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Subject: Can you defeat this? rss

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Pedro
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Hi,

Yesterday we played a 3 player game of Puerto Rico and I was crushed. Normally this wouldn't be enough for me to be posting here, but yesterday the game was a little strange.

There were 2 relatively experienced players, me and the guy to my right and 1 guy sitting on my left that was less experienced but had played a few games already and did relatively well. I was the starting player.

The game started normal enough. I managed to build a few nice buildings (a small warehouse and a small market) and to be the first guy to produce coffee. At some point in the game, I was producing sugar, indigo, corn and coffee and the other experienced guy was producing 2 corns, 2 indigos and 1 sugar, shipping more but with less buildings than me.

The problem was that the less experienced guy got stuck on producing 1 indigo for more than half of the game.

This had a significant impact because as the game progressed the shipping guy kept increasing his production and, although he had no warehouse or wharf, always managed to ship his goods due to the lack of competition. This prevented me from using one of the best tactics that I know to slow down a shipper without storage capacity: a well timed captain.

And maybe worst than that, since the guy to my left produced almost nothing, the shipper was also able to trade something on every trader phase, meaning that the money problems that usually come with a heavy shipping strategy simply didn't show.

In the end the guy to my right won with 68 points, 42 of which came from shipping (please notice that in our games 30 shipping points is a rare event). I scored 57, with 27 or 28 coming from shipping. The inexperienced guy scored 34 or 36, with 7 or 8 from shipping.

When I noticed that the less experienced guy was having problems producing, my plan was to try and build a lot of buildings to end the game fast enough and prevent the other guy from scoring the big shipping points. That plan failed miserably, as one can notice from the final scores.

Another idea I had was to try and shift my economy to produce more and compete with the shipper in the shipping. I didn't follow that plan because I thought that I could win by finishing fast enough and because I thought I could not compete with the other experienced player on shipping (he was geared toward shipping almost from the beginning, after all).

So, what could I have done to fight this situation? Was the building idea any good? Did I have other options? Is it possible to win in my situation? How?

Thanks in advance!
 
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Francisco
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In my humble opinion you seemed to be doomed from the very start.
The player to your right (the 68 point winner), was clearly superior and outdid you with ease. One of the key learning points for Puerto Rico, is that, if you're not humble enough, even as an experienced player, you will probably be part of a humbling experience like you were... That player to your right seems like a fearsome adversary. Kudos to him for being such an awe inspiring person. Learn from him and you shall succeed young apprentice...

P.S.: Just pulling your leg here! ;-)
P.S.: "I would like to thank the academy and..." ...the player to my right!
 
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Sebastian
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pitris wrote:
There were 2 relatively experienced players, me and the guy to my left and 1 guy sitting on my right that was less experienced but had played a few games already and did relatively well.
pitris wrote:
In the end the guy to my right won with 68 points, [...] The inexperienced guy scored 34 or 36, with 7 or 8 from shipping.
3 Possibilities:
a) You changed seats during your game
b) You mixed up left and right during your post
c) You got beaten by a less experienced player with 68 points. Then you REALLY got a problem.


But really...
In my opinion a 3 player PR game is usually only fair if the players are roughly equal strong. Too weak players compared to the others function as random elements. This effect is usually not so strong in 4 or 5 player games - usually its more of an advantage if you sit AFTER an unexperienced player.
 
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Pedro
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TermiGator wrote:

3 Possibilities:
a) You changed seats during your game
b) You mixed up left and right during your post
c) You got beaten by a less experienced player with 68 points. Then you REALLY got a problem.


I mixed right and left on my post. I'll edit it out.

 
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Pedro
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Spirale wrote:
In my humble opinion you seemed to be doomed from the very start.
The player to your right (the 68 point winner), was clearly superior and outdid you with ease. One of the key learning points for Puerto Rico, is that, if you're not humble enough, even as an experienced player, you will probably be part of a humbling experience like you were... That player to your right seems like a fearsome adversary. Kudos to him for being such an awe inspiring person. Learn from him and you shall succeed young apprentice...

P.S.: Just pulling your leg here! ;-)
P.S.: "I would like to thank the academy and..." ...the player to my right!

I didn't state it clearly in my post, but I think you've played a very good game. You used the situation to your maximum benefit and were able to pull off a very convincing and deserved victory.
 
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Francisco
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Yes, it's option B - we changed seats because we like to play a variant of Puerto Rico in which whenever the Governor changes hands, we move one seat to our left!laugh

But on a more serious note: the strange thing was that we had 2 experienced players (Pitris and myself) and the other player, although not as experienced, had faired very well on previous games...

