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Subject: Factory vs. harbor in 3 player game rss

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L S
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I know that ideally, players vie to establish income source before getting harbor. Getting harbor early without income means you cough up a loss. If you get harbor, and I get factory then slightly later harbor, then all things considered I think I'm in a better position. I've delayed my harbor by a few rounds but am ahead on income; I sacrificed some VPs for $$'s but in early/mid game this is a favorable tradeoff.

The issue is, if I do get factory before harbor, then the other player will almost certainly grab the last harbor before I do, then I'll be stuck against two shippers. One of them also has the option of buying factory later if he so chooses. This seems like a losing proposition to me. Assuming we all established income source early (e.g. I think this means some subset of quarries, sm market, tobacco, coffee, and more rarely large market), I should probably pass up factory for harbor if both are available, is that correct? The fatory is only good for me if I need it to establish income, but I can hopefully get something cheaper to establish income. And factory seems questionable for establishing income in early game because in early game I won't have many goods, hence it is a more long term investment.

Maybe the other time I would buy factory first is if I was off to an early income lead, since maybe I could get harbor afterward anyway. But in that situation, maybe getting harbor first is "safer" anyway.

That all said, this means I no longer really see a place for factory strategy in 3 player. I understand that the tradeoffs between the two buildings, but 3 player seems unique because it means I concede harbor to the other two players.

Another hypothetical question. Suppose I have factory and harbor later somehow becomes available. Is there ever a reason to long term pass up harbor (i.e. get into a situation where I'm constantly passing up harbor in order to get other buildings such as big buildings, even if harbor for some miraculous reason remains available)? I realize this situation probably won't happen in reality, but this will help me get a handle on how valuable harbor actually is. Would you ever get into a situation where one person gets harbor, and the others both don't get harbor in order to pursue pure building strategies and shut down the shipper? Is it likely that they'll win in this situation? Again I see this as purely hypothetical because it seems that eventually one of them will decide to get harbor.


 
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Alex Rockwell
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Re:Factory vs. harbor in 3 player game
If you have a sufficient income, you dont really need factory, and can go for harbor then. Its when you have insufficient income that the factory gets better.

If you get factory and they get harbor, you'll want to rush the game through building, while shipping as much as possible. Try to get the ships full of goods that arent produced much, to cut down on shipping by your opponents. When they craft a lot, you get lots of money. Try to lock the trader as much as possible, so that only you are getting any money, and can build. 1+ quarries are really helpful with the factory to keep building every round. Go for all the production buildings and guild hall (getting all prod. builds helps for factory income too).

A warehouse can also be useful, you'll save some of your goods and then when boats do empty, you quickly fill them and a catch up a bit on points (hopefully making it so they dont get to ship much on that boat that time too).
 
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Robert Birks
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Re:Factory vs. harbor in 3 player game
shockwaveXPOW (#39393),

In most BSW games I've played, I haven't found that all 3 players target the harbor as a high priority. The lure of the factory often gets one or two players to choose it first, and it is often right to do this.

However, I still only build the factory if I am caught with exactly 7 doubloons on a build phase and already have my tobacco/coffee production happening, or have the 3 low goods and no good prospects for trading tobacco or coffee.

Taking a harbor after a factory can still be a good option, but it depends how late in the game it is. I dont count turns at all, relying on 'feel' to make this assessment, but Alexfrog's suggestions of basing your decision on what the boats are doing at the moment is a good one. Just remember it may take a while to man the harbor - so you need to consider what the boats are likely to be looking like after you've managed to man the harbor. If at the moment of decision, all 3 boats are mostly full and people have goods to fill them, then by the time you man your harbor chances are a captain phase will have happened and you'll have 3 empty boats to work with - a good thing. On the other hand, 3 empty boats at the moment of decision might be a bad sign if the other players are holding goods that you dont have, and then put them on the boats..

When I first played I put way too much emphasis on getting both factory and harbor, (and often wharf as well..), but I now rarely get both - just once in my last 40+ games.

 
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