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What would be the best role choice order for the first round in a 3-player game of Puerto Rico (without extension)?

I often see:

  1. Settler (→ Quarry)
  2. Builder (→ Small Indigo or Small Sugar)
  3. Major (staffing corn)

I sometimes see:

  1. Settler (→ Quarry)
  2. Craftsman (no bonus)
  3. Major (staffing corn)

And also:

  1. Settler (→ Quarry)
  2. Craftsman (no bonus)
  3. Builder (→ Small Market)

What should player 1 (Indigo), player 2 (Indigo) and player 3 (Corn) choose?

Is Settler (selecting a Quarry) the only advisable role choice for player 1?

I'm also interested in choices for player 2/3 if player 1/2 chose something unusual.


For a 5-player game, see Viable, alternative, first round role orders in 5-player Puerto Rico

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What's the point of the Craftsman on the first round? –  seppo0010 Dec 15 '12 at 16:36
    
@seppo: I never chose it myself, so I can only guess: probably because then player 3 can't choose it. So in the next round, player 2 can choose Craftsman again, so that he can produce indigo (resp. sugar), while player 3 could only produce corn, and player 1 nothing. –  unor Dec 15 '12 at 17:05
    
Player 2 will not be able to pick Craftsman on round 2 since he will need both a Builder and a Major (with two colonists) to produce indigo. –  seppo0010 Dec 15 '12 at 17:59
    
@seppo: Ah, yes, I had it wrong. In the second round player 2 is the first one to choose the Major (not the Craftsman). But this requires that player 3 chose the builder in the first round. -- As I said, I don't play that way, but I often saw it on BrettspielWelt. –  unor Dec 16 '12 at 0:41
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2 Answers

The first round is almost always:

  • Settler (P1:Quarry, P2:Corn(or Sugar if Corn unavailable), P3:Indigo (other choices are also good)
  • Builder (P2:Small Market or related production building, P3:Small Market, P1:Pass or (Small Market if available, sometimes Small Indigo)
  • Mayor (P3:Corn and Small Market, P1:Quarry, P2:doesn't matter)

An in depth analysis would take pages, but your two latter cases make no sense, because Craftsman gains Player 2 no advantage. Clearly, they could have chosen Builder, built the Small Market for free (1 VP), and prevent Player 1 from getting the opportunity to build it for free with a covered Quarry.

If Player 1 chooses Mayor, Captain, Craftsman, or Trader then no choices can be made so I won't cover those. If Player 1 chooses Builder, Player 2 should build either Small Market or Small Indigo, Player 3 should probably build Small Market. This gives Player 2 the opportunity to get the first Quarry by selecting Settler (cash is king in the early game), or Mayor to cover both Indigo slots. If they choose wisely though, that would leave Player 3 with Mayor, covering their Corn+Small Market.

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  • I do think that Settle for a Quarry is far and away the best first move of the game. The return on the investment is just so good. It helps you get the important early- and midgame buildings earlier, and get more buildings total.
  • I think Building for a Small Market or small Indigo/Sugar plant, depending on what you grabbed with Settler, is a strong choice for the second player. Hacienda is a wildcard building choice.
  • I think Mayor is the best remaining choice for the last player. Colonists are sometimes short in the early game and having an extra is nice.
  • Craftsman makes no sense at all. It doesn't provide you any benefit.
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