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Subject: Puerto Rico Opening Theory part 2: Openings rss

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Alex Rockwell
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Puerto Rico Opening Theory part 2: Opening, Turn One

Here is a link to part 1:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/14335/puerto-rico-openin...

Introduction:

Discussing specific Puerto Rico opening variations beyond the first turn or so is difficult, but not impossible. On the first turn however, there are certain moves or variations where you must play a certain move, in order to keep from falling behind in the game (or giving one opponent a huge lead). In this article, I will discuss the main line of a Puerto Rico game, and also discuss possible variations. Understanding of a few key opening lines will help one to greatly improve their opening play, and prevent them from falling far behind early on, or from making a move that gives a significant advantage to a certain opponent.

I will refute several unsound opening plays, showing how they can lead to poor or even disastrous results. I will also discuss openings for 3 player, 4 player, and 5 player games, which are all different.

Note that when playing with the expansion, certain building combinations can wildly change the opening, especially if playing with Hacienda and Forest Hut. Black Market is another building which can greatly affect opening play. This article assumes that one is playing the basic game.

Turn 1, Player 1:

What to do from the first seat on the first move of the game has been a frequently debated topic among Puerto Rico players. Most players agree that choosing the Settler and taking a quarry is the best move. Indeed, this move is far superior to any other choice, and is the beginning of the main line of a Puerto Rico game.

I will discuss other alternatives first, in order of worst to best, and show why they are all inferior to Settler/Quarry.

Craftsman/Trader/Captain: All of these moves are clearly bad, as they cause nothing to happen and provide no benefit.

Mayor: A few people are proponents of choosing the Mayor from the first seat. When I first started playing Puerto Rico, my group tried this opening a couple times and dubbed it the 'Slumlord' opening, because it leaves one with a colonist in the 'slums' of San Juan.

The possible advantages of choosing the Mayor are:

You get one additional colonist.
You guarantee that no buildings are occupied in the first round.

Some people believe that gaining the extra colonist is very beneficial, more beneficial even than the bonus doubloon one could receive from choosing the Prospector or Builder. For those who have read Opening Principles part 1, you will know that money is of key importance in the opening, though not creating a large colonist shortage for yourself is also a priority. Overall, I would prefer the doubloon, however the extra colonist is approximately as helpful near the start.

There are several problems with this opening however. First of all, it does not truly gain you an extra colonist! How can this be, you say! I am taking my extra colonist out of the supply and placing it in San Juan!

Lets think about it this way: If you choose the Mayor, you will also be receiving a late pick plantation during the Settler phase which will occur later in the round. This will not be a corn plantation or quarry, and thus to use this plantation you will need an appropriate production building and colonist. Combined with your need for a small indigo plant and two colonists for your indigo production, you have a colonist need of 4 colonists. You have 2 colonists currently, for a shortage of two.

Compare this to Settler/quarry. Here, you have a quarry and indigo, and need an indigo plant, with a total colonist need of 3 colonists. You have 1 colonist after the Mayor phase, for a shortage of two! So in fact, by choosing the quarry, you are ALSO reducing your colonist need, because the quarry requires only one colonist to run. Your only true benefit from choosing the Mayor has now evaporated, and you do not have any monetary or income benefit as a result of it.

But on top of that, choosing the Mayor has additional problems! First of all, you are allowing a different player (player 2 if he or she makes the correct move), to choose Settler/quarry in the first round. Thus, you are strengthening another player. Additionally, you will be last, or at least late in the plantation draw, and thus will probably receive a poor plantation, such as a second indigo (worst), or a sugar, tobacco or coffee plantation when an opponent already has one of these plantations, so you do not have a monopoly.

Some players claim that denying the extra colonist that one of your opponents would have received by choosing Mayor is very helpful. The problem is that you are also handing out a 'colonist requirement reduction' in the form of the quarry you passed on. Thus, while you may hurt player 3 a small amount (who was the one who would be the Mayor in the main line), you help whichever player chooses Settler/quarry a far greater amount. Player 3 will likely receive a free doubloon instead of their extra colonist as a result of their role choice, and thus they are not actually harmed at all.

Some players claim that preventing any buildings from being occupied during the first round helps you. This is not true. The only things that might actually matter if they are occupied during round 1 are quarries, corn, and Settler phase buildings. If a player gets indigo/indigo plant or sugar/sugar plant occupied, it will not actually help them as any decent opponents will not choose the Craftsman during round one. (We will discuss this more later). By choosing the Settler first, you would prevent any Settler-phase buildings from being active during the first Settler anyway, so you get the same benefit from Settler/quarry. So the only things left are quarries or corn. By choosing the Mayor, you DO occupy players corn plantations, so there is no gain there. And by not choosing a quarry yourself, you do not have an occupied quarry after the turn one Mayor phase.


Thus, through analysis we see that the two proposed 'benefits' of choosing the Mayor on turn one from the first seat are in fact a mirage, as you would get the identical benefits and far more by choosing Settler/quarry.

Prospector: The prospector is fairly simple to analyze. You gain one doubloon. However, this action suffers from many of the same problems that choosing the Mayor does, namely that it pales in comparison to the benefit of a quarry. The prospector gives you one doubloon once. The quarry gives you one doubloon during every Builder phase for the rest of the game. In addition, the quarry reduces your colonist shortage, compared to taking another, non-corn plantation. It also gives you something to do with your initial colonist that you will receive on turn one.

Builder: Like the Prospector, the Builder gives you one doubloon, in the form of a cost reduction on your building. However, it gives the added benefit of giving you first choice of buildings, so you can take a building that you would otherwise miss out on, such as a small market.

There are a couple potential problems with choosing the Builder, however. First of all, you open up the possibility that your opponents will build Settler phase buildings, and that player 2 will choose the Mayor instead of the Settler, and those buildings will become activated. This is ok if you also have a Settler phase building, but if you do not then it puts you at a disadvantage. The correct move for player 2, regardless, is to build something other than a Settler-phase building, such as a small market, and to choose Settler/quarry, for all the same reasons that it is the best move for player 1. If player 2 chooses the Mayor, then player 3 will get the quarry, and you are still handing the quarry advantage to another player.

The problem is that you must commit to your building choice first. If you do not build a Settler phase building, it might induce player 2 to build one, Mayor, and hurt you in that way. If you do build one, player 2 may be inclined to make the correct move and take a quarry, thus choosing the Settler before your appropriate building is active. The possibility of handing occupied Settler-phase buildings to your opponents, and the guarantee of handing a quarry to one of your opponents, make the Builder a poor choice for player one.

The only true benefit of choosing the Builder is that you can get a small market that you would not otherwise have a chance to buy, which can provide income . The problem is that the small market income is less stable than your quarry income would be. Also the small market INCREASES your colonist need by one, while the quarry DECREASES it by one. Clearly, the quarry is far superior.

Choosing Builder/small indigo is worse than Builder/small market, because it does not give you a building that you would not otherwise have received. The indigo plant will not become active during the first round, and will only become active before the first Craftsman phase if your opponents play poorly. You could have purcahsed that same small indigo plant easily during the next Builder phase.

