San Juan (Second Edition) Review


San Juan (Second Edition) is a game by Andreas Seyfarth, published by Ravensburger. It is for 2-4 players. In this game, players will be trying to become the most prosperous citizen of San Juan. They will do this by selecting one of five roles each turn. These roles will allow the player to construct buildings, manufacture goods and trade them for money. The player that can plan their roles selection the best will be declared the winner.

To begin, the starting player is chosen. They are given the Governor card. The 5 role cards are then laid out in a row next to each other in the middle of the play area. The 5 trading house tiles are shuffled and then placed in a stack face down. An Indigo plant card is removed from the deck for each player. The rest of the cards are shuffled together and placed face down in a stack next to the role cards. Each player places their Indigo plant card face up in front of them. They are then each dealt 4 cards. Play now begins.

Before I explain the rules, it should be noted that this game also comes with the “New Buildings” expansion included. When playing with this expansion, the 10 additional city buildings and 4 production buildings are added to the regular deck and shuffled in. The cathedral card is placed face up next to the 5 role cards. Other than that, there are no additional setup changes.

The game is played over several rounds, beginning with the player with the Governor card. On a player’s turn, they will take one of the role cards from the middle of the table, placing it in front of them. They will then perform the action and privilege that the role card provides them. Once they have completed their action, the remaining players in turn order are able to perform the action as well. Once all players have either performed the action or passed, the next player in turn order takes a role card and the whole process continues again. Once all players have each taken a role card and all players have either performed the action or passed, the round ends. All of the role cards are returned to the middle of the table and the Governor card is given to the next player. A new round of play then begins.

Of course each role is different and provides different actions and privileges. The 5 roles are builder, producer, trader, councillor and prospector. The builder allows each player to build 1 building from the cards in their hand. They do this by lay the card face up on the table in front of them and paying the construction cost on the card by discarding the corresponding number of cards to the discard pile. The player that chose the role is allowed to pay one less card. When playing with the expansion, the cathedral can be chosen instead of one of the cards from the player’s hand instead. The cathedral card is then placed in front of the player. There are lots of different buildings. Each one provides different abilities. The rules provide more information on each of the different buildings.

The next role is the producer. This role allows the players to draw a card from the stack and place it face down on one of their production buildings that they have already built. The building must not already have a card placed on it. The person that chose the role cards is then allowed to repeat the process for one other empty production building.

The next role is the trader. This role allows the player that selected it to flip over one of the trading house tiles. This shows how much each good can be sold for. They will then sell a good from one of their production buildings by placing the card from the production building and placing it in the discard pile. They will then draw cards equal to the price of the good that they sold. The player that chose the role is allowed to do this twice. Once everyone has sold any goods that they would like, the trading house tile is placed face down under the remaining trading tiles.

The next role is the councillor. This role allows the player that chose it to draw 5 cards from the draw pile and keep 1. The remaining players can then draw 2 cards from the pile and keep 1. The unkept cards are placed in the discard pile.

The final role is the prospector. Only the player that selected this role receives something. They are allowed to draw and keep 1 card. The remaining players receive nothing.

This continues each round with players choosing roles and performing the actions until at the end of the builder phase, one player builds their 12th building. When this happens, the game ends. The score pad is brought out along with the pencil. Players then total their victory points from each of their buildings. Players also receive points for any cards placed under their chapel. They can also gain points for the triumphal arch, guild hall and city hall. The palace scores it’s points last. Once the points have all been added up, the player who has the highest total is the winner.


This game comes with some really pretty cards. There are 110 building cards that are used during the game. There are also an additional 33 cards for the expansion that are included. There are also 5 role cards and a governor card. There are thick trading house tiles and a scoring pad with a pencil. The expansion also includes the cathedral card. Each of the cards has that look and feel of the classic game Puerto Rico. As a matter of fact, this game is basically the card version of that game. The artwork is quite nice and gives much of that style on each card. The scoring pad is nice to keep track of each players points in a little easier way. Everything looks really nice and is made of good quality.
9 out of 10

The rulebook for this game is very nice as well. It has a nice shiny finish on each page. Everything is explained really well for both new and old players alike. It’s very simple to read and understand. Each production building card and city building card is explained thoroughly. There are lots of pictures, especially of each type of card. There is a nice setup variation included that changes up the game a little bit, also included are the rules for the “New Buildings” expansion as well. Everything is nicely done and looks really great. It doesn’t take very long to read through as the game is quite simple. I really like the card explanations. It’s nice to have for when you don’t quite understand what the wording on a card means. Not that there are any problems with that. It’s just nice to have a thorough explanation available. All in all, I’m really impressed with the rules.
9 out of 10

Let me start off this section by saying that I am a HUGE fan of the game Puerto Rico. I absolutely love it and will play it any time I’m given the opportunity. That said, this game scratches that itch quite nicely and in a quicker way. First off, the set up time is a lot quicker. Grab the cards, shuffle them up and you’re pretty much ready to go. I really like that. Of course the main difference is that in San Juan, there are no colonists to place on the different buildings and there are no shipping of goods. The game is much more stream lined and concentrates mainly on building 12 buildings. It’s definitely a quicker game, playing in about 45 minutes or so. Puerto Rico takes every bit of an hour and a half. That means that San Juan cuts the play time basically in half. I really like the extra buildings included from the “New Buildings” expansion that comes included with the game. It’s adds a lot of variation to the game for tons of replayability. It’s a fairly simple game and is very easy to teach. Basically all it takes is reading the cards to understand what to do. Of course choosing the right roles at the right time is a major part of winning. What all that means is that this game is loads of fun and one that I thoroughly enjoy. My son is also a big Puerto Rico fan as well. We both really enjoy San Juan and love playing it.
10 out of 10

San Juan (Second Edition) is a light card game based on the classic game, Puerto Rico. It cuts the play time in half with most sessions lasting no longer than about 45 minutes. The artwork and feel of the game is very similar to that of Puerto Rico. It is a very fun game that has lots of strategy to it. However, it’s still fairly simple to learn and play. Fans of Puerto Rico or other games of role selection should love this game. It’s family friendly although it’s a bit too hard for the younger ones. The game plays great with any number of players and is one that my son and I both really enjoy. I thoroughly enjoy the game and will be playing it a lot more. I highly recommend this game. It’s great and you will enjoy it.
9 out of 10



For more information about this and other great games, please check out Ravensburger at their site.


About Gaming Bits - Jonathan Nelson

I'm a happily married man with 2 wonderful kids. I love my family very much. I'm a big fan of board, card and RPG games and have been playing for over 20 years. As a board and card game reviewer, I'm hoping that this blog will inform, educate and entertain you. If you like it, please tell your friends and have them join in on the conversations. Thanks and GAME ON!!
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