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Subject: Is Corn the best way to start the game? rss

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Eddy B
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I've had about five sessions now with friends and it always seems like the first person who's able to stockpile on corn eventually wins the game.

Is corn the most valuable asset in the game to start off with?
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eryn roston
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I think it mostly depends on who your playing against. However I think the general consensus is that the player three (the first player who starts with corn) has a small advantage in most games.

-E
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Jon G
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Quote:
Is corn the most valuable asset in the game to start off with?


The main advantage of corn is that it only takes one colonist, and no buildings, to produce. If your group is very stingy with the colonists, as many people would say they "should be", having a bunch of corn frees up your dudes to man buildings and cash crops. If one or two of your indigo players buy a large indigo plant, or take mayor more often than is absolutely necessary, or if you take a hospice, there will be enough colonists around that this is less of an issue. You'll still want one corn for boat control, factory, harbor, etc, but having "enough" colonists removes corn's advantage.

The last game my wife and I played, she actually managed to get six corn plantations. Meanwhile, I had one of each plantation (actually produced all five goods twice!) and ran away with a builder/guild hall strategy. She came in a distant second because one of our newer players had mostly-empty production facilities all game, and flooded us with colonists, so I was able to man all those production facilities.
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Chip Dunning
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I think that the Corn strategy is the easiest to understand for new players. You only have to worry about Plantations. You get an your small warehouse, office, and large/small markets and trade and ship your goods. It is nice to have a private wharf to avoid people locking out the boats from your corn. Thus I think that you can generally do decent in the game with a small number of combinations.

I think that is draw - it is a very simple and straight-forward strategy that stands a good chance of winning. The office and warehouse are pretty key and you need at least 1 of the markets (although both are better).
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Erwin Lau
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The advantage is quite substantial.
So much so that my 6yo daughter cries everytime if she get the second place with indigo. I end up have to give the kids starting corn nomatter where they sit in all games.
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Patrick Sullivan
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edytwinky wrote:
I've had about five sessions now with friends and it always seems like the first person who's able to stockpile on corn eventually wins the game.

Is corn the most valuable asset in the game to start off with?


Yes, corn is the most valuable asset in the game to start off with because you can become very productive and very efficient by using corn over other labour-intensive goods. The problems inherent with an corn-stockpiling strategy are easily countered by buying a wharf (even a small warehouse helps alot but a wharf is far better). In my experience, if someone gets about 4 corn plantations (minimum) and secures a wharf, that player is in VERY good shape.

The trick is to not allow an early player to receive the majority of the corn plantations.

All this being said, it's a very common misconception among non-experienced players to think that a corn shipping strategy is 'broken' or unbeatable. I happen to think that a corn shipping strategy is very much beatable if other players play their tactics correctly.

Anyway, good observation you've made on the game and overall, I would definately say that yes, corn is the most valuable asset in the game to start off with.
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Patrick Sullivan
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ErwinLau wrote:
The advantage is quite substantial.
So much so that my 6yo daughter cries everytime if she get the second place with indigo. I end up have to give the kids starting corn nomatter where they sit in all games.


lol, that's awesome.

Seriously though, does your 6 year old daughter really play Puerto Rico?! That's pretty amazing. I can't imagine anyone under 12 being able to play this game.
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Eddy B
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Well we hard our fifth session last night and I decided to stockpile on corn early and the game and low and behold, I won. Was able to earn extra victory points quick while others were trying to build their mills and plantations. It helped out though I was third.

Was able to pick Corn as the settler two times around after that.

We have our sixth session tonight, I'm going to try and do the same thing and see if they catch on.
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Patrick Sullivan
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yeah the worst thing you can do is to pick Settler when that would give more corn to a Corn shipping player. Better to take the corn yourself or not pick settler at all.
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Eddy B
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I think Corn is easily the best way to go also in the 2 player variant.
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Jon Faul
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The corn-based strategy is, as you noted, strong but not unbeatable. The last time that my group played Puerto Rico, one player was able to pull off the 6-corn + wharf but that wasn't enough to make it to the top. I've found (albeit with only a few games to test this) that the large indigo market + wharf + harbor should beat the massive corn approach, as long as there are sufficient colonists to man the indigo production. The ability of indigo to generate doubloons means that the pricy harbor/ wharf are feasible while corn relies on scrounging for money where it can
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Michael Taylor
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Black Barney wrote:
ErwinLau wrote:
The advantage is quite substantial.
So much so that my 6yo daughter cries everytime if she get the second place with indigo. I end up have to give the kids starting corn nomatter where they sit in all games.


lol, that's awesome.

