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Subject: I need some strategy help rss

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Jimmy Superfly Snuka
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My playgroup has only played this game about 4 times. I don’t think I have nailed down any strategy yet. I have lost all 4 times. I try to save money to be the first person to buy a big building. I always thought that the best big building was the city hall. I am learning that city hall sucks. The person who get the guild hall almost always does the best because it has the ability to produce 10 VP extra.

My game goals normally go like this:
Build construction hut
Get a coffee or corn field or quarry
Build small indigo plant if I am player 1 or 2
Build coffee plant
build small market
save up for a big building and get city hall. (I think this is my biggest flaw) – this normally puts a target on my back
build office
build a second big building – if I can

all the while randomly shipping corn, coffee and indigo. I have tried the factory route, but buy the time I spend the money to get it, it doesn’t pay off. It’s too late. I think I need to make getting a warehouse a priority but it just doesn’t feel right when I play. I always feel like I have to save all my cash for a big building. The coffee plant pays for itself and so does the office, that’s how I justify it.

My problem is that while I am saving to get the building I want, every body else is crafting and shipping like crazy. I am looking for help with my strategy. Is it just really bad, or too slow. What could I do to make it win instead of coming in 5 to 10 points behind the winner?

Is there a rule about talking in this game? If not there should be. You shouldn’t get to talk to a player while they are deciding or before they have decided what they are going to do. I get d-bagged on this kind of thing a lot. People conspire against me because I have a big building first so I must be winning.

Thanks for the help gang
 
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Tim Schwarz
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I'm hardly a PR expert, but your listed strategy does not appear to produce a reliable source of income. Since you are not trying to get points from shipping, you need the game to end before the VP chips run out. That means you need to buy a building practically every round. As I said, you don't have a source of income, so you can't afford to build fast enough.

Does that help?

As an aside, why is the small market available so late in your games. I would expect that it run out before the third build.
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David Y
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Watch the video episode on Puerto Rico at BoardgameswithScott.com. At the end of the (quite lengthy) review and explanation of the game, Scott gives some strategy advice, particularly on the 'corn strategy'. If all of your game group is new to PR, you may find that this strategy will get you a victory, at least the first time you try it!

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Mil Myman
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Don't go straight for the big buildings - sure, they're worth points, but they don't do anything for you. Buy big buildings closer to the end of the game. Markets, Factory, or anything that helps you make money. Once you have that, you can concentrate on making points either by shipping or building (or both), and only then work on getting your big building. If you can afford a big building early on, you probably should buy a 3-point building instead, because they're very useful if the game still has a ways to go - get a Wharf, or a Harbor, or a Factory. Many people dislike the University, but I've won with it, it can be good especially combined with the Hospice and Residence (and any other big building - automatically manned at the end game for the full extra points).
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Trevor Schadt
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To piggyback off of what Tim already said, I spotted this potentially devastating point (emphasis mine):

donnyrides wrote:
all the while randomly shipping corn, coffee and indigo.


Coffee is not to be shipped, oh no no no. Coffee is to be sent to the trading house, in a nice little box wrapped in a little bow that says "For the low, low price of 5 doubloons, 6 if I take the trader, plus my market bonus(es)." Maybe, at the end of the game -- MAYBE -- when you've built everything you want to build, if there's a way to ship that coffee off for points, then ship it. But that's a big "maybe," and still only if you're going for a "victory-through-shipping" strategy instead of "victory-through-building."

Also, I don't know if you put your game goals in the order in which you try and accomplish them, but I noticed this:
donnyrides wrote:
save up for a big building and get city hall. (I think this is my biggest flaw) - this normally puts a target on my back
build office


Why are you trying to build a 4pt building before building the office? Hie thee to the office first, my boy, and thou shalt find thy trading profits rise, nay, double in fact!

The standard progression for a successful game of PR is to build a cash engine first. Then, in mid-game, you use that cash to build an engine for creating VPs (usually through diversified means of shipping, or through a building rush). Late-game, you eschew money almost entirely (this would be the *only* time when I'd consider shipping coffee, and that's only if I was the only coffee producer, to block the other players from the boat) except for what you need to snag up that tasty, tasty 4-point building (or buildings!) towards which you've been gearing your strategy the whole game.

If you tie your money up in the 4-pointer too early, you won't be able to develop the rest of your board to best take advantage of it.
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Jimmy Superfly Snuka
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I feel like there is a rush to get a big building. in our games It seems like having 2 big buildings will get you the win.

