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What is the Craftsman Angst variant?

There's a number of two-player variants for Puerto Rico floating around on BGG (e.g. the fernori variant and the kungfro variant, to mention just a couple). But do you know what? Most of them boil down to the same basic thing: they're just variations of the most popular revision of the official Alea variant, a revision which I call the Craftsman Angst variant (in contrast to the Craftsman Advantage variant, which is what I call the original Alea version). It replaces the selection of 3/3 roles per round with a selection of 3/2 roles per round. Given that it's the most popular revision of the official variant (as demonstrated by polls), it's about time that we put everything you need to know about playing this variant in one place!

How does the Craftsman Angst variant work?

Here's what you do:
Player setup: Each player begins with 3 doubloons, 1 Indigo (player #1 = Governor) or 1 Corn (player #2)
Remove: 3 plantations of each type, 3 quarries, 1 of each small violet building, 1 prospector role tile, 2 of each good
Use: 3 face up plantations, 5 quarries, 2 of each production building and 1 of each violet building, 6 remaining role tiles
Use: 65 VPs, 40 colonists plus 2 on the ship, 4 and 6 capacity cargo ships
Game-play: Players alternate selecting a role as usual, until the Governor has selected three roles and the opponent has selected two roles. One doubloon goes on the remaining two unchosen role cards and then the other player becomes Governor.

How is the Craftsman Angst variant different from the official Alea variant?

The only difference is the very last part about game-play. In the official Alea variant, players select roles until each has selected three roles each. This sequence of role-selection has the notable feature of creating a `Governor Effect' that gives one player back-to-back roles at the end of a round, which I call the Craftsman Advantage (e.g. if as non-Governor you choose Craftsman at the end of a round, as Governor at the start of the next round you can take advantage of this by following it up with Captain/Trader). The Craftsman Angst variant restores the "angst" about choosing Craftsman which is present in the multi-player game, because it's the opponent who will always get to choose a role after you've chosen Craftsman.

How is the Craftsman Angst variant different from all those other variants?

It's not different really. Now that you know what the Craftsman Angst variant is, you'll realize that most of the alternative variants out there (e.g. the fernori variant, kungfro variant, etc) are all built on this single and important change, but just add in some other minor tweaks, such as adjusting number of quarries, ships, or VPs. As such, they are really just variations of the Craftsman Angst variant. For a detailed overview and analysis of the differences between all the two-player variants, see this article: mb An analysis of Puerto Rico as a two-player game, and a comparison of the most popular variants

How else does the Craftsman Angst variant change the game from the official Alea variant?

It does add a little more money into the game as a result of two roles going unchosen each round (i.e. effectively two doubloons are added to the role tiles each round rather than just one). Some will feel that this detracts from the tight gameplay and tough finances of the official Alea variant, while others will feel it improves it by making it less unforgiving. If you do want to retain the careful balance of the original finances, Larry Levy has made the excellent suggestion of having the Governor choose only one of the two remaining roles to receive the extra doubloon at the end of a round.

Recommendation

Not entirely happy with the official Alea variant (i.e. the Craftsman Advantage variant)? Give the Craftsman Angst variant a try! With one small simple change to the flow of play, it changes the feel of the game quite significantly! And if you like the Craftsman Angst variant but really feel the need for further modifications, you can then try experimenting with other minor changes such as the ones utilized by the fernori variant or kungfrom variant. I'm particularly interested in getting some feedback on the effect of the Craftsman Angst variant on the game's finances, and on Larry Levy's suggestion about keeping the finances tight by only adding one instead of two doubloons at the end of every round.
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Steve Duff
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I don't really get the "it adds more money into the game than normal" criticism of this.

In the normal rules, you add 3 bucks, regardless of players. Which for 3 players, is exactly the same ratio as this, a buck per player. Are people suggesting that the 3 player rules aren't balanced?

Going to 1 buck instead of 2 makes this harsher than even the most harsh original rules (5 players = 0.6 each). I don't see that as maintaining the balance, I see it as over-tightening it.
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Ender Wiggins
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UnknownParkerBrother wrote:
I don't really get the "it adds more money into the game than normal" criticism of this.

In the normal rules, you add 3 bucks, regardless of players. Which for 3 players, is exactly the same ratio as this, a buck per player. Are people suggesting that the 3 player rules aren't balanced?

Going to 1 buck instead of 2 makes this harsher than even the most harsh original rules (5 players = 0.6 each). I don't see that as maintaining the balance, I see it as over-tightening it.

