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San Juan» Forums » Strategy

Subject: 2P Prefecture vs Library rss

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The following situation occurred today in a two player game.

Turn 1:
Player 1 chooses Builder and builds Quarry and discards to 0.
You are Player 2. Your hand is Prefecture, Library, Silver, Hero.

What is the right play for this turn and your first role next turn?
You have several options and expected choices from your opponent.

I played it incorrectly but we talked about it after the game and
came to a consensus on the right play. I think the following is the
correct sequence of plays.

Player 2:
Choose Prospector role. This forces him to choose Councillor. He
could "pass" by taking Trader but he needs to draw a card to try
to get an advantage from his Quarry. After he does this you now
have 2 more cards in hard (6) and he has only one. Assume he chooses
Councillor. (If he doesn't then the strategy changes but you can
"lock" him out of the next turn by starting with Prospector.)

Now the Governor moves to you and you build Library but save your
Prefecture. He can't build unless he drew Gold Mine, etc. You have
also now forced him to take Prospector. If he doesn't and takes
Councillor to dig for Carpenter, etc. You get an additional card
from his choice and then two from the Prospector. If he takes Prospector,
then you get to dig deep to try to find Carpenter or Quarry. From
this position it will be hard for you to lose unless you can never
find and purple "6" buildings.

I am interested to see if any veteran players think there is a more
optimal start. I also wanted to point out that there are a lot of
nuances to your role choice and building plans and you must take into
account what your opponent is likely to do.

-Rosco
 
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Ty Wyman
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I've played a few thousand games on BSW and most people there build Prefecture in Turn 1. I have rarely opted not to do so.
 
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Andrew Miller
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Haha, the Prefecture and Library are two of the three buildings I take out for two player games (the other being the Palace).

We played with them for a while though, before realizing that they were both game breakers if one player could get more than the other and game ruiners since we would both just race for those buildings.

I think, given the situation posed, that your analysis is correct and would be the optimal choice. I'd like to think that I or my friend would take producer rather than councillor as his second governor action just to deny me a card, but we would have no idea that you've got such good cards in hand. Councillor is just a no-brainer in that situation.

When I first read it, I thought that I might build the Prefecture first turn to capitalize on the first turn councillor, but that would be foolish, not only because it would give my opponent a better reason to *not* take Councillor as his second action (assuming I didn't on my turn, in an effort to maximize the cards gained that turn). To have a Library and Prefecture by the third turn would be outstanding, and unless those two were my opponent's second and third builds, he'd be out of the game (which is why we removed those buildings altogether).

--ElSoy
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Ty,
Can you speak to why you think that is a better play?

If I discard to 0 to build Prefecture, then I would be
taking the Prospector and he would (probably) take the
Councillor. So at the start of my Governor turn, I have
two cards and he has one. All three of our cards are
random and likely not buildable. So I then would take
Prospector again and let him take Councillor and hope
that my four cards contain something worth building for
my second role. Now, if I drew into Quarry or Carpenter
then I am set and off to the races but if not then I
would probably pass. On his Governor turn, I expect him
to take Prospector and I would follow with Councillor.
We both likely have something to build at this point but
he is getting the discount with the role. If I already
have Library in play with Prefecture in hand on his second
turn, then I build it for just 1 and the only role left
is Councillor which draws me two and he doesn't get the
building discount. I guess I am saying that the Library in
hand seems better to me than *maybe* drawing into Carpenter
or Quarry (the best options to really take off).

-Rosco
 
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Andrew Miller
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Well, you'd have three cards to his one after you prospect (one card) and he takes councillor (two cards for you). Slightly better odds, but not significant, since you're still throwing away an early Library.

--ElSoy
 
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Ty Wyman
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I am at work and can respond only briefly at the moment.

Prefecture is simply the no brainer play; it lets you see and keep the most cards. Early in the game, this is critical. (Indeed, beginners tend to overrely on it; continuing to choose Councilor even once their opponent builds a Prefecture.)

Library is an awkward first build. You will get its optimum use (Prospecting) only every other turn. I generally only open with it if I retain a good 2 value card to build on the next turn. (This is tricky, however, because few two value cards augment the Library well.) Library is better built after Quarry and/or Carpenter.

