I'm a big fan of Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico

But one thing that bugs me a little bit in my (5 player) games is how stable the first round is, with regards to role choices.

It (almost) always goes:

  1. Settler
  2. Builder
  3. Mayor
  4. Craftsman
  5. Captain

The rationale is pretty straightforward:

  1. A quarry will be manned by round 2*, since Mayor will almost certain be chosen
  2. Guaranteed to have highest purchasing power, and all buildings are available
  3. Guaranteed to have an unmanned building (with a chance of a first round indigo)
  4. Practically guaranteed to have a manned corn, and no other player can produce 2 goods
  5. No-one can ship for more than 2 victory points

Every now and then we'll get crazy and swap the order on Builder and Settler.

My question is, are there any significantly different first round role orders that are just as viable?

*Which is great efficiency for a quarry.

5 Answers 5


I doubt there's a significantly different first round order. Certainly at the beginning there are very few options that are of use. We often see a prospector in fourth and fifth, the rational being:

  • If the fourth player produces then the fifth player may take prospector (or trader in the unlikely event they managed to get a small market).
  • A player on corn wants to save up for a more profitable good.

So in short the five player first round sequences that we tend to see are:

[Settler/Builder], [Builder/Settler], Mayor, [Craftsman/Prospector], [Captain/Craftsman/Prospector/Trader].

  • 2
    We always have Prospector for the 4th and 5th roles on the first round. Oct 23, 2010 at 6:47

Player 4 shouldn't be playing Craftsman, knowing that player 5 will Captain.

Sure, if he player 4 uses Craftsman, players 4 and 5 get a 1-2 VP advantage over players 1-3, but they'd both be better off Prospecting this early in the game.

So the following is a good alternative:

Player 4: Prospector

Player 5: Prospector or Craftsman


It seems like you may be asking for a variant.

You can vary things in many ways

  1. Pre-seed roles with money.
  2. Use a closed money auction mechanic instead of turn order.
  3. Make a certain role unavailable first round
  4. Draw roles randomly first round
  5. Invert benefits first round.

In a 5 player game, if the 2nd player gets coffee, they may take prospector and then builder on the next round and build a coffee roaster as their first building. It can work out well for them, since the player will be able to trade coffee unblocked for several rounds.

  • 1
    Coffee can be dangerous that early, since smart players will make you ship it, and it will always be shipbound. May 22, 2011 at 16:05
  • @lance -- then they're clogging a boat with coffee and can't ship as well themselves, so I'm making as many shipping VPs as they are.
    – Chris Dodd
    May 27, 2011 at 0:05
  • @Chris, yes, but in the beginning of the game, money is what's important, so it's usually best to bring up a second good to protect your coffee (or tabbaco), so you can ship other stuff, and sell your good trading commodity. There's always exceptions to the rule of course. May 27, 2011 at 1:46
  • @Lance, sure I do even better if they let me sell the coffee, but I'm still doing at least as well as others if I'm forced to ship it. So its not really 'dangerous' to get the coffee, it just might not give me an immediate lock on winning.
    – Chris Dodd
    Aug 29, 2011 at 21:07

The first pull, barring extraordinary tile draws, should be Settler->Quarry. I agree with Pat that Prospector is better than Craftsman for player 4.

A great strategy guide is here.

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