San Juan (card game)

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San Juan
San Juan cradgame.jpg
A game in progress
Designer(s) Andreas Seyfarth
Publisher(s) Alea
Rio Grande Games
Players 2 to 4
Age range 10 and up
Setup time 1–2 minutes
Playing time 45–60 minutes
Random chance Medium
Skill(s) required Economic management, Strategic thought

San Juan is a card game designed by Andreas Seyfarth and published in 2004 by Alea in German and by Rio Grande Games in English. The game is derived from the board game Puerto Rico, and takes its name from San Juan, capital of Puerto Rico.

The game uses a unique deck of 110 cards and props for two to four players. The object of the game is to compile the maximum number of victory points by creating buildings and producing commodities. The structure of the game strongly mirrors that of Puerto Rico, in that players attempt to accumulate victory points by constructing buildings, each of which provides a special ability, and producing and selling goods. Players take turns by selecting one of several roles to fulfill, which triggers the specific action for that role, and gives a special advantage to the person who chose it. For instance, if a player were to choose Builder as their role, everyone would be given a chance to build a building, and the player who selected Builder would receive a discount.

Many elements of Puerto Rico were changed, simplified, or removed for purposes of shortening the game, and allowing for only cards rather than additional wooden tokens. Most notably:

  • Goods can only be sold for money, not shipped for victory points. Hence, there is no Captain role.
  • There are no colonists in the game. Hence, there is no Mayor role.
  • There is no exclusivity when selling goods: Multiple players may sell the same good without restriction.
  • Unselected roles do not receive bonus pay.
  • There is an additional role, Councillor, which is geared more towards the card play.

The cards, each of which depict a building and describe its ability, serve multiple purposes: A card in a player's hand is, at the same time, both money used for building, and a potential building to be built. Additionally, the cards are used to represent goods produced in any Production building.

As each building provides a number of victory points, players attempt to gain the highest score before the end of the game. There is no direct player interaction; Players affect each other by selecting roles at moments less opportune for their opponents.

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