Let me stress, neither of these cards is a game-breaker. If your opponent opens with Prefecture, that simply sends you toward an Indigo-Well-Black Market type of game. (If there is a game-breaking deal, it is probably Quarry-Carpenter-City Hall.)
 
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Tom O'K
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I'd build Prefecture right away and toss the Library. It's the best possible first build I think. Library is somewhat overrated in 2 player. Unlike Prefecture it doesn't give you any benefit on the opponent's action. Therefore, the opponent is just as free (and in fact encouraged) to select Prospector and Builder (the most favorable Library actions) and thereby minimize your Library advantage. This can't be done against Prospector, which basically lets you own the councillor action completely. Plus it is 2 cards cheaper so it helps you get an early tempo advantage.
 
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Tom,
I understand that Prefecture is a strong play. My suggestion
was to play it on (most likely) turn 3. Then I have both in
play. If he chooses Prospector to deny it to me then I can
Builder and still get a card on his Councillor. No matter
which way it goes, I would have either Prefecture and (hopefully)
another good purple in play and 0 or 1 cards in hand at the
end of the third turn (his second turn). I would prefer that
other purple to be Library, Carpenter or Quarry. I have the
Library but don't know that I will draw into one of the others.
What if I draw all Tobacco and Sugar and monuments?

I wonder if "build Prefecture" would be the opinion if the
hand was Quarry, Prefecture, Silver, Hero. Thoughts?

-Rosco
 
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Ty Wyman
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My sense is always to focus on your eventual 6 card. Prefecture is a foundation for either the Guild Hall or City Hall. Library works far better on the latter than the former.

Once you have played Prefecture, you can move in any direction, Indigo, Tobacco, Quarry, Gold Mine, etc. Libary works best with a violet strategy, so you need Quarry and/or Carpenter up before building it.
 
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Tom O'K
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snarf21 wrote:
Tom,
I understand that Prefecture is a strong play. My suggestion
was to play it on (most likely) turn 3. Then I have both in
play. If he chooses Prospector to deny it to me then I can
Builder and still get a card on his Councillor. No matter
which way it goes, I would have either Prefecture and (hopefully)
another good purple in play and 0 or 1 cards in hand at the
end of the third turn (his second turn). I would prefer that
other purple to be Library, Carpenter or Quarry. I have the
Library but don't know that I will draw into one of the others.
What if I draw all Tobacco and Sugar and monuments?

I wonder if "build Prefecture" would be the opinion if the
hand was Quarry, Prefecture, Silver, Hero. Thoughts?

-Rosco


Yeah, but I still think tossing the Library is the right choice. First off, you get some card advantage out of the gate by depriving the opponent a card-gaining action in the first turn.

You get more turns worth of benefit from Prefecture, too, if you build it out of the gate vs. waiting till the third turn, during which the opponent has been digging the deck with councillor choices potentially pulling up his needed 6 building or his own prefecture or carpenter to boost speed further. He definitely doesn't have his 6 already since he spent all his cards making that quarry, and with no safe councillor action available it will hard as hell to get it. Remember, he's going for speed too with a first turn Quarry build. Early library can be a big slow down.

Also, don't ignore the potentially great choice of an early tobacco build at this time. It's cheap and fairly good for what it is, and exerts your dominance over even more of the potential actions. Also opens you up to a hybrid speed strategy with Black Market, Well, etc.
 
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Tom O'K
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snarf21 wrote:
I wonder if "build Prefecture" would be the opinion if the
hand was Quarry, Prefecture, Silver, Hero. Thoughts?


Forgot about this part of the question!

This would be much more tempting... pass the first build, prospect, take a card from opponent's councillor. 2nd turn: build prefecture, opponent prospects, then councillor to go into third turn with Quarry + (card) + (card) + (card) + (card) in hand.

I might go that way with it. As opposed to library it could ensure your desired third turn build even if opponent chooses builder as their first action.

Even if you did keep your library in the first example, probably better to build the Prefecture first as above.
 
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Nicolas De Herdt
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I think this shouldn't even be a topic of discussion, as the opening is allready a very big mistake.

You don't build as the first player. You take prospector and let the other build first. So you can wait to see what he chooses.

