I do love Puerto Rico, it's mostly strategy oriented over random factors.
But this board game is so long to play, I would like to shorten the play time to fit one hour.
Do you have suggestions for this?
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The quick answer would be to use a timer and set it to an hour. When the timer goes off, you can finish the round.
You might try limiting the spaces available for buildings, maybe remove a row or column, thus filling the spaces more quickly and triggering the endgame. Also, remove some of the potential workers from the worker pool.
I'm not sure how these changes would affect the overall game play, and any changes may introduce adverse effects that can be exploited.
I'd love to hear how they work if you try them.
We have played 2-3 times a month for a long time.
Of course games are shorter with fewer people and go faster when everyone is well acquainted with the game. We have played normal extended version games in about an hour with 3 people.
We recently added a column of property spaces on each town to extend play - you could remove a column to shorten play.
You can deal out some random plantations at the start to accelerate play (like a bunch of Hacienda plays.) You may give everyone a quarry to accelerate play. You may add squares to the trading center or to the ships to accelerate play. You may add 2 coins jnstead of one to unused roles. Note that any of these steps will alter the playing strategies from a normal game.
Play it more often. I finish two-player games with an expert friend in about 50 minutes, after having played a lot over the Internet and live. As you start learning the buildings and understand the two fundamental strategies of the game, i.e., building vs shipping, you'll start realizing your chances faster.
There are a lot of house rules you can apply to accelerate game play, most of them already mentioned, but all of them giving advantages to specific strategies or players in a specific player order. In general, there are two ways to go:
1. Shorten the game-ending conditions. That means, remove colonists, building spaces and/or victory point chips from the game. Nevertheless, be aware that shortening the game by removing colonists or building spots favors in general the building strategy, as a heavy builder will try to build the Guild Hall and fill in his spaces or empty the colonist pool before the shippers' engines kick in. Removing some VP chits might counterbalance it, but I am not sure.
2. Make it easier for players to reach the current game-ending conditions. You can provide them with infrastructure, such as:
If you play in 2 players, chess clock is always good.
If you play Puerto Rico online, the mean of the duration is around 27 minutes. So technically is possible to play even faster.
You can speed up by having the paper and pen and writing the scores down there. Searching for the VPs (1 or 5) is a lil' bit lengthy. Especially when you firstly put 3 objects on the ship, then other 2, so you get 5, but u take five ones, not one five. The minus is, the results are public. But in 2-players mode it does not mater (you + opponent is always 65).
I would use a "first past the post" rule.
In my answer to another question, I noted the following:
"I'm used to games where someone wins if they are the first to reach a specified number of victory points, say 15, or if they have the most victory points at the end of a specified number of rounds, say 15."
That's the kind of rule that makes for a short, or at least time-limited game.
Further on, I wrote:"
"But that's not how Puerto Rico works.
Basically, you win if the game ends [when you run out of one of three things, colonists, victory points, or building space] when you have the most victory points. So the goal of the game is not just to get the most victory points, but to end the game when you have the most."
This is the feature that lengthens the game. Eliminate it, and you have a shorter game.