Builder/small indigo is also worse than Builder/Settler-phase building, because it does not give you the potential to have that building active during the first Settler phase, and does not provide you with some useful place to put your first colonist.

Settler/non-quarry: Choosing the Settler and taking a plantation, not a quarry, avoids one of the problems that all of the previous moves share. It does not give a quarry to one of your opponents, and it gives you first pick of the plantations, instead of a poor, late pick.

Settler/indigo is incredibly poor, as you have not only not received any monetary, colonist, or income benefit from your move, but you have grabbed a second indigo plant, and thus violated several opening principles at once. This move is actually worse than choosing the Mayor, and probably is worse than a null-move of choosing the Craftsman, Trader, or Captain.

Settler/sugar is also poor, as the sugar would not have been difficult to acquire in the near future otherwise. Settler/tobacco or Settler/coffee, when you take the only tobacco or coffee plant out of the draw, is ok at best, but is far better than sugar or indigo. Still, it does not provide any doubloons or current income to aid you in affording the appropriate production plant.

Settler/corn is actually the second best possible opening move, after Settler/quarry. A corn plantation is the best non-quarry plantation you could draw at the present time, and has the benefit of reducing your colonist need (like the quarry does). It also denies a corn plantation to player two (if there is only one in the draw), thus hurting player 2's position. (In a five player game, with two corn in the draw, it is player 3 that you are harming).

The problem is that during the opening, income and money are far more important than the victory points you will receive from having corn. While the corn is beneficial in protecting a trade good from being shipped, later on, your move has not helped you to be able to afford the production facility for one of these goods.

Also, hurting player 2 (while making a weak move yourself), should not be a goal of your opening play. Generally, player 2 starts in a weak position (the weakest in a 3 or 4 player game), and needs to receive a corn plantation or quarry (from player one not choosing Settler), in order to remain in a decent position. (Player 2 receiving the quarry actually gives them a strong position, and player 1 a weak one).

For these reasons, and because the corn is far worse for you than the quarry, I recommend choosing Settler/quarry over Settler/corn.


Summary of Turn 1, Player 1:

Choosing Settler/quarry is by far the superior first move for player one, followed by Settler/corn, and then by Builder/small market or Builder/Settler-phase building. If you are player 2, and the first player chooses any role other than the Settler, you should on your turn choose Settler/quarry. If you are in any position, and on your first turn, the Settler has not yet been chosen, you should choose Settler/quarry, regardless of any other factors. Settler/quarry is by far the most common move and will it will be assumed that the Settler is the first role chosen in nearly all of the openings covered in this article. Builder openings will also be covered to a lesser extent.

Puerto Rico main line beginning:

1: Settler/quarry


Player 2's plantation choice:

As player two, once player 1 has chosen Settler/quarry, you should take a corn plantation if possible. This benefits you in several ways, most notably in giving you a good that is easy to produce with which to protect your trade goods later, reducing your colonist shortage, and helping you by increasing the benefit you might receive from buildings such as the factory or harbor later in the game. In addition, passing on a corn plantation could allow one of the corn players to receive a second corn plantation, and could set them up well for a large shipping advantage in the midgame. (If this player takes the corn, they will want to choose a trade good as soon as possible, so as not to ignore setting up an income source).

If you are player two and there is no corn in the draw, or the first player takes the only one, then your best choice is a coffee or tobacco plantation which is the only plantation of its type in the draw. Barring that, a sugar plantation is your next best choice. Your hope will be that you can pick up a corn plantation in a later draw, and also choose the Settler and take a quarry at a time which is good for you. Sugar will also be a beneficial plantation for you to receive in the near future.

The reason why it is better to take coffee or tobacco over a sugar plantation is that there are more sugar plantations, and they are often less desirable options for other players, and thus you will have a greater chance of being able to pick one up later on.
Note that if you produce this good first, you will usually find it shipped onto a boat early on. This will be disastrous, as you will have no income source. Best is to build a small indigo plant first, and then a tobacco or coffee plant. Producing indigo as well will protect your more valuable good from being shipped.

Player 3's plantation choice:

Player 3 has a variety of options to choose from in their initial plantation draw. First of all, if a corn is left in the tiledraw, it is often a good choice. This is especially good if either tobacco or coffee is not represented in the draw, such that you will have a better chance of getting one of those next time. In a five player game, taking corn as player 3 is a given if there is one left, as you do not have one already. In a three or four player game, it will be your second corn, which while helpful, does not provide as much benefit as the first. Still, it is a good choice.

Another strong choice is sugar, due to the fact that if player 2 chooses the Builder (which is likely), you will be able to build a small sugar mill and then choose the Mayor, setting up your sugar production. Generally, you will force a defensive Captain play by another player on the next turn, which that player would prefer not to have to make.

If you choose sugar for your first plantation, your next priority is to get a tobacco or coffee plantation, hopefully giving you a monopoly, or at the least taking the same trade good type as the player after you, in order to weaken them and give you the best possible trading chances you could have, without a monopoly.

Finally, you can choose a tobacco or coffee plantation, and plan to save up money for its production building. (Generally you will have purchased a small market, and your Mayor choice, occupying your small market, may enable you to trade corn for a decent bonus, and give you enough money to buy the coffee roaseter or tobacco plant. If not, you will still be able to afford it quickly provided that you dont waste yor money on unnecessary buildings.

Going for a coffee or tobacco plantation is a great choice if you suspect that indigo and sugar will both be produced fairly quickly, such that you will have a good chance of trading your first coffee/tobacco. This is made more likely by a tiledaw that contains more sugar and indigo, and less than average corn, coffee and tobacco. This is because it increases the chance that some player will set up sugar early, and if player 2 does not get a corn plantation, they will be more likely to produce indigo early.

If I had to rank my preferences for player 3 during the first draw, it would be:

1)Coffee (unless you are pretty sure another player will also take it this round, or player 2 has already taken it).
2)Corn (make SURE that you get coffee or tobacco next draw!)
3)Sugar (for reasons explained above).
4)Tobacco (same conditions as coffee).

I much prefer coffee over tobacco due to the slightly higher barrier to entry, and greater trading payoff. There is a better chance you will have a coffee monopoly than a tobacco monopoly, since it costs more to begin production of coffee.

Player 4 and 5's plantation choice:

This is a similar choice to player 3, except that you have less options, and that sugar is not quite as good for you, because you cannot activate it on the first turn by choosing the Mayor, and your position is not quite as good for being able to trade it. The reason that player 3 has the best chance of trading is that this player is the governor during turn 3, and thus if the Craftsman occurs during turn 2, but not the Captain, he or she can choose the Trader and sell sugar. There are two defensive plays that can prevent or weaken this. The first is for any player to choose the Trader during turn 2, gaining the one doubloon. This causes the Trader to have no doubloons during turn 3, and thus be far less attractive and lucrative for player 3. The second is for a player to choose the Captain after the Craftsman is chosen. Often player 1 will be forced to do this at the end of the turn in order to prevent player 3 from gaining a large advantage.

