Chat 3 pm EDT on the four-letter. ESPN 710 Seattle at 2 pm PDT. AllNight later on tonight. Waiting for confirmation but I should be on ESPN 1250 Pittsburgh tomorrow at around 11 am EDT.
Back when I did my original post on board games, several readers recommended Puerto Rico, a 3-5 player game that can be played with two players but that is apparently better with more people involved. When I pointed out that my wife and I play a lot of these games ourselves, at least one of you recommended the 2-4 player spinoff, a card game called San Juan.
The game takes a while to explain but is very simple to play. In each round, there are phases (one per player) that allow players to build new buildings, produce goods, sell goods they’ve produced, or draw extra cards from the deck. The cards serve several functions: a player can use them to pay for buildings, a player can build the building on the card’s face if he has enough cards, and a player can stash them under a Chapel to sock away some bonus points for the end of the game. The game ends when one player has built twelve buildings in his settlement, after which the player with the most points is the winner. Having the most buildings doesn’t mean you’ll have the most points, as different buildings have different point values, and some buildings are worth bonus points based on what else each player has in his settlement.
Once you’ve started the game, it’s easy to follow and moves pretty quickly; as you add to your settlement, the rate at which you can produce, build, and sell improves, since each building has some bonus feature like reducing the cost of certain buildings or allowing you to produce an extra good during the production phase. All of the other two-player games we regularly play take far longer, so it’s great to have a fun alternative when it’s late and we want to play something fast.
The game also has a good mix of strategy and luck. There are clearly better and worse ways to build your settlement, and you have to make major decisions like whether to build another production building or whether to start building the violet-card buildings, which have the bonus features I mentioned above and are generally worth more points. You have to decide which cards in your hand to use as currency and which to keep so you can ultimately play and build them. The prices of goods change slightly from turn to turn, leading to sell-or-wait decisions. But you’re also at the mercy of the cards you draw, making the game different each time but also perhaps preventing you from always using the same strategy.
And since it’s just a big deck of cards and a few cardboard pieces to mark phases and prices, it’s extremely portable, which never hurts.
I still have to write about Carcassonne, after which it’ll be time to revise the board game rankings.