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Subject: Multiple Player Review: Puerto Rico rss

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Choubi Gogs
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(photo by Werbaer)

Previously entitled "Clever but not engrossing"

Disclaimer

Ok, just so you know where I come from and how the review will go. I'll start by an introduction so you know how I came to know the game and what my expectations of it were, then a little summary of how the game plays and what it looks like, you can skip that part if you're already familiar with it and the rules as I won't go much into detail here. I'll finish by my own opinion and my rating of the game. After that, I'll summarize what my playing group feels about the game.

About me, I started playing and fell in love with heavy games (Serenissima and Caylus). I began to play lighter games later like Odin's Ravens and Kahuna. I like mostly all types of games though I like when these are tense. I also usually don't like heavily luck-dependent games.
My favourites are Through The Ages, Race For The Galaxy, Imperial, Caylus, Dungeon Twister, Monster Mash.
Games I didn't like: Pillars of the Earth, Mykerinos, Caylus Magna Carta, Aton.


Introduction

Puerto Rico had been one of my first games owned 6 years ago or so. As a big fan of Serenissima and since I really liked Settlers, I went to buy a new game at Montpellier and after some advice from the seller, I decided to buy Puerto Rico.

The game got played once at christmas with a cousin of mine but after that, I had to wait until 2 years ago where I introduced some of my friends to boardgaming through this game. I didn't have much experience back then with boardgames other than Serenissima, Settlers and of course tons of mainstream boardgames (Monopoly, Risk, La Bonne Paye, Mad...).


What is the game about

Players get to be colonists in Puerto Rico, each one will develop his own colony (represented by an individual player board).

I won't go in details on how the game plays (come on, which one of you doesn't already know that?).

Suffice to say that each player, on their turn will choose a role. The role will then allow him to carry out a specific action. But here's the catch, everyone will have the opportunity to do that same specific action. This is the gist of the role selection mechanic of Puerto Rico.


Game-in-progress, note that the main board is just a placeholder for the different buildings. You can see that each player has an individual board to represent their own colony.
(photo by rteamgamers)

The available actions range from building different types of buildings to better your colony, start plantations, recruit colonists to work in your buildings or plantations, produce goods, ship thos goods to Europ in order to get points or sell these to get money. The usual... The real innovation (at least when the game came out) is the role selection.


The different roles available to the players, the lego pieces are not part of the game...
(photos by wynnr67)

Puerto Rico was originally designed for 3 to 5 players, but several 2 player variants (including one official) exist.

Random Musings

Although Puerto Rico is a game I appreciate, it is not one I love so much. First of all, the cheap-looking buildings kind are a real downer.


The different tiles here are the available buildings in the base game...
(photo by Urtur)

Although I can see how the system is very clever and how it works perfectly well, I realize I am never too engaged when I play this, I couldn't say why, it is pleasant and I really appreciate playing but this is never my first choice. It just feels a bit too bland and dry.

However, I recognize that the game can be played very competitively, some of my friends actually play it this way but I never managed to do that. I would say however that the system is really intelligent, I find it very funny that while players are forced to do the same thing at the same time all along, they will all end up specialising and this is a nice thing with the game, there are multiple ways of specialising, several paths to victory that can all work very well. As I said, this game is undoubtedly a solid game with very good mechanics and a pretty good realisation. However, it doesn't click with me. I rate it a 7, I guess if I were to rate the mechanics alone, I would rate it a 9 but taking my enjoyment of the game in it, it is a pure 7: I enjoy playing it but I'm rarely the one to ask for it.

I'd still recommend this game though, first, as you'll see in the next part of the review, it has had a big success on most of my friends and I am yet to find someone that outright didn't like it. I'm probably the most lukewarm of my group concerning this game.

I would just like to add too that there is a good "group" learning curve. By group I mean that one bad player in the group might well throw the game away (the famous "left player" thingy). Also, when the group is inexperienced, it seems like the endgame is always triggered by colonists which, although it isn't really game breaking is a pity as most of the first few plays will look alike. However, once you're past this curve and players start to better understand how the game goes, plays will start becoming more varied.

