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How do you choose between "trading" a good (locally) and shipping it (abroad) when the two actions have rather different reward structures?

How do the relevant roles you might play (craftsman, captain, trader) affect these choices?

Of course, if you have a warehouse, that gives you a wider choice of whether to trade or ship, and whether to do so this turn or in the future. More to the point, how do you decide, "I need to buy a warehouse THIS turn, for 1-2 turns down the road?"

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Don't forget that, when a shipping phase occurs, if a good can be shipped, it must be shipped. –  hymie Sep 23 '13 at 13:37
    
@That's a good point. Is that why Player 1 should choose to Captain on turn 2, to force his opponent to ship for one VP instead of trading for two coins in this strategy piece?boardgamegeek.com/thread/13812/… –  Tom Au Sep 23 '13 at 15:09
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It depends on several factors that ultimately boil down to What is the roles overall value?

  • Is it the early game? - In the early game, it is usually more important to gain coins than VP. The reason for this, is that you can exchange coins for buildings that will gain you more coins/VP over the course of the game than you would earn this turn by shipping and taking the VP. Until you have your coin generating buildings setup, usually consisting of a high value trade good/large market/factory, coins are usually of greater value. Some of the expansion building make this distinction moot (Black Market).

  • Do your opponents make more Coins/VP because of your choice? - Usually, in Puerto Rico, you want to make decisions that benefit you more than your opponents. If choosing Trader will benefit your opponents more, you might want to Captain instead (or select some other role). The few times you might select a role that doesn't seem to immediately help you relative to your opponents, is when you are denying them access to the cash necessary to buy some building (Guild Hall pops up a lot here), or denying them shipping on a large boat (they have lots of corn and you take a large boat and possibly tie up all the boats from emptying).

  • Does the role have a coin on it - I will many times take a role card that has a coin, because all I need is that extra coin to buy a building I want during the next building phase.

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In the beginning, you need money to invest, so the emphasis is on trading, which generates money. Here, you would want to use the trader and craftsman, all other things being equal.

Later in the game, as it gets closer to the endgame, you are after victory points, so unless you are a builder, the emphasis is on shipping, which generates victory points. Here, the captain is your friend.

There are some other considerations. All goods earn an equal number of victory points when shipped, but some goods are more lucrative than others when traded. In descending order, they are coffee, tobacco, sugar, indigo, and corn. "Comparative advantage" dictates that you want to ship corn more, and trade more coffee.

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"derail your opponents' strategies by forcing [them to] trade when they would rather ship" How exactly do you force a trade? I am not sure I agree with your analysis of the beginning and endgames. While it is true that the beginning is focused on money, I don't find that craftsman/trader have a higher selection rate than other roles (many times, the coins on the role cards is where you will get early money). Similarly, I don't think the endgame focuses on shipping. Certain players (building strategy) would prefer if no shipping was happening. –  user1873 Sep 22 '13 at 0:33
    
@user1873: "How do I force a trade/" Maybe I was confused buy reading this strategy guide (the passage about "o captain, my captain"). boardgamegeek.com/thread/13812/… I deleted that passage. I also edited paragraph 2 to say, "unless you are a builder, the emphasis is on shipping, which generates victory points. Here, the captain is your friend." Also, the OP was trying to draw a contrast between trading and shipping, leaving building out of the equation.Between the two, shipping becomes more important than trading toward the game's end. –  Tom Au Sep 22 '13 at 1:51
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