In 1811, free trade is declared for the harbor city of Valparaso in Chile. A short time later, Chile proclaims its independence. As an influential citizen of Valparaso, you want to push the development of your city, so you send merchants into the hinterland to get hold of important export goods and send your ships overseas to gain new achievements there.
To do well in Valparaíso, you must plan well ahead, keep an eye on your opponents, and react to their actions at short notice. Almost any action influences the other players by changing costs or trading possibilities. Each building of a house must be given a lot of thought, every trade must be well-timed. Whoever wants to change the order of their initial planning during the course of the game must pay a penalty, but if your plans aren't good enough, time will slip away — in the short run as well as in the long run. You all plan simultaneously, and the end of the game may come sooner than you've hoped!
For advanced players who like planning while pressed for time, the game includes a variant using a sand timer.