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Subject: 4 Player vs 5 Player rss

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Mad Halfling
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Sorry if this has already been answered, I did try to search but I couldn't find any threads and I'm not going through 196 pages of posts, hehe.

I've heard from multiple sources that 4 is the best number of players, but how much difference does it make from 5 players? I've not played it in ages, so I can't remember what we used to play with, but I vaguely remember time being a factor so that could be the tipping reason as I may want to schedule the game for when we have 4 players.

Thanks

MH
 
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Dave Eisen
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Mad-Halfling wrote:
Sorry if this has already been answered, I did try to search but I couldn't find any threads and I'm not going through 196 pages of posts, hehe.

I've heard from multiple sources that 4 is the best number of players, but how much difference does it make from 5 players? I've not played it in ages, so I can't remember what we used to play with, but I vaguely remember time being a factor so that could be the tipping reason as I may want to schedule the game for when we have 4 players.

Thanks

MH


Goods received from the Craftsman action are constrained to the counter limit of goods provided. This can lead to the occasional interesting tactical decision, but once you get to 5 players you pretty much can expect to not produce everything your plantations would otherwise entitle you to. It's not an interesting game element to play strategically to minimize this impact to yourself.

Similar, although less strong impacts, occur when filling up boats during the captain phase.

5 is still a pretty solid game, but it is not where Puerto Rico is brilliant.
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Karl Bunyan
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I prefer it with 5 - more to think about, and just doesn't feel as programmed. Still great with both player counts, though.
 
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Gar Per
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pilgrim152 wrote:
I prefer it with 5 - more to think about, and just doesn't feel as programmed. Still great with both player counts, though.


As a counter-example, I HATE this game with 5. There may be more to think about, but thinking about it does you no good. So many players between your turns might as well equate to randomness.
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Robert Hahn
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nate_lockhart wrote:
As a counter-example, I HATE this game with 5. … So many players between your turns might as well equate to randomness.


Interesting opinion. What data do you have to support this? I've been playing a couple dozen 5 player games on iOS and have not detected the randomness myself…
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Karl Bunyan
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roberthahn wrote:
nate_lockhart wrote:
As a counter-example, I HATE this game with 5. … So many players between your turns might as well equate to randomness.


Interesting opinion. What data do you have to support this? I've been playing a couple dozen 5 player games on iOS and have not detected the randomness myself…

The iOS version is generally predictable. Playing 5-player with relative newbies can be much more random.
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Peter D
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I vote for 5 too. Playing with 5 gives it that unpredictable edge which can lead to unexpected and interesting situations.
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Paulo Santoro
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Gar Per
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roberthahn wrote:
nate_lockhart wrote:
As a counter-example, I HATE this game with 5. … So many players between your turns might as well equate to randomness.


Interesting opinion. What data do you have to support this? I've been playing a couple dozen 5 player games on iOS and have not detected the randomness myself…


I don't have data. I don't think it is needed. Every time a player makes a decision, it is a chance for them to be unpredictable. The appeal of Puerto Rico is analyzing what your opponents want to happen and selecting a role that benefits you more than them, based in part on what you think they may select. That is the game! With 4 opponents, it is exceedingly difficult to predict what everyone else wants and to find a niche where you benefit the most, especially if any players are new and therefore especially unpredictable. And when you go from governor to last in turn order, there are 8 turns taken between 2 of your turns. Try planning a strategy with that.
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Steven Metzger
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PauloSantoro wrote:

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Peter D
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metzgerism wrote:
PauloSantoro wrote:

3 thumbsup
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thumbsup


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I think from the answers given there is clearly no 'better' way to play the game. If you want a more controlled experience go for 4. For a more varied and unpredictable one go for 5. With four generally the player who is most experienced and the one who played best will win. With 5 you have the opportunity to do well even if you are not the best and even if others play better than you. To me this is a good thing.
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Gar Per
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duckworp wrote:
metzgerism wrote:
PauloSantoro wrote:

3 thumbsup
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5 thumbsdown

thumbsup


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I think from the answers given there is clearly no 'better' way to play the game. If you want a more controlled experience go for 4. For a more varied and unpredictable one go for 5. With four generally the player who is most experienced and the one who played best will win. With 5 you have the opportunity to do well even if you are not the best and even if others play better than you. To me this is a good thing.


thumbsdown

I don't think he said any way was intrinsically better. He gave a thumb rating, which is a clear expression of HIS opinion.
 
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Paul Oakes
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I just like playing the game, and as with the 18XX series and Outpost (some of my favourites) the way you play has to change with player count.

The availability of some elements that don't charge with player count - Products, production buildings and Quarries - become a factor with 5, while with 3 you won't run out of Quarries, which I consider a game flaw.

Trading is even more competitive with 5 as there are more players than slots. Makes the trading boat fill up quicker, reduces the value of some buildings.

And obviously there are more actions to select , more players to choose them. Adds game length, but not lots if you all know what you're doing, and a greater level of uncertainty.
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Paulo Santoro
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With 5, an experienced player can lose to a novice just because. This is as unpredictable as Bingo. You simply need a good amout of luck to win in 5. Why bother? I like some lucky games, but Puerto Rico belongs to another category.

No, you won't find me playing Puerto Rico in 5 anymore.
 
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Robert Hahn
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I still find this assertion that a 5-player game is "random" remarkable.

To be clear: I don't disagree with anyone's *perception* that it's random, and I certainly don't take issue with those who feel that a 3 or 4 player variant is better (or more fun). If a 5-player game is not fun or less fun for you, then who am I to argue? For me, the jury's still out on how many players is the most fun (and this is wholly based on playing against AI opponents on iOS)

But I have this feeling that it's random in the same sense that Backgammon is random. That is to say, even if novice players win more often, there is a measurable correlation between player skill and who wins.

I would be happy to look at match data to prove or disprove it. I know that PR is played online. Does anyone know if there is a page that lists matches played, who the participants are, and each participant's ELO rating at that point in time?
 
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Game Guy
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I think a lot of people who play on-line have memorized various sequences in the much more common 3 and 4 player games. In a five player game, of course, the sequences go differently. This creates the illusion of randomness. These players are like Go players who have memorized a bunch of josekis (optimal corner sequences) but do not actually understand them. Such Go players often lose to players who fail to play joseki moves even though those players have played sub-optimal moves. It requires understanding, not just memory, to counter such moves even though they are demonstrably inferior.

In 5P PR, the principles of the game are the same. Not only is there not more randomness, in a technical sense there is less. The only random element of the game (once seat/play order is determined, which happens pre-game) is the plantations which are available each Settler phase. With more players, more tiles are drawn and the tendency of these random events to "even out" increases. It is possible to make plans and strategies in 5p, just as in smaller player counts. More things happen between your turns, so there are more chances for your plans to be upset. People who consider this to be greater randomness are whining just like the people who cannot play with an inexperienced player because those players' moves upset the game. If your strategy requires each other player to play the moves you want/expect then your strategy is hopelessly brittle.
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Robb Melenyk
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I'm definitely in the 'only 3 or 4' camp when it comes to PR. Despise the title with two players and even more with five players.

With five, I definitely feel the brittleness of my strategy, as mentioned above. People do stuff out of order or where I plan to capitalize, someone else eeks in and gets the reward. Something like the double mayor being more difficult to set up.

Good post!
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Peter D
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TerrapinStation wrote:
I think a lot of people who play on-line have memorized various sequences in the much more common 3 and 4 player games. In a five player game, of course, the sequences go differently. This creates the illusion of randomness. These players are like Go players who have memorized a bunch of josekis (optimal corner sequences) but do not actually understand them. Such Go players often lose to players who fail to play joseki moves even though those players have played sub-optimal moves. It requires understanding, not just memory, to counter such moves even though they are demonstrably inferior.

In 5P PR, the principles of the game are the same. Not only is there not more randomness, in a technical sense there is less. The only random element of the game (once seat/play order is determined, which happens pre-game) is the plantations which are available each Settler phase. With more players, more tiles are drawn and the tendency of these random events to "even out" increases. It is possible to make plans and strategies in 5p, just as in smaller player counts. More things happen between your turns, so there are more chances for your plans to be upset. People who consider this to be greater randomness are whining just like the people who cannot play with an inexperienced player because those players' moves upset the game. If your strategy requires each other player to play the moves you want/expect then your strategy is hopelessly brittle.



Very well put. I agree completely. Disappointingly I have met people who will refuse to play with 5 simply because they have heard it is not good with 5. Once they experience that exciting 5-player rush for quarries or key buildings, or the competition to gain access to the more crowded trading house and boats, then they will often see the game at its tense and nail-biting best.

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Jason Gische
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Love the game with 3 or 4 players. It's a meaty game where you can control your destiny as long as you pay attention to what your opponents need. With 5, the luck factor becomes so prevalent that it ruins everything that I love about the 3/4 player game. I won't turn this game down with 3/4, but I avoid playing it with 5. I'd choose to sit out and kibbutz with the other 4 players while they play this game, rather than be the 5th player.
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Dan Nunuyerbiznez
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PaulinTheLion wrote:
The availability of some elements that don't change with player count - Products, production buildings and Quarries - become a factor with 5, while with 3 you won't run out of Quarries, which I consider a game flaw.

As someone who rarely acquires quarries, that is the least of my worries with 5 players.

The fact that production bldgs are now limited is a fault, IMNSHO. Makes this version single elimination, much more often than I prefer.

PaulinTheLion wrote:
Trading is even more competitive with 5 as there are more players than slots. Makes the trading boat fill up quicker, reduces the value of some buildings.

And enormously increases the value of factory, which is already very valuable in 3 or 4, but also makes it increasingly difficult to acquire. I can live with that. There are other buildings.

PaulinTheLion wrote:
And obviously there are more actions to select, more players to choose them. Adds game length, but not lots if you all know what you're doing, and a greater level of uncertainty.

In fact, there are no more actions to choose than 4, and 5 is the only game where you can have zero options when your turn comes around (not one option will do you any good, let alone not help your opposition).

8 opponent-plays between turns, with the limited play selections available in the game, is just too long to make effective plans - thus the popular and correct claim of randomness. 5-player was an afterthought, and not a well-thought-out one at that.
 
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Paul Oakes
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Actually I think the factory is less useful with 5 players than with 4, because it's so hard to produce everything you have capabilities for except by repeatedly taking Craftsman yourself; this has drawbacks I am told.

That there are more actions between each of your own does not switch the game from a beautiful decision-rich mental exercise to an elongated die roll, it just demands plans that can cover more eventualities.

Played with 5 yesterday, loved it.
 
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Game Guy
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PaulinTheLion wrote:
... except by repeatedly taking Craftsman yourself; this has drawbacks I am told.


Who told you that!?! It's a vicious rumor started by every PR player who has ever lived!
 
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