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Subject: Check this out if you're new to PR rss

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Wade Schwendemann
United States
San Diego
California
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Upon hearing the words, “Puerto Rico,” among a bunch of gamers, the first thing I thought of was, “what a great vacation that’d be.” That was, until I learned about this game. Now, I sometimes still think of the sand and sun, particularly in the cold Minnesota winter, but more often think of the top rated game on www.boardgamegeek.com.

The reason this game draws people in and the reason it has such replay value is very simple, there are multiple viable strategies to win the game, and each play one or the other is going to be more useful, depending on what the players around you are doing. You have to pay close attention to what you’re about to do and how it may benefit your opponents, particularly as you consider what options they have left after you choose.

The theme of the game has players each representing land owners in colonial Puerto Rico. They develop their village by building different buildings, each of which gives them a different ability. They settle plantations of different crops then use their production facilities to process them. After processing, they can sell those goods to market and make more money to buy more buildings, or they can ship them back to the old world, for victory points.

The game consists of rounds where each player takes their turn at selecting a role to play for that round, and then, starting with the player who selected it, they each perform the action allowed by the role. The person taking the role either gets an extra advantage or an extra option for taking that role.

There are seven different roles in the game, although one is not used in 3 player, and that one exists twice in a 5 player game. The roles are settler, builder, mayor, craftsman, trader, and prospector. Each role is available only once per game round, and players take turns selecting their role first. The player who selects first in the round is the governor for that round. It’s really just an easy way to keep track of who went first that round, sort of like a dealer button in poker. There will be three roles not selected per round, and to make those more enticing the next round, a doubloon is added to each role, so that the player who selects it gets the doubloon in addition to the other edge for that card.

Each player begins the game with a playmate that has 12 plantation spaces and 12 building spaces. There are also a set number of victory points available and a set number of colonists available. The game ends at the end of the round in which a player either fills their buildings, the last victory point is taken, or the colonist ship can’t be filled with the appropriate number of colonists.

The settler role allows a player to choose a plantation from a number of face up piles equal to one plus the number of players. In a four player game, there would be 5 tiles face up at any one time, with the player who chose the role of settler going first and selection proceeding clockwise. The 5 plantation types that produce goods are corn, indigo, sugar, tobacco, and coffee. There is a 6th type, available as an option to the player who chose the settler role, a quarry. A manned quarry (more on that in a moment) allows a player to purchase buildings for lower than the listed price. Players can opt to not take a plantation if they’d like, but this is typically only done near the end game, and rarely then.

The builder role allows players to spend their doubloons to purchase buildings for their city. There are production facilities to allow for processing of goods taken from the plantations, and non-production buildings that give the players special abilities.

The column the building is in is also important. The first column on the left can only be discounted by one quarry. Even if a player has 2 manned quarries on their playmate, the largest discount the can get for one of those is 1 doubloon. Each building costs a number of doubloons equal to the number in the circle to build. This does mean that some buildings can be free to build. The second column allows for the use of 2 quarries, the 3rd column for 3, and the large buildings can be discounted by 4. In addition, the player who selects the builder role receives a discount of one doubloon off the listed price. There are a limited number of buildings, including production facilities, so choosing the correct order in which to build is important. There is only one of each large building. At the end of the game, whether it is staffed or not, each building is worth a number of victory points equal to the number in red.

For the plantations to produce anything, or the buildings to allow for their effects to work, they must be manned by colonists. In order to obtain colonists, one player must choose the role of mayor. Initially there are a number of colonists equal to the number of players on the ship. The player who selects mayor takes one off the ship, then they are taken off in a clockwise fashion, one to a player. If there is an uneven number, the players who are last just don’t get as many. After these are taken, the player who selected mayor receives an extra colonist from the pile. Players then place them on their buildings and plantations as they see fit. Again, a plantation isn’t being worked if there isn’t a colonist on it, and a building’s effects don’t take effect if there isn’t a colonist working it. In order to produce goods, you need the plantation manned and the appropriate production center manned in your city. The exception to this is corn, which only requires the plantation be manned, and doesn’t have a corresponding production facility. This phase is also the only time that players can rearrange their current colonists to move to new buildings or plantations they’ve acquired since the last mayor phase. Finally, once all players are set, the ship is filled for the next time someone selects mayor. It is filled with a number of colonists equal to the number of players, or the number of empty circles for colonists in buildings on all players’ cards. If each player had a large indigo plant with one colonist on it, there would be 8 empty spaces in a 4 player game, and so 8 would be the number of colonists on the ship the next time mayor is selected, for example.

The next role to describe is the craftsman. This role allows players to produce their goods. Starting with the player who chose this role, the players take one ‘barrel’ of a good for each one that they can produce, meaning they have a working plantation and a manned production facility. A large production facility has more than one circle, and if more than one colonist is manning that building, it can support more than one plantation. If there are no barrels of a particular good left, that player doesn’t produce that good this round. There are a limited number of barrels of each good in the game to balance this as well. Once all players have taken their goods from the supply, the player who selected craftsman may choose one extra barrel of any good he or she actually produced that round. Of course, there must still be some remaining in the supply for them to gain this extra benefit.

