San Juan Strategy

Over the holidays I had the opportunity to play Puerto Rico for the first time. I loved the gameplay, and the economic elements. After that, I looked for it in digital version and found San Juan. A card game based on the Puerto Rico board game. The elements are very similar and fun to play.

The game is complex, and takes a lot of planning and some luck to win, but it is a lot of fun. The digital version takes between 20-30 minutes to complete.

Here is the strategy.

  1. Build something good on your first or second turn: (don’t waste the first build)
  2. Build either a Library, or a Smithy as soon as possible
  3. Take the Councilor role in early turns to get a Guild Hall
  4. After building the Library and/or Smithy, take the build action often, and if not, take the Prospector
  5. Always build something when possible in later turns, focusing on Production Buildings
  6. Play the Guild Hall in one of the 8-10 spots
  7. End the game quickly after that

 

Build something good on your first turn:

In the first round, everyone starts out with some cards, so you may be tempted to build something when the build role is drawn. If you don’t have something good, just wait until the next round. At that point, the other players won’t be able to build anything, and it gives you a few more cards to get something good. I like to play the Library, Smithy, a Coffee Roaster, or a Silver Smelter.

Build the Library and/or Smithy

You want to give yourself an advantage that will last throughout the game. This strategy focusses on winning big with the Guild Hall, so the inexpensive Smithy will help you get production cards out, or the more expensive Library will always give you an advantage on your turn. If you can get both of them out early, it is even better.

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Get and keep the Guild Hall

The Guild Hall is the linchpin to this strategy. You can win without it, but it will be very difficult. This card is very powerful, so the other players will also be looking to grab it. Give yourself an advantage by taking the Councilor card. This will get you through a lot of cards very quickly to get what you want, especially if you already played the library.

Once you have the Guild Hall, don’t play it yet. You need to get cards out that will help you throughout the game, not just at the end.

I like to hold onto the Guild Hall until your 8th slot, or as soon after that as you can play it.

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Build Often

When you have the chance, take the build role. If you have the Library and/or Smithy out, you can very cheaply play production cards. This will further increase your chance for cards, and give you tons of points. If you can’t Build, take the Prospector role. With the Library, the prospector gives you two free cards and doesn’t help anyone else out.

In addition to taking the build card, it is helpful to have some cheap cards in your hand to build anytime someone takes the build card. This is a tricky part of the game to balance, but if you don’t build every time you have an option to build, you can end up with tons of open spaces at the end of the game, I like the indigo cards because they are free to build with the Smithy, and are worth 3 points with the Guild hall.

End Game

If you are building as much as possible, you will end the game at 12 buildings and will have filled the most of your spaces with production cards, thus gaining tons of points

This strategy requires a few key cards, and you won’t always get them. You can adapt the strategy as needed, but if you don’t get the Guild Hall, you may be better off building victory point cards towards the end.

Below is a picture of an almost perfect game that I had. This won’t always happen, but I have been able to get pretty close a few times. Just play it the best you can with what you have.

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Good luck! And let me know how it goes.

Here is some more background on San Juan from BoardGameGeek:

San Juan is a card game based on Puerto Rico. The deck of 110 cards consists of production buildings (indigo, sugar, tobacco, coffee, and silver) and “violet” buildings that grant special powers or extra victory points. Cards from the hand can be either built or used as money to build something else; cards from the deck are used to represent goods produced by the production buildings, in which case they are left face-down. A seven-card hand limit is enforced once per round.

In each round (or governorship), each player in turn selects from one of the available roles, triggering an event that usually affects all players, such as producing goods or constructing buildings. The person who picks the role gets a privilege, such as producing more goods or building more cheaply.

Though similar in concept to Puerto Rico, the game has many different mechanisms. In particular, the game includes no colonists and no shipping of goods; goods production and trading are normally limited to one card per phase, and trades cannot be blocked. Victory points are gained exclusively by building, and the game ends as soon as one player has put up twelve buildings.”

 

Here is the strategy.

 

Board Game Development Update

Apologies for going dark.

The last few months have been busy on the board game front. Here is a sampling of the things that have happened in the last few months.

