Errata: Puerto Rico Strategy Tips
For the past little while we’ve answered some broader questions about the hobby and general board gamey goodness. But this week we get to talk about a specific game and hit some strategy points. This week’s question is all about that classic: Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico Player asked, “I love Puerto Rico but I always lose. What are some tips to give me an edge?”
More than most games, the seating order and start player matter a great deal in Puerto Rico. Generally, if you are the first player to have corn as the starting resource, you have a big leg up on the shipping strategy. Corn can be produced without a factory, so you may want to focus your efforts on producing and shipping goods. You’ll want to diversify eventually, and even build warehouses to store extra goods and a wharf to ship extra goods.
If you don’t go shipping, the other major strategy is selling and building. Selling goods to the trading post and then using the money to buy buildings full of points can be effective. In that case, you want to get a market place and an office as soon as possible so that you aren’t stymied by the goods that are already sold. You also want to produce higher income goods to benefit from the exchange. You also may want to consider getting quarries to help with the cost of the better buildings. And you want to build as fast as possible to end the game before a shipping strategy can get off the ground.
Noticing the other players’ position is also key. If the person to your left is utilizing a shipping strategy, then under no circumstances should you take Craftsman (producing goods) as your job. All that will do is allow them to not only have a full amount of goods to ship, but they will also ship first and get the bonus point. In that situation, it would be much better to take Settler, Mayor, or even Prospector to avoid giving them an advantage.
Really, the game is about maximizing relative benefit rather than absolute benefit. If I take Captain, it may net me 5 points and you 2. Another action might get me much more benefit in terms of coins or resources. But if I leave Captain for the next player, and when they take it they get 7 points and I get 2, I’ve just created an eight point swing. So its better for me to take it just so that you don’t get it.
There’s a lot of that going on in Puerto Rico, so it pays to keep your attention on the other players and what they are doing for points. There are a lot of nuanced items that can go on which depend on number of players, but that should give you an overview of the main strategies for the game. But above all, remember to watch your opponents.
Got questions about strategy, specific games, or the hobby in general? Post them in the comments here, email me at geekinsight at gfbrobot dot com, or send them to @GeekInsight on Twitter and check back next week for answers!