Thanks for your post Steve, and for the helpful comparison with the money added in the multi-player game.

Larry Levy's concern is not that the Craftsman Angst variant introduces more money than the multi-player game, but that it introduces more money than the official Alea two-player variant:
● Official Alea two-player variant: adds 1 doubloon, i.e. 0.5 per player
● Craftsman Angst two-player variant: adds 2 doubloons, i.e. 1 per player
If anything, your numbers suggest that the finances of the Craftsman Angst variant are more in line with those of the multi-player game, than the finances of the official Alea variant are.

I understand Larry's point to be that even though the finances of the official Alea variant are much tighter than those of the multi-player game, the designers must have constructed this deliberately for the two player game. Given their design choice, he's hesitant to alter it in the event it upsets any balance - his suggestion enables one to create the desired adjustment to the official Alea variant (i.e. to use 3-2 roles to avoid the Governor Effect) without really altering the original balance of its finances.

In my limited experience the finances of the official Alea variant are almost too tight in the opening stages, while the finances of the Craftsman Angst variant are almost too easy in the closing stages - which perhaps isn't surprising given Steve's comparative numbers for the multi-player game. It merits further playtesting with this in mind, and I'm curious to hear from others about how they've experienced the finances in both forms of the two-player variant (i.e. both the official Alea variant, and the Craftsman Angst variant). Larry's suggestion is still worth considering should the Craftsman Angst variant consistently prove to generate too much money for the players.
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Huzonfirst
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Curry, Iguodala, and Co. are just too much for the valiant Cavs (and the amazing LeBron) and give Golden State their first NBA title in 40 years!
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Steve, you're forgetting the effects of the Prospectors. In the 5-player game, there is a maximum of 5 doubloons "generated" each turn: the three placed on the leftover roles and the ones that come from the two Prospectors. That's one per player. In the 4-player and 3-player games, there are 4 and 3 doubloons generated per turn, respectively, since there are one and zero Prospectors in those games.

In the official Alea two-player rules, there is also a maximum of 1 doubloon generated per player: one for the leftover role and one for the only Prospector. I'm pretty sure that this constant ratio of 1 doubloon generated per player per turn is something that Alea did deliberately. Therefore, I'd be hesitant to mess with it.

Of course, if you (or anyone else) finds that the tight money supply in the two-player game is too restrictive for their tastes, the Craftsman Angst variant may be a perfect fit. But for those who want to maintain the balance of money generated per turn with the number of players, I thought I'd suggest that tweak as an option. Note that I haven't played that way or even given more than 20 seconds thought to it--it was just something that occurred to me when I was talking about the variant with Ender.
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Dan Nunuyerbiznez
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UnknownParkerBrother wrote:
I don't really get the "it adds more money into the game than normal" criticism of this.

In the normal rules, you add 3 bucks, regardless of players. Which for 3 players, is exactly the same ratio as this, a buck per player. Are people suggesting that the 3 player rules aren't balanced?

Going to 1 buck instead of 2 makes this harsher than even the most harsh original rules (5 players = 0.6 each). I don't see that as maintaining the balance, I see it as over-tightening it.

Actually, with the addition of the Prospector, there is even more money added to the game!

Oops, already mentioned...
 
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Steve Duff
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Larry Levy wrote:
Steve, you're forgetting the effects of the Prospectors.


Ah, right.
 
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Jason Miceli
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Larry Levy wrote:
Steve, you're forgetting the effects of the Prospectors. In the 5-player game, there is a maximum of 5 doubloons "generated" each turn: the three placed on the leftover roles and the ones that come from the two Prospectors. That's one per player. In the 4-player and 3-player games, there are 4 and 3 doubloons generated per turn, respectively, since there are one and zero Prospectors in those games.

In the official Alea two-player rules, there is also a maximum of 1 doubloon generated per player: one for the leftover role and one for the only Prospector. I'm pretty sure that this constant ratio of 1 doubloon generated per player per turn is something that Alea did deliberately. Therefore, I'd be hesitant to mess with it.

Of course, if you (or anyone else) finds that the tight money supply in the two-player game is too restrictive for their tastes, the Craftsman Angst variant may be a perfect fit. But for those who want to maintain the balance of money generated per turn with the number of players, I thought I'd suggest that tweak as an option. Note that I haven't played that way or even given more than 20 seconds thought to it--it was just something that occurred to me when I was talking about the variant with Ender.


