Puerto Rico

I’ve been playing a lot more Puerto Rico recently. I’m ranked on the online leaderboards as 23rd in the world. I’ve been trying to work on my tactics (I’m not that great tactically)

Currently, my opening strategy is to follow the mainline (settler/builder/mayor/(prospector)) t1 but deviate on turn 2, taking settler as p2 turn 2, if I am player 4 I take mayor if player 3 didn’t build an indigo/sugar turn 1 and you got indigo/sugar. I have the actual opening tree I use mostly memorized, there are some weird lines I don’t actually know how to play, but I’ve never seen them over the board.

One thing that surprises me is that the majority of games are ended via victory points, Almost none of them end because we run out of colonists. Buildings sometimes end the game, and sometimes you get buildings and VP ending, but that’s less common than just running out of victory points. In the past 50 games, it has only happened a few times. Once I got a colonist ending, but those seem extremely rare.

The modern Puerto Rico metagame is based around 3 buildings, the Small Warehouse, the Harbor, and the Guild Hall. The vast majority of games are won via a combination of those 3 buildings. The factory has been falling in importance, at this point I don’t even know why people thought it was top tier, never mind overpowered. The factory takes 6 colonists to get up and running. By that point, we are firmly in the midgame, and I want to transition into victory point production and try to buy the harbor/small warehouse. I really want my main income source to be operational at 4 Colonists, since that’s the point in the game where money really matters, a position like indigo+coffee production allows you to have a strong trader phase income.

My current building tier list is something like

Tier A - Cut in line to get these buildings, don’t wait for them otherwise you’ll be cut out.

Coffee Roaster
Guild Hall (a fully powered guild hall gives a total of 26 victory points, 16 for the buildings and 10 for the hall, most other 10 spots don’t come close
Small Market
Tier B- I view these buildings as role players, they don’t win you the game but they do get you to won positions a lot

Small Warehouse(is really strong but needs a lot of support to be good)
Tobacco Storage
Small indigo plant
Small Sugar Mill

Tier C - Niche buildings
Large Market (has strong results but the cases when you buy it are somewhat niche)
Other 10 cost developments
Wharf(way weaker than many people think, frequently can get the same results with a small warehouse)

Tier D (only worth it for the top right corner VP)

Every other building (though the large indigo plant is notable for costing 3 doubloons and being worth 2 VP, it’s actually underrated with how efficient it is at making VP)

I find it kinda strange how frequently the game comes down to spamming captain like there’s no tomorrow. It’s also weird how fast the game ends once you get your 2-3 production facilities+a harbor. Your first 4 buildings define the game, after that, you’re mostly turning the crank to score as many victory points as fast as possible.

Are you playing where the factory still costs 7 or with the patch that makes the factory cost 8 and University cost 7? Factory being OP relies entirely on it costing 7.

It’s not strange, it’s obvious that the game ends from spamming captain. If you removed the theme from the game and renamed everything literally, captain would be renamed to “Get victory points”. Once you’ve got a machine that allows you to captain, you don’t want to do anything else. Victory points are how you win the game. You’re not going to spam settler to finish the game!

Yeah but you might think that spamming builder would also end games but no that’s very rare. The guild hall double quarry strategy does score a lot of VP’s though.

I play a lot of both versions, 8 cost factory is completely unplayable (as you would expect) and even at 7 it’s pretty mediocre. (The primary reason why people play with 8 cost factory is because player 3 is totally broken in base and sadly there is no version that both has 7 cost factory and removes player 3’s absurd edge) You really want to get your main money engine going at 4 colonists, and the factory isn’t going to be functional until 6. By the time you get to a Corn/Indigo/Sugar/Factory economy the guy going with coffee has more money than you. By buying the factory you resign yourself to losing the race to the harbor, and the harbor is where the victory points are made.

BoardgameArena has a good implementation and I’ll happily play you there. (though finding a 3rd might not be easy)

That seems fun. BoardgameArena looks to have a better UI than I expected. I’ll just have to see if I have time because I’m playing a lot of 18XX these days.

That was definitely my experience in skilled play. \90% of all games ended with the VPs running out. Occasionally someone would end it with buildings, but usually by building two large buildings. And even then, usually as a desperation play and VPs also run out that same turn…

I’ve never seen colonists end the game except among nubs.

When I was introduced to the game the person who showed it to me said colonist ending was the the most likely outcome and that first game did indeed end that way. I held that advice for many plays until it became obvious it wasn’t true.

I met one player who put a token on the compass and moved it along each turn like it was a clock. He said it helped him understand the pace of the game.

The games that end via buildings tend to end that way because a builder player had 2 quarries and took builder every single turn after a certain point. 4p games are much more likely to end via buildings running out than 3p ones are. This is because of a few effects.

  1. There are 5 large buildings for 4 players, so someone’s going to get 2. (building is unimpeded)

  2. There are still only 2 harbors so now only half of the players get harbors instead of 2/3rds.

  3. The boats have 18 spaces for 4 players rather than 15 spaces for 3, this means there are only 4.5 spaces/player rather than 5

The combined effect is that it takes on average 1 whole captain phase more to get the game to end. which given that builders often just build literally every turn, can be enough time for the builder to end the game. The typical harbor timing is the 3rd/4th building. So a player who plans on building 2 10 cost developments and 4 other buildings only needs 6 more build phases to end the game. You can score 35-40 points from building if you build all 12 spaces and 2 10 cost buildings.

Another sneaky effect is that there are 4 players in the game, so the 2nd person without a harbor will frequently be another builder, well that player will be taking actions like builder/mayor/trader which relaxes the other builder player’s role selection, now we have 2 players who will be taking builder so both of them can take money with the expectation that the other will take builder . So the builder can be taken every single turn without pausing.

It’s hard to find 4 >500 rated players to play classic puerto rico with however. So most of my games are 3p

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