Today we take a look at one of the classic Euro Games, Puerto Rico. This is a game that I personally have wanted to review for a long time.
In Puerto Rico, players aim to score the most victory points. Each turn consists of players selecting an action. This action is taken by everyone (but gives a special bonus to the one who selected it) and then can no longer be selected by anyone else for the rest of the round. Because each of these actions are generally each crucial in their own way, players have the strategical bandwidth to pursue highly specialized strategies. There is also an element of predicting what actions other players will take on their turns, and plan around that.
The actions in Puerto Rico are very intertwined. For example, one action allows you to sell goods in the market for gold. In order to sell goods, you must first take the action to produce them: which requires building a production building for gold. These production buildings also require you to build a plantation, and both structures must be occupied by colonists. This complex web of requirements creates a tension of always having something to work towards or improve.
There are a lot of components in Puerto Rico, but one who has played similar Euro games will not be too bothered by this. While the components are mostly cardboard, they seem to be highly sturdy. They are also generally double-sided, and feature intuitive designs that help ease newer players into the game. Overall, a lot of thought went into the design of the components.
Jorge: I really enjoy Euro-style economy management games, and so it was a lot of fun to revisit Puerto Rico (an old game by board game standards). Puerto Rico does a great job of engaging players with each-other in a positive way. This is due to the fact that each action you take also benefits everyone else, and so you have to be careful to make sure that they don’t benefit as much as you do from any one action. Thus, Puerto Rico manages to achieve high levels of player interaction without resorting to “take that” style effects. This being said, I was annoyed by the huge effect that turn order had on the game. I found myself wishing that there was a “take the first player token” action so that the players would have some more control over turn order. In addition, it was often times not very satisfying to produce goods or make money, as leftover goods were often discarded without use, and neither goods nor money counted for victory points at the end of the game. These are admittedly minor complaints, and Puerto Rico still stands as one of the greatest board games ever made.
Isaac: Unlike some games, Puerto Rico ended up being fairly light on special case scenarios and had an intuitive components (the buildings saying what they each do and being color-coordinated, for example). This made beginning the playthrough easy, which was something I definitely appreciated having missed the setup. That said, much of the “advanced” components took too long to access, meaning you might get one or two the entire game, and that your initial turns were of outsized importance. Like many other games, the “luxury goods” (i.e. coffee and the 3-4rd tier of buildings) were more trouble than they were worth, which is something of a shame as it encouraged one-good strategies. That all aside, it was still a very enjoyable game, and player interaction was present without being obnoxious (i.e. stop-the-leader strategies).
What is your favorite Euro game? Let me know in the comments below, and thanks for reading!