Puerto Rico and For Sale session

Tonight, David and Keith played two games of Commands and Colours: Ancients over the whole evening, while Nigel, Ian, Sam, and Peter H. started a Game of Thrones, and Ester, Julian, Matt, "Bald Nick" and I played Puerto Rico. Ester and Julian were new to the game, whereas it was the 4th time for me (the first was in January 2007). As for Matt and Nick, they must have countless Puerto Rico games under their belt... The game took us 2h, excluding rule explanations before the game started.

box coverNick bought in the first turn the hospice, giving him one extra colonist per plantation. By the end, he had loads of surplus colonists, and the game ended due to lack of colonists for the next turn. At some point, Matt bought the building which gives 1 extra VP per 4 colonists, to the dismay of Nick. This would turn out to be the game's crucial moment, because the final score was 30 for Julian and me, 31 for Ester, and 33 for Nick and Matt! However, Nick had only 3 doubloons and 3 barrels of corn, while Matt had... 7 doubloons. So, in the tie breaker, Matt won by the smallest of margins. What a close game! If Matt hadn't bought the crucial building before Nick, Nick would have had more VPs.

Compared to Matt's clever playing, mine was pathetic: mistake after mistake. I was always short of cash and hence only bought the cheap buildings (the most expensive I had was the tobacco plantation). Enough to say I was the only one without one of the big buildings that give extra VPs. I had the building that allows one to take an extra plantation in the settler phase. I used it too often, filling the board with a couple of useless indigo and tobacco plantations instead of corn. I also made a crucial error in the last captain turn: I shipped 3 tobacco, instead of first shipping 2 sugar and then 2 tobacco. That made the difference between being 4th or 3rd. I also only grabbed a quarry (the last available one!) rather late in the game: for someone so much strapped for money I should have obtained it earlier. Matt had 3 quarries! He also often took the prospector when it had an extra coin, while Ester sometimes sold coffee for 6 doubloons. No wonder they were at least twice in the game rolling in money, while I never had more than 4 doubloons throughout the game!

I hope, dear reader, you learn from my mistakes and do not repeat them. On the positive side, the end scores and the clearly missed opportunity to get an extra VP just show that there are multiple paths to a good score: I generated lots of goods (all except coffee) and shipped and sold quite a few of them. This somehow compensated for the lack of money (and hence good buildings). Probably there was during the game a crucial opportunity for me, but contrary to Matt I didn't see it and let it slip. The multiple strategies together with a feeling that almost every decision is crucial make Puerto Rico the great game it is, beside the novel mechanic of choosing the phase order. No wonder Puerto Rico was long considered the best boardgame by the gamers' community.

box coverNick had to go, and the rest of us played For Sale.   Again, it was a new game for Ester and Julian. I explained the rules and off we went. After 20 minutes it was over: Ester won with 65.000 monetary units, Matt had 63k, Julian 52k, and I came last with 50k. Ester had paid early on too much for the 29-property, so she passed often, getting many properties for free. Again, I played badly. I wasted my 14-property on a void cheque, I paid too much for a couple of properties, etc. Oh well, it was fun anyway... The most important is that we got Ester and Julian hooked on two quite different games.


  1. by Huggy Basher, on January 16 2009 @ 10:05 am
    Great write up of the evenings events Michel. Given my absence for last night and certainly the next few weeks, reading about what happened and who played what is very interesting.
    I have played PR several time sand found that the games tend to be very close. It is rare that there is a runaway winner. Last night’s game goes to show just how well balanced the game is and that multiple paths to victory exist and make for interesting play after interesting play.
    Buying the hospice is a a common strategy that always gives a strong score, most expereinced players I have played against tend to buy it on turn one if they can.
    Thanks for the informative write up
  2. by mw, on January 16 2009 @ 10:51 am
    Thanks for your kind comments, Damen. It’s actually interesting what you say about runaway winners. Nick and David commented after the game that our scores were low and that usually the winner has 10-15 points more than the others. I prefer close games like yesterday: it’s more exciting, everyone feels good about having played well, but it also makes you go away with the nagging doubt that some decision during the game could have made the difference. Wicked! 😊
  3. by Huggy's Son, on January 17 2009 @ 12:10 pm
    Good session report & I certainly was surprised at the outcome of the Puerto Rico game. I haven’t played as many games as you seem to think, but I have found that buying a Hospice is the start of one of the very good strategies for PR. I decided to go a different route, just to make things a bit more interesting for me & quickly felt I was lagging behind everyone.
    The plan was to try & get a diverse production system going (hence having indigo, sugar & tobacco) with the large market asap so that I could sell at a significantly higher price, as well as take the Prospector with extra doubloons when it made more sense than another role. The plan was to always get the Harbour, but somehow I could not seem to use the benefit much as I seemed to get blocked out often enough.
    Admittedly, I did take the Residence (4vps, 1pt per 3 colonists) in part to shaft Nick as I knew he would be looking to pick it up. But it actually made more sense to pick that up for myself as I got an extra 6pts from it, the others wouldn’t have been as much.
    Great game, if very low scores, but it was tense! I thought Julian & Ester did well for newbies. You’re right about PR being considered the best previously, but I sometime find it feels a bit dry, but it’s still good to play when there’s the interest…
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