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Subject: 1st play (take with grain of salt) rss

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John W
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Well, finally got to play a game of PR at this meeting.

I'll start with the good:
Even for a first play, it was a competitive game.
Most importantly, since playing, I have been intrigued enough to think about strategies and lines of development and read lots about it on BGG. But that could be just me.
Of course, I do this to most games I play, so that isn't unique to PR.

The bad:
I'm frankly shocked that a game with such obvious incorrectly-costed elements would be the #1 game on the 'Geek.
Maybe it's because balance is so important to me personally, but having an inherently unbalanced game (starting conditions, limited access to stronger opening moves, building costs, etc) be #1 is rather stunning to me.

Here are some examples (supported by many other people's comments much more experienced than I) :
* Whoever gets the first Governor frequently chooses a quarry.
This indicates to me an inherent flaw in the game design.
* The first couple (or few) people who get to build choose the Small Market.
This indicates to me a flaw in the costing of an obviously-stronger building. To put it bluntly, if the makers of PR wanted a balanced game, they shouldn't have made the buildings a limited resource. The only way to have a fair, balanced game would be to give ALL players EQUAL opportunity to buy a small market.
* Building costs like the University (which is universally thought to be way high) and others indicates a lack of playtesting, and most importantly, REVISIONS/UPDATES, that make it more odd to me that this game is #1. I don't know the history of the game or the developers, but it sure doesn't appear very responsive or creative to leave obvious flaws in their game like that. Most companies make 2nd editions when things like that become clear, and continually try to improve their product. My guess is - the game is too popular now in it's current form to even think of changing one minute iota of the game.
And that's too bad.
If so, the game is a prisoner of its own success.
Doomed to stay in a alpha form forever, not enhanced/fixed, other than by House Rules.

These are obviously VERY early observations, but after reading many articles, I felt the feedback would be novel enough to warrant adding.
 
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Ben .
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Quote:
* Whoever gets the first Governor frequently chooses a quarry.
This indicates to me an inherent flaw in the game design.
* The first couple (or few) people who get to build choose the Small Market.
This indicates to me a flaw in the costing of an obviously-stronger building. To put it bluntly, if the makers of PR wanted a balanced game, they shouldn't have made the buildings a limited resource. The only way to have a fair, balanced game would be to give ALL players EQUAL opportunity to buy a small market.


I'd have to disagree with this. Just because you are given a choice in any game situation, it does not mean that all those possible options should always be equally valuable.

In chess, for example, whoever gets the white pieces frequently opens with e4. Is this an inherent flaw too? ninja
 
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John W
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Snooze_uk wrote:
Quote:
* Whoever gets the first Governor frequently chooses a quarry.
This indicates to me an inherent flaw in the game design.
* The first couple (or few) people who get to build choose the Small Market.
This indicates to me a flaw in the costing of an obviously-stronger building. To put it bluntly, if the makers of PR wanted a balanced game, they shouldn't have made the buildings a limited resource. The only way to have a fair, balanced game would be to give ALL players EQUAL opportunity to buy a small market.


I'd have to disagree with this. Just because you are given a choice in any game situation, it does not mean that all those possible options should always be equally valuable.

In chess, for example, whoever gets the white pieces frequently opens with e4. Is this an inherent flaw too? ninja
You are free to disagree, but it doesn't change the fact that PR is touted as a "balanced" game, yet is inherently not so due to the opening limitations.

To reply to your chess analogy, chess is
1) Known that white has an advantage in expert play. No one is on the 'Geek extolling how "balanced" one game of chess is. It is well-known handicap to be playing black.
2) not nearly as unbalanced as PR is.
If chess was a multiplayer, and the 4th player could only move his pawns 1 forward instead of 2, that would be the analogy to PR.
Once the best moves are taken, the following players simply have to make due with the best of the remaining options. That is not a balanced game, BY DESIGN. Why do so many people continue in this delusion that it is?
 
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Ben .
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reapersaurus wrote:

To reply to your chess analogy, chess is
1) Known that white has an advantage in expert play. No one is on the 'Geek extolling how "balanced" one game of chess is. It is well-known handicap to be playing black.


Good point. It IS a well-known handicap to be playing black in chess. However, could it not be argued that PR is comparatively balanced (over the course of a full game, not a single round of role selection) as the difference between playing 1st corn player vs 2nd indigo player is slighter than the difference between black and white in chess (or at least, the difference is overshadowed by the random nature of the plantation draw)?

reapersaurus wrote:

2) not nearly as unbalanced as PR is.
If chess was a multiplayer, and the 4th player could only move his pawns 1 forward instead of 2, that would be the analogy to PR.
Once the best moves are taken, the following players simply have to make due with the best of the remaining options. That is not a balanced game, BY DESIGN. Why do so many people continue in this delusion that it is?


Again, this sounds like you are not comparing like to like. You are only applying the comparison to a single individual turn. Instead, a complete "turn" in PR (equivalent to one white move then one black move in chess) involves a complete circulation of the Governor, rather than a single selection of roles.
Whilst this does, as you identified originally, place more emphasis on the limited supply of each building, this is the reason why most analytical players consider 3-player PR to be better "balanced" than 5-player PR, as the contention for buildings is lessened.


Interesting thoughts. I do agree with you that PR is not PERFECTLY balanced. However, I'm also not convinced that perfect balance would make for much fun in a multiplayer game?
 
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Werner Bär
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Quote:
If chess was a multiplayer, and the 4th player could only move his pawns 1 forward instead of 2, that would be the analogy to PR.


Only that in PR not the same player may move only 1 forward, but a different player in each round.

Quote:
Once the best moves are taken, the following players simply have to make due with the best of the remaining options.


What are the best moves? Are they the same for you as for the others?

In my last game, i took major only once. I almost always had better moves. But it was taken often by other players - since it was among their best moves.
 
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Sean Franco
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If you could touch the alien sand and hear the cries of strange birds and watch them wheel in another sky, would that satisfy you?
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Quote:
* Whoever gets the first Governor frequently chooses a quarry.
This indicates to me an inherent flaw in the game design.
* The first couple (or few) people who get to build choose the Small Market.
This indicates to me a flaw in the costing of an obviously-stronger building. To put it bluntly, if the makers of PR wanted a balanced game, they shouldn't have made the buildings a limited resource. The only way to have a fair, balanced game would be to give ALL players EQUAL opportunity to buy a small market.


If you're convinced that taking a quarry or small market in the first turn is such a powerful move that it will swing the entire game, then this really was your first game.

The number one rule about Puerto Rico that you will hear from everyone on BGG and everywhere else is that there is no perfect strategy and there is no perfect building. If people keep making those two choices, it's easy to beat them.

For example, both quarries and small markets are typical fare for the "building" style strategy. Building is evenly matched with shipping, and both are matched by a fair balance of the two.

Don't discount the game as being unbalanced until you've played it enough to really get a feel for how useful the buildings are.
 
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