So far what I have learned from all of you is:
1.Just wait on the big buildings.
2.Use my early money on a wharf or a harbor instead of a big building
3.try not to ship coffee.

I always get forced into shipping all my coffee from other players, but you guys are telling me now to choose captain and ship it off myself.

How early should I get a warehouse?
Is a factory a waste of cash if I go for a small warehouse, small market and a office?

We don't play often enough for me to test it out myself, which is probably the best wy to learn.

Nobody in our group has a real strategy in place. They win by luck and victory just kinda falling in their lap. I would like to learn about the game and learn to be a strong player.

Thanks for the help guys. This is really the most helpful and friendly forum on the Internet for sure.
 
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Tim Schwarz
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I suggest playing online. There are a couple places listed on the PR page. I've used the one that requires installation of Curl (something like flash, I think), and it has AI that you could play.
 
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Travis Hall
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donnyrides wrote:
I always get forced into shipping all my coffee from other players, but you guys are telling me now to choose captain and ship it off myself.

Only in very specific circumstances. The more general case is to avoid shipping coffee, if possible, and trade it instead.

Which leads to another piece of tactical advice... Often, you want to avoid producing coffee until you are also producing something else as well. That makes it much harder for your opponents to force you to ship coffee. (Another coffee producer can ship it himself or herself, of course, forcing you to do likewise, but that screws that player as badly as you.) You ship the cheap goods first, and only have to ship the coffee if the group can go an entire round and more of shipping without putting something on all three ships.

donnyrides wrote:
Is a factory a waste of cash if I go for a small warehouse, small market and a office?

Most likely the office is the waste of cash in that set of buildings. The office is a very situational building. If you don't have a specific reason to need it - player to your right relying on the same cash crop as yourself, for example - don't buy it.
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Joe Mucchiello
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Take all the advice here with a grain of salt. All of it is very good but until you understand why it is good advice, it isn't really helpful.

Try this: Make your goal to amass great wealth. You still want to win the game but make a primary goal money. You have attained this goal if you are always able to buy the buildings your want when you want them.

Which purple building should you build first to achieve this goal? Small Market. First turn, preferably before someone Mayors. Choose builder and take a small market for free. When someone settles diversify your plantations. No more than one of each kind if you can because your goal is to grab a factory later. Never Craft, crafting just lets someone else have the best chance to get into the trade house. Prefer to Trade so you get the bonus doubloon.

Buildings to avoid: Construction Hut, Hacienda, Hospice. Why? Frankly they aren't that good and they also don't help you get money. If you must have a quarry. Settle, once, early and never again. But the goal here is learn how to make money not how to buy buildings so don't go after quarries while in this learning stage.

Never mayor unless it will net you 2 or more doubloons sitting on it or there are N+1 colonists on the colony ship (where N is the number of players). Never settle either unless it's the only way to get the fifth plantation type. Never captain unless it will stop someone else from filling up the trading house (or there's a lot of doubloons on it). A prospector with (sometimes 1 but always) 2 doubloons on it is better than a role that benefits other more than you.

Prefer a small warehouse over the office. Since you should have many different plantations, a small warehouse protects you against filled ships. If you fall shy of the factory don't console yourself with an office it means you won't get the factory the next time. You should have 3 goods in production by the time you can grab a factory. At that point the factory pays for itself in 3.5 craftsman phases.

Will this make you win? Not really. It's not a good strategy against experienced players. Only use this strategy with your friends who are at the same beginner stage of the game. The point of this exercise is to learn what makes a good financial engine.

Once you've done this a couple times, try a corn strategy and ship ship ship. I'll let someone else explain the corn strategy.
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Dan The Man
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The key is to try new ideas and combinations and see what happens!

I, for instance, rarely acquire quarries, unless I am first player. About half the time I get a small market (usually they sell out in the first builder phase) and a third of the time I get a warehouse. You are correct, factory has to be bought fairly early - I often buy it (if I'm going to) with only one or two goods in production, expecting to get four goods in a few turns.

I'm mostly a builder and opportunistic shipper, but have won with 5 corn and no "income source" except the accumulated doubloons on roles (it WAS a weird game!). I saved for a wharf.

The point is, any opportunistic strategy, properly adapted, can win the game, given the proper play by one's opponents. Think about what other people are likely to do, and craft your way so that THEY choose the roles you want them to (often you can maneuver them to do your bidding!), leaving you to take the cream off the top with your role selections.

It takes practice, and doesn't always work, but can be a delight when it does come together (kind of like a Bene Geserit win in Dune!).

