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Alex Rockwell
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Puerto Rico Strategy Principles (Condensed) by Alex Rockwell


Note: There will be little explanation for statements made here. These concepts are explained in detail in posts on Boardgamegeek by myself and icetrey (jimc). You will note that each principle leads clearly to the following principle(s).


Principle #1: The importance, and decreasing value, of money.

At the beginning of the game, money is of huge importance, but doubloons decrease in value as the game progresses. At the beginning of the game, one doubloon should be valued as worth several VPs, and thus money and income are EXTERMELY important early on. In the midgame, doubloons and VPs are approximately equivalent in value, and by the end of the game VPs are more important. Because of this, one should focus on money and income early, on using that money to create a source of points (production facilities, enhanced income abilities, shipping based buildings) in the midgame, and on scoring as many points as possible in the endgame. Note that in the midgame, income can be seen as a point source because it facilitates the purchase of the large buildings.

This effect is due to the fact that money invested in buildings early in the game will produce a huge return, while money invested in buildings later on will be lucky to give you an even return of points to doubloons.


Principle #2: The importance of the Trader.


As a source of money, the Trader's importance decreases as the value of money decreases (due to principle #1). Very early on in the game, an early trade of a small good, with a couple bonuses (market, bonus doubloon), can be gamebreaking. The first time that big goods like coffee and tobacco are traded is also extremely important. In the midgame, the Trader is of moderate importance, and in the endgame it is nearly worthless, as its benefit is greatly reduced.

A defensive Captain move which forces opponent's trade goods onto the boats, early in the game, while maintaining one's own valuable good, can be extremely powerful.


Principle #3: Diversification and Monopolization of goods.

Because of the importance of the Trader early on (principle #2), having a monopoly of one good (of significant value) is extremely helpful, as you will be able to trade that good consistently during the trading phase, producing income. Similarly, producing many types of goods also aids you to be able to trade something during the trading phase. Diversification also enables you to clear a partially full trading house, and thus trade once again with your more valuable good.

It is very difficult to trade a valuable good that the player before you is also producing, so this situation should be avoided, and/or you should have a backup good which can provide you income. While you would much prefer a monopoly, if you must share a good type with someone, it is best if that player is the player immediately after you. Note that it is far easier to create a monopoly or near monopoly of tobacco or coffee due to the high barriers to entry in producing those goods.

Because of the importance of diversification, producing one indigo and/or one sugar is very helpful, but producing (and acquiring plantations for) multiple indigo or sugar is quite wasteful and should be avoided. Multiple corn, tobacco or coffee is ok, since producing more than one of these goods costs no more than producing one of them.


Principle #4: The importance of the boats.

The types of goods on the boats are highly important. Primarily, having a type of good on a boat makes it more difficult to trade that good (since the Captain phase will take it away), and far easier to ship that good. This is of most importance for high value goods which are produced in small quantities, because those goods are valuable in trade, and if put on a ship, the ship will fill slowly, and thus exist for a long time.

It is of extreme importance early on that the type of good which is the source of your income not be placed on a boat, as this will deny you income since you cannot hold on to your trade good. (Remember principle #1, early on money is much better than points). Later in the game, the opposite becomes true, you want to ship your rare good, such that it blocks a ship from being used by good types of your opponents, and denies them points. This shift occurs as points come to be more important than money. In order to keep your valuable goods off of the boats early on, producing other goods as well, which you can ship during the captian phase in lieu of your valuable good is very important. This cheap good such as corn, indigo, or even sugar, 'protects' your more valuable good from being placed on a boat.

The condition of the boats represents a long term stable aspect of the board position, which should be looked at to determine what one's midgame and late game strategy will be. If you have created a position where there are slow filling boat(s) of good type(s) that you have, you have good chances of being able to ship effectively, but reduced income chances, and should thus focus on shipping point based buildings such as the harbor. If you have a position where there are slow filling boats (or repeated partially filled boats of good types you do NOT have, you should focus more on trading and producing money, and building to provide your points, since having your goods off the boats creates improved trading chances and reduced shipping chances.


