San Juan (universal) by Ravensburger Digital is a digital adaptation of an award-winning card game, which itself is a simplified version of the wildly popular strategy board game Puerto Rico. By removing the board and keeping a lot of the intricate strategy, San Juan is a great card game for both solo and group play.
The object of San Juan is to obtain the most amount of ‘victory points’, by building structures and producing goods. Unlike games with currencies, dice, and other functions of luck, the only thing San Juan uses are its cards. Players have a fluctuating number of cards as they develop a community over the course of the game, building up a 12-card “town” and trying to strategically earn the most points possible.
At first, it seems a bit convoluted, once players grasp the concept of selecting different functions at the beginning of each turn strategically to maximize their construction. Need to build something? Select the ‘builder’ function and pay the designated number of cards to build. But realize other players will be able to do the same, just like when they decide to ‘produce’ or seek a ‘Councillor’, both of which can wildly swing a player’s strategy with a single turn.
The clean visual presentation does a lot to keep the game from becoming too complicated for gamers to pick up right away. There is a decent amount of text to read on different cards, but the clean, bright Retina graphics make it a lot easier, and for the most part, things are kept as uncluttered as possible. The text-based tutorial is a massive help, clean and free of typos to really explain the mechanics of the game.
San Juan is a great card game for both solo players, and aficionados looking for something new to bring to the family card table. For a strategy title, games aren’t particularly long, and the subtle complexities will keep players coming back for more challenges, in both the online and offline modes. A definite must-buy for fans of card games, or those looking for a little bit of strategy on their iPhone or iPad.