The group definitely feels like it's at a low point from its once height of over ten people each week. Still, a few core members show up each week, for which I'm grateful.
Amitai is a friend, and the son of friends, who lives down the street. We've played together on occasion.
Before the WindJon, Gili, Nadine, Amitai
Nadine liked this well enough last time to try it again. This time was a mixture of good and bad experiences.
The game went on for far too long for its length; we essentially quit somewhere close to the end after two and a half hours. This is largely because of the take-that mechanics that allow people to spend their time slowing others down rather than moving forward themselves. Also, the game ends when someone gets fifty points, but that could take any number of rounds.
You need to acquire cards in a certain order to move forward, but you don't have control of that order. In a four player game, you're only going to have a shot at the cards you need when it's your turn again. But if you're unlucky with your flips, you may not get what you need and have to wait four turns again to come around to you while you have nothing useful to do.
Even if the card you need comes up, it's easy for the others to make your life miserable, and possibly wreck your setup so you have to start all over again. And finally, as Amitai pointed out, the game doesn't have a progressive feel to it. It simply restarts again and again until someone wins. You can plan from one turn or one round to the next, but not over the course of the game.
For all that, there are many times when the decisions that had to be made were very interesting; that's what kept us going for the first two hours. But it wasn't enough to save Nadine from declaring it a bad game by the end.
In order to gt played again at our group. a few changes would have to be made: 1) The game should end at 50 points or 3 rounds, whichever comes first. 2) Players should be required to flip at least one card from each pile. Not doing this simply slows the game down interminably. 3) Players should be able to keep more items between rounds, or later ships should be worth more, or more abilities should accumulate as the game goes on. Or something to make the second part of the game more interesting.
Puerto RicoAmitai 60, Nadine 48, Jon 39
We played with my special buildings, and Amitai had only played a few times before. Still, he managed to completely crush us. He had Factory going AND the only coffee in the game. He also had two quarries and five goods going early. So he was easily outproducing us and outbuying us.
I bought Large Business first and has an earlier Tobacco, but I was severely colonist shy and so produced nearly nothing. Meanwhile, the Trading House was blocked the whole game and so my Tobacco didn't help me. I'm embarrassed by my poor showing, but them's the breaks.