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Subject: AAR #1 - Two Returning Players and One Newbie rss

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After not playing this for quite a long time, we decided to give this a shot. One person had never played, so we spent some time reviewing the rules and explaining the concept.

Not atypically, the first couple of rounds involved acquisition of Quarry tiles. For obvious reasons, two people grabbed the Construction Huts almost immediately to facilitate this. After this point, things diverged a bit. The Small Markets went fairly quickly, as did a Small Warehouse. I purchased an Office early, as I anticipated repeated action at the Trading House (it did pay off, but not as much as it looked like it would).

As far as production, 2 Small Indigo Plants went quickly, but I held out for the full-sized version, as I've never been a fan of the small mills. I focused on diversifying into Tobacco, while my opponents initially focused on Sugar and Indigo (one also having Corn, which really helped his VPs with Captain). Later in the game, my Sugar opponent added Coffee (as he had a Factory, so bonus money), as did my other opponent. I had purchased the other Factory, but that was partially to remove it from the market (and to add some money myself).

My next purchase was a Large Warehouse, as I didn't want to lose anything during the Captain phase. This paid off, as it also allowed me to use the Office more effectively. At this point, I SHOULD have purchased a Harbor for the extra VPs, but I had to get the other Factory off the board (as stated above). Once things got to this point, my Sugar/Coffee opponent bought a Wharf, so I needed to end the game quickly, as he had everything but Tobacco in production. Having lots of income from the Trading House (and some key Role selections which had money on them), I purchased the City Hall, then the large building that gives a bonus for production buildings (blanking on name--this was to prevent the Sugar/Coffee person from getting it). At the end, we had a mad rush on Colonists, but I built a Sugar Mill, even though I had no use for it, just for the VPs. Selecting Builder rather than Captain (as I was literally the last person to go) prevented my Sugar/Coffee opponent from shipping a whole dock full of products, and since he didn't have any cash, I gained the building VPs while he gained no VPs.

The final score was 47 (me) to 42 to 40. Our new person to the game said he liked it and felt it was a good design, so I think we'll probably give it another shot before too long. Our groups likes to mix Euros with heavier, longer games, so this will make a good medium-length option in the future, especially if people are more inclined to something less combative.
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Craig Liken
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Interesting report - good to see in what varied ways people play this game.

I've played heaps of 3-player games and have never seen a battle for early quarries (sure the first player might Settler - quarry), and it would be rare to see more than one Construction Hut bought.

Sounds like a key reason for your win was your monopoly on Tobacco - which is useful for both Trading (with Office helping) and also to block up a ship.

Factory is a good building, but I'm not sure I would buy it just to stop someone else getting it - I suspect Harbour may have increased your victory margin.
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Hey, thanks for the comparative analysis.

Wow, really? Most of my games start off with the mad rush for Quarries, as nobody wanted to be short-handed when the expensive buildings become a necessity.

Yep, my Tobacco monopoly did block up one ship for a while, and it allowed me to have a non-competitive commodity at the Trading House (another reason for my Office purchase). I tend to favor Tobacco over Coffee (in the game, though not in real life), as you pay less for the production facility and you have one extra colonist available, all for the same building VPs. Granted, Coffee may net you more cash, but most of the time, the extra barrel of tobacco offsets this over the course of the entire game.

I totally agree, I was probably better off getting the Harbor instead of the Factory, but the 3rd player was well on his way to having 4 commodities in production, so I was worried about giving him too much money. I regretted not getting Harbor immediately after the purchase, as I could have made 3 VPs off the subsequent Captain phase. blush Oh, well, good experience for our next game.

Thanks for the comments.
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Craig Liken
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No worries - it might be something of a groupthink thing with the quarries. They are certainly helpful, but I generally don't try and get any more than
2, very seldom 3, and 4 is a lot of actions spent not grabbing other plantation types.

I suppose if everyone is going for quarries early then it is hard to see the benefit of doing something a bit different (which is why your tobacco went well - it is different from what the others did). Maybe try not going for them so hard next game (except perhaps if you are first player first turn when Settler-Quarry is pretty standard) and try picking up more other plantations early - particularly corn (as it is easy to make), and also a trading good; sugar, tobacco (like you this is my preferred good), or coffee, and perhaps look to ultimately score more heavily with shipping over building.

Looking at the scores it does seem that the quarry-heavy early approach is meaning everyone is pursuing a building-heavy strategy, and perhaps spending too much money on buildings (which is why plenty of quarries are needed) that aren't really needed.

I few other thoughts:
Small indigo or small sugar early is sufficient especially if going for tobacco.
Small warehouse is a great building - Large warehouse doesn't give enough extra value to justify 3 coins (immho).
It is better to not buy a building (and save for a better one) rather than buy one you don't need just because you can.
Harbour is pretty good in most set-ups.
If going for heavy shipping then don't bother with factory.

Anyway see how you get on with future games.

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Thanks for the further thoughts.

This game was somewhat atypical, partly because we had a new player who didn't have preconceived notions about what was good, useful, etc. That threw some curve balls into the game in a challenging way, as the two veterans had to think "Now, why did he do that? Is he seeing something we missed?"

Yes, the Quarry thing can be a groupthink issue. I never get more than 3, and can survive well with just 2, but I don't like to be stranded with just one, as it usually gives the person with 4 (in a 3-player game) a distinct advantage late in the game.

I did feel, as you said, that the Office barely paid for itself. This was a gamble on my end, as the newbie seemed to be leaning toward a Trading House strategy, but it seemed like a good investment at the time. I could have saved up for the Harbor which, ultimately, would have been the wiser investment.

Good comments. I'll take these with me into the next match.
 
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