(Jim, Jill, Caleb)
We enjoy playing San Juan and it's not unusual for it to get played several times a week. Our 10 year old really enjoys this, Saint Petersburg and Ticket to Ride right now. He's after me to teach him Puerto Rico but that hasn't happened yet.
The last few times we've played, Caleb hasn't done very well. I reminded him before the game tonight that building a better production building early on is important for generating cards so that you can keep up with the building that the other players are doing and not just build buildings that cost one or 2 cards the entire game. So, what does he do on the first build? He builds a Market Hall instead. Actually, since he didn't have another production building in hand, this was good alternative as it allowed his Indigo to trade for 2 cards instead of one. He continued to make good role choices and by the middle of the game had 3 production buildings, an Aqueduct, Trading Post and Market Stand in addition to the Market Hall. He was usually drawing a minimum of 5 cards on a trade but usually 6 or 7 and was able to build on every turn. In fact, he did get one building ahead of me and Jill.
Jill got a Coffee Roaster down early but had trouble coming up with violet buildings that worked well together. By the middle of the game, she had built several production buildings and eventually dropped a Guild Hall on the table to stay in the game.
I saw a lot of '6' buildings early in the game but couldn't save them for later since I needed to build. This can be frustrating but I try to set myself up so that I'm drawing a lot of cards late in the game to increase my chances of putting those cards back in my hand. I did end up with a Silver, Tobacco, Aqueduct and Trading Post by the middle of the game so I didn't have to worry about having enough cards during building. I ended up with a Statue and Arch in my hand and I held on to those to build as we went into the latter part of the game. I did get both of these on the table with a Hero but was unable to find a Column.
As the game was nearing the end, Caleb built his 11th building, a Palace. Jill and I built our 10th. Caleb was out of cards but Jill and I had a few left after this build. The Governor passed to Jill, she picked Builder and built yet another production building. I added another 2 point violet building. Everyone was at 11 buildings! I took Councilor to look for a Column or another '6' building and to keep 2 cards (Prefecture). Caleb Produced and the Governor passed to me. I had enough cards in hand to build and end the game. In retrospect, that would've been the most correct move for me to make. Instead, I traded, clearing all 3 of my production buildings so that I could try again for either a Column or a '6' building and I found neither. Caleb, on the other hand drew 5 cards, including a City Hall! He took Builder, building a City Hall. Jill built another Tobacco and I built a Silver. In the end, Caleb squeaked out a win with his final build. And that was good, because the 10 year old who hadn't won a game of San Juan for a couple of weeks finally won a well-played, close game!
Final scores: Caleb 32 (City Hall, Palace), Jim 31 (Arch, 4 cards in hand), Jill 31 (Guild Hall, 1 Card in hand)