One word on the expansion: The expansion is very cheap (5 euros) and comes with a new pack of buildings. Although not really a must-have, it brings some nice variety and allows for some new strategies (though nothing really that different either).

One word about the 2 player variants: I don't like the game with just 2. I think most of the fun goes out of the window and I wouldn't ever recommend buying this game specifically for 2 players. However, I realize I'm not its biggest fan to begin with and suppose the variant works...


What my game group thinks

Matthieu
Matthieu likes mostly any kind of game, except the really heavy ones. His favourites are Settlers, Puerto Rico, Lost Cities, Serenissima, Agricola and Princes of Florence but isn't keen on games like Caylus or Imperial.
Matthieu loves Puerto Rico. Although he rarely requests playing it (he usually prefers trying out new games), I know this one is one of his favourite.

Bassem
Bassem came to gaming through me, he played Caylus and this is to this day his favourite game, he really wants brain-burning games with absolutely NO luck. Now, he is a bit more open and has started to enjoy games like Shazamm! though his preference still go to heavier games. He is a very competitive player (he's the only one with me capable of getting angry over a game). To him, games are a kind of sport. He's in it for the competition.
Bassem is very often the closest in taste to me when it comes to competitive gaming. Here however, he likes the game a lot and is everytime very engaged in it. Maybe that's because it was the only game he hadn't won for a long time but everytime he plays it, he is as concentrated as in a game of Caylus or Funkenschlag.

Vincent
Vincent is the less "player" of us all, he usually comes just to spend time with friends and is rarely into the game, not really trying to win as hard as us. We usually mock him because he has some really weird ideas in games sometime but this is basically because he doesn't really try very hard
Vincent was introduced to boardgames with Puerto Rico along with Hadrien. He never got too much in it, usually enjoying just spending the night with us. Then again, he has always been like that with games, rarely being immersed in it and just spending a good time with us so it is always hard to know what he thinks of games. For what it's worth, I thing he'd rather play Puerto Rico than Funkenschlag but it is nowhere close to Dungeon Twister or Serenissima (where he really gets into it...).

Hadrien
Hadrien, although less compettive than Bassem or me, usually plays well and plays to win. His favourite games are Puerto Rico (the first modern boardgame he tried out with us) or Imperial.
Hadrien's first boardgame. He loves it, I think this is his favourite (as said in his mini-disclaimer above!). What can I say, from the first play, he has been interested in playing more and try out other boardgames.


Laszlo and Jérôme
Laszlo has come to the gaming sphere through Power, a pretty old "abstract" wargame with no luck. His favourite games are Imperial and Caylus.
Jérôme mostly plays classical card games such as Belotte and Tarot. He occasionally plays with us. His favourite game is Galaxy Trucker (fun and stupid), Meuterer (short) and Imperial. He hasn’t really liked Puerto Rico.
Both of them were also introduced by Puerto Rico. However, although they both enjoyed the experience, they weren't engrossed. Note that neither of us were regular players. However, it seems like Puerto Rico is just a way of spending time and they would never really consider it. At first I thought (specially with Jérôme) that they weren't really into boardgames. However, thay both really loved Imperial so I guess it was more something to do with the game than with their relationship with boargames as a whole.


Thanks to Werbaer, rteamgamers, wynnr67 and Urtur for the photos

edit: I've created a geeklist for those interested in following my reviews here
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Ty Wyman
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Re: Clever but not engrossing
Excellent review in that you do not exude a religious fervor (one way or the other) about the game.

I am playing PR frequently now with its return to BSW. With more than three players, it is stimulating. However, it is nowhere near the best game that I have played.

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Nick Case
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Re: Clever but not engrossing
Choubi wrote:

About me, I started playing and fell in love with heavy games (Serenissima and Caylus).