Now if he builds quarry, no question you don't build and take prospector. Nothing as strong as an early bibliothek + prefecture. So try to keep your bibliothek, build it asap while keeping only prefecture, and next turn you can build prefecture.
The 1 card advantage is nothing compared to have exactly the cars you need. What if you have 1 card extra and only sugar mills? Your early one card advantage vanishes in the mist.
 
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Andrew Miller
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nico*le*clodo wrote:
I think this shouldn't even be a topic of discussion, as the opening is allready a very big mistake.

You don't build as the first player. You take prospector and let the other build first. So you can wait to see what he chooses.


I like the idea of seeing what your opponent builds since your card count wouldn't be different, but come on, that's ridiculous! You're *giving* your opponent a possibly VERY high value card by allowing him to take builder!

If he has a Quarry in his hand and you take builder first, then he doesn't get to build it! He either delays his quarry a turn or three or builds something else and gets rid of it.

If you take Prospecter, suddenly he can afford it!

I STILL can't agree that a first turn Library and third turn Prefecture is better than a first turn Prefecture and NO Library.

The advantage your opponent gains by having two councillor phases where you get one card instead of two is VASTLY outweighed by the benefit the Library will give you through the game; two Prospectors and/or two Builders will make up that difference.

The Library helps out with any strategy, especially if you go the route of Production/Sale, and you're CERTAINLY going to win out when you're both going fishing for six buildings. The Library will give your opponent a reason to take Councillor for you, fueling your Prefecture (that is, getting five cards to look at to your two rather than getting two cards to your eight).

Sure, the Prefecture is a great first turn building, but it doesn't hold a candle to a third turn Prefecture with a Library behind it.

--ElSoy
 
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snarf21 wrote:
The following situation occurred today in a two player game.

Turn 1:
Player 1 chooses Builder and builds Quarry and discards to 0.
[...]


Lost me right there, why would anyone want to go and do a dumb thing like that?! Here's how I see it:

TURN 1
P1 Builds Quarry. P2 doesn't build anything.
P2 Prospects.
P1 Does Councillor, I assume.

TURN 2
P2 Builds Silver, or maybe instead Tobacco/Coffee if he picked one up and keep Silver to build later. (He can still build Silver to 0 even if P1 produced/traded on Turn 1). P1 can at best build a 1-value purple if he obtained one from Councillor in Turn 1, or otherwise nothing.
P1 Prospects, I guess.
P2 Produces, of course.

PROGNOSIS
P2 now has the makings of a good economic engine (Indigo plus Silver, or Indigo plus Tobacco/Coffee with Silver on the way), and should move into a sell-build-produce routine from now on, occasionally picking Prospector just to screw over P1. He'll sell next turn, and will look to further improve his engine with another mid/high value production unit and purple cards which help sales/production. He's well-placed for whatever cards show up, and should keep the pressure on P1 by building relentlessly. Meanwhile P1 has an Indigo and a Quarry and may have a weak violet building (or otherwise a couple of cards in hand). He'll be bumping along relying on prospector or counsellor for single cards each turn plus 1 from Indigo while P2 scores 4+ from sales and forces the pace on buildings.
 
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Dan H
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I'm new to San Juan, but I can see the dilemma. I'll try answering before reading your solution.

First, the skill level of the other player may be relevant. If your opponent isn't playing with any particular strategy beyond `build up some cheaper things now so I can build some expensive things later', you have more time to catch up should you fall behind. In that case, I'd be more inclined to build nothing, take Prospector when it's my choice, hope my opponent is bright enough to choose Councillor, and then Build my Library at the start of Turn 2.

If I'm playing against an opponent who's as good as me or better, I'd reason based on this play that she or he is going to be adopting a purple building-heavy strategy. Since I prefer that strategy as well, we'll both be choosing Councillor more often than Producer/Trader. If Councillor is being chosen (almost) every turn, the Prefecture is a reliable source of income for a purple building player. Giving up the Library would be a tough sacrifice, but with two players the odds are good I'll find another one later, when I can actually afford it.

So I'd build the Prefecture this turn, take Councillor when it's my choice, then (depending on my cards in hand) choose Builder or Councillor at the start of Turn 2.
 
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David "Elwood" Hitchcock
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Thanks for the tip Andrew.
I'll keep that in mind to try on my 2P games when it starts happening. So far it seems all I've been doing lately is teaching people in hopes to get a good field of opponennts.
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