whether it's Diplomacy, or as you mentioned, Through the Desert, gang-up works.
 
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This thread is about words.
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Reish Galuta wrote:
This thread is about words.


Couldn't agree more. I'm astonished at the amount of debate that's been generated by a throwaway line at the end of the review that I added to make a good review title. Heck, I even said as much right after and you'll note that I did not offer any direct criticism as a result. I got the point about wargames and killing before I wrote the review - I didn't think it needed pointing out in black and white.

Calm down! If it bothers you all so much I'll take it out and change the title! Nevertheless I still maintain that slave labour is (at the very least) implied by the theme and components of the game, and I find that makes me a little uneasy.

Quote:
Read (not glance at) the bottom ratings. They have plenty of objective criticisms & opposed conclusions to yours.


I know, I read them. They're not reviews, but ratings. Okay, so now I'm the one splitting hairs but I did think that more people would read reviews than would page through all the comments to find the negative ones at the end.

Not every game is Diplomacy, though in what I think of as the Diplomacy
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Effect, all games tend to become Diplomacy if a player has recently played it--you get into that everything-is-negotiable, everything-is-fair frame of mind. Nothing prevents PR from being played this way, but it should be so agreed before the game.


No, but I think Frank had it on the money when he said it feels like cheating to do so. Some games simply lend themselves much better to playing this way than others - in mutltiplayer wargames it's kind of expected - in games like PR it completely throws the game balance if it's allowed.

The more I think about this the more I think Rayito is right when he suggests that maybe (especially in Euros) it should be implied in the rules if playing like this is to be encouraged.
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MattDP wrote:
Nevertheless I still maintain that slave labour is (at the very least) implied by the theme and components of the game, and I find that makes me a little uneasy.


Sure, and it's implied even more by the German version. But why is that tenuous link worthy of comment? PR outright has tobacco in it: should you have commented that this was an ugly product to have in an age 12+ game, even though it's true to the historical setting? PR actually uses wood and wood products: should we bring up global deforestation? That, I think, is why you're getting comments.

MattDP wrote:
The more I think about this the more I think Rayito is right when he suggests that maybe (especially in Euros) it should be implied in the rules if playing like this is to be encouraged.


Absolutely. This gets back to another recent thread essentially concluding that anything unmentioned in the rules is prohibited: You can't look through the face down plantations, you can't team-play in an individual game, you can't negotiate and make deals unless permitted....

Maybe I'm taking your movie theme too seriously, but I think you should have said you disagreed with the design decision to not include trading rather than putting it in the bad basket. I disagree with you because negotiation is a distinct skill; some games should have it and some shouldn't, for variety's sake. And, trading would dismantle PR's careful balance of strategy and tactics: the glib could just talk their way out of poor tactical play. Last, as we mentioned in our Settlers discussion, trading can bring in negative social interactions--or at least unfair ones.

But as a house rule, whatever floats your boat.
 
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FuriousCorgi wrote:
robartin wrote:
generalpf wrote:
Splitting hairs? There's an enormous difference between saying a game is about something vs. saying it contains something.


You're splitting hairs.


Exactly. Which is why The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly is a movie about stubble.


If I had any GeekGold left, I'd drop it in your tip jar.
 
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Since making the charge that Puerto Rico is has a hidden agenda about slavery, it makes the assumption that the designer is a racist. I prefer to think that he calls the brown disks colonists because they are colonists and that Puerto Rico is the name of the game because too many place names are already taken. I'm guessing that Puerto Rico is not a simulation of colonizing the actual island.

A retheme to avoid this problem would have been easy, but eurogamers dont like games named Moonbase Zeta.

Edit: Oh, and good review! My comment is generally a comment about the slave controversy because I dont think it gets enough attention
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For me the most galling design problem with Puerto Rico is that about a third of the buildings are dramatically less useful than the others. It's not easy to design a thoroughly balanced building set, and that informs my sympathy for the designer, but it's still a problem with the game.

It's still a very good game, though, as well as the inspiration for a lot of other good work.
 
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Michel Condoroussis
Canada
Montreal
Quebec
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First off, well done thumbsup I can see that you were trying to be impartial when writing this. Although it seems like everything was discussed, I wanted to add my two cents.

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Second the game's carefully constructed balance can be very easily thrown out of kilter if one player isn't sure of what they're doing.


Although I have taught the game to many people and always love introducing new players to it, this does happen a lot. It is also a little overwhelming to be a newbie playing PR with three people you know love it so much. I find that in the first game, a player must be helped out by the veterans and often when teaching someone, I do not play to win as I would with other regulars. Also, this happens in a lot of games, especially Euros since the strategy is not always easily visible. I find that it is a good sign when a new player cannot simply come in and "figure out" the game in minutes and have the same chance of winner as someone who has been playing for years.

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The third problem for me is the aforementioned lack of player interaction.


Also agreed in the sense that you are referring to. My regular group can play PR in 45 minutes, since we rarely talk, except for the "dam you" that is whispered. But I must agree with rayito2702
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But after a while it felt like every game was turning into the same game of politics no matter what we were playing


I have played many games where there is too much interaction. I mean there is a point where you need to let each person play their own game. If there is a lot of player interaction and one layer is shy, they might tend to give into the louder players demands, which ruins the game. I do however enjoy both types of games and find that PR does have a lot of interaction. Although I did state my group plays fast, you can tell when someone is trying to throw you off and not simply picking a role in order to advance themselves. Not the same as asking to trade a wheat for an ore, where the interaction is more obvious, but still. Also, in games where there is interaction, like Settlers (another game I love), as said above, the shy player will give in and after going to the Canadian championships you can tell that the best players rely on the board to win, almost never trading.

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the setup is fiddly and time consuming


The solution, bags. The longest part of the setup is counting out the “slaves” and victory points. Since I almost always play three, I have the right amount set in a bag, so that all I need to do is open that bag and dump them out. If I do play four or five, just add the additional ones in (and then remove them when picking up). If your really picky, like many gamers and their pieces, you can even have a bag with the additional pieces (victory points and colonists) needed for the four or five player games. Then it simply becomes which bags to open.

Finally, I like the fact that although PR is a highly strategic game, it can be taught and played by almost anyone. Sure maybe not the average person, but if you play Settlers or TTR you can most likely play PR and even if you don't win, you are likely to have fun.

Again, great article.
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Alan Knox
Scotland
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First of all, hi, this is my first post. I'm a long-time board game player but Puerto Rico is the first Euro game I have bought. I just played my first game with my family last night and as you might expect by replying to this post, the first thing my family made a note of was that this game clearly had an element of slave trading not only implied but actually integral to your chances of winning the game. I was promptly asked why-ever had I bought such a tasteless game.

I glanced upon these pages in order to try out a different gaming experience this Christmas and since PR seems by-far and away the most popular game on this site I thought I'd give it a try, not aware that the colonists mentioned in some posts were implied to be slaves.. I'm pleased to say that after my family got over the slave-trading element we did all actually enjoy the game and all agreed that as the game progressed it became increasingly engrossing and high-pitched. The very small part which luck plays in the game is very refreshing for someone very used to dice based games. The most taxing part of the gameplay for us was definitely getting enough buildings which could correlate to our plantation distributions, and at times this element could get annoying when considdering the large distribution of violet buildings which often offer a player no real chance of advancement in the game and even clutter up your board.

This being said I find it hard to believe that anyone who has played this game could deny the large element of implied slave-trading which takes part in this game. Not only do you apparently employ slaves to work at your plantations, but you actually load them onto ships! Anyone who could deny this emelemt would seemingly be in as much denial as Andreas Seyfarth.
 
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