Day 83 of 96 – More visitors

15 Dec

So I’m having some more visitors this weekend. This means I have to clean my apartment. Sometimes back in Ottawa I’ll host a party or something to force me to clean the house. It usually works. My friends that are visiting this weekend have let me stay at their place a number of times when I’ve visited Mannheim. I’m happy that I’ll get to return their hospitality.

And do we have a fun weekend planned! On Saturday we’re going to meet up with some other friends for breakfast/lunch. Then it’s off to a museum in the afternoon. And in the evening, this is the best part. We’re going to play Puerto Rico!

For those of you who are not aware (which I assume is all of you) board games have changed since the days of Risk, Checkers, Gallipolopoly, and The Game of Lent. All of these games used dice, which inserted a random component that could greatly influence the outcome. Or they had a static board which resulted in repetitive play. New board games have gotten way more interesting because it’s all about strategy.

Take Puerto Rico for example.

A round has as many phases as there are player in the game. During each “round” a player selects one of the following roles:

  • The Trader (trader phase – selling goods)
  • The Craftsman (craftsman phase – production of goods)
  • The Builder (builder phase – build buildings)
  • The Mayor (mayor phase – arrival of new colonists)
  • The Settler (settler phase – place a new plantation on the island)
  • The Captain (captain phase – shipping of goods)
  • The Prospectors (do nothing)

To ensure an equal distribution of the different phases, if a role is not selected, some currency is placed on it to make it more attractive during the next round. If this was a dice-based game you could have ten rounds where no one is the trader and this could really make the game suck.

Another thing that is great is how the games ends:

  • There are no more colonists or
  • All the victory points are used up or
  • One of the player’s islands has no more space to build buildings.

The point of this is that the game does not end with someone winning. The game ends after some resource is depleted, and *then* you find out who won. This is huge departure from all the games of your youth. One of the things that makes Risk boring is that by the end it’s usually just one large army hacking away at a smaller one. It takes forever to play, it’s obvious who’s won, and the other players have nothing to do but talk about the weather for the last forty minutes.

Puerto Rico is truly a fantastic game.

A game of Puerto Rico

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