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San Juan - Waste of time, waste of money?

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sedjtroll
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There has been a lot of interest in the new card game based on Puerto Rico. San Juan utilizes the Role Selection mechanic that made PR famous, and has a similar feel to it's board game parent. In it's favor, San Juan is lighter and friendlier than PR, and plays quicker. To it's detriment, San Juan is lighter and friendlier than PR, and plays quicker.

It's nice that SJ exists- it's a clever simplification of the mechanic and it's nice to be able to play with 2 players in about 15 minutes. But beyond that there's no real reason to play SJ face to face (It's nice to have the 2-player option on BSW, where the computer shuffles the cards for you and doesn't let you forget any building's ability). Frankly I'd rather play Puerto Rico over San Juan every time. In the case where a 2-player game is needed, there's probably something more fun than San Juan- especially for your $26.

The cards are decent, printed on decent stock and in nice colors. Personally I prefer the circled number for VP value on BSW to the small black text on the physical cards. The Role tiles are of good stock as well, just like the PR tiles. The scorecard and pencil are completely superfluous, as is the hefty box. The plastic sectioned insert is nice but completely unnecessary for what is essentially a deck of cards. I would have been happier paying half the price and getting a deck of cards- with Role Cards and Trader Cards instead of tiles. The whole game could fit in an Ultra-Pro card box, rather than the bulky, expensive packaging it comes in.

Do yourself a favor and save your money on this one. Play San Juan on BSW if at all.

- Seth

IngredientX
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Re: San Juan - Waste of time, waste of money?

Hey Seth, how many San Juan games did you play?

I only ask because I had a similar reaction to the game at first. I started enjoying it once I saw it as "a card game that happens to be related to PR" instead of "the card game version of PR." At first, I missed the player interaction in Puerto Rico (who ever thought someone would say that?) - namely the screwage that occurs during the Captain phase.

But if you've only played a few games, stick with it. The luck of the draw can hurt you, but that's all part of playing a card game. There is a good deal of strategy, a bit of player interaction (which, for some reason, is not as present online as it is F2F), and a healthy dose of fun.

I do agree with you about the excessive packaging, though. Rio Grande could have put this in a tuck box and sold it for a fraction of the price. But that's what "perceived value" is all about, I guess.

Oracle
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Re: San Juan - Waste of time, waste of money?

IngredientX wrote:
how many San Juan games did you play?

I've played about 20 games of it on BSW (and it was Seth who taught it to me, so I know he's played it quite a bit too).

It is a nice little game, certainly worth playing (nobody is arguing that), but the price is just insane.

Uno has just as many cards of equal quality as SJ and it is $4 at any department store. The much smaller print run of SJ can't justify that big a price difference.

I've been deliberating buying SJ since it came out, and I think Seth has grounded me in reality. I'll get with Ticket to Ride or Hansa.

Ticket to Ride is $10 more than SJ at fairplaygames and it includes 144 cards, 225 plastic molded trains, a large board, and other bits.

Jason

sedjtroll
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Re: San Juan - Waste of time, waste of money?

IngredientX wrote:
Hey Seth, how many San Juan games did you play?

I've played quite a few on BSW- only 1 irl. And frankly I think it's less fun face to face then it is online.

Hopefully they'll let me return or echange the game for Ticket to Ride- if I'm going to have a game noone will play with me, it might as well be a good one ;)

- Seth

UPDATE
Game Daze was nice enough to take back San Juan and give me my money back. This made me happy. Now if I could just get someone to play Hansa with me...

Sundog
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San Juan - Waste of time, waste of money?

Allow me to show how green I am... What is BSW?

sedjtroll
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San Juan - Waste of time, waste of money?

Sundog wrote:
Allow me to show how green I am... What is BSW?

BSW... BrettSpielWelt... is a german website where you can play all kinds of games online with other people. Like Puerto Rico, Settlers, San Juan, and others.

The interface is mostly in German but there are lots of English speakers there to help you out.

www.brettspielwelt.de

zaiga
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San Juan - Waste of time, waste of money?

I like San Juan well enough. I don't think it should be compared to Puerto Rico, because it's a totally different game. San Juan is a light card game that fits perfectly in the 3 or 4 players / 45 minutes niche. There's quite a bit of luck in the game and very little player interaction, but that doesn't bother me in a 45 minutes game.

Is it too expensive? If you just look at the material in the box: yes. However, I do think it has a better fun to money ration than say, Uno, and that is what is important to me. Then again, someone else in my group bought this game, so I don't have to worry about it anyway (at least not in this case).

- René Wiersma

sedjtroll
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San Juan - Waste of time, waste of money?

zaiga wrote:
I think it has a better fun to money ration than say, Uno, and that is what is important to me.

Sometimes after a game of San Juan I feel like a game of Uno might have been more exciting/strategic.