Also, know that 3, 4, and 5 play very differently, and worthless buildings in three can be game-sinners winners in 5. [Freudian slip]
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Sebastian
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donnyrides wrote:
I feel like there is a rush to get a big building. in our games It seems like having 2 big buildings will get you the win.


This may be true (especially in 4- and 5-playergames). But I'd say you are not because you managed to buy two big buildings, but because you were able to build up a healthy economy to buy these two expensive buildings.

If you try to win with a building strategy you will generally have a hard time if you're up against 3 or 4 shippers. Victory points will run down to fast.
Often the key to victory with a building strat is to block a ship early in the game (possibly a big one). Get one of your tobaccos/coffees/something else nobody else has yet on one of the ships and see them struggle freeing this ship up for their cheap mass goods again.
 
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Jan Siwanowicz
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The main problem I have spotted is that you treat Puerto Rico as a game where the strategy can be laid out beforehand. I believe that part of a successful approach to Puerto Rico is to be flexible, to play a shipping strategy one game, a building strategy another game, and a hybrid yet another game.

In some games the Guild Hall will indeed be valuable, while others the City Hall will be better, or one of the other big buildings. Seating in Puerto Rico matters, with player one opening Settler-quarry being a good way of starting a building strategy.

In the same opening, a corn player getting a second corn plantation on the first round Settler might push him to go for shipping, while getting a Sugar or Tobacco might be a good set up for developing to a Factory based economy. Tobacco or Coffee lend themselves well to a Market based strategy. The variations are endless and people often switch strategies midgame to adjust what the others are doing.

Check out the Strategy section of the Forum on the Puerto Rico page. Also, consider logging onto brettspielwelt and watching a few games. When watching a game, pick a player with a high win percentage and follow their choices.

If watching me play (username JanSiwanowicz) feel free to ask me questions about my game choices.

BSW commands:
to check out a person's win %, type /info USERNAME
to send a private tell, type /tell USERNAME MESSAGE
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Pieter
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I do not think it is a good idea to try to imitate strategies laid out by other players. It damages the fun to be gained from Puerto Rico. There is a lot to discover here, and getting it spelled out will not help you to enjoy the game.

That said, what I think you need is a few simple pointers to help you in making choices. These are mine:

(1) Focus. Focus on either shipping or building. Both can win the game for you. What focussing means is that if you decide to go for building, only buy stuff that helps you building, i.e., things that produce money. And if you decide to go for shipping, only buy stuff that helps you with that, i.e., things that preserve your goods and gain you more victory points. If you are on a building strategy, it makes no sense to buy the Harbor when the Factory is still available, while if you are on a shipping strategy, it's vice versa. Focussing helps you deciding in what you should buy.

(2) Once you have chosen shipping or building, know your goal. Your goal for building is to end the game as quickly as possible by filling up your town (or, in a pinch, by running out of colonists). Your goal for shipping is to drag out the game long enough to get sufficient victory points for the win, and end the game on running out of them.

(3) Know that the weakest role is obviously the Craftsman. The Craftsman will generally be followed by the Trader, who is then followed by the Captain. You will be last in line to sell your goods (often making it impossible to sell anything), and next-to-last in line to ship your goods (often leading to rot because you cannot ship). "Never choose the Craftsman" is a good rule of thumb. There are exceptions, but you will discover these for yourself when you have a better grasp of the game.

(4) Know that, in general, early in the game money is of more importance than later in the game. Propecting is often a valid choice.

(5) Try to produce something different from the person on your right hand side, so that that person cannot stop you from trading.
 
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James Faulkner
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Flyboy Connor wrote:
I do not think it is a good idea to try to imitate strategies laid out by other players. It damages the fun to be gained from Puerto Rico. There is a lot to discover here, and getting it spelled out will not help you to enjoy the game.

Strongly agree with this. The process of discovery is often more enjoyable than mastery.

Flyboy Connor wrote:

(1) Focus. Focus on either shipping or building. Both can win the game for you. What focussing means is that if you decide to go for building, only buy stuff that helps you building, i.e., things that produce money. And if you decide to go for shipping, only buy stuff that helps you with that, i.e., things that preserve your goods and gain you more victory points. If you are on a building strategy, it makes no sense to buy the Harbor when the Factory is still available, while if you are on a shipping strategy, it's vice versa. Focussing helps you deciding in what you should buy.

Just to note that although Focus can help the beginner it is nice to know that balanced strategies can be competitive too. I very rarely decide early game that I am going to be a Builder or Shipper. In fact focusing on Building or Shipping if everyone else in the game is doing the opposite can destroy your chances of doing well. Flexibility is key and then around mid game you may note that it is more in your interests to end the game early through Building or let it flow with as much shipping as the others allow.

