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Subject: Why no Captain? rss

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Yehuda Berlinger
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Here I am, back to cause trouble :-)

One of the reasons that San Juan is not as deep a game as Puerto Rico is that there is only building, no shipping, and there is no competition for resources, such as colonists, trading space or shipping space. But why?

It seems so trivial to me to remove the Councellor phase, which doesn't really do much, and add the Captain phase.

Captain: place one of your goods under your production building for a VP. Captain may place two of his goods. Only one good of each type can be shipped each round. Which means that as captain, I place my Indigo and Tobacco under my buildings for two VP's, and you have a choice of shipping your Coffee or trading it later. Makes the Sugar Mill a much better investment, and we can then get rid of two cards, the very weak Archive and the overly strong Prefecture, and replace them with some new buildings:

* Hold (1,1): ship a duplicate of a good already shipped this turn (including your own)
* Harbor (3,2): Gain a card from the deck when you ship at least 1 good

and easy enough to add corresponding buildings like trading post, etc... for shipping. One could also test the Trading phase to exclude other from trading anything already traded this round (perhaps so long as bonus trades only come after each player has traded at least once).
 
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Gil Hova
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Re:Why no Captain?
Interesting variant, but it would take an awful lot of cards out of the game.

Personally, I enjoy the game without shipping. But to each his own...

~Gil
 
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James Stuart
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Re:Why no Captain?
Shade_Jon (#44105),

I don't find this a very compelling modification.

The Captain in Puerto Rico is interesting because it works not just to score you points, but lets you deploy it against others as a weapon, both by causing their barrels to rot, and preventing people from trading their cash crops. It's by far the most vicious role in the game, and probably the hardest to use effectively.

Your captain isn't very vicious at all: it's just a way of enhancing goods, in that now, they can be traded for victory points. True, sometimes you will be able to ship and sometimes not, but who cares? You never have to ship if you don't want to, and if you don't ship, you'll still be able to trade later and get money for your goods, which will convert roughly to victory points in the end anyway. Part of the interesting dynamic in Puerto Rico is that people with very few goods can take the Captain defensively, and not only limit the damage people with many goods can ship, but in some cases, shut them out altogether. If you take the Captain as a person with few goods, you don't really prevent much: the person with goods they want to ship will just ship next turn, and you'll have nothing to ship now.

In exchange, you remove the heart of the violet building strategy, which is taking advantage of the councillor. You also increase the luck in the game: the councillor (before and after you get a prefecture) is a way of trying to find cards you need: you give up possible card advantage over say the prospector in exchange for a better selection of buildings. That's an interesting, and necessary fix, and enables people with poor draws of cards to not just have to build something for the sake of it.

My intuition is that you don't have a very good grasp of San Juan if you think the councillor is superficial to the game.

This change would mess substantially with the purple-dominant strategies and give a boost (not necessarily major)in flexibility to production strategies. I see no reason from my dozen or so games why this needs to be done.
 
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Alex Rockwell
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Re:Why no Captain?
I think you would have to entirely rework San Juan to fit in shipping. Small changs wouldnt do it.


I do agree that San Juan is lighter than Puert oRico primarily due to the complexity of shipping in Puerto Rico, and how immensely tactical it is.
 
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Yehuda Berlinger
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Re:Why no Captain?
anonystu wrote:
The Captain in Puerto Rico is interesting because it works not just to score you points, but lets you deploy it against others as a weapon, both by causing their barrels to rot, and preventing people from trading their cash crops. It's by far the most vicious role in the game, and probably the hardest to use effectively.

...

My intuition is that you don't have a very good grasp of San Juan if you think the councillor is superficial to the game.


(And replying to Alex, as well)

Re not vicous enough: after the captain phase, each player must discard down to one good. Add a warehouse building that negates this effect, if necessary.

Re councellor phase: several possible solutions a) prospector is changed to one card out of three. b) toss out one of the other dumb 1 cost buildings and add a building that says that whenever you pick a card, you pick one out of five. And change the standard rules to always be one out of two for everybody. c) keep councellor phase

Re why this needs to be done: because the game presents much fewer choices to the player. The only real tradeoffs in the game is what you toss versus what you build, and what role you choose versus what you don't. Typically, the last choice is often made for you, and presents no real angst. All strategies revolve against building some gold making or production infrastructure and then building the highest valued buildings, with a requirement of at least one 6 cost building.

In the games that I have played, whoever builds the most 6 cost buildings wins. So far this has been true in every one of our games; I'm sure that there are exceptions, but I think it will remain basically true. This starts to bring the game closer to a luck game more than a random game of skill. And it is not necessary.

By adding a solid shipping strategy to the game, it becomes possible to win without any 6 cost buildings, and still possible to win without much shipping if you get and decide to utilize these buildings. By adding this facet to the game, it is hugely expanded in terms of skill and depth.

Now, MY first attempts at throwing out a simple change to the game to add shipping might not be balanced correctly. Maybe it does, as you say, suddenly favor one strategy over another. That is a matter of correcting the balance and good playtesting.

But the fact that it "changes something" doesn't make it bad; that is the entire point of a variant.

Yehuda
 
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