I wonder if next time, we shouldn't simply draw straws, to see who sits where...?
 
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Dave Eisen
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It is standard practice in my Puerto Rico games that we draw for seats.
 
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Jacob Lee
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My first thought as I read your post was that you should have offered advice to the player on your left. He obviously needed it. If he played more effectively, the player on your right would have gotten fewer points, possibly balancing out your scores a little more.
 
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Dave Eisen
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And my first thought was that it's only a game, you're not playing for money, and you lose sometimes.

Puerto Rico is a brilliant brilliant game. It's only real flaw is that if players are not of roughly equal strength, the game breaks down generally giving the win to the player to the left of the weak player. But this is a very real flaw here.
 
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Erwin Lau
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Admitted this is a bad situation.

Assume in a friendly ftf setting, also assume that even after drawing seats you are still end up in the same seating situation:

Once you sense this situation, talk the newbie with reasons into "no produce, only build, mayor and get money (prospector or when money on trade/captain while no goods to trade/ship)" as soon as you can. Mayor can also end the game faster. Of course you don't produce either. He should be cooperative since he has no production capability. The experienced then need to time his produce only when you are the governor. Build and Mayor as fast as you can and hope for the best.
 
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Dave Eisen
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Can I strongly disagree here?

Nothing is more annoying to me in gaming than having a new player at the table and having all the experienced ones giving him advice on how to play and not letting him learn on his own. Especially annoying since generally the advice is self-serving on the part of the one giving the advice, so the game moves from "how well do you play Puerto Rico" to "how well do you convince the newbie to do your bidding". But annoying even if the advice is fair and honest.
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Pedro
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EmperorJacob wrote:
My first thought as I read your post was that you should have offered advice to the player on your left. He obviously needed it. If he played more effectively, the player on your right would have gotten fewer points, possibly balancing out your scores a little more.

That's true. I can say in my defense that we did it but it was too late. However this was more or less unexpected, because he had already played the game a few times and had done well before. He was probably a little rustier than I had anticipated.

But my post was not a complaint or an attack on the game. I don't mind losing a game... I think sometimes I actually prefer to lose, because that normally makes me think a lot on possible strategy changes and improvements on my play.

This time too: I've been thinking a lot about yesterday's game but I don't know what I could have done to do better but I would like to. I'm almost tempted to setup up another 3 player game with the newbie sitting to my left to see if I can do better than I did yesterday maybe by building faster or trying to be more shipping oriented.

 
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Pedro
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dkeisen wrote:
Can I strongly disagree here?

Nothing is more annoying to me in gaming than having a new player at the table and having all the experienced ones giving him advice on how to play and not letting him learn on his own. Especially annoying since generally the advice is self-serving on the part of the one giving the advice, so the game moves from "how well do you play Puerto Rico" to "how well do you convince the newbie to do your bidding". But annoying even if the advice is fair and honest.

That's a good point to. I also don't like to have other players manipulating the less experienced ones, even when their intentions are the best.

But in that case it's a hopeless situation, in your opinion?
 
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Dave Eisen
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In my opinion Puerto Rico and a one or two other games (Princes of Florence comes to mind, Caylus too) games divide sharply into two categories.

1. Learning games. If one or more of the players is new, it can be enjoyable as a social experience, helping the new players get their bearings by giving advice as requested, etc.

2. Serious games. Strong players. Work hard to win.

Nothing is gained by confusing the two types of games. Nothing is gained by playing in a game of type #1 if you're really in the mood for a game of type #2.

If you mean trying to play to win in the situation the original poster described, yeah, it's hopeless. Find something else to play.
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Nathan Collins
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When there are inexperienced players at agame that depends on turn order, I inititae one of two things depending on the group

1. If the players do not think some luck is the bane of all evil, then roll a dice each round. Odd clockwise, even, counterclockwise (the governor always moves clockwise).

2. Each round the turn order switches between clockwise and counterclockwise
 
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John Paul Sodusta
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This is one of the reasons why Puerto Rico cannot be a 10 for me. It is too fragile when there is any discrepancy in skill level among the players. It just becomes very annoying to the point of "unfun." I agree it is mainly because, as dkeisen said, I was probably playing I as a #2 game instead of a #1.

I would disagree though that this is not the case with Princes of Florence. You can still play it as a #2 game even if there are differing skill levels.
 
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Ben Foy
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May I point out that the Shipping strats are inherently stronger than the building strat in a 3-player basic game.
 
