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Subject: Session Report rss

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Joel Yoder
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The later arrivals were still in the midst of their game of Elfenland, so the rest of us decided to play Puerto Rico. That is, the devotees decided to play a three player game, and the rest of us decided soon afterwards to play a five player game. I was glad to get to play this one without the "sharks" of our group who play practically every Thursday and have all the strategies mapped out to a nicety. Players were Mick, Roberto, Brian, Mike, and me.

If Mike thought he got hosed in Dune, he really got hosed here; for some reason it always seemed like he was the person to dump goods into the ocean or not to receive them at all in the Craftsman stage. Brian pursued a simple strategy of shipping lots of corn and sugar from early in the game, while I pursued a coffee/office strategy (which I learned later is not one of the approved "winning" strategies, which perfectly illustrates why I don’t play with the "sharks" in the first place). I’m not sure exactly what strategy the rest were pursuing, which probably wasn’t a good thing.

Brian was in the lead for most of the game, shipping progressively more and more goods without anyone seemingly able to stop him. He didn’t even need the wharf, and barely needed the small warehouse. I managed to plug one ship up with coffee (involuntarily, it must be said) but either corn or sugar was always shipping, and a lot of turns it was both. Since nobody was shipping near as much as Brian he didn’t have much competition. Roberto diversified in goods but was unable to afford the factory for a long time, which pretty much put him out of it. Mike as I said seemed to perennially end up on the short side of the stick. I’m not sure what Mick was doing although he could probably explain his strategy if I asked him.

My strategy was simple. Get quarries when possible, ship very little, save up money first for an office, then for a coffee roaster, getting the small and large markets on the way. I diverged from the plan a little bit by getting some plantations I didn’t really have a use for, with the obscure notion that I might get a factory sometime. I almost did but Roberto got to it just before me. Anyway, by the end of the game with the quarries and coffee selling for 7 gold I was theoretically able to buy a 2-space building every turn.

Unfortunately the game was called on time right before the last turn. I think I was 6 or 7 points behind Brian, with the money in hand to buy a big building (and a manned University to populate it). This was one of the most frustrating abortive games I have ever played. Probably if we had played one more round Brian would have made another 7 or 8 points, which even with 11 or 12 from a large building would have made him the winner. But I’ll never know now, will I?

Puerto Rico is a great game, but this just reinforces my opinion that you have to play with people at your skill level. The mistakes I made would have cost me the game against the 20+ game experts in our group, and Brian would have found the boats blocked up a lot more often, too. In general I prefer to play games where everyone is still hunting for the best strategy–once I know a game so well that there aren’t any new techniques to be tried, it’s time to move on to something else.
 
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