Principle #5: Craftsman Fear


Because of the importance of the Trader and of the boats, the timing of the Craftsman phase is of high importance. Typically, the players directly after the player who chooses the craftman will have the greatest opportunities to trade and ship their goods, while the player who chooses the Craftsman has the worst opportunities. Thus you must be very careful in choosing the Craftsman that you do not help your opponents more than yourself as a result of these improved opportunities.

Craftsman fear stems from the fear that if one chooses the Craftsman role, they will be late in the trade phase and thus not be able to trade effectively, and late in the Captain phase and thus be forced to discard many goods and/or not be able to choose which good types go on the boats.

If you have a more shipping oriented position, your goal will be to reduce your own Craftsman fear such that you can craft effectively and profit from shipping. If you have a more building oriented position, your goal will be to promote Craftsman fear in others, such that they will not want to choose Craftsman frequently, as you do not benefit from it as much as they do.

Ways to reduce Craftsman fear are:
A) Acquire a diversity of goods. B) Acquire a monopoly or near monopoly of one or more good types, and/or create boats of rare good types which you produce. C) Purchase buildings such as the warehouse, markets, office, factory, harbor, and wharf, depending on the needs of your position.

Ways to promote greater Craftsman fear in others are:
A) Create boats of good types they do not have, or are only produced in small quantities. B) Cause the Trader to become partially filled. C) Build buildings such as the factory, which will benefit you greatly during a Craftsman phase.


If you can mange to control Craftsman fear (reduce your own if you need to, maintain that of opponents if you need to), and also to control the state of the boats, then you can execute your strategy effectively in the mid and late game, when the majority of the points are scored.

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Yehuda Berlinger
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Re:Puerto Rico Strategy Principles (Condensed)
Alexfrog (#21325),

[It's kind of wierd to be carrying on the same discussions in two different forums. Do all people who read BGG also read the Yahoo PR group? Vice versa? Is there a net different flavour between them?]

> Puerto Rico Strategy Principles (Condensed) by Alex Rockwell
>
>
> Note: There will be little explanation for statements made here.
> These concepts are explained in detail in posts on Boardgamegeek by
> myself and icetrey (jimc). You will note that each principle leads
> clearly to the following principle(s).
>
>
> Principle #1: The importance, and decreasing value, of money
>
> At the beginning of the game, money is of huge importance, but
> doubloons decrease in value as the game progresses. At the
> beginning of the game, one doubloon should be valued as worth
> several VPs, and thus money and income are EXTERMELY important
early
> on. In the midgame, doubloons and VPs are approximately
> equivalent in value, and by the end of the game VPs are more
> important. Because of this, one should focus on money and income
> early, on using that money to create a source of points (production
> facilities, enhanced income abilities, shipping based buildings) in
> the midgame, and on scoring as many points as possible in the
> endgame. Note that in the midgame, income can be seen as a point
> source because it facilitates the purchase of the large buildings.
>
> This effect is due to the fact that money invested in buildings
> early in the game will produce a huge return, while money invested
> in buildings later on will be lucky to give you an even return of
> points to doubloons.

How do you get money? The sources of money are: Trader, GP on phases
untaken last round, and Factory.

In addition:

- A single quarry is worth 1 GP every time you buy a building, once
it is manned - i.e. when taken early, worth several GP. A second
quarry is worth an additional GP when you buy some buildings once it
is manned - i.e. worth a few GP. The next quarry is already becoming
difficult to utilize effectively, both by the lateness of acquisition
and manning, the limitation of what you can do with it, and the fact
that it is still one step away in the process of acquiring VP's. So
avoid unless you really have nothing better to do.

Note also, that these "several GP" are spread over rounds, not
bunched up at once, which means you can use a quarry to get a
slightly better building, but not to get a much bigger building,
unless you are careful.

- The buildings that boost money are: Sm/Lg Market, Construction Hut
(in acquiring quarries), Sm Sugar Mill/Tobacco/Coffee for producing
goods worth selling, and Office in very rare situations.


Sm Market will almost always return to you the value you spent on
it. It is useful as a stepping stone in acquiring an early Tobacco,
Coffee, or Factory to be your real money producer. After that, if
you have to choose, the colonist is better sitting on your quarry
than on your Sm Market.

