Mechanic Name: Incentivized Role Selection
System: Puerto Rico
Summary: Add incentives to ensure that each role is selected multiple times over the course of the game.
Turns in Puerto Rico consist of a player selecting a role, then each player executing the role’s action, with the selecting player receiving a bonus. For example, if I select the Builder role, everyone may purchase a building and I receive a small credit towards that purchase. A role may only be selected once during a given round; A round consists of each player taking a turn.
The game is setup such that there are more roles than players. Thus not every role will be selected in a given round. At the end of the round, if a role wasn’t selected, 1 coin is placed on the role. So now, if someone selects that role they add 1 coin to their coffers; The costs are between 2 and 10 coins, so one coin is a pretty good incentive.
Why I Like It:
First and foremost, without the mechanic, it is possible, though unlikely, that some roles might never be selected. I suspect that for a given game, each person is likely to have one or two optimal roles that they would always select if there wasn’t an incentive mechanism.
Another aspect is that the more coins a role has the more tempting it is to select, even if there is a more optimal role for you to select; I really need to ship these barrels of Sugar, but I here the Settlers will pay me two doubloons just to find some more land for the workers to work.
If you are paying attention, you can look ahead and attempt to predict how another person might take or skip an incentive, thus using that knowledge to better enact your strategy. If I don’t select the Mayor this turn, then it’ll have a coin, and so Matt will likely select it first, leaving me to select the Settler; After all I really need a quarry.