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Subject: Puerto Rico: A True Confession. I Hate this Game! rss

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Sharon
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I can sense the gasps of shock and horror at this confession, so please don't yell and throw things. Perhaps "hate" is too strong of a word here, but you know what they say about the importance of first impressions . . .

Approximately 3 months ago, as a new boardgamer I attended my first FLGS game night, having only played one "gateway" game up to that point. That evening, I was introduced by experienced players to a popular game called Puerto Rico. Apparently this was not just any old game. This was the #2 Top Rated BGG game, only recently dethroned from its #1 position. And thousands of BGG players can't be wrong, can they? The pressure was on.

Well, have you ever played a game where you didn't have a clue as to what you were doing, and why you were doing whatever it was you were doing, and when you were supposed to do it? That on your turn you prayed that someone would once again take pity on you and tell you what to do next? Where a feeling of a heavy oppressive fog was descending upon you and you feared that the torment would never end? I silently wondered, "Is there something wrong with me? No . . . I am an intelligent, educated person. . . So, something must be wrong with this game!"

My suspicions were confirmed as I went on to play and ENJOY numerous games including Caylus, Advanced Civilization, Power Grid, Agricola, Le Havre, Steam (in full disclosure, I also initially experienced negative feelings toward this game, but they didn't begin to compare with my overtly hostile feelings -- which I have thus far failed to overcome -- toward Puerto Rico), and many, many others. I have also purchased and look forward to playing Reef Encounter, Tigris & Euphrates, Age of Empires III, and Through the Ages. I love strategic games and am not afraid to engage in a little brain burning. But to this day whenever someone suggests playing Puerto Rico, I involuntarily shudder. As feelings of dark gloom and despair descend upon me once again, I invariably decline the invitation. I know that this is not rational. I know that there is a very good reason that this game is the #2 game on the BGG. I fear that I am missing out on a great gaming experience. I WANT to love this game!

So I am asking for your help in overcoming my irrational aversion to this particular game and in learning to love it. Am I the only one with this issue? What games have you hated on your first play, yet somewhere down the road were convinced to give it another try and ended up loving it? Your help is humbly appreciated.
 
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Brad Miller
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I like it well enough.

Others don't.

So be it.
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William Collins
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To each their own, no problem in not liking something!

Have you played with the same group before? PR is one of those games that can be pretty evil if you play *improperly* with the wrong group...
 
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A C
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What aspects of the game, in particular, did you not enjoy? Just the learning curve?

As a quick strategy primer, the two basic things you can do in Puerto Rico is to either develope a shipping strategy or to build up you economy and buildings. For the shipping strategy, you are going to want to select corn tiles when they are available, you will want to take the Captain role frequently, and you will only be purchasing a few choice buildings like the harbor. If you want to do buildings, you should either try to get one of the elite productions buildings (either Coffee or Tobacco) and try to enhance them with things like the Factory or the Large Market.

As to the rest, you will want to select roles that will still give you benefit while not allowing your opponents to make use of them. For example, take the building role when people haven't gotten their money yet.
 
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Garcian Smith
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Probably Agricola. That game never made me rest easy. You have to get a lot of things in a strict amount of time. You have to make sure you get a balanced sort of things. You have to get enough food. You have to make certain improvements early to reap the most out of them. You have to watch out for screw moves as well as making your own. You have to realize that harvest come much more often later on.

To get a certain improvement you need 3 jobs. To get three jobs, you'll need additional food. You'll need to get a major improvement to cook that bread into more food. You'll need a lot of clay to get that improvement. To get that clay, you'll need to either wait until it piles up or get it at a low rate right now. Or you can get more clay by making your other improvement, but you'll need a stone... etc.

With Axis & Allies it's been a wild affair. I first loved it because I like history and it seemed cool. Then I hated it when I played it with friends because of its length, down-time and fiddliness. Then I gave it a more serious go with a veteran and liked it. Then I'm not as excited because other than him, nobody is willing to play it.

Puerto Rico is a game I'll play, but I don't like the screwage factor of things like losing your goods when someone captains or when the player in front of you takes the job you wanted. It's okay, but I prefer the faster, diverse and themed Race for the Galaxy.
 
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Justin Fitzgerald
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Sharon777 wrote:
So I am asking for your help in overcoming my irrational aversion to this particular game and in learning to love it. Am I the only one with this issue? What games have you hated on your first play, yet somewhere down the road were convinced to give it another try and ended up loving it? Your help is humbly appreciated.


The first few times I played this game I found it to be dry, boring, mechnical, and easily dominated by knowledgeable players. The VP conditions seemed to have little to do with anything that was fun like building all your plantations. The game ends way earlier than it feels like it should (I didn't even get all my workers). So on and so forth.

I picked it up a couple years later and found I enjoyed it. I was judging the game based on other games I'd played instead of itself. You are building towards a specific goal (getting VPs) and it is a little awkward how you arrive there. You won't get all your settlers. It's okay.