Unfortunately this just makes the jeweler even more powerful in a 2 player game, as it is clearly the single best money maker. So if there's less money in the game overall now, it's really just a sprint to see who can get the jeweler first.
 
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Ender Wiggins
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Thanks for the comments so far. Perhaps we can now move the discussion away from the implications that the Craftsman Angst variant has for the influx of money into the game, and proceed to considering how the Craftsman Angst variant alters the role selection of the official Alea variant, and discuss what effect this has on the gameplay and to what extent it improves it.

Here's a selection of comments on this point about the role selection of the official Alea variant, and why many folks prefer the altered role selection of the Craftsman Angst variant:

1. It avoids a back-to-back role choice at the start of a round for the new Governor.

This is probably the main reason why some people favour the Craftsman Angst variant above the official Alea one.

"I was turned off that every other round you'd get to pick 2 roles in a row (just as you became governor). This seemed completely antithetical to how Puerto Rico was supposed to work! You could craftsman and then immediately trade or captain -- craftsman fear would be gone. I didn't play it for a long time because of this." - Roderick Schertler
"My wife and I always play that the Governor picks 3 roles, the opponent 2. Works great. This way you prevent getting 2 consecutive turns." - _Kael_
"One slight issue with the two player version is that with three roles each, the non-governor gets two turns in a row (ie their last turn - plus their first turn as governor). Same for both players I guess, but it does mean you can craft with safety on that third role pick as you will be governor next (and can then Trade or Captain). I read of a slight variant to the offical rules where the governor takes three roles, and the non-governor takes two (I think you also ditch the prospector in this variant). Sounds like it might work." - Craig Liken
"We play 2-player using the Alea rules with only one change: The Governor chooses 3 roles to the other player's 2, and then the round ends. This prevents a player from choosing 2 roles back-to-back, and only leaves 2 roles to get extra coin. It worked very well for us." - Michael Weston
"We play using the standard Alea 2-player variant, but instead of each player selecting 3 roles per turn and players alternating getting a double turn, we have the Governor selecting 3 and the other player selecting 2, much like the way 2-player San Juan works. This prevents players getting the double turn." - Jamie Pollock
"I play Alea with a few small changes for balance but the one big one which I considered vital was the 3-2 role for many reasons." - jayjonbeach
"I have played PR many times and with two players I set up the game as advised by the "offical alea variant" with the following exceptions: Turns are taken as usual with the Governor drawing three and the second drawing two per round. The left over two have 1 coin added after each round. We have found that using these extra variants provide a greater balance to the game with two players." - Bruce H
"I think that the two-player variant that has the same player take two consecutive turns (3 phases each then switch) is flawed. If you want you can pick the Mayor on the last phase of the previous turn which will allow you to move colonists to give a favorable draw for colonists the next turn (an odd number does this). Then on your first turn of the next phase you can pick mayor again, replace your colonists how you want, and get the extra colonist. I think this is a better variant: The player who is govenor starts each round and gets 3 choices while the other player gets 2 choices. This makes the turns alternate properly." - Brett Berger
"The official rules have the two players each taking 3 roles before switching governor. The variant we are discussing has the governor taking 3 roles to the second player's 2, *then* passing governor. This prevents a player from choosing 2 roles consecutively, as the official two-player rules would have you do." - Greg Durrett


2. It avoids nearly all the roles being chosen each round.

Avoiding the back-to-back turns is one reason why people prefer the 3/2 role-selection of the Craftsman Angst variant, but another reason is unhappiness about seeing nearly all the roles being chosen each round with the official Alea variant, as is evident from comments like these:

"The thing I dislike about the official 2-player variant is that roles are chosen too often - in 'regular' games, there are always 3 roles per turn that go unchosen, and so things like craftsman angst, or the general crappiness of the mayor, get offset over time by the placement of doubloons." - John McGeehan
"I can't stand the official version. I hate the fact that almost every single phase is taken each round, I hate being able to take three phases in a round, and I hate being able to take two phases back to back when the governor passes. I did try." - Yehuda Berlinger
"My wife and I tried the 2 player version. We didn't like the fact of the double turns. We tried the tweak mentioned above (gov. gets 3 roles, non-gov gets 2, 2 roles go unused). It gets a little more cash in the game. I also didn't like 6 roles getting selected (in the 'official' varient) because basically every round includes a building, mayor, etc. role. With 2 roles omitted, a builder vs. shipper both must vie to get the proper roles selected as many times as possible. Summary: we like the varient with 7 role cards, but the gov chooses 3 roles and non-gov chooses 2." - Andrew Gallagher
"My partner and I have played the two player variant each evening for the last three nights (as you can see, we like the game!). The first two we played with the official Alea rules, and felt that while it worked quite well there were a couple of problems; firstly, once the quarries were gone the settler seemed unattractive as apart from having first pick there was no advantage to having it; secondly, because 6 roles are taken, and therefore the mayor was taken a lot, a lack of colonists caused the end of the game both times, and in both cases before either of us felt we wanted it to (in terms of the strategies we were using); thirdly having two goes in a row when switching governship wasn't good. Tonight we tried the variation that the governer got three roles and the other player two which seemed to work much better. The only possible issue was that there was more money in the game, with two roles each turn getting the doubloon." - Eddy Richards
"I play this 2-player version with some slight changes. I prefer to take out one prospector (so there are 7 roles) and let each player pick two roles each round. I prefer this more than 3 for each with 7 roles because almost every role gets picked each round, so things like mayor get picked far more often then they should simply because there are few alternatives at the end of a round. This results in having more colonists than you really need and I feel sort of trivializes that element of the game... " - Cameron McKenzie


What do others think about these two points? Personally I'm inclined to agree, particularly with the second one, although I think there are advantages and disadvantages to the first point.
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Charon2Cairo
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Do you recommend following guidance given elsewhere that the 2nd player should start with only two doubloons? Thanks!
 
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Dan Moore
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EndersGame wrote:
Thanks for the comments so far. Perhaps we can now move the discussion away . .

What do others think about these two points? Personally I'm inclined to agree, particularly with the second one, although I think there are advantages and disadvantages to the first point.


Compliments. Really. The use of citations - - and the work involved - - are both very impressive. I actually feel like playing PR again.

Maybe you could post this as the start of a new thread altogether, so people will become aware of it? Well, heck, I could do that for you, I guess. God love cut'n'paste.

Really good job. Have some geek gold!
 
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Jamie Pollock
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My impressions having tried both is that there is indeed too much money when you don't take 6 roles per turn. Moreover, it can become the case where no one takes the Craftsman for fear of the other taking the Captain. In that sense you can reach a kind of stalemate.
 
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Michael "Tie-Dyed-Eyes"
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My wife and I have played the official Alea 2-p rules about times. After a single play, I decided we should cut back to 2 role selections each. Then there was WAY too much money involved. So we further modified it to the point we each chose 2 roles to play, then each player selected another role to eliminate, but not play. Then only a single role got the incentive doubloon. We hadn't quite recognized the Craftsman advantage, but I felt it briefly last night when we were playing, I just couldn't put my finger on what was bugging me. Considering how smoothly it works in San Juan, I'm embarrassed that the offset number of role selections never occurred to us. We'll have to give this Craftsman Angst version a try soon!

Thanks!
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Paul Richards
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Wife and I played Craftsman Angst with one less doubloon for he who starts with corn and corrected University/Factory prices yesterday afternoon, played well. About to play with further addition/correction of not choosing end of turn doubloon placement but no prospector.

UPDATED. Result - Jewely (indigo) 49, furrymerchant (corn) 46. Felt more like multi player Puerto, which is a good thing. Shipping (small warehouse) v money (factory), craftsman angst, money always tight. One short of large building at end which would have given me the victory.
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-=::) Dante (::=-
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So a few years on what is the general feeling now with regards to the economy of this?

Does it indeed add too much money into the game?

If so how are people compensating? Using Larry's fix? What then about the overpowered jeweler issue raised by Jason above?

Or apart from the academic interest in this are most people just using one of the other established versions that add rules on top of this.

What about you Ender? At this point what is your favored 2P flavor of choice?


 
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Steve Duff
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We use and really like Larry's fix of choosing which role gets the extra buck.
 
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-=::) Dante (::=-
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UnknownParkerBrother wrote:
We use and really like Larry's fix of choosing which role gets the extra buck.


And what of this issue then?
 
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Steve Duff
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I'm no expert, but I don't see how having the same amount of money in the game as normal makes for a problem.
 
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The Grouch
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Couldn't an (analog) AI be devsied for Puerto Rico (c.f. Power Grid: The Robots or that in Race for the Galaxy: Rebel vs Imperium)? Then the AI becomes the third player, the standard rules can be used and the human players can play as normal.
 
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