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:
In Santiago de Cuba you are a broker in the city of Santiago, the second largest city of Cuba. Your goal is to make profit by making deals with the locals and visiting (or even buying) buildings in order to gather goods and load them to the ships arriving in the city’s port. Available goods are: sugar cane (white) citrus fruit (orange), tobacco (green), rum (red), cigars (black) and wood. 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. LEGO Lights 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 are 7 ships that will reach the city’s port one after the other and for each one, the type and quantity of goods it accepts to carry are determined by rolling 5 colored dice and choosing 4 of them to place on the ship. The color of the dice indicates the type of good and the number, the quantity required. 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. By stopping in front of a Cuban, you usually get goods, money or victory points. Then you immediately visit one of the buildings of the color indicated by the flower icon on the Cuban’s tile. In buildings, players do certain actions that help them advance in the game such as exchange different types of goods, get victory points or load goods to the ship. By stopping on the yellow star (last stop in the loop, port) players trigger a delivery round, during which all players can deliver goods to the ship. Players get victory points (the exact number is indicated by the value marker mentioned earlier) for loading the ship. Wood can always be loaded to the ship instead of any one other good but players receive only one victory point for each wood loaded. The game ends when all 7 ships leave the port. At that point any remaining goods are converted to victory points (1 vp for every 3 goods) and victory points are counted. The player with the most victory points, is the winner.