  1. I updated the art for the game. A.Lundell is the new artist. Box Art
  2. I updated the name and logoKickstarter Heading
  3. I printed and sold a handful of prototypes
  4. And I started preparing a Kickstarter page. Still in the works.

In the new year, I’ll be posting additional photos and updates. Stay tuned!

 

Greenfield: a Supply Chain Strategy Game

I like to have projects that work on different parts of my brain. That way, when one part of my brain is tired, I can work on something else that strengthens another part of my brain.

I’m finally ready to reveal one of my more recent projects. I suggested to my manager a few months back an idea to develop a board game to teach Supply Chain strategic thinking. That project has since come to fruition.

With a small budget and a percentage of time from an artist and a graphic designer, we developed a board game that meets the following criteria.

  1. Fun to play
  2. Simulates reality (OK, so it isn’t perfect, but it gets the idea across.)
  3. Teaches people how to think about supply chain strategy
  4. Looks great

It is not quite finished, but I think we have accomplished just that.

Tim Kamarul is the artist for the box and the Distribution Center Tokens. I’m really happy with the colors and especially like the truck.

Jimbo Raleigh designed the board and the cards and did an excellent job dealing with my frequent requests to tweak one thing or another.

Greenfield5

 

Stay tuned, I’ll continue to post updates as things move along.

 

Footnote: a Greenfield in a supply chain is when you need to build a new Distribution Center, and you can put it anywhere you want. It is a green field.

Top Posts of All Time

I’ve posted 37 times in the past year. I haven’t figured out a good way to browse through the posts easily, so I’m posting them all in the order of views below. Enjoy!

Top 5
Splendor Strategy
Career Strategy 1: What do you want to be when you grow up?
Blokus Strategy
El Grande Strategy
Stratego Strategy

Next 5
Ticket to Ride
Gaming with children
Carcassonne Strategy
Quiet Paper Games for Church
Career Strategy 7: Up, Over, Out, or Stay

 

Rest of the List

Risk Strategy
Career Strategy 4: How to Get a Job at …
Career Strategy 2: Job Search
Rock, Paper, Scissors Strategy
Career Strategy 6: Effective Interviewing
Monopoly Strategy
Settlers of Catan Strategy
Pandemic Strategy (Guest Blog)
Career Strategy 8: Being a Good Mentor
Lord of the Rings: Confrontation Strategy
Career Strategy 5: Protecting your Personal Brand
Blokus Strategy 2 – Bayesian Probabilities
Career Strategy 3: Getting your First Real Job
Playing Games for Christmas
Christmas Strategy
Counting to 21 Strategy
King of Tokyo Strategy
Perudo: Liar’s Dice
Career Strategy Summary
Why We Play Games
Star Wars Epic Duels
Strategy for your Strategy
Party Game Strategy
What to do if People know your Strategy
Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Review
Dixit Strategy
Onirim Strategy

Onirim Strategy

Have you ever had a bad dream that you can’t wake up from? For me, it is always me trying to run, but not being able to move. I have found that my arms still work in these dreams, so I am able to drag myself along to try to escape. This cooperative game is based on that kind of dream.

In Onirim, you are trapped inside a dream and have to figure out how to escape by finding keys, doors, and matching locations to unlock enough doors to escape. The game is very fun to play, but it is also very hard to win. The deck is stacked against you. Additionally, you are going to have to shuffle those cards a lot, so if your shuffling technique is 52 card pickup, this is not the game for you. (Fortunately, they just released an app version of the game that shuffles for you.)

Here is my strategy, but you will still lose 50% of the time, roughly.

  1. Discard your keys to gain information and kill the nightmares
  2. Target all the same color so you can safely discard the remainder
  3. If a Nighmare card appears, do the following if possible.
    1. Use a key
    2. Lose 5 cards if you have a set or moon cards in your hand
    3. Discard your hand if you don’t need the cards there.
  4. Calculate the remaining cards so that you don’t discard something necessary

Discarding Keys

The game allows you to do a few things with keys.

  1. If you have a key in your hand and draw a door, you automatically unlock it
  2. If you draw a Nightmare, you can kill it with a key in your hand
  3. You can discard a key to rearrange the top five cards of the deck and discard one.

