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Subject: First play of San Juan - Two Players rss

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Jesse
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After reading up of both San Juan and Race to the Galaxy, I decided to pick up San Juan since it would be easier for new players to grasp the game during a single evening - one or two games. Most players I'd be playing with play light games like Settlers, Munchkin, and Bang more than anything else (with some mediums here and there). Seemed like the choice to make.

Tonight I cracked open the game and tried it out for the first time as a two player experience with my friend S.
Glancing through the instructions I mentioned the goal, end game conditions, the basic categories of cards, the actions/privileges and the concept of cards as buildings, goods and money.

Then we started up to learn by doing.

At first we each played down some cheap production buildings since they were the only things that made sense to us, the bonuses from the violet cards didn't have much bearing on our strategies at this point. I managed to build a silver plant as my second building, which proved to be very effective, I made a lot of use of trading.

S on the other hand quickly flocked to using violets once he had built two sugar plants.
He managed to build a quarry and the carpenter to fuel his engine of violet bonuses. He saw the bonuses for the monuments and laid down two. After a few more buildings he came across the arch and bid his time waiting for the third monument, which he got as his 10th building.

I focused mainly on the production buildings. I had my silver, as well as several tobacco plants and a coffee. I found great use of the smithy, trading post and market stand. By luck would have it, I got the palace near the end and built it as my 11th building, using the plenty of resources I could get from trading.

Once S played his Triumphal arch as his 11th building, I noticed the huge boost it got him (without actually knowing his total score at that point) and figured it would be too risky to wait for anything more than the silver smelter I had in my hand. I ended the game there by building as well.

Scores
Me: 24 for buildings + 6 for palace = 30
S: 21 for buildings + 8 for the arch = 29

Close game! surprise

Final Thoughts:
I loved it. It took about 4-5 rounds for the flow of gameplay and some basic strategy to sink in, which was quicker than I thought it would take. Not to mention it didn't take us long at all to play, even with explaining the rules and getting used to the game. I think it was a great choice to buy and I had a ton of fun with it. In addition, there's just enough duplicates of certain violet cards that you don't feel *too* bad about having to use certain ones as cash for your buildings as you may draw them again sooner than you think.

This was my first session account, and it seems it's been mostly stream of consciousness. Hope you can bear with me as I refine both my gaming and game reporting skills.
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Gordon Adams
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Am I right in assuming you are refering to the card game ?
If so :will this game be as easy as it sounds for those who have never played the boardgame ?

Thanks in advance.
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Jesse
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I believe you're thinking of Puerto Rico, the board game.
San Juan is the card game based off it.

Neither myself or the other player has played Puerto Rico (board game) and we found it fairly easy to understand and play San Juan (card game) once we started.

I might have made it seem easier than it sounds, the game does appear to have complexity that is not readily apparent. But I feel by the end of the first game you'll be well equipped to discover some (even if they happen to be basic) strategies to exploit it.
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Gordon Adams
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Thank you so much, Jesse.
That is great news. I have never played Puerto Rico and I thought that a basic knowledge of PR is required to play SJ. Great news....it will be on my next order.

Regards.
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Jesse
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Glad to hear!

I received similar advice on the Recommendations board a while ago, and I'm happy that I could pass on the guidance to someone else. Enjoy!
 
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Grzegorz Kobiela
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I also have first learned San Juan, and months later Puerto Rico. Its easy to understand either game any way round. I've found understanding the rules of San Juan is very easy and you can learn the game by yourself, whereas Puerto Rico is very complex and you will have no problem to understand it knowing San Juan, but without knowing SJ, it's rather difficult.
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