Tips & Strategies (45)

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Tips & Strategies (45)

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Advanced Reviewer Bronze Supporter
53 of 55 gamers found this helpful
“Remember: You are not alone!”

It is surprising how many gamers play Puerto Rico take care only about their own boards. Doing so, if they plan well, they take the roles that assure them the highest gain from both the action and the privilege… and they end up losing against players who remember that Puerto Rico is not a game of solitaire racing. It is a cooperative/competitive game.

The winning players look at their opponents’ boards and use the dual nature of the game in two appropriate aspects:

* Cooperative aspect. Look around what other players are willing to do. If there are several roles that benefit you, look if there is a player who could possibly take a role that benefits you too. If there is one, give him or her an opportunity to do that – choose another role for yourself.

* Competitive aspect. Look for situations where the game clogs after taking a certain role that is profitable to you. Are the ships almost full? Take the captain. Is there little space in the trading house? Take the trader. Are the resources almost exhausted in the general supply? Take the craftsman. You will get all the benefits you could get, and the others will earn less or even nothing.

When playing this way you won’t be perhaps the most liked player, but your chances of winning grow significantly…

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Hockey Fan
I Am What I Am
45 of 47 gamers found this helpful
“Power in breadth of production”

If you are producing 3 or more types of goods, you must capitalize during the captains phase.

Use your goods to block your opponents from being able to ship any or all of their goods, by monopolizing ships or filling them up before it gets to them. Forcing them to discard resources unless they have a storage hut.

Also getting the Harbor when you have a broad production line is very useful as it means 2-3 extra vp’s each captains phase.

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I Play This One a LOT
Advanced Grader
30 of 31 gamers found this helpful
“Builder Strategy”

This is a somewhat unknown strategy path to win Puerto Rico.

Construction Hut e Quarries
One of the the first things you have to secure to be successful in this strategy is to secure one of the two Construction Huts available early on. It should be the very first building you get and allocate a worker on.

This enables you to receive one of the only eight quarries of the game instead of the plantation tile you’d get when someone’s uses the Settler role. Do it always, until you get at least three quarries – the billing discounts they provide can define your success or failure.

Stealthy strategy
Not being an obvious path to win the game (after all, buildings are usually seen more as a means to implement other strategies, than as an end on itself) and being somewhat despised by fans of the exportation or heavy production strategies opens up the perfect opportunity for the building strategy to thrive.

Few things in Puerto Rico exert more negative impact in your final score (and are more frustrating) than losing the opportunity of build that coveted large purple building perfect for maximizing the points for the play style you developed. That’s what happens when you successfully implement the building strategy in a table full of people that fail to acknowledge it as a viable good strategy to win; you end up with three large buildings and the opportunity to sweep off the most coveted large building of one or two other players, if not off of each one.

Flexibility is key
Being centered on building acquisition means you have an advantage to exert any kind of other action that is influenced by some building (provided that you invest in getting the proper building that benefits the action or actions you are interested in).

This is a central point in succeeding at the building strategy. The most of your points in the game will come from the points value of each building plus the bonuses from the large final ones. Since every building of a certain tier gives roughly the same numbers of points, you won’t have much advantage until the end of the game approaches.

That said, it’s important that you keep building faster than the other players and, even more so, that you have a means to not fall behind too much in points during the game and to be able to buy the two or three large final buildings. After all, if buying (and activating) one large building is kinda hard, do it with two or three of them is much harder, even with this strategy!

All in all the building strategy is powerful and interesting because it has a sturdy core with few easy milestones, while keeping a broad array of options in the middle game which allow a lot of flexibility.
For this reason it also can take sometime to master and one of its strongest points is the ability to make you lay low in the other players’ radars and surprise them in the end.

I hope that’s useful for Puerto Rico fans and, if so, you can expect more tips around this strategy on the practical side of how and when to act to be effective with the building strategy.

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39 of 41 gamers found this helpful
“Factory strategy”

Factory is a great building but you have to buy it fast and have the proper plantations.
In the first two settlers look for sugar or corn,don’t take quarry you need the plantations. Buy only small sugar mill and indigo plant and try to collect 7 gold for the factory building. As soon as Factory is working you take craftman actions or settler in order to improve your variety of plantations. When you have a good income you can buy the guild hall or wharf to incrase your victory points.

