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The Unsinkable Puerto Rico

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Puerto Rico by Andreas Seyfarth is arguably the best board game of all time. It has been a favorite for many serious board-game aficionados since Alea and Rio Grande Games first published it in 2002.

Each player is developing their own small board. There is space for the buildings, and there is a field area where crop tiles are placed. Players are competing to produce goods, which can be shipped for victory points or sold at market for doubloons. Doubloons are used to buy buildings. The buildings are worth victory points, and also have special uses that help the player. There are buildings that allow players to get more money when they sell goods, for example.

The core of the game is the different roles that each player selects. These include building, producing goods, shipping goods, trading goods at the market, adding a new crop to your field, adding new colonists or just taking money. When a player selects a role, they do the action first, and then all players in clockwise order also may take that action, if they can. The player who selected the action also gets an additional benefit.

Other than the number of victory points players have collected when they shipped goods, all information is public. So as you choose what role to take, you can easily see whom it will help and who still has a turn and what roles are available. This allows players to learn to anticipate what others will want to do. How you respond, take that action that most helps you but may help another more, or take a less-appealing action so you won't set up the next player? This is the crux of the challenge and fun of the game.

There are many different ways to win. You can ship a lot, concentrate on making a lot of money and buying a lot of buildings, or select a middle course. There are three different ways the game can end, so a player that is building a lot or shipping a lot can try to bring the game to the end before an opponent's plan can come to full flower. Again, in Puerto Rico, timing is everything. The greatest plan in the world can be no good if the game ends a turn too soon.

The game is recommended for ages 12 and up. and that's pretty accurate for most kids. The game is relatively easy to learn, the abilities and privileges of each role are on the card, as are the abilities of the buildings. There's a PC version available, and sites where the game can be played online.