Generally, you should choose a corn if one is still left, or a coffee or tobacco that will be a monopoly on that good type, if corn is not an option. If there is no corn, and either no coffee/tobacco or the coffee/tobacco plantation(s) that exist duplicate a type held by another player, then you should choose a sugar plantation. If you should happen to get stuck with indigo, make sure that you are not forced into another indigo plantation in the future. The only thing worse than an indigo plantation for you is to take coffee or tobacco when the player directly in front of you has the same exact good.

Note that if choosing between coffee or tobacco, for any position, choosing coffee is better if all other factors are equal. The only time that tobacco would be better is if you calculate that at a critical time you wll be able to have 5 doubloons, but not 6. The reason that coffee is better is that it yields greater trading income, and it is more expensive, so the barrier to entry for other player is higher. This makes it easier to maintain a monopoly, and makes that monopoly even more beneficial.

Also note that my explanation of your plantation priorities during the first round does not mean that you should avoid indigo plantations for the whole game. It actually good to pick one up at some point along the way, and make one indigo. This helps you in terms of diversity, and increases the possible benefit of the factory and harbor. There will often be an indigo boat, as many people will produce the good during the course of the game.

Indigo plantations are generally easy to acquire, because they are low priority and avoided by players who already have one. Thus, you can be fairly sure that in taking some other plantation now, you will still be able to take an indigo plantation later on. This is far better than taking the indigo now, and being stuck taking another one later on because it is the only option left.


Turn 1, Player 2:

So now that we know that Settler/quarry is the best move for player 1, what should the second player do? Again, there are only a couple options.

If player 1 has not taken the Settler role, you should take it yourself and grab a quarry. Even if player 1 chooses the Builder, resist the temptation to buy a Settler phase building and then pick Mayor, with the goal of using that building during the first Settler phase. This has several problems: First of all, you do not get a quarry. Instead, you will get last pick of the plantations, which is generally poor. If you bought a construction hut, then you still get a quarry, but so does another player, and you had to spend a little money. Its better to just take the quarry in the first place. Secondly, other players will be able to pull the same maneuver, and use Settler phase buildings during the first round Settler.

Basically, during turn 1, Settler/quarry is always the most powerful action you can take, regardless of your position. If it is your turn and this option is available, you should take it.

Now lets assume that player 1 has played correctly and has taken the Settler. Now, your best choice is to choose the Builder, as this provides both a doubloon and first pick of the available buildings.

Your other alternative is the Mayor, which provides an additional colonist, and prevents player 3 from choosing the Mayor, after buildings have been built.

An analysis of 1: Settler/quarry, 2: Mayor

This has one main benefit: Player 3 cannot set up a position of Corn plantation/Small Market or Sugar Plantation/Small Sugar Mill during round 1. This setup gives player 3 the potential to trade for 1-2 doubloons, plus one doubloon for choosing the Trader, plus any additional doubloons on the Trader role. Generally, this is of benefit to player 3, as it forces others to make defensive moves in order to avoid this trade. If other players make mistakes, and do not prevent this trade, then the benefit to player 3 can be huge. (Note that in a 5 player game, the corn/small market threat is less common, but you must also worry about the possibility of indigo/indigo plant).

In effect, player 2 choosing the Mayor weakens player 3 by preventing them from creating the threat of an early trade. It denies player 3 a colonist, however it also gives player 3 an extra doubloon in the form of being able to choose the Builder role, which is adequate compensation.

Thus, the damage to player 3 is questionable at best, and is mainly only present if the other players in your game are weak players, who would be prone to making mistakes and allowing player 3 to trade, effectively throwing the game to him or her. If you are confident that players 4 (and especially 1), in your game are competent players, who know better than to allow player 3 a big trade, then choosing the Mayor probably doesnt do anything to stop player 3 that others would not have done anyway.

To sum up the benefits of choosing Mayor here:

a) You gain an extra colonist.
b) You prevent the threat of an early trade by player 3, at least for awhile.
c) You deny player 3 a bonus colonist.

However, the move has many drawbacks:

a) You do not get a bonus doubloon, since you did not choose the Builder.
b) You give an extra doubloon to player 1, in the form of an occupied quarry during the first build phase.
c) You give player 3 a bonus doubloon in exchange for their lost colonist, which is an acceptable exchange for them, generally.
d) You get last pick of buildings during the Builder phase, and thus do not get a small market if your opponents play well. (Which is a shame, because you have an extra colonist now and could really use it).

These drawbacks far outweight the move's benefits. Most importantly, giving an extra doubloon to player 3 in exchange for a colonist, and giving an extra doubloon to player 1 for nothing, is handing out almost as much money to your opponents as the big trade that you are trying to prevent.

Main line continued: (1: Settler/quarry, 2: Builder)

Now that we have ruled out the only real alternative, we will continue with the main line, which is to choose the Builder. Now the question is: what building should I build from the various positions?

Player 2's build:

As player 2, you will have the first pick. What you choose to build will depend on what plantation you received during the first tiledraw.

Corn:

If you have received a corn plantation, your colonist needs are reduced and chances of being able to trade a good increased.

Small market is the best choice here, as it will provide income and help your corn or indigo trade to be profitable. Hopefully, it will also help increase the value of your sugar, tobacco or coffee trades in the future.

Other options are to build a small indigo plant or a Settler phase building. These are not as good, because you will be receiving only one colonist during the initial Mayor phase. This will not allow you to produce indigo if you had a small indigo plant, and in order to use a hacienda or construction hut, you will have to leave your corn inactive.

Hacienda is probably a poor choice for you, as you are already low on colonists, and the hacienda increases this need. If you do plan to try a hacienda strategy, you should occupy the hacienda during turn one, and then choose the Settler at the beginning of turn two, takin ga quarry and hoping to draw a corn plantation from the hacienda. This can work, but it is a risky plan.

Construction hut is also poor because at this point you have a corn and an indigo plant. You need to acquire a trade good more than you need quarries. If you try to buy the construction hut, take a coffee plantation, and then use it to take quarries, you will probably not be able to quickly afford the coffee roaster, as you will have already spent two doubloons on the construction hut, and will not receive the quarries fast enough to help much with your early buying.

Note that in a 5 player game, the constuction hut becomes acceptable here, because of several reasons:
a) You have more doubloons to begin with.
b) Construction hut is improved, because late picks in the Settler phase are worse the more players there are in the game.
c) Five player games have frequent trade good conflicts, and delaying committing to your trade good until several turns into the game can allow you to choose a good which is as yet unclaimed, or to choose the good that the player directly after you has chosen, and no others. This is the optimal place to be in if you must have a goods conflict, which is nearly unavoidable in five player.

The value of purchasing the construction hut is greatly increased if the tiledraw is poor, for example, many sugar and indigo plantations, and is reduced if there is a wider variety of plantations, including several of the higher priority plantations of corn, coffee and tobacco.

The small indigo plant is generally worse than the small market because you could have bought it easily during the next Builder phase. The small market will no longer be there at that time however, so this is your only chance to buy it if you wish to acquire one. Since you want both, you buy the small market first.

Sugar:

If there was no corn in the draw, and you received a sugar plantation during the initial tiledraw, then you have the option of building a small sugar mill. In this case, this is probably the best option.