Have fun & Good Games

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50 of 53 gamers found this helpful
“Corn strategy”

The Corn Strategy
If you start with corn as your initial plantation, this may be for you. If the settler selection contains plenty of corn, this may be for you. Ideally you will want to have a minimum of 5 corn.

Some of the good buildings are (grouped together):
Builder’s Hut, Hacienda, or Hospice – I believe you will need at least one of these to execute your plan. You will be cash starved, so the extra quaries could be very helpful. The hacienda ensures that you aren’t wholly locked into corn. The hospice makes sure that when you do get a corn, it will immediately produce.

Small Warehouse – This is almost a must. You don’t need the large one, but you may need to settle for it.

Wharf – This is another strong card, but will require some careful saving to ensure that you have the cash available to buy a wharf.

Small/Large market – This will at least give a value for your corn, and may be one way to gain some cash.

Customs Office – You will be getting many victory points via the Captain and an extra 20% will be nice.

You will need to make sure that the craftsman and the captain happen as much as possible. You won’t have much money so you need to make sure that you can unload your corn as much as possible. Don’t worry about the expensive goods, you are a slum-lord/slave-driver. A little sugar and indigo will be useful. You may end up buying some of the smaller buildings just to get bonus victory points.

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Miniature Painter
Expert Advisor
Advanced Reviewer
24 of 25 gamers found this helpful
“Table Position Steers Cash Crop Decisions”

It is important to produce either tobacco or coffee early in the game to jumpstart your economy. Eventually, you may make both, but choosing which one to develop first is a crucial decision. If the player before you has already committed to one, you should aim for the other. This will give you better flexibility to sell your good to the trader, as most of the time, you will be acting after the other player.

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Intermediate Reviewer
Novice Advisor
42 of 45 gamers found this helpful
“Don't pick these unless you really urgent...”

The most common newbie mistake in Puerto Rico is selecting


to often. They are both dangerous in that the other players ALSO get what they want and can exploit it before you. This is especially true for craftsman. You will lose momentum to both the captain and the trader. As for mayor it can sometimes be good to take it, especially if there are number-of-players + 1 colonists on the ship and you’ll get 3 while the other players gets 1, but look at the other players. Quite often they are as keen as you are on grabbing the mayor, so if you show a little patience it will solve itself.

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Platinum Supporter
Petroglyph Beta 1.0 Tester
64 of 69 gamers found this helpful
“Don't Plan Ahead! ~ A PR Strategy”

One mistake that people make when playing Puerto Rico is thinking they need a strategy going in. Yes, a seasoned player may grab a Quarry first and have you buried before you know what hit you. This is because new players start to copy what they see working rather than blocking it or trying something completely different. PR is a tactical game. Your plan may (will) need to change each turn based on what others are doing. This is why so many gamers love it.

Here is a basic and “loose” strategy outline:

1) Establish an income source (especially early on – forget VP)
2) Control the boats
3) Get building that fit your course of action
4) End the game when you are in the lead

Now, what this means will be a matter of who goes first, what they do, and how you react. But, if you keep this base strategy in mind… you can really focus on the tactics needed to execute the best decisions. I’ve seen some pretty amazing wins from veterans who are obviously better tacticians than me using combinations of buildings and goods I would never have tried… but I’m learning.

I hope this helps.

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I Play This One a LOT
Advanced Grader
21 of 22 gamers found this helpful
“Careful: it's easy to be a kingmaker!”

The only aspect of Puerto Rico that can (and usually do) spoil the fun is when a player acts as a clear kingmaker by “giving” the victory to a contender for the first place.

Why is king making so easy in Puerto Rico?
Since the play flow is always to the left, each player can exert great influence in what happens to the player at his left and, in turn, is heavily influenced by the player at his right.

In that way, if any player, willingly or not, cuts other players some slack on his turn, the player to his left will benefit more than any other and, not rarely, might benefit even more than the current acting player (that did the slack cutting)!