Lg Market is twice the value, for five times the price. It is
worthwhile if you produce 2 or 3 cheap goods, and/or Factory is not
an option for some reason. You will have to Trade at least 3 times
for the value to be returned. It is also worth 1 VP less than
factory (not a huge factor, but a factor).

Constr Hut is useful only to get the one or two quarries you need
that you would not otherwise get, which means in a 5 player game.
After that, it is the loneliest building in PR.

Sm Sugar/Tobacco/Coffee (and as a backup, Sm Indigo) are your means
of getting cash crops to sell in the Trader. Note the prices:
2 for Sm Sugar, producing Sugar you can sell for 2, 5 for Tobacco
(3), 6 for Coffee (4). As you can see, efficiency wise, Sm Sugar
and Coffee are more efficient than Tobacco for Trading. Tobacco
gives you slighter greater shipping advantages later, however.

Office, costing 5, will alllow you to trade a valuable good when
your RHO is producing it, and blocks you with trading it, and
manages to craft again and trade it again before the next trader
comes to you (since the trader probably emptied). If Office can
solve this problem at least twice, it might help you.

A note about Factory: Factory is really an oddball building, in that
rather than relax a restriction or enhance an effect, it causes an
effect which is out of place from the normal flow of the game.
The flow is settler/build/mayor/craft/trade/build (to buy buildings),
or settler/build/mayor/craft/ship (to ship). Instead of producing
more goods (which would have been expected), Factory produces GP and
goods. Usually you have to craft/trade to get money. Factory
eliminates a phase for you, which is a huge advantage.

Hospice and University are also oddball in this sense, but the effect
that they produce, and the cost of the building, are just not enough
to make them serious game disturbances.

Producing corn is also an oddball in the shipping track, in that you
skip the build requirement.

> Principle #2: The importance of the Trader
>
> As a source of money, the Trader's importance decreases as the
value
> of money decreases (due to principle #1). Very early on in the
> game, an early trade of a small good, with a couple bonuses
(market,
> bonus doubloon), can be gamebreaking. The first time that big
goods
> like coffee and tobacco are traded is also extremely important. In
> the midgame, the Trader is of moderate importance, and in the
> endgame it is nearly worthless, as its benefit is greatly reduced.
>
> A defensive Captain move which forces opponent's trade goods onto
> the boats, early in the game, while maintaining one's own valuable
> good, can be extremely powerful.

Think how many trades you need to make in order to get what you
want. E.g. in order to get a building. You have A quarries, B GP,
can apply C quarries, you will get D GP out of taking the Builder
(money on the builder plus 1 GP reduction ... but don't count on
being able to take the builder), so you need to acquire E GP, which
means you need to trade F times. If F is more than 2, you are in
trouble. F should ideally be 1 (or 0).

If you didn't manage to trade for your building in mid-end game,
consider carefully before buying a smaller building to get the VP, to
see if you will still have money and opportunity to buy the building
you want next time the builder phase comes about. But do consider it.

Corrolary: if you still plan to buy a big building, consider very
carefully before filling your 10th building spot, since you many not
be able to man the big building before the game ends (from having all
of your building spaces full).

> Principle #3: Diversification and Monopolization of goods
>
> Because of the importance of the Trader early on (principle #2),
> having a monopoly of one good (of significant value) is extremely
> helpful, as you will be able to trade that good consistently during
> the trading phase, producing income. Similarly, producing many
> types of goods also aids you to be able to trade something during
> the trading phase. Diversification also enables you to clear a
> partially full trading house, and thus trade once again with your
> more valuable good.

Diversification helps significantly with: Trading, Factory, Harbor.
Specialization helps with Sm Warehouse, Wharf.

Coffee is easiest to monopolize, since it costs more to get going,
and there are less coffee plantations available. Corn is easiest to
specialize in.

