Major waves of recycling are already known from series and films - in the meantime, game publishers are also relying on the idea of ​​repackaging tried and tested concepts and then bringing them onto the market as a revised version. Especially when popular classics are affected, this can offer players new incentives to bring the visually mostly outdated games of yore back to the table. Ravensburger dared to go to Puerto Rico by Andreas Seyfarth, because board game from 2002 can be counted among the best titles of the past few years. Whether the new edition can keep up with the original version or whether the board game is even better? We'll reveal that in the following review of Puerto Rico (2020).


Trade in the Caribbean is the basic theme of the strategic board game by author Andres Seyfarth. The well-known and popular setting has been thrilling players for around 18 years: in 2002, Alea released the original version of the title, which promotes players to governors in rounds, gives them a few pennies and a few pieces of land to conjure up a trading empire. If you look at the clunky presentation of the original or the still staid appearance of the 2011 anniversary edition, the call for a visually improved new edition is almost obvious.

Puerto Rico 2020: expansions included

The intelligent gameplay that Andreas Seyfarth devised for Puerto Rico is timeless - the look is usually not. The result: Even the best board game from bygone times has a hard time ending up on the gaming table with the oversupply of modern titles. A remedy is then provided by a new edition and Ravensburger, that much has already been revealed, has done an excellent job.

Everyone starts small on their sunny Caribbean island. Photo: Volkmann

Everyone starts small on their sunny Caribbean island. Photo: Volkmann

For those who don't know what to do with Puerto Rico: The strategic board game revolves around trade and settlement development in the Caribbean. A variety of different actions are available to players at the start of each round. And behind that there is already a great thematic trick: the individual actions are assigned to different roles.

In this way, players earn round by round - the starting player chooses - as settlers, captains, traders or even gold prospectors. They build settlements, ship goods or trade. The third edition of the classic also remains playfully true to this line. Without it, there are hardly any reasons that would speak for conceptual changes to the idea behind Puerto Rico: the strategic board game is considered one of the best of modern times. Nothing has changed about that. If you are looking for a cleverly designed strategy game with a classic trading and construction theme, you will find a worthwhile alternative in Puerto Rico that doesn’t have to hide behind modern competitive titles.

The workers are waiting for their work on the plantations. Photo: Volkmann

The workers are waiting for their work on the plantations. Photo: Volkmann

Round after round, players manage their resources, use the privileges of the roles they have chosen, meet the requirements to ship goods across the sea and keep an eye on the bonuses that the buildings grant them. There is a lot to consider on your own plantation, in many places the mechanisms are cleverly linked.

At some point the time comes when a player has occupied his twelfth building site, there are no more workers available or the supply of victory point tokens has been emptied - in all three cases the game ends. This is followed by the mandatory final scoring, in which the players' building successes are determined and converted into points. Hardly surprising: whoever managed to get the most victory points wins.

Conditions everywhere: Plantation plus X, plus X, plus X

One could get the impression that Puerto Rico is any trading and building game, but that is deceptive. Andreas Seyfarth is not stingy with conditions, interlocking and connections in the invented game concept. So players can only do something with their plantation if the right buildings have been erected and these in turn require workers. It is important to come up with a clever strategy in order to be able to keep up with the competition, who always seem to be one step ahead.

Not least because currency almost plays a superordinate role in Puerto Rico. This is followed by retail, which relies on the classic system: cheap goods are easy to get, but hardly bring in any money. However, the money is urgently needed, otherwise you cannot construct high-quality buildings at all. So it's money making, then building, then trading - and finally actually accumulating winning elements. Quick shots are always possible with Puerto Rico, but it is more lucrative to think several rounds in advance and thus imagine appropriate strategies. Much of the gaming experience of the classic takes place in the players' minds: you have to think, plan, pure "gut players" are usually left behind. 

It is important to fill the individual fields with workers. Photo: Volkmann

It is important to fill the individual fields with workers. Photo: Volkmann

Basically, a simple rule of thumb often applies: every coin that you save now will be invested well later and thus be repaid twice or three times in the long term. But you have to get behind this first - and you have to do it, even though everyone else at the table is using completely different strategies and you even have the feeling that you are losing touch. And then suddenly: the new factory is in place, the ruble is rolling, the player laughs. And the competition thinks: I'd rather have it ... too late!

Now one might think: It's easy, I save my coins, don't spend anything and thus win in the long term. Author Andreas Seyfarth puts a stop to this and at the same time forces players to actually think about their investments. The captain urges the goods to be shipped and awards victory points in the same amount for each good. So this means: The victory point account can also be improved with cheap products. So Puerto Rico is not about focusing on one of the tactical extremes, but rather finding a balance.

More fun with new mini expansions?

Puerto Rico has not only been visually adapted in the 2020 edition, but also includes two mini expansions: the "buccaneer" and the "festival". This means that all players who already knew Puerto Rico but not the new edition will get their money's worth. The festival is a nice gimmick, not game-changing. So it's not something you would explicitly work towards.