The emergent rule that fixes this
It’s usually understood and silently agreed in any Puerto Rico table (with experienced players) that you, as a player, has two main “duties” or personal goals during the game (that are required if it is for you to win the game):
*manage own resources well
By optimizing your actions, production, exports etc;

*hinder the opportunities available to the player to your left
In a way that limits him the most AND benefits you the most;

This is tricky though and depends on your skills as a player and on your observation and timing skills to notice when and how you should act for the desired effect. It’s a great part of why Puerto Rico has a great replay value and hard to master.
Each table might play in a different way and you have to be able to sense and react to this so your strategy doesn’t get crippled by lack of a certain building type, basic resource or sheer competition exerted by the player to your right.

If you found this interesting and would like to discuss it further wi some specifics and examples, please follow and ask me. I’ll be happy to develop it further in specific game scenarios! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Thank you all for reading this!

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2 Beta 1.0 Tester
39 of 42 gamers found this helpful
“Quick setup”

The worst part of Puerto Rico is counting out all the “colonists” and victory points you’ll need before you start the game. Here’s a way to get playing right away:

You’ll need 3 plastic bags or small containers (the boxes a set of Chessex dice come in work nicely) and a way to label them.

Label the first “3 Players: 58 colonists, 75 victory points”
Label the second “4 Players: 21 colonists, 25 victory points”
Label the third “5 Players: 21 colonists, 22 victory points”

If the numbers of colonists seem too high, remember that these are all the colonists you’ll need for the game, not the number in the supply at the start of the game. 1 colonist per player is going to start on the colonist ship!

When you’re playing with 3 players, just use the 3 player bag.
When you’re playing with 4 players, use the 3 & 4 player bags. When you’re done, fill the 4 player bag first, so that you can just dump the rest in the 3 player bag. It saves counting!
When you’re playing with 4 players, use the 3, 4 & 5 player bags. Again, when you’re done, fill the 4 & 5 first.

And there you go, you can now get to playing Puerto Rico in less time than it takes to say “Triangle Trade.”

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Hockey Fan
My First Game Tip
29 of 31 gamers found this helpful
“Crops- Corn”

Depending on what your first crop is, should determine what your first building is. In other words- if you are dealt corn- go ahead and buy the +1 market- and if you can, be mayor first so you can grow your corn and staff the market (mayor gets two folks). This way your the only oe who can earn money in the first round or so.

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Amateur Advisor
Critic - Level 1
46 of 50 gamers found this helpful
“Two tips for advanced play”

Once you have the basics of the game figured out – which buildings are better, which plantations support which strategies, etc. – the game becomes primarily about the role selection. Just selecting the best role for your situation is unlikely to net you victory, instead:

1) When considering a role, look at what position it will leave each other player in, and figure out what each player is likely to do on their own turn, going all the way around the table until it is your turn again.

Ideally, you want to put yourself in a position where, if every other player does what is best for them, you benefit.

A key to this, of course, is being able to predict what the other players are going to do. That can be tricky, and brings me to tip #2. This tip won’t greatly improve your chances of winning, but it will make it much more likely that you will get to play again:

2) Don’t get angry when someone doesn’t make the move you expect.

You have no right to demand that any other player makes the move that you think they should. Remember, they are your opponents – they are supposed to make things difficult for you. Relish the challenge, and take more factors into consideration next time you make your choice.

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Rosetta Stone
Football Fan
Explorer - Level 5
54 of 59 gamers found this helpful
“Mid-game moolah”

This may be an obvious tip to some, but trust me, it’s not obvious to everyone.

When you see a Role with a lot of coins on it, TAKE IT…even if you can’t use that Role that turn.

There are many reasons, and they all hinge on the actual situation in the game you’re playing. But money is very useful in Puerto Rico, perhaps a bit more useful than you might think.

In addition, you might just take the Role that someone else really wanted, or needed.

If nothing else, it’s guaranteed that someone else is going to need the money, so taking it for yourself hurts them two ways. You have it, and they don’t have it. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Scorpion Clan-Legend of the Five Rings
44 of 48 gamers found this helpful
“Wharf & Harbor are a winning combination.”

Getting Wharf and Harbor together can get you the win most of the time.

The main thing to think about when you have these buildings is to split up your shipments as much as you can. If you have 6 corn and there’s a boat with 2 corn spaces available, put two on it (gaining +3), then use your wharf for the other 4 corn (gaining +5).

Several small shipments are better than 1 big one.
Remember :
“Harbor” will get you +1 for each time you put goods on a boat.

