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Subject: Best starting position rss

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Rich OBrien
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After about 15 games, (mostly 5 player, rest 4) I've noticed that the second person to be governor wins alot more than a random distribution would be and I've NEVER seen the last player to be governor win.

Is this just due to my group going for the same strategies or have others noticed this?
 
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Scott Russell
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Re:Best starting position
Rich_OBrien (#3316),
With the disclaimer that I haven't kept close track, I think our winners have come from all positions. That is one aspect of the game that I really like. If I had to pick a position, I think I would pick the first corn one, but don't feel disadvantaged from any of the positions (except perhaps last in a five player, but not hugely disadvantaged even there). I've had less than 10% five player games though. Four is my favorite size, I think.

If it really is such a distinction in your group, have you tried bidding for starting positions?
 
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Chris Farrell
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Re:Best starting position

Given that several roles are worthless early on (Captain, Trader, Craftsman), I think it is clear that player 2 & 3 have a non-trivial advantage, although it's unclear to me how much. Getting an Indigo plantation instead of a Corn is clearly somthing of a handicap, but not so much as to offset the fact that the 5th player may well get a role that does nothing on the first turn.

Chris
 
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Scott Russell
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Re:Best starting position
cfarrell (#3387),
In the five player games in which I've played the Mayor, Builder, Settler and Craftsman always are played in the first round. The fifth player takes a prospector or, once in a while, the captain. So, of the first four players; one player gets an extra gold to build, one gets an extra man (often not immediately usable), one gets a quarry (or first choice) and one gets an extra good. The fifth guy gets an extra VP or an extra gold. Sounds prety balanced for the first turn. Where is the disadvantage?

 
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Larry Levy
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Re:Best starting position
I'm not sure what tactics you guys use, Chris, but the only way I can see the Corn players from being shut out is if one of the first three players takes the Craftsman before the Mayor is selected. In this case, that player is shutting himself out as well, so I fail to see the advantage. Even if the Indigo players refrain from taking the Mayor, the fourth player can take it (hard to see why she wouldn't) and then the fifth player can take the Craftsman and produce an extra Corn. The fourth player will presumably take the Captain during the second round, so you have the usual 2 VP headstart for the Corn Kings.

By the way, this early VP start doesn't seem to bother any of our players. Our usual first round goes Settler, followed by Builder/Mayor or Mayor/Builder, then Craftsman and Captain. I can only think of a handful of our games where the first round didn't end with the Craftsman-Captain tango. It doesn't seem to be a big issue; I don't think the Corn players win more than their fair share in our games.

Larry
 
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Chris Comeaux
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Re:Best starting position
In our last five-player game, I started in the last position and won, the guy who was second came in last. I pursued a shipping strategy (took no quarries) and was to buy only one building the first four rounds. I believe I took a prospector 3 of these four rounds as well.

So, player order doesn't necessarily spell certain victory or defeat. Also, I wouldn't call any role worthless. I think the prospector is generally under-valued - it never helps anyone but you!
 
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Chris Farrell
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Re:Best starting position
qzhdad (#3398),

Somehow, an extra gold clearly isn't nearly as cool as an extra Good (1VP), Quarry (1 Gold towards every future purchase), or colonist. Please, if they were as good, then someone else would've taken it - which by your own admission, they haven't.

Regardless, however, I think it's clear that picking when you have choices is generally going to be better than picking when you don't. Not by a lot, so as I say I'm not sure how much of an advantage the 2nd & 3rd player have. But it's somthing, I've become convinced.

Chris

 
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Jason Nicoll
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Re:Best starting position
I have to agree with this. Although I have only played 5 games, it seems that the second and third players tend to have an advantage.

In fact, the third player has won all 5 games with the second player often finishing second. Although not conclusive, it is certainly an indicator.

The most popular strategy is to grab the Hospice and head for mass production, whilst the second most popular is the trader route, making lots of cash to buy more buildings.

Jae
 
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Scott Russell
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Re:Best starting position
Chris,

Many players share your belief that second and third are the best places to start, so it very well may be correct. I still think anywhere on the table is a good place to be. (You're playing PR, after all!) I haven't seen any absolute statement (including many of mine :-)) about how to win this game that have proven to be true all of the time.

While I (and most people) like choices (that may be part of why the prospector isn't chosen early very often), I think the corn instead of indigo sufficiently counters the early issue of going last the first turn.

I will also amend my original comment regarding which roles are taken. Change always to usually. Sometimes if P1 builds and P2 builds indigo plant and then chooses mayor, craftsman (therefore captain) isn't taken the first round.

Scott
 
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Chris Farrell
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Re:Best starting position
Let me put it to you this way ... if somebody offered to play a game of Puerto Rico in which you picked last every turn, do you think that would be fair? I wouldn't. Obviously, the player who picks last on the first turn isn't in this position, but their average pick is going to be later in the round than the other players, since they'll get truncated not only at the beginning but at the end.

Again, I'm not saying this is a large factor; I think it's less important than not sitting to the left of the stronger players. It's not as big a deal, I don't think, as avoiding picking 1st in Settlers. But it is somthing.

Chris
 
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Scott Russell
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Re:Best starting position
Interesting propostion. As you stated it, no, I wouldn't want to play last every round.

