San Juan

San Juan

A card game based on Puerto Rico. The pack of 110 cards consists of production buildings (indigo, sugar, tobacco, coffee, and silver) and "violet" buildings that grant special powers or extra victory points. Cards from the hand can be either built or used as money to build something else. Cards from the deck are used to represent goods produced by the production buildings, in which case they are left face-down. A seven-card hand limit is enforced once per round.

In each round or governorship, each player in turn selects from one of the available roles, triggering an event that usually affects all players, such as producing goods or building. The person who picks the role gets a privilege, such as producing more goods or building more cheaply.

Though similar in concept to Puerto Rico, the game has many different mechanics. In particular, there are no colonists and no shipping of goods; goods production and trading are normally limited to one card per phase; and trades cannot be blocked.

Victory points are gained exclusively by building, and the game ends as soon as one player has put up 12 buildings.

Sequel to:

Puerto Rico

BoardGameGeek Info

Rio Grande Games
Published in
My Rating
BGG Rating
BGG Rank
2.2852 / 5
September 2008
Eager to Play
Last Played
August 10, 2009
Time Spent

In San Juan players are racing to achieve fame and fortune by building up the city of San Juan. The winner is decided when one player finishes building his 12th building. The player at the end of the game with the most victory points wins. Each round 5 actions are made available through the use of role placards; each role grants the same action to all players, and grants an additional privilege to the role owner. Each turn players must decide which action they want to take; however, once a role has been chosen it is unavailable until the next round. The actions vary from drawing cards, building, producing goods, and selling goods (which grant you more cards). The cards in San Juan function as three things, the building printed on the card, currency (used to build the building), or a good; this simple fact causes players to carefully weigh which buildings they want to construct, and which ones they are going to use as either goods or currency.

The game plays quickly and despite the simplicity of the rules there are some key decisions to make throughout the game. Choosing the right role at the right time, to either leverage the privilege or deny that privilege to other players, is the main player interaction mechanic, and the fulcrum of your strategy; however, since the cards you draw are random players will need to continually evaluate their strategy and adapt it based on their current circumstances. Beyond choosing which role to assume on your turn, players must carefully consider how to best use each card in their hand, as some cards must be spent (discarded) in order to win the game.

San Juan is not a deep thinking strategy game, instead it is a fast light-medium to medium strategy card game rewarding careful decisions and adaptability.

Eight plays

  • August 10, 2009
  • August 02, 2009
  • July 30, 2009 x2
  • July 29, 2009
  • November 12, 2008
  • August 09, 2008
  • August 09, 2008