If you buy a small market, you have an eventual colonist need, based on current plantations, of 2 for indigo + 2 for sugar + 1 for the market = 5. This gives you a four colonist shortage, which is hard to overcome. You will be unlikely to be able to use that small market effectively, because you will not have colonists to occupy it, unless you manage to pick up a couple corn plantations and/or quarries in the near future to reduce your colonist need.

In essence, the small market is weaker here because your colonist need has increased, so its additional colonist burden is more painful (you dont have corn), and also there is a new good option (producing sugar).

While I would lean towards building the small sugar mill, small market remains a decent option, htough small market isnt as good here as it is with corn. I havent analyzed the opening enough to know that one is clearly better than the other.

With sugar, the hacienda is even worse (colonist problems are more severe, and your chance of getting a second sugar plantation makes the hacienda weaker). The construction hut is a better buy here than if you received corn for several reasons:
a) Construction hut reduces colonist need (by allowing you to pick quarries).
b) Your need for a big trade good is smaller, since you have sugar, and thus you are less tempted to not use the construction hut ability and instead take coffee/tobacco.
c) You would not have had any other place to put your turn 1 colonist if you did not buy the construction hut, as you do not have a corn plantation to put it on.

Tobacco/Coffee:

If you chose one of these plantations, your focus will be on trading. You will want to get both indigo and this trade good going. Small market will be of benefit to your trading, and will make indigo trades better as well in the event that you cannot trade your big good.

In this position, both small indigo and small market are good buys. Because of your increased need for money, in order to afford the tobacco or coffee plant, you have less spare money to spend on the small market. However, the long term trade benefits of the small market lead me to recommend it over the indigo plant. After all, you want both, and the indigo plant will always be there.

I could easily see buying either the small market or small indigo plant here, with the intention to buy the small indigo plant during the next build phase if you bought the market. Again, I dont know which is better.

It is worth noting that in a four or five player game, the construction hut is actualy a solid choice here. (It is too weak in three player). You can then take quarries for two or three of the next four Settler phases. (Hopefully managing to grab one corn plantation when available, and possibly a sugar plantation or second corn, coffee or tobacco plantation).

This will set you up for an extreme Builder heavy position, where you will not ship very much, but will have great trading and building prospects. You will want to build whenever possible and end the game through finishing your city. Getting corn plantations will help you to not fall behind as much in shipping. You will want to create Craftsman fear whenever possible in this game, and will hope that other players do not buy buildings such as a warehouse or wharf. You will probably not ever choose the Craftsman during this game, at least not after the opening, and might not choose the Captain either.

Of course, as always, the Consturction hut is better when the current tiledraw is poor, and weaker when it is good.

Player 3's build:

As the third player, you have your initial corn plantation along with either a second corn, or a sugar, coffee or tobacco plantation. In a five player game, you have indigo instead of this initial corn.

In a five player game, play this as you would the second player position, with the exception that building a small indigo plant is improved, since you can choose Mayor and occupy it and the indigo plantation. If your plantations are corn and indigo, then the small market is also great, as you can choose the Mayor and fill corn and market. If you have sugar, then small sugar mill allows you to choose Mayor and produce sugar. All of these are good options. It will play a lot like the position for player 2 in this case, except that you are able to choose the Mayor and thus have two colonists.

In a three or four player game, you have a corn plantation. Here, small market is a great choice, as you can choose the Mayor and occupy it and the corn. If you have a sugar plantation, building small sugar and occupying it is excellent, and I would generally prefer this to the small market. (When I had sugar). If you have a second corn plantation, I would buy a small market.

Assuming that my opponents are not weak players, and are not going to allow me to trade a sugar on turn 2, and run away with the game, my favorite opening is to have corn and coffee plantations, and to build a small market. You can then Mayor and occupy the corn and market. This provides a smaller trading possibility which is actually more likely to happen than the sugar trade, because less players will see it as a threat and prevent it. (Of course, you should see it as a threat and prevent it whenever you can).

If this corn trade occurs, you will be able to build a coffee roaster extremely quickly. (And not much later if it does not occur). This corn trade, when player 3 has coffee or tobacco and a small market occupied, is actually at least as dangerous as the sugar trade. This is because he or she can immediately turn around and buy a coffee or tobacco production building, and already has the matching plantation. The coffee or tobacco, combined with the small market, will trade for 4 or 5, and will be going right off the bat. In the case of the sugar trade, this player needs to acquire the coffee or tobacco plantation.

Player 3 has further options which are quite strong, such as is to build the construction hut (not recommended in a 3 player game). If this player has already acquired a coffee or tobacco plantation, then they have their two greatest plantation needs already taken care of (corn and trade good), and they will be able to use the construction hut take quarries without hesitation, and without needing to decline its ability to get a trade good plantation, since they have one already.

If I had to rank the top options for your setup after the Mayor phase, it would be this: (* denotes occupied plant or building)

Coffee, Corn*, Small Market*
Corn*, Corn*, Small Market (if you think opponents are weak, and will allow you the corn trade, you could occupy the small market instead of second corn)
Sugar*, Corn, Small Sugar Mill*
Tobacco, Corn*, Small Market*
Sugar, Corn*, Small Market*
Coffee, Corn*, Construction Hut* (not 3 player)
Tobacco, Corn*, Construction Hut* (again not 3 player)

The construction hut options increase in value if you know that all the players in the game are solid players, and are not going to allow you the early trade. If I was playing a tournament game with strong players that I knew understood the importance of income and early trading, I might actually favor the construction hut openings.

Note that in this construction hut opening, you will use your quarries to help build a coffee roaster or tobacco storage, and will probably buy a small indigo plant or small sugar mill at some point and begin making that good as well.
Your quarries will help you to build buildings such as the large market, office, factory, harbor, and large buildings, as well as buildings such as large indigo plant and tobacco storage entirely for purposes of scoring points. (Especially if you get Guild Hall).

Even with buildings like the harbor, you will probably not focus much on shipping, but instead will simply use it to not fall far behind, while you gain a lead in building points. Sticking coffee or tobacco on a boat late on and trading it for two points each time will help greatly in achieving this.

Another option that player 3 has is to buy the hacienda, and to occupy it and the corn plantation. You will then choose the Settler a couple times, taking quarries AND other plantations.

This works much like the construction hut opening, except that:
a) You must be able to chose Settler a couple times to make it work (thus better in games with lower number of players).
b) You have more plantations, so you can both build and ship well.

The hacienda is better for player 3 than it is for anyone else, because you start with a corn plantation (reduction in colonist need), and you choose Mayor on turn 1 (reduction in colonist need). This helps offset the hacienda's main drawback, which is that it creates an immense need for colonists.


Player 4 or 5's build:

Player 4 also has a corn plantation, but does not have the opportunity to choose the Mayor during turn 1. For this reason, sugar is much worse for player 4, and coffee or tobacco should be the preference. Your ideal first purchase is a small market. If both player two and three have purcahsed them already, you have several options:

a) Purchase nothing and save up for coffee or tobacco.
b) Purchase construction hut or hacienda. However, you will not be able to occupy this and your corn during turn 1. (Hint: if you do this, occupy the building and not your corn. If you want to occupy the corn, dont buy this building in the first place).
c) Purchase a small indigo plant and plan to get an indigo plantation sometime in the near future. Thus, you save a building phase later on, and hae two good with which to protect your trade good from being shipped.

