Thursday, 6 March 2008

Confession Time: I Hate Puerto Rico

According to wikipedia Puerto Rico has won the following awards:

I understand that a lot of people must like this game for it to win all those awards. I have heard people try to claim that "objectively" it is a good game, but I haven't seen an objective review for this game, but maybe that's because I played before finding out about the hype.

An objective review isn't something that sets up a list of ideals that a game must have, and then tells you that you must like or dislike a game because of how much it conforms to said list. Roger Ebert writes opinions instead of reviews. An objective review should let you know if you'd like what's being reviewed not just if the reviewer liked it.

I dislike Puerto Rico for a lot of reasons, but my number one gripe is that there is no long term planning. If long term planning isn't important to you in a game then you might like Puerto Rico. A long term plan for me is something that you can work toward all game. It is something that you can position yourself for (making small moves which eventually lead to your end goal).

I've heard Puerto Rico fan praise the strategic depth of the game. The difficult choices of role selection. Anticipating the next players's moves. Blocking them from shipping their goods. All these choices exist on a turn to turn basis.

There aren't gradual game shaping choices. If I have a lot of plantations, I'm going for a shipping strategy. No ambiguity there. I might as well pass a note to the player sitting to my left saying, "take Captain, when you can, to block my shipping". I in turn must look at what the players around me are doing and take roles mainly to hinder them.

There are only seven roles in the game. So on your turn you pick one of the remaining roles and that's it. Small decision tree with easy to understand consequences. Also has very little luck (which leads to even easier to predict results).

Puerto Rico reminds me of a Cheapass game included in Change!: Diminishing Returns, but with better components. Diminishing Returns doesn't have 2 major strategies; there's just one. It does play quicker than Puerto Rico though. Same feeling to the decisions: if I play this amount, the players to my left will play this amount, and so on.

You may have noticed that I haven't posted any "reviews" in this blog. I don't pay attention to components or rule clarity when playing, and I know that some people care a lot about those elements. I hope this semi-objective rant let you know why you should avoid Puerto Rico or why you should check out Change!

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