> It is very difficult to trade a valuable good that the player
before
> you is also producing, so this situation should be avoided, and/or
> you should have a backup good which can provide you income. While
> you would much prefer a monopoly, if you must share a good type
with
> someone, it is best if that player is the player immediately after
> you. Note that it is far easier to create a monopoly or near
> monopoly of tobacco or coffee due to the high barriers to entry in
> producing those goods.
>
> Because of the importance of diversification, producing one indigo
> and/or one sugar is very helpful, but producing (and acquiring
> plantations for) multiple indigo or sugar is quite wasteful and
> should be avoided. Multiple corn, tobacco or coffee is ok, since
> producing more than one of these goods costs no more than producing
> one of them.
>
>
> Principle #4: The importance of the boats
>
> The types of goods on the boats are highly important. Primarily,
> having a type of good on a boat makes it more difficult to trade
> that good (since the Captain phase will take it away), and far
> easier to ship that good. This is of most importance for high
> value goods which are produced in small quantities, because those
> goods are valuable in trade, and if put on a ship, the ship will
> fill slowly, and thus exist for a long time.
>
> It is of extreme importance early on that the type of good which is
> the source of your income not be placed on a boat, as this will
deny
> you income since you cannot hold on to your trade good. (Remember
> principle #1, early on money is much better than points). Later in
> the game, the opposite becomes true, you want to ship your rare
> good, such that it blocks a ship from being used by good types of
> your opponents, and denies them points. This shift occurs as
points
> come to be more important than money. In order to keep your
> valuable goods off of the boats early on, producing other goods as
> well, which you can ship during the captian phase in lieu of your
> valuable good is very important. This cheap good such as corn,
> indigo, or even sugar, 'protects' your more valuable good from
being
> placed on a boat.
>
> The condition of the boats represents a long term stable aspect of
> the board position, which should be looked at to determine what
> one's midgame and late game strategy will be. If you have created
a
> position where there are slow filling boat(s) of good type(s) that
> you have, you have good chances of being able to ship effectively,
> but reduced income chances, and should thus focus on shipping point
> based buildings such as the harbor. If you have a position where
> there are slow filling boats (or repeated partially filled boats of
> good types you do NOT have, you should focus more on trading and
> producing money, and building to provide your points, since having
> your goods off the boats creates improved trading chances and
> reduced shipping chances.

Remember that each shipment with Harbor gives you an additional VP.
So if you can ship 3 barrels of 3 different types, you get 6 VP. 3
goods of one type will only give you 4 VP with harbor. On the other
hand, if you are locked out of the boats, having Wharf (and often Sm
Warehouse) will give you those 3 VP you would otherwise have lost.

Often seen patterns in phase taking:

- double craft, when you have a warehouse or wharf. Usualy this
means: someone will not get their full good production, someone will
be dropping a lot of goods at the end of shipping, many people will
be locked out of boats ... all of which may mean nothing at all,
since dropping goods doesn't lose you any VP. The only thing that
matters is how much your opp ships, not how much your opp dumps.
- build or settler / craft, which prevents the person who just built
or acquired a new plantation from using it until the next round
- craft / trade or ship - not to your advantage if you did the craft
- build / mayor - usually worse for the mayor than for the builder,
since that was "just what he was hoping you would do" :-)
- double mayor - when you are going to be the first person to take
mayor next round, you will often leave the number of colonists
unbalanced to take advantage of it.
- double captain - second captain has a warehouse.
- double trader - seconde player was locked out of trading, but the
trading house emptied, so he just traded the next round with impunity.

> Principle #5: Craftsman Fear
>
> Because of the importance of the Trader and of the boats, the
timing
> of the Craftsman phase is of high importance. Typically, the
> players directly after the player who chooses the craftman will
have
> the greatest opportunities to trade and ship their goods, while the
> player who chooses the Craftsman has the worst opportunities. Thus
> you must be very careful in choosing the Craftsman that you do not
> help your opponents more than yourself as a result of these
improved
> opportunities.
>
> Craftsman fear stems from the fear that if one chooses the
Craftsman
> role, they will be late in the trade phase and thus not be able to
> trade effectively, and late in the Captain phase and thus be forced
> to discard many goods and/or not be able to choose which good types
> go on the boats.
>
> If you have a more shipping oriented position, your goal will be to
> reduce your own Craftsman fear such that you can craft effectively
> and profit from shipping. If you have a more building oriented
> position, your goal will be to promote Craftsman fear in others,
> such that they will not want to choose Craftsman frequently, as you
> do not benefit from it as much as they do.

If you have a shipping oriented position you may also want to
consider reducing the Craftsman fear of your RHO, so as to encourage
him to craft. Especially if he is not already the frontrunner.

