P is for Puerto Rico

Progress Island U.S.A

Mystery Science Theater skewering a Puerto Rico propaganda short “Progress Island U.S.A.” YouTube Part 1 and Part 2.

“Yes even the air supports airplanes just as it does in the not better United States.” — Crow

The Boardgame

Puerto Rico by Andreas Seyfarth is regarded as one of the top boardgames, and has traditionally held the number one spot at the BoardGameGeek (It is presently ranked #2).  Puerto Rico remains one of my favorite games, for a handful of reasons.

First it is relatively easy to explain.  The complexity grows as the game progresses and more options are available.  So in the first rounds, a new player only has a few options to choose from.

Second, there is little hidden information, so a new player can see what others are doing and, if comfortable, ask why.  The new player can also ask for help without having to “show their hand.”

Third, turns can, and very often do, happen quickly.  This is part of the “incentivized” role-selection that I wrote about earlier. Granted, if I attempted to peer far into the future, I could agonize about my role selection as I work out what other roles people will/might choose after me.  But others at the table would soon get fidgety.

Fourth, the game is relatively fast, and at my house is almost always played a second time; Setting up the game from the box takes quite a bit longer than resetting a completed game.  This immediate re-playability provides the opportunity of instant feedback; I can use the second playing to modify my strategy.

Fifth, it exemplifies chaos theory. Small decisions made early result in some very wild divergences later on.  Which makes the whole re-playability all the more interesting, because identifying exactly what worked in the last game, was likely the result of several smaller, more innocuous decisions that didn’t seem too terribly relevant

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