These options are listed in my order of preference. I find that saving your money is usually your best choice, and shows your focus on setting up either tobacco or coffee for a trade during the opening.

Note that if you did receive a sugar plantation during the initial draw, then small sugar mill is of course a good choice. (In that case my priority is still small market however, if possible, with the plan to get sugar next time).

Player 4's build is similar to that of player 3 (except in a five player game, where player 3 starts with indigo), except that they will receive only one colonist instead of two, so plans which depend on that second colonist early on are less desirable).

The first build phase works the same way for player 5.


Player 1's build:

Player 1 has an unoccupied quarry and a small indigo plant. Your best purchase is to buy either a small market, if available, or nothing, if you cannot buy a small market. It is actually better to buy nothing, and wait until your quarry is occupied to buy the small indigo plant for free, than to spend the doubloon now.

If you have the chance at the small market, of course, you should take it.

The only time when buying nothing is worse than buying the small indigo plant is in a case where the Builder gets chosen VERY infrequently, and you have a need for many different buildings. (Your next couple plantations are a sugar and a coffee or tobacco, for example). This is not common however, and you should just pass during the first Builder phase if you cannot buy the market. This pass saves you one doubloon, and helps you to afford a coffee roaster or tobacco storage, or failing that, a factory or large market, faster than you otherwise would be able to.


Main line continued: (1: Settler/quarry, 2: Builder, 3: Mayor)

In the vast majority of cases, player 3 will have only one valid option remaining. It is almost always the Mayor.

If for some reason the Settler remains unchosen, you should take it and choose a quarry. If the Builder is not taken, choose that. Assuming that players 1 and 2 choose Settler and Builder, you will choose the Mayor.

The only other choice that is really reasonable is the Prospector. I have not done sufficient testing of this opening to analyze it very well, and have only recently begun thinking about it. Given that 99% of players you will play with will choose the Mayor in this position, it is the opening that we will cover. I plan to test choosing the prospector as player 3, but I have not yet done this extensively. The tradeoff of a colonist versus a doubloon is intriguing, but my instinct is that the colonist is more beneficial in this case, as it allows you to occupy a market and corn, both sugar and small sugar mill, settler phase building and corn, etc. If you are able to gain a benefit out of this, then your gain will be a colonist plus some other benefit, which is almost certianly better than one doubloon.

Which plantations or buildings to occupy during the Mayor phase, for any player position, should be fairly obvious.

Main line continued: (1: Settler/quarry, 2: Builder, 3: Mayor, 4: Prospector, (5: Prospector))

In a game with more than three players, it will now be time for players four and possibly five to choose their roles. Many players choose the Craftsman here, to score some cheap points. However, this is a mistake.

Had player 4 or 5 not chosen the Craftsman, it would be chosen next round, with a bonus doubloon. Thus, there are two benefits to player 4 or 5 for choosing it now. First, the Craftsman is chosen earier than it otherwise would have been, and second, it provides a bonus good (which will provide one victory point).

Consider that the Craftsman/Captain cycle will occur approximately every two turns during the opening. This means that one would score ½ point per turn from a corn plantation, provided that he or she chose neither Craftsman nor Captain. The benefit of speeding up this cycle by one round, by choosing the Craftsman early (so that it will likely be chosen again in round 3 instead of round 4), is to increase the benefit from that corn plantation by ½ point. Thus, choosing the Craftsman yields ½ point from this effect, and 1 point from the bonus good, for a gain of 1 ½ victory points. Other players producing a good will also benefit by ½ point. Thus, choosing Craftsman gives provides a gain of 1 ½ points versus some players, and of 1 point versus others.

Compare this to the benefit of the prospector, which gives 1 doubloon. Since we know that early money is better than early victory points, this is clearly preferable.

In addition, there are two other problems with choosing the Craftsman. The first is that if player 3 has some sort of goods production, then you will enable them to make a trade with a bonus doubloon during the next round, unless player 2 makes a defensive move. This is clearly bad. Giving player 3 a sugar trade or corn + market trade is a very poor move.

The second problem is that the prospector is left over after the round and receives a bonus doubloon. Thus, player 2 will be able to begin his or her next turn by choosing the prospector and gaining two doubloons. This will give an excellent play to player 2. (And will help ensure that player 2 does this, instead of making the defensive move against player 3).

In essense, the Craftsman is a weak play that also hands a good play (double Prospector) and possibly another good play (the trade) to two of your opponents. This is a very bad move!

As player 5, the same logic holds. The prospector is the correct choice, and not the Craftsman. If for some reason player 4 chooses the Craftsman, and player 3 produces a sugar, then choosing the Captain remains poor at best. Here, you give up a doubloon, gain an extra victory point, and reduce player 3's income from 4 doubloons to 2. (They get to choose the other double prospector that you leave behind instead of sugar + Trader bonus + doubloon on Trader).

Choosing the captain can be a tempting defensive play, in order to prevent player 3 from running away with the game. However, if you choose the Prospector, then player 3 will gain only one more doubloon than you, while you gain a doubloon in comparison with the other players.

If player 3 only has indigo or corn/market, then the Prospector is the clear choice. Here, Captain only reduces the money gained by player 3 on the next turn from 3 to 2, and it gives you an extra doubloon, so you remain even with that player but gain against the others.


Summary of Turn 1 Opening Lines:

Settler/quarry openings:

Main Line:
1: Settler/quarry, 2: Builder, 3: Mayor, (4: Prospector), (5: Prospector)

This is optimal play by all positions.

Player 2 Mayor opening:
1: Settler/quarry 2: Mayor, 3: Builder, (4: Prospector), (5: Prospector)

This is a flawed attempt by player 2 to weaken player 3's position. It is only recommended in defense of openings such as where player 3 has a sugar plantation, and you feel that others are very weak players who will not prevent player 3 from being able to trade. It puts player 2 at a disadvantage, and helps player 1, all in an attempt to prevent player 3 from running away with the game. It is only recommended in extreme circumstances. (i.e. Player 3 is extremely experienced, Player 1 is a very new player)

The primary goal of this opening is to prevent the following line in a 3 player game:
Turn 1: 1: Settler/quarry (3 takes sugar). 2: Builder (3 builds small sugar mill). 3: Mayor.
Turn 2: 2: (Settler or Mayor or Builder), 3: Craftsman, 1: Something besides Captain.
Turn 3: 3: Trader (trades sugar for a large lead)

or to prevent the following line in a 4 player game:
Turn 1: 1: Settler/quarry (3 takes sugar). 2: Builder (3 builds small sugar mill). 3: Mayor. 4: Prospector
Turn 2: 2: Settler or Mayor or Builder, 3: Craftsman, 4: Trader (trades corn, allows sugar trade)

In effect, this move says that you think player 1 or player 4 is a weak player and will allow player 3 to run away with the game, and not make the proper defensive move.

Player 3 Prospector opening:
1: Settler/quarry 2: Builder, 3 Prospector, 4 Mayor, (5 Prospector)

I have not yet had a chance to extensively test this opening, but it is very rare and I suspect it is weaker for player 3 than simply choosing the Mayor.

