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Subject: My own two cents after many games rss

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Rex Ford
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Baton Rouge
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OK, I waited until I achieved "Expert" status (after many games) on Boardgamearena before I felt sufficiently qualified to provide a few tidbits on my own philosophies- which seem to have paid off.

It must be noted that Puerto Rico with 2, 3, 4, or 5 players are each DIFFERENT games... they play differently, and a particular building that might be really valuable in one version might not be so great in another.

I play almost exclusively with 4 players.... I've been much less successful with more or fewer players.... so these are going to be 4 player opinions:

First off... concerning the opening and early game: I prefer to invest for the long run. If you're first player (who starts with an indigo plantation) you might be tempted to select Builder for an indigo plant. I greatly prefer to start with Settler -> Quarry which will pay off for the entire rest of the game. Later in the first round another player WILL select Builder and you should again resist the urge to build that indigo plant... wait until your quarry is populated and get your indigo plant for free.

If the Small Market is available for purchase buy it. At one doubloon I really think it's underpriced.

I NEVER buy Hospice or Construction Hut. I've seen great players use those effectively, to be sure, but it seems to me that such purchases are used for very specific strategies.... and if you're not a highly practiced expert and go into the game married to a specific strategy you have greatly diminished your chances of winning. My own approach is to be flexible... and the steategy I take for any particular game is highly dependent on plantation selection early in the game.

In fact, plantation selection seems to be the most critical aspect of the game. Everything else flows from that.

Along that line, YOU MUST NOT get stuck depending on the same product for trading that the player immediately before you uses. Also, for example, if the player behind you has already committed to tobacco you probably should then take tobacco, yourself. You WANT to put him in a bind.

And now concerning a building that's highly popular on these strategy boards: Small Warehouse. I'm not trying to be a contrarian but I say DON'T, unless you can get it for one coin and you can't afford anything else during the current Builder phace. The reason is simple: if you don't have at least three of any particular good you don't need it. If you DO have three or more of any one type then you're far better off saving your money to buy a Wharf.

As for Large Market... which seems to be underappreciated.... well, it's one of my three favorite buildings. It gives you lots of trading options. For instance, if there's an empty slot in the Trading House selling a corn might not be very useful to some other player, but it certainly is a very useful option for yourself.

If you feel the need to buy an Office you've probably already lost. Don't buy an Office... buy a Large Market, instead.

Factory: I say NO... simply because I don't win with it. I think that by the time I could afford it it's too late for an adequate return on investment. I would buy it ONLY if you begin the game with corn and manage to buy it early. I prefer Large Market for an income mechanism, which is much cheaper.

As for trading, be careful of the temptation to select Trader even if you're going to get more coins than anybody else during the phase.... ALWAYS look behind you to see what purchasing power you're giving to other players... they just might Build that one particular building that YOU crave.

Gee... there's just too much to write in one post. I'll continue later.

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Albert Jones
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Starting the game with settle, quarry is pretty standard; plus buying small market early. Small warehouse is a very good building if used right, large warehouse is often a waste of money and factory is so powerful in the corrected rules it costs 8 coins, and university is reduced to 7 because it is generally considered no good. Yes large market is awesome, but don't overlook the office, it can be s great piece in the right situations especially if you get it and one resource early you can trade alone, but yes in four player less often useful than three player when the trade house doesn't fill up each trade option. A lot of your ideas are pretty specific to four player, as you said, and also specific to the meta-game of online play. For me three players is where the game really shines as there are more strategic options for each building.
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Rex Ford
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Baton Rouge
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To be sure... 3 player is quite different... not better, just different.

 
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Glaucio Siqueira
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Great tips! I play very similar! The only difference is that I have a better experience with the Office, sometimes along with the large market which I also think is a great building. No comment on the Harbor?
 
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Rex Ford
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Baton Rouge
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Continuing....

I know that most of this is pretty obvious, but here goes:

Harbor: certainly a powerful building, and like with any building the earlier you can acquire it the better. But there comes a time when it's unwise to purchase when you should be saving for a large building, instead. Keep an eye on the supply of colonists + open slots... if there's fewer than about 30 of those you probably should be thinking of something else.

Wharf: if you have 3 or more of any one type of good, buy it. If there's a debate in your mind about whether to spend your coins on the Harbor or the Wharf, let that 3 or more rule be your guide. Again, though, keep an eye out for remaining colonists and empty building slots, which will tell you if the game is likely to end quickly... in which case you should buy a large building.

University: a waste of money

Large Warehouse: an even more egregious waste of money

Office: I haven't seen many people win with it, so just say no. Use Large Market to trade a corn or sugar, instead.

Large buildings: Buy them too soon and you've obviously reduced your ability for shipping points when you could have bought Harbor or Wharf, instead. A premature build is pretty fatal in a long game when others have taken the Harbor or Wharf and will obviously want to craft frequently for goods to ship. Guild Hall and Customs House are the two best large buildings, depending upon your game situation (shipping vs. building strategy). The other three are consolation prizes.