I think you'd be struggling to defend Serenissima as a 'heavy' game. Even Caylus only has a breakdown of medium heavy.

You have an interesting mix in your games collection but the heaviest is probably Through the Ages (still only medium heavy).
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Dave Sinclair
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Re: Clever but not engrossing
Carlos Palomino wrote:

With more than three players, it is stimulating.


I actually find three-player PR to be my favorite number. Just the right amount of control each turn.
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Sean Todd
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Re: Clever but not engrossing
Big Bad Lex wrote:
Choubi wrote:

About me, I started playing and fell in love with heavy games (Serenissima and Caylus).


I think you'd be struggling to defend Serenissima as a 'heavy' game. Even Caylus only has a breakdown of medium heavy.

You have an interesting mix in your games collection but the heaviest is probably Through the Ages (still only medium heavy).


By those standards there are vanishingly few heavy games in the database. An advanced search for games at least as heavy as Caylus (weight 3.8+, 25+ weight ratings, ignoring expansions) produces fewer than 100 games. Remove the wargames and you're left with only 27 games rated at or above Caylus. If you're going to dismiss Caylus as "medium-heavy" you have to at least recognize that the same people who ranked it "medium-heavy" ranked almost nothing heavier. And the "only medium heavy" Through the Ages is in the top dozen or so games ranked by weight (again ignoring wargames and expansions).

Serenissima? There are two pages of nonwargame, nonexpansion games ranked at least as heavy as Serenissima (3.0). There are ten pages of games ranked lower. I don't think there's particular reason to call the guy out for describing it as heavy.
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Nick Case
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Re: Clever but not engrossing
When in Rome etc. I was applying the BGG 'Average Game Weight' rating in the Stats section of the games. Here it scores a 3.0 (medium weight). If it dropped 0.1 it would be classed 'medium light'. I can see no definition (including my own experience of the game) that can support Serenissima being considered a heavy game.

I'm not dismissing anything, I am just applying the standards and definitions utilised on this site. At 3.8 Caylus is classed as 'medium heavy'.

Either we all sing from the same hymn sheet and apply the same scale of reference, or we make up our own individual ranking systems and bitch it out over semantics. Which we seem to be doing anyway.

 
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Choubi Gogs
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Re: Clever but not engrossing
Big Bad Lex wrote:
When in Rome etc. I was applying the BGG 'Average Game Weight' rating in the Stats section of the games. Here it scores a 3.0 (medium weight). If it dropped 0.1 it would be classed 'medium light'. I can see no definition (including my own experience of the game) that can support Serenissima being considered a heavy game.

I'm not dismissing anything, I am just applying the standards and definitions utilised on this site. At 3.8 Caylus is classed as 'medium heavy'.

Either we all sing from the same hymn sheet and apply the same scale of reference, or we make up our own individual ranking systems and bitch it out over semantics. Which we seem to be doing anyway.



Well of course "heaviness" is a subjective notion, this is mainly why I gave examples of what I considered heavy.

However, just for the record, I believe that both Serenissima and Caylus are a lot heavier than TTA, but that's just me. Moreover, I do realize that for some, these wouldn't be considered as heavy compared to some TI3 or Campaign of North Africa (not sure of the name, it's the game that plays in 12000+ hours).

Also, I read on your page that you played "heavy" eurogames such as T&E and El Grande. I haven't played El Grande but the way I see it, T&E isn't heavy at all and I have always considered it a medium game, equal in weight as Puerto Rico... But as I said, all this is very subjective, that's why I think my disclaimer is important as it allows people to know what my thoughts are and where I come from...
 
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Nick Case
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Re: Clever but not engrossing
Choubi wrote:


Also, I read on your page that you played "heavy" eurogames such as T&E and El Grande. ...


Not my words. If you use Matthew Gray's programme, that is the result you get;

http://mkgray.com:8000/cgi/gamercluster2

I wouldn't call them heavy either as per the BGG defintion, or from a personal perspective. However I would take issue with your opinion of Through the Ages.
 
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