I like to use the key to rearrange the top cards because you usually will remove a Nightmare card, and you can arrange the cards to get exactly what you need in the order that you need them. Additionally, if you draw cards you don’t want, but there is a door, you can put that first in line to give you a chance to reshuffle to get what you need.

There are a few caveats to this.

  1. Don’t discard a key if it is the only way left to open that color of door
  2. Don’t discard a key if you already know what the next draws are, wait until you actually need it
  3. Don’t discard the key for the color you are focussing on.

Target a Color

In your initial draw, you will have more of one color. Start with this one and try to open all the doors of that color. If you do, it gives you significant leverage for the rest of the game in discarding those colors of cards. There are more Red and Blue cards than Green and Brown, so consider going for Red or Blue because you have better chances. (That being said, don’t discard your Green and Brown, or you won’t be able to complete the in the end.)

The caveat to this is that you don’t want to completely ignore the other colors. Take advantage of whatever appears to maximize your chance of winning.

Nightmare Appearance

Almost always kill a nightmare with a key if you have one, unless it is your only chance to open a door. If you don’t have a key, you have to decide which is worse. If you have the cards you need to open a door, and especially if you have moon cards, you are better off discarding from the top of the deck. If you don’t need the cards in your hand, discard them instead.

Calculate Winning Needs

There are 16 red, 15 blue, 14 green and 13 brown cards. Each set of cards only has 4 moons, so don’t discard them if you can help it. If you know you have already used or discarded all the moons, you know you can’t discard the keys for that color. Often, you will know that the game cannot be won before you get to the end of the deck.

Have fun, I hope your dreams come true.

What other strategies have worked for you?

Dixit Strategy

Dixit is one of my favorite party games. Everyone can quickly learn and play, but there are subtle strategies that will lead to victory.

Here is my strategy:

  1. Use stories or phrases that target one or two people
  2. Play the card that fit into the stories of others
  3. Bluff when cards are revealed
  4. Think through other players thought processes, and watch their reactions

Storytelling

When it is your turn to suggest a story or phrase, think very carefully about what to say. Consider your audience. You want at least one person, but not everyone to guess your card. You most likely have experiences with the other players. Use those experiences to make a clue that only they could guess.

To prevent people from teaming up on you and accusing you of cheating, change around who your target player is each time. Make the clue sufficiently vague, but clear to that one player.

Playing Cards

This part of the strategy is super simple. Whatever clue they give, find the card that fits the story or phrase the closest. After submitting your card, here is where the fun part comes in.

Bluffing

Dixit is the kind of game that you can get a significant lead, but then people will start trying to not guess for you just to stop you from winning. The key to overcoming this is to bluff.

When cards are revealed, don’t do anything that would reveal which card is yours. If you aren’t great at keeping a straight face, make exaggerated gestures and comments on all of them.Say things like “There are so many good options.” “Ooh, this one is good.” and laugh if the card is funny, (even if it is yours.) Act genuinely surprised by all the cards revealed.

Guessing

When it comes time to guess, watch the storyteller closely. They often will reveal their card just by their reactions to the cards revealed. If not, think about what you know about the person and how their thought processes work. This can be pretty difficult if you don’t know them well but do your best here.

Often you can eliminate cards that you know can’t be it, and then just guess on the ones left over. You know your own, and you other players may accidently reveal their card by not being surprised, or making subtle comments.

You won’t get them all right, but you will get it right more often than others, leading to a sound victory.

 

Career Strategy Summary

 

With graduation in striking distance at universities across the world, I’m posting the list of my career strategies. I recommend you checking them out. In summary, learn what you like, do work that you like, manage your career, and give back.

Career Strategy 1: What do you want to be when you grow up?

Career Strategy 2: Job Search

Career Strategy 3: Getting your First Real Job

Career Strategy 4: How to Get a Job at …

Career Strategy 5: Protecting your Personal brand

Career Strategy 6: Effective Interviewing

Career Strategy 7: Up, Over, Out, or Stay

Career Strategy 8: Being a Good Mentor