Thoughts On: Puerto Rico

Posted by James (admin) on October 12th, 2010

Puerto Rico – one of the best rated games on BoardGameGeek, multiple award-winner and a classic.  I bought Puerto Rico many years ago (probably around 8 years ago) and it never made it to the table despite me really wanting to play such a revered game.  The problem was that it was a bit too long for my lighter gaming group and didn’t seat enough players for my experienced gaming group which usually has 6 players.  So, it sat on the shelf until earlier this year.

I had played San Juan – Puerto Rico the card game – and I really enjoyed it.  I the role selection plus I liked how the cards served as resources, currency and buildings.  Very neat and the role selection system has been used in many other games since.

So, my expectations of Puerto Rico the board game were high.  After playing it, I must confess I was a bit disappointed.  It’s not the game’s fault at all, but I think games have moved on since Puerto Rico was released  and I found it slightly dry and fiddly.  Of course, that means Puerto Rico is actually a victim of its own success – people have taken the Puerto Rico model and developed and evolved it further so now Puerto Rico itself feels a bit old fashioned.

That’s definitely not to say Puerto Rico is a bad game at all.  The role selection works well – one player picks a role and gets the major benefit whilst all other players can do the same action but get the minor benefit.  Also, there’re lots of things to buy and resources are tight.  So, all the things you would expect from a good economic game and role selection game are there.

There did seem to be a couple of areas where you could have the best plan but other players’ actions may rob you of the opportunity to execute it that round without being able to do anything about it. Seating order played a part in this.

So, after all the anticipation, I was left a bit disappointed.  It was still an enjoyable game, and I can see why it was so successful, but I think there are other similar games (some of which have Puerto Rico to thank for their existence) which I would choose over Puerto Rico instead.


[Played with 5 players]

2 Responses to “Thoughts On: Puerto Rico”

  1. Brian Says:

    Just curious regarding that last statement : which similar games would you choose over Puerto Rico?

  2. James (admin) Says:

    Hi Brian,

    Good question. I was referring more to worker placement games which give me the same or more satisfaction than Puerto Rico, rather than those with the same role selection. So, I was thinking I’d prefer to play games such as Stone Age, Egizia, Vasco De Gama, Caylus Magna Carta.

    In terms of games with Puerto Rico-style role selection, there aren’t really that many exact copies. I think I actually prefer San Juan to Puerto Rico (sacrilige to some gamers I’m sure, but that’s my personal taste) and Tammany Hall (slightly different because one player gives out roles and only the player with the role uses its power).



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