Other general philosophies:

- if you have a populated quarry don't pass up the occasion to build when somebody else chooses Builder, even when the building doesn't really do you much good. Buy something! Don't let a free coin go to waste. This is why it's so important to get at least one quarry in the early game... victory point(s) at almost every Build. Also, if you have two or more quarries use BOTH. With two quarries buy the large indigo plant or the large sugar plant even if you don't need them. Those are victory points! Now, very late in the game you might want to forego a build if you need to save up for that one particular large building you prize... but in general don't let your quarries go unused.

- stick it to the player on your left. As I mentioned previously, avoid building coffee/tobacco if the player before you plans on the same, and trap the person on your left by producing what HE has committed to.

- don't enter the game with an inflexible attitude, i.e. shipping or building. Let the early plantation and role selections be your guide. All the roles in the game are complementary.... so take that one which maximizes your return versus one that sticks to a predetermined strategy.

- be especially wary of the Trader role near the end of the game... if you select Trader that means somebody else can select Builder and take the large building you wanted.

- generally, if you've already built tobacco or coffee don't build the other until late in the game and you've already built the Guild Hall... use your money for something else.

- DON'T buy Large Market AND Factory. You will regret it when at the end of the game you have more money than you could use.

More later...





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Robert Bracey
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I find it very interesting how you phrase this in terms of particular buildings distributed over the course of the game. The existing strategy articles all eschew this in favour of identifying core principles and emphasising tactical play and the opening.
 
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Thuc Nguyen-Pham
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RexGoodheart wrote:


First off... concerning the opening and early game: I prefer to invest for the long run. If you're first player (who starts with an indigo plantation) you might be tempted to select Builder for an indigo plant. I greatly prefer to start with Settler -> Quarry which will pay off for the entire rest of the game. Later in the first round another player WILL select Builder and you should again resist the urge to build that indigo plant... wait until your quarry is populated and get your indigo plant for free.

If the Small Market is available for purchase buy it. At one doubloon I really think it's underpriced.


Question: you start and chose quarry. second player selects Builder and builds small market, 3rd builds small market, 4rd builds indigo plant. What do you build on your turn? According to your explaination above, if small market is available you'll built it, otherwise, you will pass until your quarry is occupied then built indigo plant?
 
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Rex Ford
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I build nothing on that turn. Somebody else is going to select Mayor in that opening round and you won't be able to populate both your plant and plantation, anyway. So I wait until it's free.

That's actually a pretty standard tactic among experienced players.

 
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Thuc Nguyen-Pham
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thanks for the tips. i triet yesterday and won against an expert (of course it was also because he was not in his best form and the 3rd player made moves that helped me). But from what I see, it's easier for me to buy things.

I'd like to have your opinion on the Major. Some experts tips in BBG suggests that you should not chose it unless there are 2 doublons on it. But i've seen experience players don't hesistate to chose it.
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Game Guy
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I really do think you undervalue the Small Warehouse. Its value lies not just in saving goods for shipping. In the mid-game it exerts a powerful effect on the trading game. It is not the number of barrels of a single good you save, it is the fact that you can hang onto two different types of goods after a Captain phase. This helps avoid your being blocked in the Trading House. It also gives you more options for a between-the-Craftsmen Captain. These moves, which often do not produce more than 2 or 3 VPs in and of themselves, allow you to get control of the boats and thus dominate future shipping rounds. Having two kinds of good available can also allow you to protect a high value commodity from getting "boated" when an opponent Captains a second time before anyone Crafts.

Factory, too, is a little underrated, but maybe that is because you are talking 4-p. This building really sings in a 3-p when you are trying to build-out against two opponents who are focused on shipping. Without a Factory, your opponents can Craft/Ship every round while you need two rounds to Trade/Build. With a factory (and a diverse production base) they are feeding your money machine with each Craft. Since diverse production is crucial for using the Harbor well, also, the prep needed (4-5 DIFFERENT plantations and their respective buildings) does not require you to commit to using one or the other early. All that said, I would basically never buy a Factory if I could afford a Harbor. Harbor will even help a player trying to build by doubling the VP for single good trades while aiming for an early ending via Builder.
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Gio Gop
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I agree with many things Rex wrote...I also play with a very similar strategy. Just adding a few thoughts:

1) For any building which is supposed to give me money, I always calculate how long it will take me to profit from it (given the cost to build it). E.g. if I buy large market with no quarries, I know that I need to trade 3 times before making a profit of 1 doubloon. I love large market, but I believe it would be ideal to buy it with 2 quarries.
Same for the factory.

2) Also when someone has the harbour, even if producing only one good of a kind, it should consider to buy the wharf, even if there are 2 shipping rounds left. This is true particularly if the player is not set to profit much from the guildhall. An average large building might give something like 5-6 extra victory points. In total, it will then give 9 or 10 VP.
If there will be at least 3 rounds of shipment, the wharf in combo with the harbour might already exceed 10 VP through the goods shipped with the wharf only.

 
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