Player 4 (or 5) Craftsman opening:
1: Settler/quarry, 2: Builder, 3: Mayor, 4: Craftsman, (5: Prospector or Captain)
or: 1: Settler/quarry, 2: Builder, 3: Mayor, 4: Prospector, 5: Craftsman


This is a poor opening for the player who chooses the Craftsman, and aids player 2 (and also aids player 3 if that player is able to trade on turn 2 as a result). If players 4 and 5 choose Craftsman and Captain, then this is a weak opening for both of them and a strong one for players 2 and 3.

Note that the Craftsman by by player 4 or 5, or the combined Craftsman, Captain can of course occur in other variations where the Settler, Builder, and Mayor are chosen by the first three players in a different order. It is still a weak opening in that case, for the same reasons.

Settler/non-quarry openings:

Settler/corn:

1: Settler/corn, 2: Builder, 3: Mayor, (4: Prospector), (5: Prospector)

If player 2 is denied a corn as a result of this opening, then it is very damaging to player 2. It is also weak for player 1, of course. If player 2 still receives corn, then it only harms player 1. (In a five player game, if two corn are in the draw, then of course it harms player 3, who is denied corn).

Settler/non-corn:
1: Settler/non-corn, 2: Builder, 3: Mayor, (4: Prospector), (5: Prospector)

A very weak opening for player 1, but does not significantly impact the other players.

Of course, Settler/corn and Settler/non-corn can lead to the other openings which begin with Settler as well, and should be treated like those openings, except that player 1 is weaker. (This actually improves the player 2 Mayor opening, as it does not hand player 1 a doubloon).

Non Settler openings:

Builder opening:

1: Builder, 2: Settler/quarry, 3: Mayor, (4: Prospector), (5: Prospector)

Here, player 1 is in a weaker position and player 2 a stronger one. The roles chosen after the second choice can of course change, and this is similar to the corresponding variation of the main line, except for player 1 being weaker, player 2 stronger.

Prospector opening:
1: Prospector, 2: Settler/quarry, 3: Builder, 4: Mayor, (5: Prospector)

Similar to the Builder opening, but player 1 does not get first pick of buildings, instead player 3 does. Player 3 then gains a doubloon instead of a colonist, while player 4 gets the colonist. (Of course, player 3 could choose Mayor instead, but that helps player 2 too much, for no purpose).

Mayor opening:
1: Mayor, 2: Settler/quarry, 3: Builder, (4: Prospector), (5: Prospector)

Even weaker for player 1, and once again strong for player 2.



Conclusion:
The opening is an important part of any game of Puerto Rico, and the first moves of the game are possible to analyze, so that you can always know what the best move is, in a given situation. Of course, once one gets past the first couple of turns, tactical and strategic principles are necessary to determine the best moves.

This article carries one through the variations which occur during the first turn of the game, and offers advice to each position, at each point along the way.

The next article in the series will carry the main line opening further into the game, through the second or third turn.

-- Alex Rockwell (Alexfrog)
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Jim Campbell
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Re:Puerto Rico Opening Theory part 2: Openings
Great stuff, as expected. Your prediction of the increase in value of the construction hut as the quality of play increases was an especially useful insight.

Alexfrog wrote:
Lets think about it this way: If you choose the Mayor, you will also be receiving a late pick plantation during the Settler phase which will occur later in the round. This will not be a corn plantation or quarry, and thus to use this plantation you will need an appropriate production building and colonist. Combined with your need for a small indigo plant and two colonists for your indigo production, you have a colonist need of 4 colonists. You have 2 colonists currently, for a shortage of two.

Compare this to Settler/quarry. Here, you have a quarry and indigo, and need an indigo plant, with a total colonist need of 3 colonists. You have 1 colonist after the Mayor phase, for a shortage of two! So in fact, by choosing the quarry, you are ALSO reducing your colonist need, because the quarry requires only one colonist to run. Your only true benefit from choosing the Mayor has now evaporated, and you do not have any monetary or income benefit as a result of it.


The total number of colonists needed is a quite useful measurement There is another measurement that is useful at the beginning of the game: The minimum number of additional colonists necessary to enable a new activity. This number will be either 2 in the case of non-corn production, or 1 in the case of a corn plantation, quarry, or any other building. At the beginning of the game, indigo owners are at 2, while corn owners are at 1. Acquiring something that will allow the effective use of an odd number of colonists is very important for players who start with indigo. It allows more powerful early use of the mayor phase.

Though this idea is implied in your article, I just want to make this point explicitly.

Thanks,

Jim (icetrey)
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John Brier
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Re:Puerto Rico Opening Theory part 2: Openings
good article... but as you recognised black market can change things quite a bit!! :: evil laugh ::
 
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Re:Puerto Rico Opening Theory part 2: Openings
verandi (#19435),

I think Alex's article is for Basic Puerto Rico, so it's not fair to mention expansion building here.

With the expansion building, it would have been the Advance Opening theory instead of Opening Theory.???
 
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Alex Rockwell
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Re:Puerto Rico Opening Theory part 2: Openings
yes, as I said, this is for basic...and verandi knows this, he is just joking about how much certain expansion buildings change things....
 
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Marcel Sagel
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Re:Puerto Rico Opening Theory part 2: Openings
Alexfrog (#19341),

Nice article (again!). There is one point which you have not adressed and which I would like some insight on.
It only applies to 5-player games where players start with 4 dubloons, so whoever chooses Builder could buy the Tobacco Storage.
Assuming the openings follow the "main line" (1. Settler, 2. Builder, 3. Mayor):
Would it be a good move for player 2 to take a tobacco plantation during the Settler round, followed by a purchase of the Storage?
I think corn would still be the best choice but if that wasn't available, tobacco would be next. I'd like to hear your opinion on that.

Marcel
 
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Alex Rockwell
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Re:Puerto Rico Opening Theory part 2: Openings
I think I did talk about that, but here goes:

The reason this is bad is that while you will produce a tobacco early, it will almost assuredly be shipped onto a boat. Then, you have no money, and your income source is continually being shipped. It is far better to get corn, so you can protect your later trade good, and also inidgo helps with this too. Once you can defend a trade good, get a trade good....

If you spend all your money on tobacco, and it gets shipped continually, you lose.
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Eric Nielsen
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Re:Puerto Rico Opening Theory part 2: Openings
Alexfrog (#19702),

I don't think you should completely dismiss the settler/corn opening. In specific situations (3p, one corn & no sugar), it's a stronger move due to how the next few turns occur. If you open with a quarry, you are forced into a defensive move (captain +1db) on your second turn, but opening with corn makes you a threat for the trading house on turn two...if 3rd seat does the usual craft, you'll be happy to take trader with the bonus for a solo trade, denying your opponents the use of their markets. If third seat punts craftsman, you can set up an early craftsman stall that works in your favor, because your opponents end up having to choose between bonus doubloons or a role they want. You get plenty of opportunities to grab the quarry you passed up early, and the difference between a round 1 quarry (unmanned for first builder) and a round 3-4 quarry is less than what you can get in bonus doubloons and useful roles by putting the guy on your right in a difficult spot.

