Monday, 20 April 2009

“thems are fighting words”

Puerto Rico Crazy

The evening started as all do with a few japes and jabs and look at what games had been brought. Pete had brought down the ever ‘popular’ race for the galaxy, Le havre and Puerto rico. We where surveying the possible turnout amidst phone updates from stragglers whilst debating the various pros and cons of said games and Jimmy reclusly pipe in with “I’m undefeated at Puerto Rico in this group”……The gauntlet had not only been thrown down but gathered back up and slapped around the face of all present. We said RIGHT THEN Puerto Rico it is. Pete and Rich where eager knowing the game and fancy there chance to take Jimmys ‘crown’ Matt (a superb Puerto player) was hesitant having most experience playing it two player. If anything I was expecting to be last as playing games others know well is an opportunity to lose that I would rather avoid. We joked about the possibility of playing Puerto on two tables simultaneously and Matt eagerly looked in his bag…….NO, that and Kogge where the only two games he had not bought down this week. His bagged bulged with disappointment. We sat expectant for the late arrivals and when Adam (Dans brother) appeared with ‘Race for the Galaxy’ in his hands we feared the worst but wait….Dan had brought Puerto Rico so the corn frenzy could begin.

We drew lots using playing cards (black or red), dividing two tables into equal five player groups. Then drew lots again for seating positions. I was on the south table with Luke minor, James, Matt and Pete whilst Adam, Tarn, Dan, Jimmy and Rich played North. We hoped to play two games and have the best two scores from each table + one wild entry play against each other whilst the other five formed a losers table of no hope and despair. And so it was with Jimmy winning North on a coffee strategy his undefeated crown still firm, Rich came second and Adam 3rd. On south we had two newbie and despite Pete’s pleads they frequently chose what they wanted. A shipping strategy works best when it is a symbiotic relationship. If two players together take it in turns to produce and ship both will benefit. If only one player tries this they are doomed to failure. Having a shipping strategy is difficult therefore as its level of success is dependant on others, unlike some other strategies. But that is the beauty of Puerto Rico, different paths to victory and choices have ripples. James and Luke both focused more on maximising good production and shipping those goods and as a result both got good victory points this way.

The south tables winners of Luke and Matt joined Jimmy and Rich and after much procrastination so did Pete. Lots where drawn and the seating order was exactly the same as our last game!!! With Matt playing first followed by Pete and Me playing last (to the right of Mr Bond) I streamlined my approach and became more shipping focused and started as early as possible. Had the game gone on two more rounds Rich would no doubt have won, Jimmy was also close but his engine was slightly inferior to Riches. Luke won the game and Matt was way of the pace having been squeezed out. Much of Puerto is about timing. Seating position is key but you cant dictate the strategies of your neighbours either. If the player to your left constantly chooses build you are last to select buildings, If the player to your right constantly chooses it you are always second. This can have a big impact. Its expected that over time these things even out, I think in today’s case they really didn’t for Matt as he frequently found himself disadvantaged.

So in the end I was the king of Puerto and I believe Dan was my bitch, although we didn’t play together. Jimmy was finally defeated like a glorious dragon slaine by the sword of justice and might all power to the workers (not slaves).

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