Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Puerto Rico

In general, I am not a fan of worker placement games.  There is an exception to this rule, but for the most part games like this just don't click for me.  Which brings me to the next game as I randomly walk through my game collection, Puerto Rico.  The general theme for this game is that the players are all helping to build up the new Spanish colony of Puerto Rico during the age of colonization.  Throughout the game the players will be erecting various buildings and planting crops.  The crops, when harvested, can either be sold for money (needed to erect more buildings) or shipped back to Spain to earn victory points.  At the end of the game buildings are also worth victory points based upon their type.  The game runs until someone has filled up all of their available land plots for building, the game runs out of victory point tokens, or the game runs out of colonist tokens.

The core of this game is in the roles.  Depending on the number of players (the game handles between 3 and 5 players) there are six or seven roles to select from.  Each round the players select one of these roles to perform, and then all the other players get to perform it as well, if they can.  There are bonuses for each role to whoever selects it, outside of the fact that sometimes not everyone can perform every action, so the order in which the actions are taken can be important.

  • The SETTLER role lets you place a new plantation tile to grow more crops.
  • The MAYOR role lets you place new colonists.  You need to have colonists on your plantations and buildings to have them perform their functions.
  • The BUILDER role lets you erect new buildings.  This is important as most plantations require a related building to be operating in order to produce goods.
  • The CRAFTSMAN role lets your plantations produce goods.
  • The TRADER role lets you sell goods to the neutral trading hours for cash.
  • The CAPTAIN role lets you ship goods back to Spain for victory points.
  • The PROSPECTOR role (only available in four and five-player games) lets you get one coin.
The players go round and round selecting roles and taking the related actions.  Every round one of the players is designated the Governor and goes first.  The next turn, the player to their left becomes and Governor, and that position rotates around the table so that one player isn't getting consistently hosed by going last.  Also, as there are more possible roles to select than players, any role not selected in a particular round gets a coin on it, as an incentive for someone to pick it in the future.  Coins continue to build up on un-selected roles until they are selected, so sometimes you might select an otherwise sub-optimal role just to get all the cash on it.

And that is the game.  Some people really like this game, and for a while in the middle part of the last decade this game was REALLY popular in the hobby gaming scene.  It seems to have faded in popularity, but many people continue to hold it in high regard.  I am not one of those people, though.  I can see how some people would like it, but I just can't get into this game, most likely because its underlying mechanic is one that I just have trouble getting into.  I'll take a good tile placement game over a worker placement game any day.  As such, I will probably trade or sell this game in due course.  I do have the iOS version on my iPad in case I ever want to play it, so I don't see a need to keep the tabletop version around.

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