When I first saw the cover of the game along with a short description and photos of the components, I was immediately intrigued to play it. The title seemed attractive too, as Cuba is very far away from my country (I live in Greece) and that just adds to the exotic and mystery atmosphere for which the country is already celebrated. Let’s go through some basic information about gameplay:
On the game board there are 12 building tiles, which are always shuffled when setting up the game and then placed on the appropriate boxes in the outskirts of the city. There are also 9 Cubans who will help you out and are also shuffled and distributed randomly on the 9 boxes in the center of the game board. A street runs in front of the Cubans in a loop F95zone . A car, used by all players, will travel through this street and its 10 stops (stars), one for each of the Cubans and a stop at the port (yellow star).
There is a value marker on the board in front of the ship, indicating the amount of victory points you receive for each good delivered to the ship (2,3 or 4 victory points). This marker is initially set to 2 and for each time the car passes from the port (yellow star) without stopping there the marker is moved one flag to the right. However if the marker moves from the value 4 to the checkered flag, the ship leaves immediately even if it’s not full. Once a ship has all items loaded, it leaves the port and another one arrives.
At the beginning of the game, buildings and Cubans tiles are shuffled and placed on the board, each player chooses a color and the first player is decided. Each player is dealt 3 coins (pesos), 2 victory points and one sugar cane, one citrus fruit and one tobacco. All goods and money are hidden behind special player screens. The car is placed at the port and the first ship arrives. The player to the right of the first player rolls the five dice to determine the ships cargo. Each round a player must use the car to go to a location moving clockwise by moving as many “star” spaces they like. Only the first step to a new place is free. For every space beyond the first one, the player must pay 1 peso. goods) and victory points are counted. The player with the most victory points, is the winner.
Upon opening the box, I was impressed with the beautiful artwork of the game board and tiles. Setup was pretty easy, following the well-written rulebook. Tiles shuffled and placed, colors chosen and here we go. The game flows smooth and turns are pretty quick as there are only 2 actions that must be made each round and choices are quite straight forward. Usually you don’t want to move many spaces forward with the car as this will cost a lot of money and then there is the choice of the building to visit that will depend on the specific needs of the player or may be a strategic choice as well. An interesting aspect is that players’ goods and coins are hidden behind screens, so one must be alert and try to remember what goods the other players have gathered. That is a big part of the game’s strategy. The game has great immersion due to excellent artwork and game mechanics. It all feels so much like Cuba! It also has much replayability due to the shuffling of tiles at game setup.