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PORTO the game is about building the colourful houses that make this Portuguese city such an amazing tourist attraction. The board depicts two streets of seven houses each. These houses are designed to be erected with specific numbers of storeys allowing players to build two floors only per turn, though they can be on one or two different constructions.

Players turns consist of either Drawing cards from the face up display or building floors into one or two houses using the cards you already hold. You cannot take a card from the display and then immediately use it to build, either action takes one full turn.

  

When building more than one floor onto a house the construct cards must be of the same colour, that is houses cannot be multi-coloured. To play two cards from your hand, which you must always do whether it helps or harms your own ideals, you can play them both onto one house (as long as they are the same colour and that colour is the same as any other pre-built floors) or two  cards on 2 different houses.

  

When you need cards in your hand, you can hold any number (but only ever play 1 or 2 in your turn), you take them from the display. Building cards are valued 1, 2 or 3. When taking cards from the display you may only take up to the value of three points, so one card valued 3, two cards, a one and a two, three ones, or any one or two cards as long as their values added together do not exceed three.

Along the top of the board are Contracts. If, in your turn, you complete a contract you take the card and score the points it awards. The contract must be completed exactly so if, for example, the contract required the building of a Purple Floor and you build 2 Purple floors then you haven't completed the contract. You could have just elected to play one Purple floor and hope the option is still there when you next turn comes around.

 For example if you build two Red floors you score 2 additional points.

When a building is complete you place a Rooftop on it and take the value token that is on the top floor where the roof goes. There are opportunities throughout play to move these score tokens around from Building to Building (not to completed Buildings) in the hope of preventing an opponent scoring more points or attempting to make extra points for yourself.


  

Part of the fun is watching where other players are building and looking to complete their buildings or to at least move the score token away. However, you should also take fair note of your Personal Contracts - something I keep forgetting to do - as their points are often the difference between winning and not winning.

Players also each have their own Personal Contract (mission) cards with valuable bonus points available if they are successfully completed at the game end.

 Score 2pts, 5pts or 10pts if there are one, two or three pairs of houses on the board the same as your Private Contract. Height of buildings is not taken into account but the colours must be exactly as shown on the Contract.

A very simple mechanic, similar to those Reiner Knizia became famous for - colours and numbers - makes this happily playable for families with minor strategies for gamers to discover. Each game is different because of the randomness of the cards and the choices made by the players.

Competitive and fun, PORTO, published by MEBO provided by Heidelbär, plays in under an hour and can be played solo, though personally I don't recommend it as a single person game. It is better, again in my opinion and from my experience, with 3 or 4 (1-4 players aged 8+) players. You can find it online for a variety of prices from $18US upwards with or without postage. 

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015