Sunday, July 15, 2007

Puerto Rico

We did go and get Puerto Rico from the Game Shop at Tea Tree Plaza shopping centre. Cost about AU$70. Well worth it. As soon as we had it, we let Paul and Mark know we were keen on a game. No need to ask twice, they agreed to coming around our house in the evening and settling down to a few hours of fun. Mark even left his beloved O-game campaign (online MMORG space trading/conquest game) behind for a few precious hours!

Puerto Rico's components are good looking. Lots of small wooden pieces, colourful card player mats, crisp and solid 'cards' for buildings, doubloons etc. The 8 page rule book was tightly and clearly written, not too hard to understand the mechanics. Paul was a little perturbed that he couldn't work out a game strategy off of the rules, despite the fact that the mechanics were quite clear.

The game occurs over a number of 'rounds'. During each round and starting with the 'governer' for the turn, players take turns to adopt one of several 'roles' for that turn. They do their actions, followed by the other players, as appropriate for the role they chose. The next player then chooses a role and does the relevant actions, followed by the other players. This continues until each player has played one of the roles (there being more roles than players, not every role gets used each round). Once each player has played a role, the 'governer card' moves clockwise one player, the roles are all made available again, and the next round begins.

There is no central 'board' which players move anything on, it's much more conceptual than most 'traditional' games. The developmental side of the game is much like 'civilisation', the taking of roles reminded me of 'geronimo'. The beauty of it all was that there was still a tremendous amount of interaction in this seemingly abstract game, and the theme (of developing a colonial plantation based society) rang true through the game. Made it easy to immerse oneself in the experience and have fun.

The idea is to make a prosperous little plantation economy, shipping goods back to the old world and developing infrastructure around the port. Population and production must be offset against investment and development. Despite all of the counters and cards, the game is neither fiddly nor messy. It is fairly easy to take in the situation at a glance.

At game's end (when the first player filled up all twelve available building spaces on his player mat), about 2 hours of playing time after we started, Paul had accumulated more wealth and infrastructure than anyone else and thus won the game on 62 victory points. Mark was second on 54, then Nancy on 43 and myself a distant last on 32.

It was a fun game, with plenty of interaction and everyone always engaged. There was no combat, but plenty of postitioning. Numerous strategies suggest themselves for future games, and we all agreed it would be even more fun with five players.

I have no doubt that it won't be long before we again play this engagingly elegant game of multi layered possibilities.

NB After everyone else had gone home I settled back into my cockpit for several hours flying. Flew Norwegian until I had been shot down three times by AA over japanese airfield at Okinawa, flying P47 D trying to take out those same AA! Then went up over Darwin on 'Zekes v Wildcats', got shot down twice by scrapping zeros. But, again, I managed to get into good gunnery positions several times only to be hunted down after my shooting let me down. Incremental improvement continues.

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