Wednesday, November 20, 2013

#11: Puerto Rico (Mark's 100 - 2012)

Puerto Rico 

Mark's Ranking
  • 2012: 11th
  • 2010: 6th
  • 2005: 5th
  • appeared on all three lists
  • rank: 5
  • rating: 8.21
Print Status
  • in print
Why It's On The List
  • It's an intricate game design that plays cleanly & quickly. With only one random element (the distribution of the plantations), you have huge control over your own fate (unless another player does something crazy.) And the development work to get everything balanced right is epic - there's only one building I think is costed wrong... and that's only by 1 gold piece.
Tips & Tricks:
  • Warning: as deeply as I love this game, it's a little, well, fragile. In other words, in a group of experienced players, a new player (or a player without much sense) will almost certainly throw the game in the direction of the player to their left. This isn't a problem when players are roughly equal in ability, but does make teaching the game a bit more of a challenge..
  • There is a beautiful limited 10th anniversary version of the game - but as pretty as it is, I think it makes the game tougher to "read" across the table.
  • Once again, ignore the strategy guide "one right move" mentality - there are various viable strategic directions in this game, depending on the number of players, the order in which plantations become available, and the individual actions that are taken.
  • It is perfectly OK to tell someone to "pipe down" if they insist on telling new and/or other players what their "right" play should be. You do not have to put up with that nonsense. (Puerto Rico seems to bring this out in players more than most Euros.)
  • Don't put all your point-scoring eggs in one basket - especially when it comes to the special buildings. I have been known to buy a special building that was only marginal for me in order to keep it out of the hands of someone who could really benefit from it.
  • There is an expansion with all new buildings... it's nice for a change of pace but I still like the original game the best.
  • There's also a very nice iOS app... but that would be a tough way to learn the game.
  • I had the rare privilege of going to my first Gathering of Friends in 2002 just after this game had been released... there were multiple copies & they were in almost constant play the entire week. There's nothing quite like discovering the intricacies of a game this good with other devoted gamers... all of you finding out for the first time that you're playing a work of genius. (Trivia: I played Puerto Rico four times in my first 36 hours at the hotel.)


If you feel a need to catch up on my admittedly-aging Top 100 as of February 2012 list, you can check out:

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