> Ways to reduce Craftsman fear are: A) Acquire a diversity of
> goods. B) Acquire a monopoly or near monopoly of one or more
good
> types, and/or create boats of rare good types which you produce.
C)
> Purchase buildings such as the warehouse, markets, office, factory,
> harbor, and wharf, depending on the needs of your position.
>
> Ways to promote greater Craftsman fear in others are:
>
> A) Create boats of good types they do not have, or are only
produced
> in small quantities. B) Cause the Trader to become partially
> filled. C) Build buildings such as the factory, which will
benefit
> you greatly during a Craftsman phase.
>
>
> If you can mange to control Craftsman fear (reduce your own if you
> need to, maintain that of opponents if you need to), and also to
> control the state of the boats, then you can execute your strategy
> effectively in the mid and late game, when the majority of the
> points are scored.

Remember that half of your VP's or more may come from buildings.
Simply taking 3 VP buildings instead of 2 VP buildings will give you
more VPs at the end of the game, and these buildings are worth more
anyway.

Also, towards midgame and especially end game, it becomes relatively
easy to see how much a building is going to give you in terms of VP.
If you have a choice between Harbor, Wharf or a big building,
consider: Harbor will give me 3 VP plus X points for shipments. Wharf
will give me 3 VP plus Y points for shipments. This big building will
give me 4 VP plus X bonus points, probably.

Choose the big building that favours the phases you wnat to take
anyway. E.g. if you are hoping more Building phases will come, you
want Guild Hall or City Hall. If you are hoping more Shipping phases
will come (or can ensure that they will), you want Customs House.
Nobody is hoping more Mayor or Settler phases will come at the end of
the game, but if you already have 5 VP or more bonus from them,
and/or nothing better is left, take the appropriate one.

Remember also, that there are multiple production buildings, but
limited violet buildings. If you have a chioice between building one
this round and the other next round, consider if the building will be
gone before you have a chance to build it, unless you really need to
be producing that good asap.

Golden Rule: always remember that the same phases will be available
in the next round. Look forward a phase or two and a round or two!
Don't just think of what will happen during a single phase!

Yehuda
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Alex Rockwell
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Re:Puerto Rico Strategy Principles (Condensed)
There are many people who read BGG and not the yahoo group...

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Heinz Kiosk
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Re:Puerto Rico Strategy Principles (Condensed)
Yehuda,
> Instead of producing more goods (which would have been
> expected), Factory produces GP and goods.

The word factory here is being used in its archaic sense of trading warehouse, I think. Early explorer-colonial-traders were "factors" who set up "factories" which stored and traded goods available in those countries. Hence the production of goods generates extra GP from the factor if a factory has been built.

Tom
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Jim Campbell
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Re:Puerto Rico Strategy Principles (Condensed)
tom.mcclelland wrote:
Yehuda,
> Instead of producing more goods (which would have been
> expected), Factory produces GP and goods.

The word factory here is being used in its archaic sense of trading warehouse, I think. Early explorer-colonial-traders were "factors" who set up "factories" which stored and traded goods available in those countries. Hence the production of goods generates extra GP from the factor if a factory has been built.


Since the German title for this PR building is "Manufactur", I doubt that the designer was using the historical meaning you describe. That said, I'm glad that people know interesting things about history that they can apply to their everyday experience.

It seems like the flavor justification for the factory is that the same goods get produced while the doubloons represent the "value-added' effect of combining them into more complex exports. The colonist can convert sugar, indigo and coffee into...hmm...uh...coffee-flavored candy jeans--which are more valuable on the open market, donchaknow. I've long since abandoned efforts to force the flavor and themes in these games to match the functions on the board, so I never really thought about that until now.

Jim Campbell
(icetrey)
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Dan Hammond
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This is a great write up. I've only played a handful of games on BSW, but reading and doing my best to apply this information took me from losing every game by nearly 20 points to a solid 2nd with 48. I also had the most dubloons throughout most of the game and 3 green buildings to show for it. I probably should have won except I'm still terrible at shipping. I feel like there's a flow to shipping that I'm just not in-sync with. Guess I'll have to keep reading. Thanks!
 
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This is a very useful thread for new players. I have played 3-4 games already and can feel how these simply guideline can expand into very valuable insight. Good job!
 
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