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Within my group its taken for granted that some seats in Puerto Rico are better (if only slightly) than others. There's a general consensus that 3rd and 4th seat are strictly better than 1st, where 2nd and 5th lie is a matter of debate.

I remember stumbling across some hard numbers (data collected from tournament play if I recall correctly) backing some of this up, but can't seem find them anymore.

Basically, does anyone have those numbers?

I'd also appreciate some opinions as to why this is the case.

My personal pet theory is that 3rd and 4th seat are in the sweet spot for both diversified production and an early game Factory. Although that's not a guarnateed victory, it should keep you competitive in most games (all else being equal).

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+1 I was going to ask the same question (but I didn't have the interesting background to add). Thanks. – tttppp Oct 21 '10 at 8:26
up vote 26 down vote accepted

Seating is very important in Puerto Rico.

The seat that wins the most is 1st Corn (based on World Boardgaming Championship stats). Here's one of the tourney pages with stats, if you look around you'll find more.

Here's the compilation of stats from 2002 to 2009:

Seat 1 indigo 41.53 scoring average, 19.9% of wins
Seat 2 indigo 40.73 scoring average, 19.5% of wins
Seat 3 corn   43.48 scoring average, 30.8% of wins
Seat 4 corn   43.35 scoring average, 29.7% of wins

Having corn allows you to produce sooner, and more, so you can make more points shipping. It requires less men, so you can do more with the men you have.

One of the big reasons that it gives an advantage is that it's a simple strategy, just make corn and ship. The other strategies take more thought and hard decisions.

One other factor that comes into play in Puerto Rico is that you have to change your tactics and maybe your strategies based on the player to the left and what he does.

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Corn also gives you a solid shot at a Small Market with the first build order, since both Indigo are probably going for a Small Indigo Plant or Indigo Plant to take advantage of crafting. – LittleBobbyTables Oct 20 '10 at 21:09
@LittleBobbyTables - I will say its not uncommon for 1st seat to skip an indigo build for the first round, since he can get a manned quarry easily and grab one for free in the second build. – Kevin Montrose Oct 20 '10 at 21:32
@Kevin - Interesting... – LittleBobbyTables Oct 20 '10 at 21:59

Starting with corn (seat 3 and 4) seems to have a large advantage from stats, but this does not mean necessarily that the game is that unbalanced.

I believe this advantage, something close to a 50% extra comparing to seats 1 and 2, is accentuated by the fast the producing and shipping corn is an easier strategy to grasp and effective deliver. When playing with more experienced players the gap is probably not that wide.

This is similar to the Temple strategy on Tzolkin. It is not that the temple strategy is stronger but it is the easier thing to do without messing your game up, if you don't know what you are doing.

Still, for the new or casual Puerto Rico player, the 3rd seat is the best spot, followed close by the 4th.

This topic on BGG has more stats and balancing suggestions with simulations.

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