Puerto Rico board game
by Shelley Stuart
(Upstate NY, USA)
Board game manufacturer:
Rio Grande Games
Number of players:
Highly engaging, the Puerto Rico board game offers multiple strategies for players to win. Easy to learn, Puerto Rico offers up to two hours of gaming enjoyment for novice and experienced gamer alike.
The game and gameplay
Players vie to develop Puerto Rico both agriculturally and physically, accumulating victory points through buildings, achievements and shipping.
As Governor, Settler, Trader, Prospector, Builder, Craftsman or Captain, players use each role to populate, create trade goods, make money, build buildings, or ship goods back to the Old World.
Players can win by accumulating the most victory points through trade, the number of buildings built, special achievement conditions, or a combination of all three. With multiple strategies available for victory, it’s never clear who’s winning or losing.
Each turn, the first player selects a role (Governor, Settler, Trader, Prospector, Builder, Craftsman or Captain). All players then complete the actions available to this role, with the first player receiving a bonus condition.
The next player then selects a role, and all players complete that action. This continues until all players have selected a role and completed the associated actions. Money is placed on the roles that remain on the board, making the wallflowers sweeter choices during the next turn. Play continues with first player rotating around the board.Each role allows players to do different actions such as create fields (corn, indigo, sugar coffee and tobacco), build buildings (which allow a huge number of options), bring workers to work in the buildings or fields, harvest fields, ship goods to the Old World, or simply make money.
A victory point game, players can earn victory points for each trade shipment made (one point per type of good shipped), the value of the buildings build (from one to four points) and bonus conditions certain buildings allow (a variety of points up to seven or more).
Winning totals usually range in the 30- to 40-point total (higher points with fewer players).
Pros and cons
I have nothing negative to say about the Puerto Rico board game. The game is balanced from start to finish. You may think you’re not doing well, yet end up winning if your strategy is better than others.
It plays equally well with four or five players (I haven’t tried it with three). The game offers an expansion (different buildings and a forest land type), but the original is so fluid and engaging that I’ve never bored of the basic set.
The Puerto Rico board game is excellent for all skill levels. It’s especially good to introduce to newer players who have dipped their toes into the gaming pond, but haven’t yet worked up to more complicated board games. The balance also means that no person will fall behind so badly that he or she has no hope of winning. Everyone has the chance to win, no matter what they may think!