That’s enough of that. This week we had the Magnificent Seven at The Hop Pole; Jon, Sam and Neil played the very popular deck-builder Trains and Aaron, David, Peter M and I headed out to San Juan to make our mark in the world of Puerto Rico, a game that still sits stunningly high on Board Game Geek ranked 6th overall and 5th in strategy category. As described on Board Game Geek, “In Puerto Rico players assume the roles of colonial governors…players earn victory points for owning buildings, for shipping goods, and for manned ‘large buildings’. The resource cycle of the game is that players grow crops which they exchange for points or doubloons. Doubloons can then be used to buy buildings, which allow players to produce more crops or give them other abilities. Buildings and plantations do not work unless they are manned by colonists.”
Aaron and I should theoretically have enjoyed an advantage over David and Peter M after having played the game previously; of course this doesn’t always translate to dominant wins, at least not for me. Puerto Rico set the bar for city building/economic games when it was published in 2002 and still has enduring appeal even in the face of competition from more stylish and fashionable Eurogames released in the last few years. While not devastatingly complex in its game design, the combination of city building, trading goods and role selection creates an interesting experience. Each round, starting with the Governor, players select a role such as Craftsman (to produce goods), Mayor (assigning colonists to jobs) or Captain (ship goods off to the Old World for victory points). Of course, the trick is to make sure you pick the right role at the right time to benefit you more than any other player because here’s the thing: all players get to use the ability that the role enables. There is just a bonus for each action if you chose it, such as producing extra goods, earning more gold for trading or getting a discount when building. Thus, here is a lot of the tactical battle included in the game.
Aaron never really managed to get his plantations producing enough goods to stay competitive but the rest of us fought a very close battle to the end. Thanks to keeping victory point markers face down, it’s hard to tell exactly how well your competitors are doing until one of the end game conditions is met. So arriving at the final scoring, it looked very tight. Peter M earned 30 points thanks to his building points and a smattering of victory points gained through trade. I earned 33 points largely due to exploiting the Captain role which earned me 27; David also ended with 33 points thanks to a beautifully balanced strategy of buildings and trading and also earning 7 bonus points for the number of plantations on his island. So, to the tie-breaker: the combined total of goods and cash left over at the end. Neither of us had any goods, I had 1 doubloon left and David had…2 doubloons. I had lost by one coin! This does not appear a fluke; having now played 3 times the scores have been very close every time and I can only imagine this is due to very careful design and thorough playtesting. If you want to play a tactical, well-balanced Euro then look no further than Puerto Rico.
Having finished Trains earlier than Puerto Rico, Sam prevailed over Neil and Jon in an epic game of Love Letter before we all joined up to play Say Anything. Regular readers of this blog will know that Bromsgrove Board Gamers have a banned word list which grows every time we play it; the list now contains ‘Hoverboard’, ‘Llama’ and ‘Ketchup’ after some of the sordid offerings during this play. Jon and I tied for the win with 12 points each.
David 33 (and 2 coins)
Peter H 33 (and 1 coin)
Peter M 30
Peter H 12
Peter M 11
My gamer of the week goes to Sam for winning Love Letter and once again setting the bar so low in Say anything.