Suddenly I found I really enjoyed the game. But --- it'd still be awful with players of varying skill, that's for sure.
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Spencer Garbanzo
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I don't think there's anything wrong with you. I've never really cared for Puerto Rico either. One of the best days of my life was when I realized that it had fallen out of my gaming group's rotation. If I had to put the best days of life into an ordinal list, I'd put that one between the births of my two children.

I never quite had the same antipathy toward it that you do, and I was still willing to show up to game night while it was in heavy rotation because PR kept me occupied if not entertained. I never really enjoyed it, but I was willing to participate for the good of the group (and they, in turn, have sat through games I like for my sake as well).

I wouldn't lose too much sleep over it if I were you. Lack of sleep dulls the wit for playing games. Besides, you have unplayed copies of T&E and AoEIII and you're worried about passing up Puerto Rico? Gamer, please!
 
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Simon Lundström
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Sharon777 wrote:
So I am asking for your help in overcoming my irrational aversion to this particular game and in learning to love it. Am I the only one with this issue? What games have you hated on your first play, yet somewhere down the road were convinced to give it another try and ended up loving it? Your help is humbly appreciated.


Listen, there is no need to like Puerto Rico. You can love it, dislike it, be indifferent or think it's rather bad. It's not a game that all gamers like. Some love it above all else. Some think the whole idea with action selection stinks like the socks you were wearing in the boots you had during an entire LARP week, and then there are those like me, who are impressed with the game but not that excited about the game.

There are so many games in this world, you need not stay by a game you don't like at first sight. Dismiss it as bland and boring and go on.

The BGG ranking list has issues. It doesn't speak the truth, not even about what games are most liked here on the Geek.
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Josh P.
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Sharon777 wrote:
Well, have you ever played a game where you didn't have a clue as to what you were doing, and why you were doing whatever it was you were doing, and when you were supposed to do it?


Bad teachers have caused my irrational hatred of many a good game. I only just started liking Battlestar Galactica. I had a bad first game of Warrior Knights, but I still manage to like it alright. However, I still hate Arkham Horror with a fiery passion due to one bad session where I had no clue what I was doing.
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Gabe Alvaro
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You are certainly entitled to your opinion. I can't imagine how anybody could not have a clue about what they were doing in playing Puerto Rico. It's a got a pretty good theme going. You are growing and building on the island of Puerto Rico. You win by gaining the most VPs and you get those VPs by building stuff and by producing stuff and sending it back to the old world when it is picked up by the Captain. That's what you are doing.

Not knowing just how you were introduced to this game, I would bet that those experienced players first dazzled you with the greatest-thing-since-sliced-bread expectations, then probably didn't even bother to explain it to you in any interesting thematic terms that are helpful in giving motivation, and then they probably locked on to the groupthink that can so easily occur with those who play this game with each other a lot. I can think of no better way to ruin somebody's first experience with this game.
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Nomadic Gamer
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It's not irrational.
Read all the lower ratings comments and you find why feel the way you do.
Move on and discover some great games.. laugh
 
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Jeff Mays
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I think that maybe it was the fact that your first play of this game was with experienced players. One thing I have read repeatedly about PR is that it often does not work well with experienced and new players unless the experienced players can forego what they have learned over several plays of it and make it what it should be for a first time player, a discovery of possibilities.

I have only recently begun playing PR and it is my favorite game at the moment (although my wife is a far better player than I). I think one of the things that has made it a success is that my wife, myself, and even more recently my 2 sons, have all been learning it together.

So, perhaps trying it again with others who are new to it might help. Also, although some call it heresy, I find I enjoy the 2 player game a lot more than the 3 or 4 player game (we use the official Alea 2 player rules). So, if (and only if) you want to give it another try, that would be my suggestion. If not, no big deal.


(edited for spelling/grammer? grammar?)
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-matt s.
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I've been into games over the past 1-1/2 years and I have yet to play Puerto Rico. I'm looking forward to trying it, but there are plenty of other games that have caught my attention so it doesn't really bother me. As others have said, if you don't like it, don't worry about it. Politely turn down requests and be ready to suggest something else instead.

Another option is, try playing it with other INEXPERIENCED players and figure the game out for yourself. Then, you're all in the same boat and perhaps you'll discover something new about it and you won't be so anxious about playing it. I've found that if I've done poorly in a game, I challenge myself to try again and find another way to enjoy it, and this is one way to do that. For instance, I'll play it with my kids who also have no clue what they're doing at first.

Much of the joy I have in playing games is discovering the game and how it works, or finding new ways to accomplish a goal that I hadn't thought of before. I actively AVOID strategy information and prefer to figure games out for myself, even if I play terribly.
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David desJardins
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Sharon777 wrote:
This was the #2 Top Rated BGG game, only recently dethroned from its #1 position. And thousands of BGG players can't be wrong, can they?