Flyboy Connor wrote:

(3) Know that the weakest role is obviously the Craftsman. The Craftsman will generally be followed by the Trader, who is then followed by the Captain. You will be last in line to sell your goods (often making it impossible to sell anything), and next-to-last in line to ship your goods (often leading to rot because you cannot ship). "Never choose the Craftsman" is a good rule of thumb. There are exceptions, but you will discover these for yourself when you have a better grasp of the game.

Rather than a weak role, i like to think of Craftsman as a Dangerous role that needs careful consideration before taking. Also worth noting that sometimes it can be a little less dangerous if you are selecting it last in a round as then you will not be last in line for trading/shipping as the Governor is just about to move round.
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Joe Mucchiello
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UlyZed wrote:
The articles pinned to this forum are as good as any strategy guide on this site. If you don't want the discovery of the game ruined for you fair enough, but they will be much more concise than the ramblings offered here .

I disagree. The heavy strategy guides, especially Alexfrog's openings article were a terrible cause of group think on BSW when he wrote them. They are best read by intermediate players looking to become advance players. Beginners need to experiment on their own before having the minds blown by the heavier strategy guides.

That's why my advice was to pick an idea and try it. Make money. It's not the goal of the game but it is something one must master to become a better player.
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Pieter
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UlyZed wrote:
I don't like this advice at all.

That's your perogative.

UlyZed wrote:
Firstly you tell a player who comes to the forum for advice that he should experiment. I can understand that. However, then you give him your two cents?!

The point is that I am not spelling out strategies. I don't say "You should start by taking the Settler first turn and get a Quarry." That is in itself generally a good move, but the novice player does not know or understand why it is a good move.

The problem with a novice player is that he has all these options in front of him, and has no idea how to choose between them. So he picks something at random. Then he loses and has no idea how to become better.

What I wanted to do is give the OP some pointers on how you can make decisions. Focus is one way: if you decide to focus on building, and with every choice you just consider: "does this help me building?" you have a way to make consistent decisions. You have a feeling that you help your strategy, that your choices make sense. You might still lose, but you have more grasp on why you lost.

Of course, I could have just written the first sentence and leave it at that. But that is just condescending, and obviously not what the OP asked for.
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Joe Mucchiello
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Balou wrote:
In the first group I can see construction hut, the warehouses and hacienda, whereas hospice, university and office are in the latter. Markets seem to be a good choice with every player number.

Advanced strategies generally eschew Construction Hut, Haceinda and Hospice regardless of the number of players. Office, Large Warehouse and (expect for a quick 3 endgame points) University are also less common in advanced strategies but not as rare as the first three.
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Joe Mucchiello
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I never said anything bad about the small warehouse. Hospice is still least useful. The haceinda can be just as easily destroy a corn strategy as help it.
 
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Jimmy Superfly Snuka
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I have been playing online on the curl game. I have been playing the 3 player against the AI in all different positions. I have been taking all of your advice and coming up my own strategy. My favorite is:

sm market – for extra cash
Coffee- big cash maker
office
large Indigo or sugar – need to get something other than corn and coffee to ship
harbor – I’m not shipping a lot, so I need to maximize each Captain phase
warehouse – only if captain starts killing me
guild hall – If I get this I spend all my cash on processing plants because the setup allows 1 for each player unlike the city buildings.
fortress – when you have the processing plants, you can end the game with a lot of workers.

I know I am only playing against the AI, but this is really helping me learn how to make $$. I know you guys don’t like the office, but I can sell a coffee on every turn and let somebody else choose the builder. I can generate so much $$ that I don’t have to worry about the 1 coin discount it gives for choosing it. I can choose trader a lot and settler when corn is out there or settler when a bunch of junk like sugar and indigo are out there.

Please feel free to critique, tweak or constructively criticize my strategy

Thank you all for your time and input to help make me a better player.
 
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Hi Don,

First of all, I would advice reading some of my strategy articles on Puerto Rico.

Here is one that summarizes the most important principles:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/15371/puerto-rico-strate...


Regarding the general strategy you posted:
I think this strategy starts out well.

Construction Hut is a viable early building (it is better the more players there are in the game, so its best in 5 and worst in 3). Quarries are very helpful throughout the game, and Construction Hut is a good build from positions where you probably wont be able to take the settler often.


Going for coffee is awesome, provided that you arent sitting right after someone else who can get it. (In which case, tobacco is better. Sugar is always a decent backup, as it is cheap to get the small sugar plant and trades pretty well).