By opening settler/corn in 3p w/ 1 corn & no sugar, you are still denying your opponents a quarry, but you also deny 2nd seat a corn, and deny 3rd seat useful role selections in rounds 2&3, while making more roles useful for you early on. You can often pick up the quarry at the end of round 2 because you are no longer forced to take captain.
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Alex Rockwell
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Re:Puerto Rico Opening Theory part 2: Openings
paeanblack (#19874),

Very interesting. I can definitely see that it has benefits...and works to prevent the player 3 trade if they cant get sugar either.

I guess the key is whether you can get the benefit out of this that you would from the quarry.

Turn 1: 1:Settler/Corn (2 coffee/3 tobacco), 2 Build market (3 market, 1 indigo), 3 Mayor (fills corn, market, 1 fills corn, 2 fills whatever). (Alternately ,players 1 or 2 could build settler phase buildings here)

If it goes:
Turn 2: 2:Mayor or Settler or Builder, 3: Craft, 1: Trade works for you, giving another doubloon than you otherwise would have, in exchange for the quarry. It gives player 3 a 2 doubloon captain, and you and player 2 get a 1 doubloon settler/mayor/build, on the next turn.

Here, you have received slightly less benefit than you would if you have the quarry, I think.

If it goes:
Turn 2: 2: Trader, 3: Craft, 1: Captain Here, you are at the same point as if you had picked quarry, but instead of a quarry, you have Corn + 2 vps. an ok trade, but not great, I would say just a little worse, since income is important here.

If it goes:
Turn 2: 2: Captain, 3: Craft, 1: Trade, this is the best possibility, since then player 3 doesnt get a 2 doubloon role next turn. Still, I think this is unlikely.

If it goes:

Turn 2: 2: whatever, 3: non-craft, then you set up the craftsman block. Next turn, player 3 will likely take a 2 doubloon role, (craft, captain or trade, depending), and you will get one also, in such a way that will will gain at least as much benefit as player 3. This would be a good outcome.


So whether its better to take the quarry or settle/corn on turn 1 would depend on how things turn out, and primarily on player 2 and 3's role choice on turn 2. If they take settler, mayor or builder, then this works fine, giving a couple points or point + extra doubloon in exchange for the quarry. The time it doesnt work well is if the trader is taken.


I think that this case (3 player, 1 corn, no sugar draw), is probably the time where the settler/quarry move's advantage over the second best move is the smallest (and probably very small in this case).
I would still go with the quarry, but I can definitely see the case for the corn here. I just feel so bad for player 2 here though... It seems like you are setting yourself up in a position which is slightly inferior to player 3, with #2 behind by a lot, instead of being basically even with player 3 (though with different advantages), and player 2 right behind you.


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Eric Nielsen
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Re:Puerto Rico Opening Theory part 2: Openings
Alexfrog (#19924),

There's a subtle advantage to having the corn and getting the quarry slightly later. If the first load of goods gets shipped, you don't need to unman your quarry to be able to produce a tradeable good if you are still sitting with only two colonists.

Oftentimes, I find myself torn between keeping the quarry manned and producing earlier. A little later, I've found myself needing to unman it again to produce a cash crop and an indigo to protect it, due to the lack of an early sugar blocking a ship. The quarry in this case is not really much use in the early game when I need it most.

In this situation, I consider getting a quarry later to be easier than getting a corn later. Producing earlier gives you more flexibility and your opponents less.

My complaints about the early quarry, are manpower based, so if you have a somewhat definite method by which I can get mayor come to me with a bonus db soon after I've created my 3rd or 5th colonist-need, I'll change my play in this situation.
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Jim Campbell
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Re:Puerto Rico Opening Theory part 2: Openings
paeanblack wrote:
Alexfrog (#19924),

There's a subtle advantage to having the corn and getting the quarry slightly later. If the first load of goods gets shipped, you don't need to unman your quarry to be able to produce a tradeable good if you are still sitting with only two colonists.

Oftentimes, I find myself torn between keeping the quarry manned and producing earlier. A little later, I've found myself needing to unman it again to produce a cash crop and an indigo to protect it, due to the lack of an early sugar blocking a ship. The quarry in this case is not really much use in the early game when I need it most.

In this situation, I consider getting a quarry later to be easier than getting a corn later. Producing earlier gives you more flexibility and your opponents less.

My complaints about the early quarry, are manpower based, so if you have a somewhat definite method by which I can get mayor come to me with a bonus db soon after I've created my 3rd or 5th colonist-need, I'll change my play in this situation.


In the opening analysis, Alex evaluates exactly which colonist/plantation/building sets result from different sequences because each move in the first turn has such a large effect on the position. Later, deciding which of two places to occupy is important but not enormous in determining the outcome. Overall I view being 1 colonist short of full output as a good problem to have, since that will usually mean that I am outbuilding my opponents and staying close to the lead. When I refer to mayor being an impatient move, it usually reflects a judgment that someone is being too perfectionist about manpower and needs to prioritize some other aspect of the game. Even on turns 2 or 3, being one short and making a decision about what to occupy is a minor and temporary inconvenience. It typically turns out to be the difference between making a barrel and getting one additional doubloon, significant but not large.

A problem that I notice with settling for corn on turn 1 is that it goes no distance toward preparing a trade income position. If I settle for a quarry, I get to see what everyone else takes for a trade good plantation while I make my production buildings less expensive. I can then choose a plantation during the next settler with more buying power and a lot of information. If I settle for corn, I get the information but have made little or no progress toward stabilizing income. It is certainly good to get a corn plantation, but the corn barrels are not very useful early and in most cases I will have at least 1 or 2 more opportunities to take corn without choosing the settler.

The quarry is harder to acquire than the corn, because it requires the settler privilege or a construction hut. I think taking the settler on turn 1 is incredibly convenient, while taking it later is often hard to justify without bonus doubloons. There is no plantation draw with 2 quarries in it that makes it easy for me to get one when someone else settles; that will tend to come up at least once a game with corn, however. I guess if one is convinced that multiple corn plantations are necessary to win, then it would seem more pressing to get one as soon as possible. I don't think that's true, so I see no impediment to giving settler-quarry a 100% recommendation.

Jim Campbell
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What about p2 build hospice ?
Alexfrog (#19341),
In the 5-player game, player 2 can build a hospice for 3, leaving them with 1 doubloon. Then when player 3 plays mayor, they man it. Then when they are governor on turn 2, they take settler and they get a manned quarry. Unlike other settler-phase buildings, hospice reduces colonist need. I have found this move is powerful if followed with the purchase of a construction hut during the next builder phase. This means that whenever you take a quarry, it comes manned. Just curious for opinions on this strategy. (This is ONLY for 5-player and second seat).
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Re:Puerto Rico Opening Theory part 2: Openings
Great discussion here! My eyes are opened.
 
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Jim Campbell
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Re:What about p2 build hospice ?
nano-second wrote:
Alexfrog (#19341),
In the 5-player game, player 2 can build a hospice for 3, leaving them with 1 doubloon. Then when player 3 plays mayor, they man it. Then when they are governor on turn 2, they take settler and they get a manned quarry. Unlike other settler-phase buildings, hospice reduces colonist need. I have found this move is powerful if followed with the purchase of a construction hut during the next builder phase. This means that whenever you take a quarry, it comes manned. Just curious for opinions on this strategy. (This is ONLY for 5-player and second seat).