If you don't like the game, that doesn't mean that the people who do like it are wrong.
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Just Another User
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filistimo wrote:
If I had to put the best days of life into an ordinal list, I'd put that one between the births of my two children.


So, the birth of which child was a lesser day in your life than the demise of Puerto Rico? Don't let your wife hear that! (or that child, for that matter!)laugh
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Gary Simpson

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Quote:
So I am asking for your help in overcoming my irrational aversion to this particular game and in learning to love it


I dislike/hate about half the games I play. That dislike encourages me to try out new games instead of trying to love ones that just don't click for me. My advice is to find out the games you feel passionately for and play them.
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Mark Buetow
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I'm inclined to agree that if you really had such a bad reaction, it's because you weren't taught the game well. That's not to say that you would like it any more than you do, you might not. But how a game is taught is pretty important for further enjoyment.

(That's why I do my best to be in a position as the one teaching the game, cuz nobody explains games as well as I do! laugh )
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Chris Ferejohn
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DaviddesJ wrote:
Sharon777 wrote:
This was the #2 Top Rated BGG game, only recently dethroned from its #1 position. And thousands of BGG players can't be wrong, can they?


If you don't like the game, that doesn't mean that the people who do like it are wrong.


Indeed. Games are like movies, books, or music. Not everyone is going to like everything. I think Starship Troopers is one of the biggest turds ever shat out of the Hollywood movie machine, but all kinds of people seem to like it. I don't feel the need to figure out what is wrong with them/me/the movie, I just accept that I have better more refined different tastes and move on.
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Spencer Garbanzo
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oldfan wrote:
filistimo wrote:
If I had to put the best days of life into an ordinal list, I'd put that one between the births of my two children.


So, the birth of which child was a lesser day in your life than the demise of Puerto Rico? Don't let your wife hear that! (or that child, for that matter!)laugh


Oh- I didn't make it clear which was which on purpose!
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Matt Lee
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From the sounds of it, the other players did you a grave disservice by throwing you right into the game with no real setup and, especially with a game with variable strategies towards success, no helpful tips or strategy overviews. That alone would ruin the game for you, and I can't blame you for having such a strong reaction to it.

Ratings of the game are only guidelines. You are the only one who can decide if it's actually enjoyable to you or not, and ultimately the only one who can give you teh right answer if a game is for you or not.

If you do ever choose to try it again, I'd recommend playing with other novices, or at least with people willing to guide new players (I do that a lot which is why I rarely win anything - I'm in gaming for the company and enjoyment of other players).
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David desJardins
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klz_fc wrote:
From the sounds of it, the other players did you a grave disservice by throwing you right into the game with no real setup and, especially with a game with variable strategies towards success, no helpful tips or strategy overviews. That alone would ruin the game for you, and I can't blame you for having such a strong reaction to it.


Personally, it's "guiding" me rather than letting me just play the game that would ruin it for me.
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Matt Lee
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DaviddesJ wrote:
klz_fc wrote:
From the sounds of it, the other players did you a grave disservice by throwing you right into the game with no real setup and, especially with a game with variable strategies towards success, no helpful tips or strategy overviews. That alone would ruin the game for you, and I can't blame you for having such a strong reaction to it.


Personally, it's "guiding" me rather than letting me just play the game that would ruin it for me.


Depends on how it's presented. If I was teaching you the game knowing you had never played before, I'd explain the two major strategies (shipping and building) and what options might work. Playing the game for you is just as much a disservice in the wrong direction, and I absolutely agree with you there.

If it isn't a scheduled convention slot, I often tell people that we'd play two or three rounds to get people comfortable with how the game mechanics work (let the lightbulbs start to go off) and then offer to restart the game so everyone is on an even basis but with some insight into the gameplay so they don't feel like they're being thrown to the wolves. It often works well, and I'm often surprised how often players tell me to just continue from that point on to see how things work out, and usually very little suggestions are needed (though mostly because everyone else ends up in much better positions than me).
 
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When I hate a game on the first play most likely I won't be playing it again, so its hard to think of a game where I played it again and felt differently about it. Not that it couldn't happen, but it would be unlikely.

 
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Don't feel bad.... A lot of people don't like chocolate chip ice cream, puppies, sunny days, or warm smiles either.
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Carl Birch
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Sharon777 wrote:
Well, have you ever played a game where you didn't have a clue as to what you were doing, and why you were doing whatever it was you were doing, and when you were supposed to do it?

Errrm ... pretty much every new game I play sadly. soblue

Yes I'm an idiot but I get there in the end!

I love PR, as do the rest of my gaming group ... with the exception of one guy who, like you, hates it. It's no biggie, it's all subjective. For example, I can't stand Caylus for the same reasons that (I suspect) you and my friend don't like PR ... I just can't get to grips with the game itself and I have to admit that I don't know what to do from turn to turn.

Don't worry about it though ... PR is obviously not for you. I would advise that you not stress over learning to love a game you don't and enjoy playing those games you do! Life's too short ...
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