Puerto Rico, even the basic game, is still dramatic.
I played an online game with my wife and my friend David Klein, last night. P.S. it was my wife's birthday. I guess you could call this the birthday game.
My wife and I played on the same screen, she using Internet Explorer, me using Opera. David connected from his own home computer.
Rachel was first, David second, me third. The initial plantation draw was 2 indigos and 2 tobaccos, which sucks for second place, of course. The game began fairly normally, Rachel taking an early Harbor, and David and I taking Factory, which seems to have come back into style.
Long story short.
Most games of PR last about 15 rounds, sometimes, 16 rounds. Almost never 17 rounds. For some reason, when playing online, the games seem to last 16 rounds more often, and 17 rounds also fairly often, but still, no more than 17 rounds.
We are headed towards a typical 16 round game. Rachel has Guild Hall, Harbor, and Large Market, and had about 16 shipping points, 23 building points including bonus from Guild Hall which is manned. David K has Fortress (unmanned), Factory, all production buildings, four empty building spaces, and less shipping points (maybe 10). I have City Hall (unmanned), Factory, Coffee, Small Warehouse, only two empty building spaces and about 2 shipping points shy of Rachel, and 2 building points shy of Rachel. David cannot afford a big building, but I can.
The ships were all half full with Tobacco, Coffee, and Sugar. Round 16, David is 2nd to take a phase in this turn. David takes Craftsman, assuming that I won't take Builder to buy one of the last two big buildings, because if I do, the game ends without my manning them, and Rachel wins. Now David has over 10 GP, I have over 10 GP, and Rachel is cash shy, but still has enough for Large Sugar, whose 4 points would match any unmanned 4 point building I buy.
I take Builder. Before I can actually choose my building, I get a phone call from David. "Why did you do that???". "Take a look at your board," I reply. I bought Wharf, leaving me one empty space. He had assumed I was about to buy a big building. "Whew!", he says, and hangs up.
David, of course, buys a big building (Custom's House). Round 17. David, as governor, takes Mayor to fill both big buildings ... and my Wharf. The I take Craftsman again. I'm now sitting with something like 3 indigo, 6 corn, 3 coffee (3 empty spaces in the coffee ship, and David is the only other person producing it). Rachel takes Trader, since she can't ship much, and she wants to get Coffee Roaster next Builder.
I take Captain. My Wharf has given me 4 VP (for City Hall), 3 VP (coffee) + 6 VP (corn) +1 VP (captain) for shipping, and another 3 VP since I am about to buy Hospice. Not a bad alternative to a big building.
Game ends ... And David and I both have 53, David has 6 GP and one barrel (having tossed out something like 10 barrels of all five goods), I have 3 GP and 3 barrels.
I can't stand it.