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Gamer - Level 4 Beta 1.0 Tester
41 of 45 gamers found this helpful
“Focus by session.”

The dominant strategy of Puerto Rico is to focus on income in the
opening and early-midgame, to focus on converting money into a means
of scoring points in the midgame, and to focus on maximizing the use
of your point scoring methods in the endgame”. Thus, in each phase
you focus on either money or points, whichever is better in that
phase. In the opening, you go for money, since its better than
points. In the midgame, you focus on means of converting money to
points. And in the endgame, you focus on points.

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Gamer - Level 9
Explorer - Level 6
Guardian Angel
40 of 44 gamers found this helpful
“Get a jump on a probable rules change”

This change in the game is recommended by Alea(The German Publishing Company) at their website and rumor has it that it will be part of the new 10th anniversary set being issued at Essen this year. Basically, switch the cost of the factory(Now at 7) with that of the University(Now at 8). You will notice a big difference in gameplay if you do.

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I play black
Knight-errant Gold Supporter
54 of 60 gamers found this helpful
“The Shipping Game: basic strategy 101”

The easiest, most basic strategy in this game is the Shipping strategy. This is most easily done by the player/first player with a starting corn plantation. Essentially, you want to do several things early:

1. Buy a market at the earliest opportunity, preferably a large market, or both markets.
2. Take corn plantations at every opportunity. If no corn is available, then take Settler to get quarries and get more corn plantations out.
3. Ship your corn.
4. Donโ€™t buy anything extraneous, save and get the Wharf (private ship for more goods), the Harbor (bonus point per ship each time you ship), and the Customs house (bonus based on total amount of VP from shipping).
5. #4 might be easier if you get either Coffee or Tobacco early for the money boost, and that also lets you load other ships with different goods. Prioritize the Wharf and Harbor though.

If you have goods, always take Ship, as you want to control the boats, and get the extra VP. You also want to force other players to ship, or they will have a big cash advantage by selling for more than you can, unless you have both markets. You can also branch out with production and get a factory to make up for the cash differential.

Please note that this strategy also works with Indigo, only with more difficulty. You need 4 plantations, plus the small and large plant, plus all of the workers for both. With corn, you only need the workers on the plantations to gain the goods.

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I'm a Real Person
Check Out My Favorites
44 of 49 gamers found this helpful
“Let someone else produce”

I try not to produce on my turn if I can help it, as it always helps the next player. They will immediately sell or ship, and being last to do so, you will be blocked out.

Be patient and let someone else get desperate and produce.

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Gamer - Level 5
Critic - Level 3
Novice Advisor
44 of 49 gamers found this helpful
“Hospice and storage early!”

There are quite a few reasons to get the hospice as early as possible. The first is because there are only two in the game, so in larger games they’re going to disappear early.

Another reason is because this gives you the maximum benefit, allowing you to fill your plantations with people, without needing to waste your actions on getting more people. The players without hospices will have to choose instead, and give you the people you need for your buildings.

A result of choosing the hospice, however, is in order to gain a strong advantage you’ll have to fill up your plantations, meaning you’ll have a larger chance of having things rot. As a result, you should also take a storage building soon as well.

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Gamer - Level 4
Novice Reviewer
36 of 41 gamers found this helpful
“Official 2-Player Variant”

Variations from the multi-player game follow:


Per Player
1 player board, 3 Doubloons, 1 Indigo (for governor); 1 corn (for 2nd player)

Remaining Plantations
Remove 3 of each type of plantation from the game. Uncover 3 plantations (one more than the number of players)

Remove 3 Quarries from the game (use 5 quarry tiles)

Use 2 of each Production building, and 1 of each Violet building

Victory Points
65 total Victory Points

40 (in supply) + 2 on the colonist ship (minimum = player number)

Remove 2 of each type of good from the game

Cargo Ships
Use the 4 and 6 capacity cargo ships

Trading House
No change

Role Cards
Remove 1 prospector from the game


The Governor begins and selects a role. Subsequently the players alternate selecting roles until both players have selected 3 roles. Place one Doubloon on the remaining role card. The Governor then changes to the second player and the above sequences is repeated. All further rules are the same as in the Multiplayer game.

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