Ragusa has a LOT of player interaction. Once players build houses within the city, this will usually trigger multiple actions for other players each turn. There is no downtime because of this.
Theme and What is it?
Ragusa: a maritime republic and Mediterranean port that sees thousands of ships pass through its walled harbor. Here, in the midst of the 15th century, Ragusa is at its peak—it is the sole rival to Venice as a trading getaway between the Eastern and Western civilizations, a neutral zone where merchants from all corners of the globe come to show their wares.
But Ragusa is nothing—and was nothing—without you: the builders. By strategically building lumber mills, vineyards, towers and warehouses around and within the city, you built—and must continue to build—the foundations of wealth and commerce that will be this city’s legacy…
In the game, Ragusa, players use their buildings to produce resources and then create commodities. You can then trade these commodities for various goods and victory points at the port. Players can gain points by building walls and towers within the city.
Ragusa takes a popular mechanism, worker placement, and uses it uniquely. Players all start the game with 12 wooden houses and on their turn, they simply place one house in an open location. This can be on a rural hex or city hex. Depending on the hex, determines what happens.
At the beginning of the game, you start with a player board that will track your resource production and commodities. There are cards for each type of resource (grapes, olives, fish, wood, silver ore and stone) that are used to keep track of production. You can produce a max of 8 for each of the six resources. There are three clear discs that will track your commodities (wine, oil, and silver). You store a max of 12 commodities. You never spend your production but always spend your commodities.
When placing a house on a rural hex, you must produce the required amount of wood. Then, gain a production for what type of resource is on that hex. Depending on placement, this could be up to three different resources.
If you place a house in a city hex, then you must produce the required amount of stone. Each city hex, provides a unique action. You can activate each hex. So, there is potential to gain three actions when placing a house in a city hex.
City hexes make Ragusa an interesting game. All but two of the city hexes have a clockwise arrow on them. This means that EACH house on that city hex can use the action. For example, if I place my house in a city hex, I perform that action, and then every other player that has a house there gets to use that action. And, it is EACH house, so it is possible to do the action more than once. You do this in clockwise order for each house.
The different city hex actions include making commodities (grapes into wine, olives into oil, silver ore into silver), building walls or towers, going to a market to buy a ship, or selling commodities for the current demand price. There are a few others I won’t go into detail about.
The game ends when all players have placed their houses.
I always enjoy games with wooden houses like in the game Catan. The board looked interesting, so I definitely wanted to try this one. This was also my first game from Capstone Games to play. I have heard great things about Pipeline even though I have not played yet.
Game Build Quality
The board, player boards, and wooden pieces are of great quality. I love how they included a box for each color to store all the player pieces and then a neutral box for everything else.
They included plastic clear discs for tracking the commodities and square cards for the resources. I liked how the cards track resources; however, they did not quite fit in the notch on the player boards. That would be my only complaint.
Majority of the artwork is on the rule book and board itself. It is stunning. The artist, Bartlomiej Roczniak, really did a professional job.
The board has two sides. One has less artwork for the new players to see the action symbols more visibly. The other side still has the symbols but the artwork definitely stands out more. When you become familiar with the game, you can use this side.
Ragusa has a LOT of player interaction. Once players build houses within the city, this will usually trigger multiple actions for other players each turn. There is no downtime because of this. Something is always going on and you definitely should pay attention. I enjoy games like this. The game also moves quickly. Each player gets 12 turns only.
Age Range & Weight
The publisher recommends this for ages 12+. I would agree with this. The game is not complicated. The basic mechanic is simple. Place a house, gain the resource production or perform the action. It is just the strategy behind the actions that can be complex.
I have played this twice. The first was with two players and second with three. I enjoyed it with a higher player count. With two players, I felt that once I started getting something going, it was over. I felt it was just missing something. However, I enjoyed it more with three players. It seemed to balance more. I would like to get a game in with four players because I think that is where it will thrive. It also has a solo play option but given how it was with two players, I do not know if I would enjoy it.
Overall, I really enjoyed playing this game. It is gorgeous on the table and it is easy to learn. It ranks in my collection as a solid medium weight game.
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