Apr 30, 2011


Condado is a single-player implementation of the card game San Juan, designed by Andreas Seyfarth. Condado, written by Kevin Quan, is clearly a labor of love and is provided for free. I'm always on the lookout for good, quick filler games, and I've found that card games are a good bet to fill that niche. Condado fills that role admirably.

In San Juan, players take turns selecting a role to execute from a list of five possible roles. As each role is selected, all players get to perform the action, but the player who selected the role gets a bonus. After each player selects a role, the starting player moves clockwise and the round starts over. The roles that can be selected allow players to produce resources, draw additional cards in various ways and play buildings to score points and grow their economies. The most clever bit of San Juan is that the cards in your hand are not only the buildings you can play but also serve as the currency in the game. There's a wide variety of cards that appear in the game, and many different successful approaches to winning. It's a game I've played quite a bit and enjoy in person and it's an excellent candidate for a computer implementation.

Condado allows you to play against one to three computer players, and features eight different AI profiles you can play against. I haven't particularly noticed differences between them, but I always play against random ones, so I'm not really paying attention to the names. The interface works well, but does have a few rough edges here and there. As a few examples, there are some extra clicks at a few spots, the flick to scroll between the player boards is a little difficult to get to work and the interface to use the Black Market doesn't scroll properly. All that said, there have already been substantial steps forward with the interface just in the time I've been using the app, so I'm confident that most of this stuff will be ironed out. The graphics are functional and reasonably attractive, albeit pretty minimal in spots and there is no sound. Overall, it's a quite playable implementation.

As for the play quality, San Juan is an excellent card game, so Condado starts with a rock solid foundation. The big question is how good the AI is, and it's OK. It has also improved with recent updates, to the point where it is now capable of winning occasionally. Even in a four player game, I do win the majority of games, and usually only lose when the deck is really unkind. However, even with the AI not being a difficult opponent, the act of playing through a game is pleasurable - selecting roles, building your economy and planning your best course through the game is enjoyable. It does play quickly, it's a free release and it's improving rapidly (it's still marked Beta in the market). It has become one of my goto fillers, and is highly recommended for any card game fan. 4.5 stars.

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