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Game Overview: Costa Rica, or Central American Hexploration with Bonus Box Shrinking

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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I tend to love "press your luck" games, especially ones in which all the players are collectively pressing their luck. You're all in the same boat — at least at the start of the game — but as the game progresses, people tend to be pulled in different directions depending on their aversion to risk (or their tendency to embrace it!) as well as whatever has happened on previous turns. Press onward or retreat? The answer usually isn't clear, so these games tend to invite playful razzing as players argue over the "correct" course of action. (Diamant is the best example of this, and with a new version out from IELLO I plan to record an overview video soon-ish.)

In Costa Rica, designed by Matthew Dunstan and Brett J. Gilbert and publisher by Lookout Games and Mayfair Games, players want to collect lots of animals of a single type (in order to maximize their score for that type of animal) while also collecting at least one of every animal (to score a bonus for variety). Each turn when you're the active player, you have a choice of taking something or passing — but if you pass, someone else in the same expedition party might take the goods instead. Sometimes you want them to do this, so you're reading the other players as well as the table, trying to figure out what they might do on their turns and whether you might be able to profit from them — or whether you can cut them off at the knees first.

The video below covers both the nature of gameplay as well as my efforts to reclaim a bit of shelf space while still having room for Costa Rica in my collection. The images below show the before-and-after of this restoration project.

In the video, I start talking about the box size at 9:38, with the box cutting itself starting at 12:40 should you want only a lesson on how to do this for yourself.

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