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Svarog's Den - Board Games

An Update from Ravensburger on Puerto Rico 1897

by W. Eric Martin

At SPIEL ’22 in October, Ravensburger debuted Puerto Rico 1897, its new version of Andreas Seyfarth‘s game Puerto Rico, which debuted in 2002. In July 2022, I interviewed cultural consultant Jason Perez, who detailed the new setting of the game and how it incorporated elements from the history of Puerto Rico.

While the new setting has been welcomed by players, the production of the game has been marred with problems. When the game debuted in Essen at SPIEL ’22, people discovered that their copies included 16 fruit tiles instead of 12 and only 4 coffee tiles instead of 8. Copies that arrived in retail stores in Europe in late 2022 had the same error, and copies released in the U.S. in February 2023 also had this problem — which is not surprising given that Ravensburger released a dual-language English and French edition, so the copies in the U.S. were the same as those released in France. What is surprising is that Ravensburger still released those copies in the U.S. despite the production error.

Aside from the tile misprint, for Puerto Rico 1897 Ravensburger had mirrored the graphic design of its 2020 version of Puerto Rico, which had removed all of the text from building tiles other than the building’s name. As a result, to know what a building does, you need to look at the overview on the back of the rulebook — and this overview contains errors (e.g., the School providing an extra worker during the planting phase when it should be the building phase) and vague wording (e.g., the Harbor gives “Bonus VP at the time of shipping” and the Assembly Hall similarly gives “Bonus VP for shipping”) that forces you to dig into the rulebook for the details.

And sometimes those details seem off. The back of the rulebook notes that the Distillery gives “Bonus coins for production”, and if you then turn to the complete Distillery description a few pages earlier, you find this:

The occupied Distillery works under the same rules as the Factory, except the owner earns bonus coins based on the number of barrels of 1 type of Good they produce. They choose the type of Good for which they produced the most barrels (any type except Corn) and earn 1 coin less than that number. For example, if Alex produced 6 Sugar, they would earn 4 coins in addition to the regular Production income.

Wait, what? Do I need to look at the Factory description as a reference? Turns out that no, you don’t since the Factory bonus is based on the number of types of goods you produce and it’s not strictly “1 coin less than that number”, so why mention the Factory at all? The Distillery has a “no Corn” restriction that you’ll have to remember during play — even though you absolutely can distill corn — and the example doesn’t make sense because 6 – 1 ≠ 4. Where’s the error? Did Alex produce 5 Sugar, did he earn 5 coins, or do you earn 2 coins fewer than the number produced?

New tile, who dis?

The U.S. branch of Ravensburger has provided me an update on the availability of Puerto Rico 1897 and how it plans to address some of these issues:

With Puerto Rico 1897, Ravensburger took a best-selling, classic “Euro” game and reimagined it into a more welcoming and inclusive gaming experience for today’s player. When the game hit store shelves in February, it came to our attention there were missing tiles and rule book errors. We apologize and have taken steps to ensure these issues are corrected as quickly as possible.

We have stopped production of the game to guarantee that all copies of Puerto Rico 1897 moving forward will have the correct number of tiles and an updated rule book to support an ideal gaming experience. Those who have already purchased Puerto Rico 1897 and have missing “coffee” estate tiles can request the correct pieces to be shipped to them at no additional cost through this website: Once the rule book has been updated, it will be available for replacement or to download digitally. At Ravensburger, it is our mission to create quality games with the highest craftsmanship that deliver timeless entertainment and shared moments of fun. It is our expectation that, with the corrections made, Puerto Rico 1897 will meet our players’ high standards of excellence.

I’ll note that Ravensburger has been supplying four replacement coffee tiles since October 2022, so this is not a new fix. Even so, removing the game from retail outlets until all copies have been fixed is a much better solution.

I’ve asked a follow-up question regarding the graphic design of the building tiles and whether they will be changed to include a short description of what the building does, something that existed in editions of Puerto Rico prior to the 2020 re-design. If I receive an additional response from Ravensburger or learn when Puerto Rico 1897 will again be available on the market, I’ll post an update.

Building comparison between PR 1897 and the 2011 edition of PR (image: Brian Phipps)


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