Transform a sleepy Caribbean city into an economic and industrial powerhouse in San Juan, the card game based on the award-winning board game of Puerto Rico. Compete against your co-colonists to buy plantations and mines and build industrial, commercial and government buildings. Become the dominant force behind the economy of this tropical paradise and show the world who is responsible for the island!
Puerto Rico was an economic strategy game that in 2002 changed the board game world and introduced gameplay concepts that revolutionized the way games have been designed ever since. The effects are still felt almost a decade later and are still rated as the best board game on BoardGameGeek. San Juan is a card game derived from this revolutionary board game designed by the same creator Andreas Seyfarth. It offers almost the same depth and strategy as the game gets shorter and faster.
The goal of San Juan is to collect the most victory points by the end of the game. This happens when a player builds 12 buildings in his estate. The buildings you build are worth a number of victory points, with some buildings providing different numbers of victory points depending on how well you meet the required conditions. Your goal is therefore to build as many efficient buildings as possible and gain victory points faster than your opponents.
However, you can not just build any building cards that get in your hands. Each building has construction costs, with the more expensive buildings performing better and more worth the victory points. Similar to other card games like Race for the Galaxy, these costs are paid by handing off other building cards. So if you play a 4-cost building, you have to discard 4 more building cards. As you can see, the construction of buildings quickly depletes your hand.
There is also a time and a place for everything. Similar to Puerto Rico, actions become available when players select roles. In each round, the starting player or governor can choose a role. Once each player has completed the action associated with that role, the next player must select a role. This continues until each player has selected a role for the round. The starting player position then changes to the next player and the role selection starts again.
There are 5 roles in the game. When the builder role is selected, each player is allowed to build a building. When the City Council is selected, each player is allowed to draw cards and select one that they wish to keep. By selecting the producer role, production buildings can produce their goods, while the dealer role allows players to sell their goods for more cards at hand. The Prospector role differs slightly in that only the player who chooses it can draw a card. Being the player picking the reels also offers benefits. For example, the player choosing the builder role can build at a reduced cost while the player choosing the producer role can produce an additional asset.
There are many buildings in San Juan, each of which gives powerful skills to help you win the game. There are production buildings where you can produce and sell goods such as sugar, tobacco and coffee. Selling these goods is crucial as you can fill your hand with more cards to build more buildings or even find a building that you want to build. Other buildings that change the game environment are the aqueduct, which allows the owner to make another product, and the market hall, where you get an extra card when you sell a product.
There are also playoff buildings that have a variable victory point value. For example, the palace is worth 1 victory point for 4 victory points, while the guild hall has 2 victory points for each production building in your estate. Your goal in the game, therefore, is to construct a combination of buildings that constantly supply your hand with cards and that work well together to find an efficient way to score the most victory points.
Since San Juan comes from the board game of Puerto Rico, a comparison between the two would be reasonable. The most obvious difference is the speed at which a game of San Juan takes less than half the time of a Puerto Rican game. The resource system has also changed. In San Juan, the building cards are not only a separate currency, but also the currency. San Juan is unable to ship goods or manage buildings with colonists. The associated captain and mayor functions are therefore not available. Instead, San Juan adds the role of City Council, allowing players to cycle and draw maps. There are also a few other small improvements that optimize the game to suit a fast card game.
San Juan is an elegant and successful card game version of Puerto Rico's best-selling business strategy board game that brings the commercialization and industrialization of the sleepy Caribbean city to life. The game is fast and intense and the gameplay is simple enough for beginners, but has enough depth to entertain experienced players. San Juan is ideal for you if you like business strategy and board games like Agricola or Puerto Rico or similar card games like Race for the Galaxy.
Complexity: 2.5 / 5.0
Playing time: ~ 45 minutes
Number of players: 2 to 4 players