Seriously though, does your 6 year old daughter really play Puerto Rico?! That's pretty amazing. I can't imagine anyone under 12 being able to play this game.


My seven year old plays. We give her some help in the way of "These are your options, which would be the best?" She picks the correct (or at least not the worst) strategy in almost every case.

In almost every game that my family (three player games) have played, it comes down to this: I go for corn and tobacco, wife goes for coffee and indigo, daughter goes for sugar and indigo. The results are fairly evenly balanced (yes my daughter has won).

Mike
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Patrick Sullivan
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that's terrific, man. Playing board games with your kids is the best ever. My parents used to play the Game of Life and stuff with me when I was that age (sometimes Monopoly). I wasn't allowed to play Risk cuz everytime I was eliminated, I used to cry

I wish they had played games like this with me. I'm building up a great collection of board games that I'll play with my kids when the g/f and I are ready to take that leap.

Glad to hear Puerto Rico isn't one where I'd have to wait until they are 12.
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Cliff
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gvchief wrote:
Black Barney wrote:
ErwinLau wrote:
The advantage is quite substantial.
So much so that my 6yo daughter cries everytime if she get the second place with indigo. I end up have to give the kids starting corn nomatter where they sit in all games.


lol, that's awesome.

Seriously though, does your 6 year old daughter really play Puerto Rico?! That's pretty amazing. I can't imagine anyone under 12 being able to play this game.


My seven year old plays. We give her some help in the way of "These are your options, which would be the best?" She picks the correct (or at least not the worst) strategy in almost every case.

In almost every game that my family (three player games) have played, it comes down to this: I go for corn and tobacco, wife goes for coffee and indigo, daughter goes for sugar and indigo. The results are fairly evenly balanced (yes my daughter has won).

Mike


I was just playing with our six and eleven year old. It's the only bloomin' way I can find players to sit down. But before we sat down to play today I constructed a graphic translation of buildings that an early reader might be able to use. We didn't use it, but perhaps it might serve some good when it's finalized.

But yeah, I am amazed by what certain younger children will gravitate. Oh, and my 11 year old won with a corn-and-sugar-loading-Captain-playing strategy. Ahhhhhhh... but I had a chance to play again.

and when I was five, I wasn't even allowed to play 'Life.' I think my dad was afraid I would lose pieces. Ahhhhh... the fond memories of sitting under the table looking at the underside WISHING I could play. But then I can relate to how dad felt about pieces. It's a constant vigilance and balance in inviting younger ones to play and reminding them how to treat pieces.
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Michael Taylor
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Cliff,

Not sure what you mean by "graphic translation of buildings". It could be that I'm obtuse or just tired from being up all night.

Could you clarify? I might be able to use it.

Thanks,
Mike
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Richard Pakpreo
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I feel like no way is the best way. It depends on the people you play with and what happens during the game. Corn gets horribly killed if everyone avoids crafting and they take all your shipping options/money options and leave you high and dry. It could work well if someone wants to ship too. However, adaptation of strategies is always the best way to start a game. Also, if you play with very experienced players, Corn gets stopped really fast if you are the only one with it, especially in 4 players.
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Krista Daulton
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I like starting with corn - especially in a 3 player game. You are the last to go which means that most likely the people before you will choose colonists. Then, when it comes to you you can choose to produce. Obviously, the second player who is next in line to be governor is not going to pick captain. So, when it comes to you you can be captain as well. Therefore, getting one exta good for production and one extra vp for being captain. Giving you a head start in vp's.
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Cliff
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gvchief wrote:
Cliff,

Not sure what you mean by "graphic translation of buildings". It could be that I'm obtuse or just tired from being up all night.

Could you clarify? I might be able to use it.

Thanks,
Mike


Mike,

I listed buildings in order of their point cost so kids would see directly their increasing cost. (hmmmm... the numbers could also be represented by pips to help guide the eye quickly too) Then I roughly represented the text instruction for buildings by mini, hand-drawn graphics utilizing symbols from the game (cylinders for goods, drawn tiles with plants on them, etc.) Then I drew the symbols from the role cards to show which phase they were activated on.