On the one hand, you can't/shouldn't compare SJ to PR. On the other hand, you CAN simply play PR instead of SJ. And if you're online then it might not even take longer.

- Seth

jwarrend
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San Juan - Waste of time, waste of money?

I just played my first game of San Juan, and my impression after one playing is pretty favorable. I thought the game has a lot of cute things going on. Particularly clever is the use of cards for everything -- currency, commodities, and buildings. This led to some very difficult and agonizing choices for me in terms of what to keep and what to discard.

There's certainly a luck of the draw effect, and I found that it lacked some of the elements that made Puerto Rico interesting -- the tension associated with getting "closed out" of things is gone, and with it most of the elements that made Puerto Rico so interactive. But I don't know if it's fair to compare this to PR, since that is not what it's trying to be. As a standalone game, I think it's quite good.

Our game featured 2 newbies and 2 guys who had played two or three games, and the scores were all within 5 points. The same thing happened in my first few playings of New England, and it always worries me when a game's scoring is really close; I am concerned that the scoring system may not actually be measuring anything other than random fluctations. Clearly more playings will tell.

Of the two new games I've played recently, this and Hansa, I definitely find Hansa more immediately interesting, but I think San Juan has some cute things going for it and I look forward to playing again.

As for the price, I wouldn't mind paying about $20 for the game. $25 is pushing it a bit, but you also have to look beyond the components a bit -- this is the "successor" to PR, and if they want to charge more for that pedigree, well, they don't seem to be having a hard time getting it.

I'm very surprised the company took back the game simply because you didn't enjoy it. That's a rare occurence, I would think -- definitely keep doing business with them, they're a keeper!

-Jeff

Anonymous
San Juan - Waste of time, waste of money?

I have only played on BSW as a two player game but I have really enjoyed the games so far and am looking forward to playing it F2F. There may not be as much interaction in the sense that you can directly impact the other players, but there is some and of course there is the interaction of testing your strategy against those of the other players and adapting it to the draw of the cards and the other players strategy. This is similar to some of the interactions in PR and for me gives the game something of the flavour of PR. Careful choice of roles can leave your opponent(s) with no production while you are producing or no build when you are able to build, but you have to track what they have in their hands to some extent to achieve this.

Comparing the game to UNO is a joke right. I hope it is. There is so much more to this game than to Uno. As to the pricing question. It really does make a lot of difference selling a million copies of Uno and 10,000 of SJ. More likely than not this game is printed in Germany and/or Belgium (if they are using Carta Mundi for the cards), and then imported into the US. Given the way the US$ has nose dived over the last 12 months this will push up any imports.

Also, initially the price must reflect the development costs to some extent not just the cost of production. Uno has paid off it's development costs long ago and they probably were not that high in the first place. Furthermore, this forum is about game designers. How much do you think a game designers is making on a $5 pack of cards? If you value good game design then you should be prepared to pay something for it.

Even given that I'd say you must be kidding if you think $26 is a lot for a game. If I could buy any decent game in Australia for the equivalent of US$26 I'd jump at the chance. What is more the online shops in the US are selling SJ for as little as $17. When this game finally reaches AUS it will likely sell for AU$50-AU$60, which translates to about US$38-US$45. I visited a shop in a rural town here a few weeks ago that was selling Settlers of Catan for AU$110. You do not know how lucky you are.

Anonymous
Re: San Juan - Waste of time, waste of money?

sedjtroll wrote:
In it's favor, San Juan is lighter and friendlier than PR, and plays quicker. To it's detriment, San Juan is lighter and friendlier than PR, and plays quicker.

LOL, the humor in some of these forums =)

Anonymous
San Juan - Waste of time, waste of money?

I'm no fan of SJ. It isn't an awful game by any means, but I just don't find anything attractive in it. Once you know the combinations of cards that play well, you won't have too many decisions left to make, as so much is dependent on the building cards you draw.

GeminiWeb
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San Juan - Waste of time, waste of money?

I've recently started playing San Juan with a friend (2 player), with the occassional 3 plaer game and I find it enjoyable. Its not the greatest thing since sliced bread, but it is enjoyable.

Sure, there's the pain of not drawing the right cards and so on, but I've started to get the most fun out of working what is the best strategy given where I am in the game.

For example, if I'm struggling for good cards, GRAB THE COUNCILLOR one or more times, preferably grabbing the Prefecture if possible.

If you're being outproduced by better production buildings, can you counter with marketplace or aqueduct with more production, or switch over to a prefecture or prospecting approach to the game (particularly with a low number of players wher eyou can rely on others doing your crafting and trading)?

No, this isn't full-proof and has to be done in the context of the other players, but its the adaptable that will win more games.

I also find an interesting tension as some players build more [smaller VP] buildings, putting pressure on an earlier game close as others have been more slective in their buildings. Leads to some interesting dynamics when this happens ...

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