Puerto Rico: Observations from a Rookie

Wow! After playing my first game of Puerto Rico the other night, I must say that I’m impressed with this game. i can certainly see why it’s so highly rated on BoardGameGeek. There sure is quite a bit to digest in Puerto Rico as a newcomer, but if you just get down to and play you start to get a sense of some of the different strategies and options available to each player.

After a quick, five-minute rule explanation while the game was being set up, we jumped right in to the deep end. I was paying with four experienced players, and they were all extremely helpful whenever I had questions. The first three or four turns went by with ease, and I felt like I was sort of holding my own. As soon as we started to hit the mid- to later game I realized how some of my earlier choices were starting to come back to bite me in the ass.

All of the other players had either purchased the wharf, or at least one of the larger buildings by this point in the game, and I was the only one stuck without either. I would’ve had a chance to buy one of these had a passed on a non-essential Large Warehouse purchase. As everyone else was receiving loads of victory points towards the end, my early success quickly disappeared.

After the final round wrapped up, we all started counting up our scores. I brought up the rear with 34 VPs, fourth place scored 40, third had 41, second had 43 (I think) and the first place finisher racked up 47 VPs. Even though I lost pretty badly, I did thoroughly enjoy this game.

I was able to see a few different strategies during this game which allowed me to get an idea of what you need to do to win. The winner went for a more balanced, production and building technique. He used his factory to produce lots of gold which enabled him to build some helpful large buildings during the end game. in contrast, the third place finisher went for a more shipping only technique. This allowed him to get ahead earlier in the game, but he never had the money to get one of the larger buildings to assist at the end of the game.

I guess it’s a good sign that I want to play this again. I feel like this is the type of game that you get much better at after multiple sessions. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to play again soon.

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