You have identified probably the only circumstance in which building the hospice first is not much weaker than other available moves. Given some opening strategy, a basic test of viability is to examine likely cash flow, and this opening still looks very frail to me by that standard. It seems to me that without a fortuitous sugar trade the short-term money outlook is pretty bleak.

It is a 5-player situation, so the notion that one can control the game and/or achieve mastery of game strategy is somewhat dubious, since the role of luck in the 5-player game is far larger.

Jim
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John Sloan
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Re:Puerto Rico Opening Theory part 2: Openings
paeanblack (#19874),

And to follow on that point, I consider building a small market as #1 when there are two (or ideally three to allow for suboptimal moves from other players) corn available to be not unreasonable too. That way you end up with corn and the small market instead of a quarry. #2 will end up with the quarry, presumably with #3 getting a second corn or coffee/tobacco (the second corn seems marginally better since it can be used immediately and the chance of not getting sugar/tobacco/coffee fairly soon is pretty low). Then next round #2 presumably trades, and if #3 crafts the bonus captain defensive move nets 2vps, or it nets you a bonus corn trade in round 3.

This isn't bad, but whether it's sufficient compensation for the quarry isn't clear to me. I'd be interested in other's analysis.
 
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Robert Osvalds
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Re:Puerto Rico Opening Theory part 2: Openings
Alexfrog (#19341),

Great article. It's clear that you put a great deal of time and effort into it. "Thank-you" and "Well done!"

I am glad that my pal RAY (wormy trollkin) sent me this link.

Robert Osvalds
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Eric Parker
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Re:Puerto Rico Opening Theory part 2: Openings
Alexfrog (#19341),

Assuming everyone in the four or five player game makes their best possible move, as you have indicated, what is the best possible second round action for each player, starting with player #2, who starts off as Governor this round?

 
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Re:Puerto Rico Opening Theory part 2: Openings
ericp331 (#38169),

At the time I wrote it, I intended to write another article covering turn 2, but I never got around to it.


The main line is:

Turn 1:

1: Settler/quarry, 2: Builder, 3: Mayor, (4: Prospector)

Turn 2: (3 player)

2: Trader (spiking the trader, so as to deny money to player 3. Also, getting this doubloon is about as good as anything else right now, so they dont really lose anything to do it),
3: Craftsman,
1: Captain (defensive captain, again to keep player 3 from getting ahead. The doubloon makes it worth it).

In 4 player, 2: trader, 3: craftsman, 4 captain, 1: prospector.

There are a bunch of other lines in 4 player that are good play for everyone as well. Because if player 3 crafts it gives the trade to player 4, player 2 doesnt necessarily have to take trader. (If they dont, its then ok for player 3 to craft, since player 4 shouldnt have a small market. Letting player 4 trade corn with no small market, isnt a big deal. Its player 3 doing it for a bonus that #2 wants to avoid. Thus, trader or settler or both good for player 2.


The alternate 4 player line on turn 2 goes:

2: Settler,
3: Craftsman,
4: Trader or Captain.
1: Captain (if untaken), or Prospector or Trader, or even Builder. (Builder would be good to get sugar plant, if he got a sugar plantatin for example).



 
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Michael
Germany
Ulm
Ba-Wü
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Alexfrog wrote:
It is far better to get corn, so you can protect your later trade good


How can one protect a trade good with corn?

Thanks in advance.
 
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Gabrio Secco
Italy
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brauerle wrote:
Alexfrog wrote:
It is far better to get corn, so you can protect your later trade good


How can one protect a trade good with corn?

Thanks in advance.


I think having something to ship on the boats...
In the capitan phase when is your turn and a ship is empty, if you have just a tobacco or coffee you are forced to ship it.
If you have a corn, you can ship it (on the empty ship if there is not already a corn ship, or on the corn ship but maybe the empty ship will be filled with some other goods by the opponets) so you can use trader to sell your corn tobacco/coffee.
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Harish Srinivasan
United States
New York
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Nice post, but could someone please clarify what the term "Settler phase buildings" mean?

Does it mean the hacienda and hospice? what others are there?

 
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Phil Rayson
Canada
Bradford
Ontario
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Look at the small pink buildings in your game. Hacienda, Construction Hut and Hospice are all "settler phase" buildings. In other words, these building, once occupied, only provide their effect to your game during the turn in which the settler role is chosen.

Thanks Alexfrog. Good read.



 
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Henry Wong
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Quote:
The main line is:

Turn 1:

1: Settler/quarry, 2: Builder, 3: Mayor, (4: Prospector)

Turn 2: (3 player)

2: Trader (spiking the trader, so as to deny money to player 3. Also, getting this doubloon is about as good as anything else right now, so they dont really lose anything to do it),
****> 3: Craftsman,
1: Captain (defensive captain, again to keep player 3 from getting ahead. The doubloon makes it worth it).


As P3 I would typically pick captain here, not craft. If P1 doesn't pick craft then P3 takes it as gov in turn 3 for +2db. If P1 does pick craft then I have the option of trading my corn + small market (or sugar!) as gov or just hanging on to it and forcing someone to defensive captain it in turn 4. Either of these seem better than crafting and getting defensive captained in turn 2.

I don't really agree that Turn 1, P2 mayor is a clearly worse:

a) If P3 got sugar you stop the sugar trade which you can't otherwise stop.
b) Getting small indigo instead of small market isn't a huge downgrade to me.
c) Giving 1 db to P1 and 1 db to P3 is bad, but it's basically as if you bought an extra colonist for 1 db. Since you start w/ indigo and need an extra guy this doesn't seem too terrible - if P1 picked up the small market instead of small indigo then you have a pretty good chance of being able to trade your indigo and make back the dollar assuming you buy small indigo on P3's builder.
 
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Andrew Norgren
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New York
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I think this opening of fast hospice followed by const hut has some merit for player 2. The early quarries substitute early cashflow, but quarries alone cannot be enough. I think if you paired this strategy with the "always take the doubloon" idea, you might have enough to propel yourself into a solid situation. The purchase of an early large market to sell corn might also be an option.

The problem I see occuring is when the bonus doubloons end up on the settler and the mayor. If I were playing against this hospice strat, I would certain avoid the settler and major until 2 doubloons if possible, and focus on other avenues. I would concentrate heavily on crafting, trading, and building, and just ignore the picks that give the hospice player an advantage.

Still a third thought is the possibility of player 2 using the construction hut as a deterrent to pick the settler/mayor, so that player 2 can pick the settler/mayor himself whenever it reaches 2 doubloons. This might seem very odd, but if you can get 2 doubloon payouts on the settler and mayor each time you pick them, you will essentially be turning the construction hut into a trading hut of your own. This is an interesting vantage point I think that most players wouldn't recognize, and even better because if you win by selecting the settler/mayor despite having a hospice/constr hut, opposing players might be very confused as to how they lost and unable to come up with a counter strategy in future games.
 
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Babis Tsimoris
Greece
Salonica
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Knowledge is power!
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Andrew I don't think I can follow you. Can you say it again with more simple words??gulp
 
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