The board game Puerto Rico gets a new edition - again. The revised version is basically about visual adjustments, but they are socio-politically explosive: The game is transported to the year 1897 and thus away from topics such as colonialism and slavery.
How much story can a board game contain? And how do you deal with the unpleasant epochs? Among other things, these two questions keep fans and critics busy when the outcry about a title is particularly loud. Anything that wants to be a cultural asset has to put up with it. War, enslavement, oppression - modern board games are reluctant to touch on these easily digestible topics. Rightly so: because most of the designs lack a critical examination of the topics. Instead, there are new editions that circumvent the problems.
Puerto Rico at the time of independence
Andreas Seyfarth's board game is considered one of the best in its genre. However, there is one big problem: Although the classic has a timeless game concept, the chronological embedding was anything but done with great sensitivity. In Puerto Rico, players were sent right into the middle of colonialism - but this is not reflected in the game as a historically critical classification. In this case, authors and publishers have two options: either you place the events and the roles played by the players in a critical context. Or you transfer the game principle to another time or give it a different thematic framework.
Ravensburger opted for the last two options for the new edition of Puerto Rico and proved to have a good hand: the board game was shipped to the year 1897. It was the year that the country became independent from the Spanish conquerors. And it was also decided to use the history of Puerto Rico as a thematic starting point.
Puerto Rico has long been an example of the ignorance of the dark epochs of human history: According to the original idea, two to five players slip into the roles of colonial governors in order to optimize the yields on the fields and the trade in goods. Broken down to a basic tenor, a game in Puerto Rico means: making maximum profit by exploiting other people.
The new edition, for which Ravensburger claims to have worked in partnership with a "culturally diverse and representative team", shows independent Puerto Rico from 1897 - and with a box imprint there is no longer any doubt about that. A year later, the country would come under the military control of the United States - today, the Free State of Puerto Rico is the most populous territory in the United States. Politically, the social, political, and legal relationship with the United States is a recurring theme in the "rich haven," as Puerto Rico's name translates.
Puerto Rico isn't the only board game that uses questionable themes or at least an inappropriate material layout: San Juan, Catan, In the footsteps of Marco Polo, Mombasa are some of the representatives. The basic idea of exalting the West as a kind of omnipotence that can pull other countries and peoples out of supposed misery is particularly present in Eurogames. After all: Board games recently tried again and again to clear up this misunderstanding. John Company covers the corruption of the East India Companies, Endeavor diligently gives out demerits when it comes to slave exploitation, and Spirit Island about creative criticism of conquerors.
The new edition of Puerto Rico will cost around 45 euros. There is no exact release date yet.
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Last updated on 25.09.2022/XNUMX/XNUMX / Affiliate Links / Images from the Amazon Product Advertising API. * = Affiliate links. Images from Amazon PA API