Once a player has produced goods, they have two options on what to do with them. These roles can be taken before they really help you early in the game, and sometimes the number of doubloons on them makes them worth it, but when they benefit you is when they really shine.

The first of these two is the trader. Players take turns, beginning again with the player who selected trader, selling their goods to the trading house. The trading house holds 4 goods, and can only hold one of each type. Corn sells for 0, indigo for 1, sugar for 2, tobacco for 3, and coffee for 4. If all 4 spaces are when it is a player’s turn, that player cannot sell this round. If all 4 are full after the player’s turn, the trading house clears. The benefit of choosing the trader role is that you sell your goods for one doubloon higher than they otherwise would have sold for, and this does stack with building bonuses, if applicable.

Probably the most difficult role to understand for the new player is that of the captain. This role is different than the others in that it is a must, rather than a may type action. When a player selects the captain, all players ship their goods back to the old world beginning with the player who chose the role. He or she also gains an extra victory point for their first shipping as the bonus for choosing the role. There are 3 ships, of varying capacity based on number of players, next to the board, and each one can only carry one type of good. If you have goods and there is an empty ship, or one that isn’t full that is shipping a good that you have, you have to place all of that type that you can on that ship, and collect one point for each barrel that you placed on the ship. One player ships all they can of one type of good of their choice, and then the next player, and so on. This continues until all players have shipped everything they can . If you have goods that can’t ship, either because another ship is already full of that type or because there isn’t a ship carrying that type, you have to spoil (discard) all barrels except for one. The strategy in this phase comes in the form of deciding what type of good to ship on which ship, and in what order. Maybe you want to ship your corn first, so you can hold on to your coffee and sell it later. Or, maybe you want to ship your coffee, so the player behind you can’t ship his corn and it spoils.

The final role is that of the prospector. Quite simply, choosing this role nets you one doubloon. That’s it, but it does nothing for any of the other players. A role that benefits you and not your opponents often has it advantages. This role is not included in the 3 player game. Two prospector roles are included in the 5 player game.

That is the basics of the game. Each non-production building allows you to effectively break one of the rules I just mentioned or gives you some other type of benefit. They’re on the card above, and if it’s not readable and you’re really curious, you could always save it to your computer and then blow up the image.

All in all, this game has a lot of different choices to make each turn. Which role do I choose? How can I move ahead without benefiting my opponents more than myself? Do I want the game to end now or not? What might my opponent choose after I choose? I’m really glad I gave this game a chance, and picked it up about 3 months after my first play. It’s now a favorite of mine, just like it is for many gamers. I’d recommend it to anyone who is looking at a strategy game. Honestly, I’d probably rate the game 9.5/10. I’m always looking for 2-4 other people to get into a game with.
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Clement Tey
Singapore
Singapore
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This reviews seems to be a few years too late..
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Chris L
United States
Macomb
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Not for me...thanks OP...
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Thomas Schwendemann
Germany
Waldkirch
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Hi namesake :-)

Not only do we have our name in common but we also share a favourite game.


BTW, I don't think that reviews can be too late, because the gaming world changes over the years and so do our standards in game mechanics, balance, rules, components, etc. It does make sense to review a game over and over again because the "competition" keeps changing.
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Clement Tey
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Yes, it does make sense to review a game over and over in light of the "competition". However, the review makes a couple of minor errors and it is only about the mechanics. There's actually a couple of other reviews that are about the mechanics further down the list..
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Zé Mário
Portugal
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Schwade wrote:
The reason this game draws people in and the reason it has such replay value is very simple, there are multiple viable strategies to win the game


multiple = 2

 
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Clement Tey
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To Wade, do try out Race for the Galaxy. I think you might like it more than PR.
 
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Łukasz
Poland
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Non vi sed virtute, not armis sed arte paritur victoria.
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aaxiom wrote:
Incidentally, if you like PR, you might possibly like Le Havre as well.


I like PR. I scorn Agricola. I decided not to buy Le Havre due to its similarity to the latter. Seriously, let the theme aside (ships?), I do not get how you come up with this implication.
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Łukasz
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aaxiom wrote:
Re-read the words, "MIGHT POSSIBLY" in the original post.


Sure, on the same basis, he may possibly as well possibly like Pachisi and Monopoly :-)

Cheers.
 
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Łukasz
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aaxiom wrote:
I prostrate myself to your superior intellect and wit. Please... let me be like you one day.


I will rephrase what I said before had it been too much for your brains: how did you come up with the concept of slightest possibility that someone liking PR will like Le Havre as well and how this concept is at variant with him liking Pachisi and Monopoly?
 
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