What're you looking at!
My wife and I were at her cousin's, and after playing 6 Nimmt and Winner's Circle, it was too late for five player Puerto Rico. We wanted to play Der Untergang von Pompeji, but we had five people. That's when I remembered reading an article about playing with 5 or six. So we took out the coffee, tobacco and some sugar octagons from Peurto Rico and used those.
I couldn't remember how many tokens we were supposed to use for five players, so we decided on 21 (I later read that it should be 20).
My wife and I have played this game a lot and enjoy it with two, three or four. While the chaos factor is low with two, the tactical game is much better. With four, the chaos is more fun.
We still put the 79 A.D. card as the ninth card, which meant that two people only got one token on the board before the first eruption. An Omen card could have taken one of these players off the board completely. Perhaps making eight piles of four, for the purposes of dealing out hands, and splitting the eighth pile, so that there are ten cards before the first erruption would be better (the other two could go in the other part of the draw deck).
Competition for spaces near the entrances was intense, and with fewer turns per player, making use of the more spacious central regions wasn't as attractive. My wife was using the Puerto Rico tokens and was doing very well, as was Audrey, and both of them were the ones who only put one token on the board in the initial round. Being last, perhaps they were better able to capitalize on the relaitves rule.
When the lava flowed, entrances seemed to be cut off very quickly, by the time your turn came around again. With five, there's a lot more competition for good spots, and you certainly do not get as many people on the board, so every one thrown in the volcano is important.
In the end, my wife, Penny, and Audrey, were tied, but Audrey had fewer tokens in the volcano and won.
I liked the five player game, although I found that I wasn't able to exploit the middle areas nearly as much, even compared to a four player game. Still, it would definitely be worth it to get the extra tokens or always take Puerto Rico along, just in case you have more than four players.
Nice. Thanks for that. I've got the extra pieces ready (from spiel material) but haven't tried it out yet.