Your quarries, corn, and coffee strategy is good, these are the best plantations types in general. (Obviously it depends on the specifics, but in general these are best).


On small market: I like it and often get it first (though in your strategy you are getting Con Hut instead). With experienced opponents, there shouldnt be small markets left after the first build phase.

One important note is that you should focus on making corn or indigo before the coffee, so you have a protector good - you ship it instead of the coffee, and then by the time it gets back to you all three boats are occupied with non-coffee goods. This way you dont have to ship your trade good early.
(Also note that later on you want that coffee on a boat! It gets you points and blocks other players, reducing their shipping vps).



Once you get your income going (coffee/market/quarries), your strategy is to get City Hall. This is probably where you are going wrong.

It is generally most effective in the midgame to either improve your shipping capability (Small Warehouse, Harbor, Wharf), or to further improve income capacity (Factory, Large Market, maybe office).

In the Later midgame you could start getting the large buildings.

I generally would not target City Hall first. Its fine, but the two strongest buildigns are generally Guild Hall (for a builder focused strategy), or Customs House (for a shipping focused strategy). If you get Guild Hall, then you can repeatedly choose builder, pay about $0-1, combined with quarries and builder discount, and get a 2-3 point production building that gives +2 off guild hall.

This is a strong scoring strategy that can also race the game end on both your building track, and the colonists (because you keep building 3 capacity buildigns, and you end up sitting there with like 10 empty spots on the mayor). For a builder, ending the game fast before the shippers make huge endgame shipping scores is important.


Secondly, you probably need to focus on shipping more. A mixed strategy that ships well and gets at least one large buildings, and plenty of building points with help from some trade income and quarries, is generally the strongest strategy. Harbor is the strongest midgame building in a 3-4 player game, and it works very well with a strategy of focusing on getting your rarest goods onto ships, blocking the boats so others cant use them and repeatedly scoring points yourself. You can force opponents to waste time getting wharves to ship their goods because your blocking the boats, or to simply not want to craft (while you then continue to captain your one leftover good, or you go build large indigo plant for 2 points + 2 off guild hall, for free). Small Warehouse is an excellent building for imporving shipping vps over the long term, that is cheap and can be built early (either right after your trade good building like Coffee roaster, or after that plus harbor).


One final note is that no strategy is always going to work. Your seat factors heavily into your strategy, as do the role choices and strategies of your opponents. Learning more versatility in your strategy is helpful, and its important to know when its better to go for a change like tobacco over coffee, or factory, large market, or office over harbor.

Hope that helps!
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donnyrides wrote:
I need some strategy help

If you were to listen to just one person's advice, Alexfrog should be it.

He's one of the few here who's advice on Puerto Rico, you do not have to take with a grain of salt.

Go over his strategy articles with a fine-tooth comb and you could potentially come out with the ability to maintain an 80% win-rate against competent online opponents at www.pr-game.com

Good luck & enjoy the game.

.
 
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Eric Nielsen
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donnyrides wrote:

Coffee is not to be shipped, oh no no no. Coffee is to be sent to the trading house, in a nice little box wrapped in a little bow that says "For the low, low price of 5 doubloons, 6 if I take the trader, plus my market bonus(es)." Maybe, at the end of the game -- MAYBE -- when you've built everything you want to build, if there's a way to ship that coffee off for points, then ship it.


If you have a Coffee monopoly, get that on a boat ASAP after 1 or 2 trades. Preferably, put it on the big boat right after it clears once.

Putting monopolized coffee on a boat is like buying a wharf. Actually, it's far better than a wharf, since it limits everybody else in the game to only two boats. In a three-player game, the big boat holds 40% of the barrels. Plant your flag on that! The high barrier to entry for coffee production protects your monopoly quite well, especially if everybody has already made their first level II/III purchase.

Yes, you absolutely DO want your first coffee to trade. One coffee trade + grabbing pennies will buy you a harbor. After that, claiming the big boat is a nearly guaranteed 8-10 points and it also denies your opponents about 1-3 points each. Later in the game, just by the timing, you'll still be able to trade coffee again once or twice. That income will get you a bonus building. The pennies will fill in the gaps.

I've seen countless of players with a very strong corn-coffee start piss away their huge lead because they were frightened of ever shipping their coffee until the last round. Yeah, it's scary to ship your only major income source, but if you have an early harbor, you don't need any money for quite a while. How many games would you lose if you got to buy a wharf for 4 doubloons and subtract 40% from your opponents' shipping scores?
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