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San Juan (second edition)» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Andre outlines San Juan (pros & cons) - Who is your Governor? rss

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Andre Jeworutzki
Germany
Hamburg
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San Juan is the the card game version of the economic board game Puerto Rico. Players collect cards to grow crops (goods for trading) or build buildings (for special abilities) to create an engine. Players use their hand cards to buy buildings (multi-use cards).
The active player picks a role card which represents an action. All players can do this action, but the active player gets an additional benefit (privilege). After that, the next player picks one of the remaining role cards and so on. The game ends after the 12th building has been built.

What makes it special?

* Very elegant multi-used card engine/tableau builder game
* Role/action selection: one player picks one of the leftover roles/actions. All players do the action but the active player gets an additional bonus (like in Puerto Rico)

Pros:

+ Very smooth and elegant gameplay

+ Artwork is quite beautiful and much better than the first edition

+ The second edition includes the expansions which add more replayability and some balancing tweaks (however, events are not included)

+ Clever use of multi-used cards (pay for buildings, used as goods, or used as additional victory points)

+ Indirect player interaction via role selection and order of players

+ Role selection provides interesting decisions: players want to be most efficient, but they also want other players not to benefit as much as oneself

+ Super portable: can be packed into a small deck box (a lot of game in a small package!)

+ Easy to teach

+ Quite short playing time (with experienced players)

+ Plays well with all player counts (but differently)

+ Well written rules

+ Nearly no down-time

+ Easy to teach and play. It is almost family-friendly (with older kids)

Neutrals:

# Theme is okay (Caribbean, economic)

# Luck of draw happens sometimes

# Trade values are unknown in the beginning. There are 5 different cards for trade values which are cycled during a game. The order is different each game, but it does not change (adds a memory element)

Cons:

- Comes in a way too big box

- Minor issue: city buildings from the expansion have a colored background which is the sign for the production buildings

Thoughts:

San Juan is a portable and quicker version of its big brother Puerto Rico. San Juan is the lighter game but still has a lot of depth for such a "small" game. The Caribbean theme is nice and appeals to most people. The flow of the game is very smooth: someone picks a role, all players do the action, and check their buildings for special abilities. Well done!

Similar games:

* Puerto Rico (the deeper and more complex board game with longer playing time)
* Race for the Galaxy (more complex and deeper, lot of iconography, hard to teach)
* Glory to Rome (more complex, role-selection, multi-used cards)
* Evolution: Climate (multi-used cards, direct player interaction)

Possible roles/actions:

a) Builder - place a building card on the table and pay it with the remaining cards from the hand
b) Producer - place cards from the draw deck on production buildings face down (cards now represent goods)
c) Trader - sell goods to draw new cards to the hand (the number depends on the goods and their current trade value)
d) Councillor - draw several cards from the draw deck and keep one
e) Prospector- only the active player draws 1 card
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Lars Wagner Hansen
Denmark
Sorø
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Re: A Game of Boards Review: San Juan - Who is your Governor?
ajewo wrote:
Abstract:
# Random trade values (simulates fluctuating market)

It only random for the first 4 trades, after that's is given what the price is going to be, since you put the just revealed token under the unused tokens.

And in fact you can usually quite quickly figure out what the remaining tokens are, or at least the value of the product that you are going to sell.
 
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