Ridere, ludere, hoc est vivere.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Pounded again in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico with
enhanced players' aids
My darling wife and I went to our old favorite, a two-player variant of Puerto Rico (designer Andreas Seyfarth, publisher Rio Grande) this afternoon.  Our games are typically a cocktail-hour custom, so our Puerto Rico set-up includes a couple of extra player-enhancing components.

We each started with indigo, and for some reason I got completely wrapped up in the idea of maximizing my building points, even to the point of neglecting basic production.  Kathy, meanwhile, seized upon what I thought was a rather clever combination to put together an impressive strategy.  She was the first to grab a bonus-point building, the Fortress, relatively early in the game.  Later she picked up the Hospice (one of her favorites) and the University (usually one of mine, yet one that I inexplicably declined to buy despite my building-focused strategy).  Once they were occupied, it was clear that hers was a population-based strategy.  Every Mayor, Builder, or Settler phase meant that she would get at least one more colonist.  As a result, her Fortress racked up seven bonus points by the end of the game.

My ending position - lots of quarries and
buildings, relatively little production
My building strategy worked to the extent that I obtained two big buildings - the City Hall and the Customs House.  Now, the City Hall makes sense in a building-focused strategy and gave me five points at the end.  But the Guild Hall was gone by the time I was ready to buy a second big building, so I settled for the Customs House, which did me very little good since I wasn't producing much and therefore wasn't shipping much.  I was gratified that my wife didn't get it, though, because it turned out that she out-shipped me like crazy.

I think in general my building choices were misguided almost throughout the game.  I had two sugar plantations but never bought a Sugar Mill until it was too late.  I mentioned that I never picked up the University, which I usually like to do.  And I'm starting to take more seriously my friend Grant's contention that a fourth Quarry doesn't pay off.  I've always liked it for the big building discount, but now I'm not so sure.

Kathy's strong finish -
34 shipping points!
So in the end, as it happens, my building strategy was for naught.  We tied in building points, and her bonus points were almost as good as mine.  But because her plantations were twice as productive as mine, and because
she had the Harbor, she had over twice as many points from shipping as I did.  The final score was Kathy 61, Paul 43.

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