However, if there were some offsetting benefit every turn(roughly equivalent to corn vs. indigo initial benefit) offered in parallel, I think I would. I would also postulate that going first every round wouldn't necessarily be a good thing, despite the wider variety of choices, so I wouldn't be interested in playing first every round either.

You seem to be making a blanket statement that going earlier in the round (on average) is better. I don't agree with this postulate. The ideal position in the turn order varies with the situation, especially on the last turn (like in many games) going last can be very powerful.

You are correct that the first player would always have a wider variety of choices, but the value of the choices isn't static during a round. For example, if the fourth player picks production, then the trader option may be much more valuable for the fifth player than it was for the first three players.

We are completely in agreement about the player on your left being a larger factor (and playing first in four player Settlers). Until I see a disproportionate number of losses from last spot, I think we will have to disagree. :-)

Scott
 
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Alex Rockwell
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Re:Best starting position
Rich_OBrien (#3316),

When I first started out playing this game, with others just starting out, I initially believed that there were significant advantages to certain positions. Specifically, I thought corn was quite good, and that there was an advantage to playing in the 2/3 spots over player 1. As I have played more however, I have realized that different spots lend themselves to different strategies, and that once you learn to play correctly according to your position, not just what the strategy you emotionally want to play is, that there is a negligible difference between the positions.

The positions you have noted as being strong (such as 2md and 3rd) are often uite strong in games filled with beginners, because the style which these players use lends well to those positions. I cant really describe in words exaclty what I mean by this, but there are some things to look out for, such as:

Weak players will often choose the Mayor or Settler roles in times when they shouldnt, specifically, when the mayor will help others as much or more than them, and they arent desperate for the people. (Example: Someone mayors to fill their building and plantation, but allow an opponent to fill a better building, and a different opponent to fill their coffee/roaster, when there are no other coffe being produced.)
Whoever picks the settler helps the people immediately after them much more than those farther down the line, so sitting just after someone who has this settler problem can be an advantage. Also, sitting just before someone who mayors too much, or at times which are incorrect for them, can often be good. THhis is because you can often build your building you need, and have it be filled immediately after, which otherwise you would have had no control over. However, it can also make you get less colonists.


As to the Hospice: When I first started playing, I was convinced that the Hospice was an Amazing building. However, I later found that it is usually bad if players build the large production buildings, since that will cause a large outflow of colonists, which the hospice player doesnt need. A player with a hospice should pretty much never mayor, and shouldnt build large produciton buildings except when absolutely necessary. Other players SHOULD do these things, to avoid giving the hospice players a large advantage.


In addition, the greatest thing that weak players do is craftsman when it is not good for them to do so. You REALLY want to be right after the player who craftsman's too much, because then you get to have first shot (usually) at trading, or captaining (to get boat control, or avoid having others trade). This can be very strong. Often, th player who captains will be last on either the trader or captain, and usually late in the phase of the other. This is a large disadvantage. Usually it is only safe to craftsan when some of the following conditions are met:
1) You either dont care about the trader, or are guaranteed to be able to trade what you want.
2) You have control of the boats (your goods are on them, and others cant fill them, or you have wharf, or something like that (or sufficient warehouses so that you dont care if you dont get to ship yet))
3) It is early, and the boats wont fill or lock you out of shipping, and producing doesnt give someone else the opportunity to trade a good you produce before you can.

Finally, there is almost no time when the initial starting player on turn 1 should do anything besides settler, taking a quarry or maybe corn (depends on tiledraw) In extreme cases, the tiledraw may dictate that choosing the builder is better, but this is rare.



Now that I have played over 30 games in person, and about 90 online at www.brettspielwelt.de I have learned that the starting positions in PR are very balanced, and that it matters much more the seating arrangement, that is, your position relative to the other strong/weak players.

I recommend to anyone who does not know about brettspielwelt (board game world) to check it out, it is a wonderful place to play Puerto Rico against good opponents, and truly learn the game well.
(The only disadvantage is its all german, but you'll get used to the interface, learn german words, etc) and besides, there are plenty of english speakers as well to help you out.

To learn about brettspielwelt, and how to play Puerto Rico on brettspielwelt, you can go to:
http://www3.pair.com/garnett/EmeraldCity/rules/bswPuertoRico...

Hope to see you on BSW!
 
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Re:Best starting position
I've noticed that the Corn strategy can be moderated if player 1 takes Building first off and then goes for a Hacienda. It helps also if one of the other Indigos takes a Hacienda as well.
This forces the potential Corn strategy away from the current holders of that commodity and you're as likely to see a Sugar/Indigo combo for shipping.
If players 1-3 opt out of the Hacienda then they leave themsellves open to 4 and 5 going for Corn shipments and an early VP lead, and progressively they get more advantage as the Governor makes their way around to them.
So, taking a certain building type early in the game can very much influence later player's strategies due to the limited supply of certain buildings, sort of like forcing their hand. I always take Building if I am player 1 so I have some sway over what other people's strategies are.
laugh
 
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Michael Orton
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Re:Best starting position
Aristophanes (#4723),

This evening I saw the Hacienda strategy you advocate go rather wrong for the first player. All five of the randon platations he drew were Indigo!

He didn't win the game.
 
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