It's still a rough quickly-drawn job using colored pencils but I think a finalized version would be fun.

Thanks for asking.

p.s It is less likely that your obtuse or tired enough and more likely that I write funky. : )
 
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Todd Nisoff
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Having two extra vps at this stage of the game is not huge, but you do also get a doubloon for the 2nd turn captain, so this isn't a bad start.

My opinion on the topic on the whole is it depends. Yes you get corn when you're going third but you're going third. It takes three turns for you to get a quarry, two turns for an extra colonist if you need it.
 
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Rob Herman
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gvchief wrote:


My seven year old plays. We give her some help in the way of "These are your options, which would be the best?" She picks the correct (or at least not the worst) strategy in almost every case.


Man, maybe your seven-year-old could teach Certain People I play with how to not choose the Craftsman.
 
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Michael Taylor
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Sitnaltax wrote:
gvchief wrote:


My seven year old plays. We give her some help in the way of "These are your options, which would be the best?" She picks the correct (or at least not the worst) strategy in almost every case.


Man, maybe your seven-year-old could teach Certain People I play with how to not choose the Craftsman.


One thing that she hasn't grasped yet is that taking the Crafstman can really screw her. It's those times that we say "Are you sure?"

We play a relatively friendly game, though. She wouldn't make it in a group of four others that are out for blood. In the interest of keeping both her and the wife in the game, I usually play things rather tame.

Mike
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This is the EXACT stratgy my wife is currently using to beat me, 3 games in a row.

I need to counter it methinks... any suggestions?
 
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Larry Baxter
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It's a good way to start, and can be very strong with a good player, but I think this perception persists for two main reasons: i) it's a straightforward strategy for new players to follow and win with, ii) even one or two average-to-poor players over-choosing craftsman can give the game to the corn player. So it's not so much that it's the strongest, but that even modestly poor play against it gets punished severely.

In my last two games with good players I've pounded the corn people into the ground, once with a building strategy and the other with a hybrid approach. Here are ideas that can be used to help counteract corn:

i) don't pick craftsman unless there's a really good reason. If other people craft for the corn stockpiler to ship, they're going to get destroyed.

ii) watch to see what others are playing. If others all love corn and split the plantations among each other, and no one is watching economy or care about purple buildings, the builder can do extremely well.

iii) don't pick settler if it gives a strong corn shipping player another corn plantation (as mentioned above)

iv) even if you're building, be sure to grab a corn yourself. That reduces what they can ship, gives you a 'protection' crop, and if you build a factory it strengthens your economy even further.

v) accelerate the game. The longer a player with multiple corn and harbor or wharf plays the more they can pull away. Intentionally finishing a game a couple of turns early (mostly via buildings, but possibly via colonists) can be enough to prevent a corn victory.

Hands down the key though - make sure all the other players understand that selecting the craftsman can be harmful to everyone's health.

Small starting advantage? Probably, but with a table where the players have a good grasp on the game, corn shipping is most definitely not broken.

Good luck!
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Boo Craftsman!
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Dan The Man
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Depends on a lot of factors:

How many are playing?

In three, it tends to end up 2:1 build/ship (or vice versa). With good players, it is hard to buck 2:1 odds, having to personally craft and ship all the time. I never set out to do it, but I have (even one game with NO other plantations all game). Tough row to hoe.

In four, it CAN play out 2:2, and then it is an interesting struggle, depending on who can grub for the spice, er, doubloons, to buy the critical buildings to make corn viable. Boat control becomes critical.

In five, it is hard to accumulate the plantations.

How much corn comes out, the timing of same, and what competing plantations poke up their heads in the mixes (best is a healthy competition among the other players for the money crops)?

What is the experience level of the competitors? Barring weird plantation mixes, most good players go for a balanced strategy, soaking up at least one corn plantation early on if possible, allowing the most play the most of the time.

As pointed out earlier, corn is the simplest, most straightforward, most obvious, and most rigid strategy. Once players explore the markets, early money, and various building combinations, corn stays viable, but becomes less prevalent. Most experienced players fall into it, rather than choose it.
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