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Puerto Rico» Forums » General

Subject: Subjective musings of a first-time player rss

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Piotr Zembrowski
Hong Kong
Hong Kong
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I played "Puerto Rico" for the first time a few days ago. My expectations were quite high (being a regular BGG lurker and having read glowing reviews of the game). I enjoyed the game, but wasn't overwhelmed by the experience. This may actually be saying more about me than about the game. (Can 8216 geeks be wrong?) I've realized that:

1. I like beautifully designed games, especially with maps. "Puerto Rico" looked "under-designed". The building tiles didn't even have any building images on them! The game board was basically a glorified accounting ledger - a bit dry for my taste (although I found "Goa" even drier). Perhaps the game would appeal to me more if the board was a map of Puerto Rico and you had to place your plantations and buildings in a spatial relationship with one another and with those of other players. Perhaps some rules on territory ownership and soil type (better for coffee, not that good for corn) would make it more immersive. I wanted to feel more like a plantation owner, not his accountant.

2. I like games with coherent themes that don't have too many arbitrary rules dictated solely by the game dynamics. You sell your goods for money, but ship them away for "victory points"? Like what? Honours bestowed on you by the king in the distant homeland for each barrel of corn? Also, I felt that there was no reason behind the restrictions on shipping and trading, or even choosing of the roles, except purely to alter the game dynamic. This brings me to the third point:

3. I don't get particularly excited about games that are basically "competitions". What I mean is that everyone builds their own little project (colony, garden etc.) without direct interaction with others. (This is even more pronounced in "Goa" and "Alhambra", but the latter redeems itself with pretty tiles and spatial relationships.) I felt that many of the artificial restrictions (one good of each type in the trading post) and arbitrary, albeit unique and interesting, mechanisms (choosing roles) were added with the sole purpose of increasing the level of players' interaction, sacrificing at the same time some integrity of the game's theme.

Having said this, I'm not passing judgment on "Puerto Rico" after one play only. The #1 game at BGG deserves better. I think it's conceivable that after getting a more intimate feel for the subtleties of the game's dynamics, I will be able to appreciate it more and get over the initial disappointment with the thin theme and mediocre components.
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Jeremy Carlson
United States
Wheaton
Illinois
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Well, well....someone who doesn't care for a game...and lists good reasons why.

Is it cold in hell?

I can understand #2. I don't agree, but at least I get your reasoning by what you wrote. Not that I really disagree, its just that the reasons why something happens in a game, or why one does a particular thing, matters little to me. I don't think about why it makes no sense to do an action. The rules say to do this, good enough in most cases for me.

#1 I very much disagree with. I think Puerto Rico is a beautiful game. If you want buildings on your tiles, I believe there are some really well done files here you can download.
Quote:

Perhaps some rules on territory ownership and soil type (better for coffee, not that good for corn) would make it more immersive


This sounds very interesting. Might make a good different game. Would change PR though, and I like it the way it is.

#3...well...to each their own sir!

Good post though!
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Jim Patterson
United States
Iowa City
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I agree that this is a good post.

I don't have really any more experience with PR than the OP, but ... with regard to #2, I feel like the discrepancy between the money and the victory points for doing two things that seem similar is actually apt. Trading is, I think, only an internal activity within the island, while shipping is doing what a "good" colony is supposed to--making the home country wealthier. Thus, money is almost exclusively just a means to an end, with that end being more production, more and better buildings, and the like, while shipping is more like an end.
 
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Donald Wilbur III
United States
Sacramento
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While PR is an excellent game for what it is, it does have a "pasted-on theme" and can pretty fairly be described as "multi-player solitaire". (I love the game, but I don't mind either of these two things).

If you like more theme and conflict in a game you should look into "Ameritrash" games, they tend to have both in spades. Wargames (the new Euro-style ones or traditional) might suit you as well.

I'm not so much of an "Ameritrash" expert so I'll leave those recommendations for someone else, but you might enjoy Twilight Struggle, or one of the Command and Colors games (eg Battle Lore, Memoir '44, C & C: Ancients). They have lots of theme and conflict.
 
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United States
Aventura
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Based on your comments, I doubt Puerto Rico will grab you with subsequent plays any more than it has already. If anything, with repeated plays the theme sinks even further into the background and the game really DOES turn into a "spreadsheet", if you will.

For me personally, strong theme integration is a nice but totally dispensable asset for a game to have, and I certainly would never sacrifice a good abstract mechanic for the sake of verisimilitude. I think if these things are important to you then you shouldn't be using the BGG rankings to guide your purchases.
 
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Manuel Pombeiro
Portugal
Sao Joao do Estoril
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I fully understand this and complete agree with the author. The pasted on theme, the game by the game (BTW: the mechanics really got me that feeling of solitaire playing), and the non existent artwork or spacial relations got me to trade my copy away.

The selling point for me for PR is the play time, if I'm in under a 2 hour schedule to have a game with brains, and love to have the game solved by the plantations draw (this is a so big factor on the game with evenly matched players!!), then I may be enticed to play it.

On this genre I really enjoy other games (Twilight Imperium maybe).

As for it to be the number one on BGG, it really just deepens to me the though that BGG is much more than the ranking!! If the ranking system didn't account the one-shot lurkers, that cumulatively shot up the ranking (maybe a week chart, like the music charts?!?), or the votes on 20 years (or plus) out-of-print games, than it could mean something to me. As it stands, the brilliant and insightfull reviews, even the flames wars, the rules brainstorming and helping of the community, the best place around for player aids and add-ons, that's what BGG gives me. Selecting games from the ranking I ended it after trying several of the top games in the ranking (PR been one of them).

Peace!! meeple
 
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Chris J Davis
United Kingdom
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It sounds like you're an Ameritrasher at heart! If you want a game that plays almost exactly the same, but addresses most of the issues you describe, I suggest you check out Age of Mythology. :-)
 
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