Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de



Michael Rieneck &
Stefan Stadler


No. of Players:
2 - 5

G@mebox Star



If you want to move Cuba a further step forwards in terms of playing depth, the El Presidente expansion which was released in 2009 adds yet another choice of options which the players need to consider quite carefully on their way towards victory.

During setup new ships, buildings and parliamentary acts are added to the existing playing components, but the more striking element is the new presidential gameboard which now is placed next to the upper end of the main gameboard. The new gameboard adds a row of card spaces, and each round a freshly shuffled hand of new character cards is placed at these card spaces. During their turns, the players now can chose to use either one of their normal character cards from their own playing hand or one of the new characters, but each player is obliged to take one of the new character cards each round. In contrast to a player's standard characters the new characters only are available until they are chosen by a player, and so additional tension is built up by the fact that the players need to consider whether they should take the character of their choice early (to be certain to get the character) or later (to have a possibility to play more urgent standard characters before taking one of the new ones.).


The choice of actions offered by the new characters is wide, with the Dancer making the player the new start player, the Musician giving the player two Pesos or Revolutionary adding a victory point. The Harbour Master allows a player to exchange the positions of two ships in the harbour, the Lawyer gives the player the possibility to use one of his buildings regardless of the position of the Farmhand figure, and the Day Labourer helps the player to store agricultural products to avoid fouling.

However, whilst these new actions may be qualified as helpful add-ons, real spice is added through the fact that a presidential car marker is moved to the character card which was not chosen by the players in a round. As indicated, the new character cards are randomly assigned to spaces on the new gameboard each turn, and each of the spaces on the new board also is associated with a specific kind of presidential action. Thus, the space where the last remaining card can be found also determines the presidential action for the ongoing round, and here the players are faced with a choice of temporary changes to the playing environment. As a result, the President may require each player to send two characters to Parliament in the following round, or he may enact all four proposed bills in the current round, replacing all older laws. A replacement of an already built building, free goods from the market or even a movement of the Farmhand figure with the Foreman card also are possible, but especially nasty for a leading player is the presidential decree which forces him to loose two victory points.

Whereas already the basic game of Cuba offers a good degree of player interaction through the limited availability of buildings and cargo slots on the ships, the parliamentary voting and the central market, player interaction becomes even more pronounced with the new presidential gameboard. The timely use of the Harbour Master may shorten a player's expected haul of victory points, but even more interesting are the presidential actions which mean new problems and opportunities for the players in each round of play. Due to the individual focusing of each player the presidential actions are seen quite differently depending on the personal situation, and so the players are facing an interesting dilemma of character choice during the action phase. So, it is not only important which kind of action a character card will trigger, but it also must be considered which kind of presidential action will be prevented if a certain card is chosen.

With this new dimension of necessary considerations Cuba finally outclasses competitors like Calylus because it simply offers a broader and more profound playing experience. Whilst the additional level of finetuning certainly results in a longer playing duration (8 rounds now are possible) and requires players to have a good understanding of the mechanics of the basic game, the whole El Presidente expansion boosts the game to a level of interaction, decision-making and speculation which is remarkable for a resource management game. In fact, the praise is even higher because the volume of the basic and the expansion rulebooks taken together still is well below other complex simulation games, and so the El Presidente expansion is a real high-value addition which does not impair on the playability of the game, but instead nicely enhances its original scope.

Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games!

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Copyright © 2008 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany