Chuck and Jamie left to get sleep, while Mark, Chris, Arnold, Joe, and Time soldiered on to play Puerto Rico. Mark and Joe had played before, the others were new to the game.
After the requisite complex explanation of the game by Mark, and many observations about strategy and mechanics quirks, we commenced the exploitation of the virgin New World soil. Tim was first governor.
Tim: Indigo, then Tobacco. Had lots of money trouble due to bad timing on trader and the fact that Arnold to his right got into Indigo and Tobacco.
Mark: Sugar, with some Indigo, later Tobacco. Got channeled into a builder strategy, and had decent money and shipping due to sugar monopoly throughout early part of game. Near end of game, got a double Trader that allowed purchase of the Customs House (scored 8 on the bonus).
Joe: mini-Corn, then Tobacco. Victimized by several building phases when he had no money, and some cargo rotting. Got a Wharf that he put to good use, but got hit by a key Tobacco shortage. Got the Fortress near the end (scored 6 on the bonus).
Chris: Coffee, + diversified. Fabulous start, with an early small market, then Trader-Builder to allow the coffee to run. Large market, early coffee monopoly, and factory assured good money throughout. Got a large warehouse instead of saving for a bonus building, which may have been suboptimal.
Arnold: mini-Corn, Indigo, then Tobacco. Corn didn't really come out much early on, and seemed to get distributed, so Arnold branched into Indigo early. Went with some Quarries for building, but ran into money trouble and bad luck on shipping. Got the Tollbooth middle-late, but hit shipping trouble that hurt its usefulness (scored 4 on the bonus.)
We went out due to colonist shortage. We had a run of empty building spaces (8-8-11) that caused the game to end a bit faster than we had expected. Mark grabbed the Mayor to try and end it while Chris was without a bonus building. But would it be enough?
Mark 45 + 3 barrels
Chris 45 + 3 barrels, 1 ducat
Oh the pain. Chris had a great early game, and sustained more than a few direct attacks, including a fast end that denied him a bonus building, but still won by the skin of his teeth!
Ratings (mostly provisional):
Tim : 8
Mark : 9 (I'm enjoying it more the more I play)
Joe : 8
Chris : 8