The buccaneer is completely different, who not only fits the setting perfectly, but can also have a powerful effect on the gameplay. Depending on the given conditions, the role unfolds its full potential or is "only" relevant. The ransom option also ultimately belongs in the “more than just nice” category. So do the two mini-expansions noticeably change the gameplay? Mostly no, but sometimes yes. But you don't want to do without the buccaneer once you've played with him. 

The wealth attracts so many times - and that throws strategies overboard. Photo: Volkmann

The wealth attracts so many times - and that throws strategies overboard. Photo: Volkmann

Otherwise the changes to the original version from Puerto Rico are rather marginal. The board game has changed significantly, especially visually, otherwise it is still the classic of yore. Only a few terms have been changed, the often mentioned workers were once colonists. And the mayor no longer exists either. In keeping with the times, the worker tokens are purple instead of brown. However, this has no effect on the game.

Micromanagement in Puerto Rico is as relentless in 2020 as it was almost two decades ago. This is supported by the limitation in the number of buildings. Just go for it, that is not the motto that one should follow in Puerto Rico without hesitation and thoughtlessly. The same applies to the loading of merchant ships. Even if it looks like this: You can't plan everything with certainty in advance - and that's a good thing.

Players need to find the ideal balance of cheap and expensive goods. Photo: Volkmann

Players need to find the ideal balance of cheap and expensive goods. Photo: Volkmann

Because of this, Puerto Rico is not a predictable game that can be won by evaluating statistics. If the starting player chooses “the wrong role” in his turn, it can happen that the detailed plan does not work out because you cannot implement the action on the game board that you have planned. Nevertheless, Puerto Rico is not a game of chance and whether tactics work out is not left to chance. You often have to rethink, adjust plans, react - and then the golden coins that are piled up on the role cards you haven't chosen are also tempting. At some point you become weak, prefer to take the coal and throw plans overboard again, you have to rethink because you have reacted. 

Tension through scarcity: every choice is agony

With each new move, players force decisions. You always have to choose because you can't have everything. Twelve buildings can be built, but there are more than twenty options, and each of them can be worthwhile. Annoying, but so clever at the same time. And then there are the particularly lucrative buildings and thus lucrative options that not only have a noticeable effect, but can also have a decisive effect on the game. Puerto Rico is not a board game whose interlocking can be seen through in the first few games. It takes time to become familiar with the processes, to discover strategies and to develop them further. That alone motivates. It quickly becomes clear: this board game has to come back on the table. 

There is no shortage of tokens and tokens in Puerto Rico: there is a lot going on on the table. Photo: Volkmann

There is no shortage of tokens and tokens in Puerto Rico: there is a lot going on on the table. Photo: Volkmann

Step by step, everything comes together to form a whole. At the end of a game, it is not uncommon to find out that optimizations have been missed. And thanks to the new edition, the timeless, enormously clever concept can also score points with optical charms. Everything looks higher quality, more detailed, more structured - and is also more comprehensive by adding the extensions. If you have not played Puerto Rico before, you now have the chance to get started. One might even be inclined to recommend the new edition to those who have the staid, clunky version on the shelf. A good indication of a new acquisition: If the original version puts dust on the shelf, that could speak in favor of buying the new noble version. Not playing Puerto Rico is not an alternative.

And in order to criticize something with all the adulation of the terrific board game: Dear Ravensburger-Verlag, if you decide to include small plastic bags, then please in sufficient quantities. 

Infobox

Number of players: 2 to 5 players
Age: from 12 years
Playing time: 70 to 120 minutes
Difficulty: difficult
Long-term motivation: high

Published by Ravensburger
Website: Link
Year of publication: 2020 
Author: Andreas Seyfarth
Illustrations: Vincent Dutrait, Johnny Morrow
Language: German
Cost: 33 Euro

Summary

Puerto Rico is not only one of the most famous, but also one of the best strategic board games of the past few decades. Period. You can't shake that. The intelligent concept creates tension at the home game table, stimulates thought, and demands a lot from players on the way to victory. Many details are linked - sometimes more, sometimes less - and are so interwoven that you have to consider a multitude of factors with every decision in order to optimize your production and trading processes.

And all this happens with the almost complete renunciation of elements of luck. The fact that sometimes you just "have no luck" because the competitors make unwelcome decisions is no coincidence, but part of the mutual condition of actions. Puerto Rico is forced to adjust its plans again and again. You can and must think into the future, worry about moves that are far away - but you can hardly calculate anything. The dynamic process unfolds a great attraction. This affects the replay value of Puerto Rico, and in a positive way.

With the new edition, Puerto Rico is making its third attempt to remind experienced players as an alternative. Nowadays that is more than necessary: ​​in the oversupply of board games, many a classic get lost. It therefore needs the modern versions of old games, which are then ideally made like the 2020 version that Ravensburger / Alea launched on the market for the celebrated classic of the modern age. 


Author

Last updated on 26.01.2023/XNUMX/XNUMX / Affiliate Links / Images from the Amazon Product Advertising API. * = Affiliate links. Images from Amazon PA API