San Juan board game
by Shelley Stuart
(Upstate NY, USA)
Board game manufacturer:
Number of players:
This portable version of the Puerto Rico board game is nearly as entertaining as the original.
The game and gameplay
The goal of the game is to acquire the most wealth and fame as you develop the capital city of San Juan.
As with the Puerto Rico board game, during a turn you select one of a possible six roles (Builder, Producer, Prospector, Governor, Councillor and Trader). Each player then takes the action associated with that role. You also earn an additional privilege from the role you select.
Each card in the deck represents a building. You start the game with four cards in hand plus one on the table. You obtain more cards in the Producer, Prospector, Trader and Councillor phases.The number of cards you can obtain varies based on the role and the buildings in your play area.
You play cards (build a building) during the Builder phase by discarding the number of cards in your hand equal to the building’s cost (minus any adjustments your current buildings and role may convey). You don’t need to discard a specific type of card – building simply requires you to reduce your hand size.
Once any player builds the twelfth building in his play area, the game ends. Players add the victory points on the buildings in their play areas, add extra victory points conveyed by special cards and the highest total wins.
Pros and cons
The portability, quick play and similarity to Puerto Rico make gameplay in the San Juan ‘board’ game very comfortable. You don’t need to know about, or have played, the actual board game in order to pick up the mechanics and enjoy this card game.
While this makes it a good game for beginners, San Juan’s simplicity might quickly bore gamers looking for something more competitive or mentally challenging.
If you want a quick, light version of Puerto Rico to fill an empty hour, the San Juan board game fits the bill. Simple to learn and easy to play, it accommodates all skill sets. It doesn’t quite fit into a pocket for easy travel, but it’s portable enough to toss into a carry-on for a quick game in the airport, during lunch break or between classes.