For the 20 March 2008 session, Matt had sent an e-mail saying he was bringing Santiago or San Marco. It must have been telepathy, because I also intended to bring along Santiago to finally try it out. I had bought the game when I realized it was located in the islands of Cape Verde where, in 1989, my colleagues and I gave some Computing courses to earn money for our university graduation trip. Since it was not clear which game Matt was bringing, I brought along my own copies, which was fortunate because Matt’s Santiago copy was missing the well that marks the beginning of the canal irrigation system.
I had read the rules long ago, so I didn’t do a particularly good job at explaining them, consulting them quickly as I proceeded with the explanation. Some crucial details (like being money, not victory points, that count in the end) were left to rather late in the game! Manuela had the majority in a 8-plantation area of sugar cane (or some other produce), bringing her many points. She won with over 90 Escudos (the Cape Verdean currency, named after the pre-Euro Portuguese currency) and Jason, Matt and I lagged behind. Overall, a very good game, with tough decisions: should one bid low for the plantation, in order to become the canal overseer and decide where the canal goes?
Next, we played Puerto Rico instead of San Marco. We all knew the rules, so the game started immediately and proceeded at good pace. I was very happy because I won my first Puerto Rico game, with 53 points, while the last player had 46 points, which shows how close it was. Curiously, Matt and Jason ended with exactly the same amount in Santiago, while in Puerto Rico they ended with one victory point difference! The strategy I followed, although not explicitly from the start, it sort of emerged during play, was to diversify: I was the only one producing coffee and sugar, but also corn and indigo. This allowed me to have always something to sell, but also to ‘reserve’ some ships. Together with a factory, producing 4 goods gave me 3 doubloons. Late in the game I bought a wharf to be able to ship almost every good, and a customs house which gave me 25% more VPs in the very last round.
It was a good turnout, with 17 people playing at 4 tables. David brought Joan of Arc and played it all night long with Peter, Nigel, Nick B., and someone else. Steve brought Primordial Soup and played with Paul B., Nick, and André. On the other table Simon, Keith and others played a race game.