I have always enjoyed Navegador ever since it came out, as it fits well into the type of games I like where there are several simple, intertwined systems and there is a lot of predicting what other people will do (and prodding them by the actions you take). Obviously from the tournament results, I still have a lot to learn about this game.
I find a lot of focus on the discussion of strategy revolves around the items you strive to collect (e.g., a “Churches/factories” strategy) and while this is somewhat true, it is rather less of a strategy than where you eventually decide to pick up your points that build up the bulk of your score. Equally important is the income structure that develops over the course of the game. The most lopsided victories seem to be the ones where this gets way out of whack (e.g., one player gets the bulk of the sugar factories while the sugar colonies are split among the other players).
Lesser, but still important factors are timing/momentum with regards to the end of the game and change of each phase, as well as dealing with how you access workers or ships when you do not have the corresponding buildings to make them accessible.
As you seek to avoid having factories that match the colonies of your left-hand player (or vice-versa) and try not to be the THIRD person to start collecting a particular item, the whole beginning to middle of the game feels like a high-stakes game of chicken, which then turns into a gallop to the finish line… which sometimes comes sooner than you expect.
Of the total 59 games, we had 16 games end with Sailing, and 33 ended with Building. Of the games that ended with Building, 13 of them ended before the third phase was triggered (with the other 30 going all 3 phases). There were five games where the second endgame condition was achieved after the first one was triggered.
Average winning scores overall were about 108 points, but ending the game earlier obviously changes this. The average winning score dropped down to about 93 points in games that ended in phase 2. The lowest winning score was Ray Wolff with 84 points in a game where two players butted heads on Churches and Factories while he focused almost exclusively on Shipyards. The highest score was 141 points by Antero Kuusi who amassed Shipyard and Colonies in a game where all the Exploration tokens and Buildings were exhausted.
Back to the scoring, “strategies”, I did attempt to categorize how people got their points. The data collection was a bit imperfect, but I eventually settled on noting whenever someone got 20 or more points in a particular category. Here is the breakdown of the TOTAL number of times in that category, and the number of winning scores in that category.
- Churches/Factories – 52 (23)
- Shipyards/Colonies – 33 (9)
- Shipyards – 25 (2)
- Factories – 24 (5)
- Churches – 21 (1)
- Shipyards/Exploration – 19 (4)
- Colonies/Exploration – 18 (5)
- Churches/Colonies – 12 (4)
- Shipyard/Factories – 11 (6)
- Colonies – 11 (1)
- Factories/Colonies – 7 (2)
- No category – 4 (0)
- Exploration – 4 (0)
- Churches/Exploration – 2 (0)
- Factories/Exploration – 1 (0)
Churches/Factories is certainly one of the easiest and straightforward combinations to pull off. And I think it even has room for two players. There were nine games where two players used this route, and five of them were won by one of those players. In the 34 games where only one person went that route (or did it well enough for my statistics) sixteen of them won. Despite the popularity, paths other than that are certainly viable.
I feel like, without much evidence, that one of the more balanced “setups” there is when two players are pursing Churches and Factories, while the other two pursue Shipyards, with one of the sailing players mostly picking up Exploration tokens while the other follows getting Colonies. But there is a lot to be said for all other sorts of combinations or even a single strong collection.
On to the final games. I run several rounds with four simultaneous games. The final round was seven players and seven games.
Game 1 – Anthony Lainesse (with 15 factories!) beat Mike Kaltman (Shipyards/Exploration) by 3 points.
Game 2 – Ray Wolff (Churches/Factories) had a 20-point lead over 2nd place DJ Borton (Shipyards/Colonies). In this game it appeared Ray had a Sugar Factory monopoly while the others split the colonies.
Game 3 – DJ Borton (Shipyards/Colonies) won by 18 points over Ray Wolff (Colonies). It was the opposite in this game. DJ had all the sugar colonies and the factories were split.
Game 4 – Ian Vanderhorst (11 colonies, a few shipyards) passed Anthony Lainesse (13 factories) by 1 point.
Game 5 – Robert Woodson (Shipyards/Exploration) won ON A TIEBREAKER over Ian Vanderhorst (Shipyards with some colonies).
Game 6 – Ian Vanderhorst (Shipyards/Colonies and most of the sugar colonies) won by a comfortable 19 points over Allan Jiang.
Game 7 – Allan Jiang (factories/churches) edged DJ Borton (Colonies/Factories) by 2 points.
In the end it was very, very close. Ian Vanderhorst and DJ Borton tied on tournament points, so it came down to the 3rd digit in the tiebreaking score, 3.96 to 3.95. Ian’s margins (not to mention his tiebreaker loss in game 5) were just enough. Both played well, congrats!
Final Results: Full results available at https://epworthian.wordpress.com/navegador/navegador-2020-2021-results
Order of Finish:
- Ian Vanderhorst
- DJ Borton
- Anthony Lainesse
- Allan Jiang
- Ray Wolff
- Robert Woodson
- Mike Kaltman