Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Puerto Rico (the Board Game)

Lately I've been playing a lot of Puerto Rico, which is rapidly becoming my favorite strategy board game. Board games have long been an important part of my life. Not only did I grow up in an isolated mountain community of less than 10,000 people, I also attended a small college surrounded on three sides by corn fields. Even today, when I get together with my good friends, card games or board games tend to be our chosen form of entertainment.

Puerto Rico is themed, not surprisingly, around the island of the same name during the Spanish colonial period, when survival depended on eking out a living from the land and ships were loaded with goods from the New World to send back to Europe.

The game shares a lot with the more popular The Settlers of Catan, in that you are developing a mix of infrastructure and resources that you use to convert your meager starting resources into a winning combination of points. However, Puerto Rico has a much lower reliance on random luck than Settlers does, and forgoes the use of dice entirely. Instead, players take turns picking one of a set of different roles during each round. While usually each player gets a chance to act whenever a particular role is chosen, the player who chose it not only gets the advantage of going first (and thus getting first choice of limited resources) but also gets a bonus for their action. In many ways it almost feels like running a business - growing crops and storing them efficiently, developing the island with useful buildings, deploying your workers to best effect, selling at the right time, and, most importantly, shipping your goods for maximum benefit. It's also a beautifully illustrated game, as you can see here:

Of course, one of the reasons I am enjoying it so much right now is that the game has been converted to an app on the Apple iOS, with an intuitive interface, clean presentation, and surprisingly good AI. It can be played against any variation of human and AI opponents, either on a single device or via its multiplayer mode. Here's what the main playing screen looks like:

Intrigued? Then check out the following:

1. Here's a great review from a user over at RPG.net.
2. Or, if you prefer, here is a 'How to Play' podcast covering the game.
3. The absolute best place for strategy tips is this post in the forums on Boardgamegeek.com.
4. Or, for something a bit easier to digest, check out this video with 5 tips on how to win.

If you can't tell, I highly recommend this game!

What about you? Have you ever played this game? What did you think?

Thanks for reading. See you Thursday with my initial review of Terraria 1.2!

1 comment:

  1. I'm a big fan of board games too ! If you like Apple OS versions, i'd recommend "Smallworld" and "Neuroshima Hex". They are cheap and really entertaining !
    Gonna give puerto rico a try, thanks !!