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John Weber
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I will venture an opinion here: PR is best with 4, not with 3 or 5. With 3, often you will find yourself "out of sync" with the other players, i.e., if you are the only builder while the others are shipping, and vice versa. With 4, it's more likely to be more balanced in the shipper vs builder dichotomy. Agree that the inexperienced player can mess up the game, but that's true of many other games as well.
 
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Pedro
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BFoy wrote:
May I point out that the Shipping strats are inherently stronger than the building strat in a 3-player basic game.

Hmmm... this is the kind of stuff I'm looking for.
Can you please elaborate a little bit?
 
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Francisco
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John Weber wrote:
I will venture an opinion here: PR is best with 4, not with 3 or 5. With 3, often you will find yourself "out of sync" with the other players, i.e., if you are the only builder while the others are shipping, and vice versa. With 4, it's more likely to be more balanced in the shipper vs builder dichotomy. Agree that the inexperienced player can mess up the game, but that's true of many other games as well.

I think I'm inclined to agree. But I find that with 3 players (balanced and experienced players, mind you), Puerto Rico can also be an exciting and tense game. It's usually slightly faster and the end can come quicker than anticipated. Reminds me a little of Yspahan's pace.
Anyway, last night, and for the first time in a 3 player game, the game ended on VP's. But it could've ended just as well on buildings (Pitris finished with 11 buildings, minus 1 from completion) and the confused third player was one mayor away from ending the game on the colonists criteria (not that it would have been of any good to him at that late stage).
So even though PR may be best with 4 or even 5, it's pretty darn good with 3 players. It's still a 10 for me (until something better comes up)! But for the first time, it was clear to me that having a player to your left who is having a weird and random night in terms of playing performance, can actually have an impact on the outcome of the game. This time though, I'm not complaining.
 
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Ben Foy
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pitris wrote:
BFoy wrote:
May I point out that the Shipping strats are inherently stronger than the building strat in a 3-player basic game.

Hmmm... this is the kind of stuff I'm looking for.
Can you please elaborate a little bit?

Simple math. With 3 players there are 3 ships, with 4 players there are 3 ships. The ships are 1 space bigger in the 4-player game but thats not as important as the number of ships. Actually the bigger ships can sometimes hurt shipping, for example 6 goods on a 7 space ship.
 
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Ben Foy
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John Weber wrote:
I will venture an opinion here: PR is best with 4, not with 3 or 5. With 3, often you will find yourself "out of sync" with the other players, i.e., if you are the only builder while the others are shipping, and vice versa. With 4, it's more likely to be more balanced in the shipper vs builder dichotomy. Agree that the inexperienced player can mess up the game, but that's true of many other games as well.

Beginning players should definitely play 4-player games. But Intermediate and Advanced players can play 3 and 5 player games with no problem. Beginning players focus on the strats, intermediate and advanced players focus on their opponents. In a 3-player game, good players don't play pure strats. The builder will take buildings that the shippers might want. The builder will make sure his/her production isn't too far behind. And a builder takes the most advantageous role, even if its the Captain, especially if its the captain. As I mentioned above, you can choose a ship and clog it up. That slows down the shipping. There are huge numbers of tactics for screwing shipping. In 3-player games, builders win by staying close in "shipping VPs" not ending the game early.
 
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Pedro
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BFoy wrote:

Simple math. With 3 players there are 3 ships, with 4 players there are 3 ships. The ships are 1 space bigger in the 4-player game but thats not as important as the number of ships. Actually the bigger ships can sometimes hurt shipping, for example 6 goods on a 7 space ship.

But it's also easier to trade with 3 players, so one could argue that it's easier to buy the big buildings and so it's also easier to follow a building strategy, no?
 
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Ben Foy
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pitris wrote:
BFoy wrote:

Simple math. With 3 players there are 3 ships, with 4 players there are 3 ships. The ships are 1 space bigger in the 4-player game but thats not as important as the number of ships. Actually the bigger ships can sometimes hurt shipping, for example 6 goods on a 7 space ship.

But it's also easier to trade with 3 players, so one could argue that it's easier to buy the big buildings and so it's also easier to follow a building strategy, no?

Really? You trade once and 3 commodities are in the Trade House. Then the next turn only 1 person can trade. If someone takes the Captain, there might not be any of the right commodities left. In a 4 player game, everyone can put one commodity into the Trade House each turn, clearing it.
 
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Erwin Lau
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Quote:
Can I strongly disagree here?

Hi Dave, I strongly agree with your strongly disagree here.
And you have made a very valid point.
laugh

That's why I assume it was a friendly setting.

If I were the experienced shipping guy, I would be the first to advise the newbie what he could have done to counter me. Afterall, it was his first game. He needed some hand holding.



 
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