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His Eyes Opened!

Cartagena 1.0 - Solution

In Cartagena players are trying to move their pirates onto the boat in order to escape the island prison. You do this by selecting one of your pirates and playing a single card. You then move the selected pirate to the next empty space that contains that picture. If all spaces between that pirate and the boat are occupied you move the pirate into the boat. (e.g. Playing a Bottle on red pirate C will move that pirate into the boat.)

Players can also gain cards by moving their pirates backwards. You select one of your pirates and move it back to the next space that contains either 1 or 2 pirates (skipping any space that contains either 0 or 3 pirates). You gain either 1 or 2 cards depending on the number of pirates there.

A players turn consists of up to three such moves (with any combination of forward and backward moves). The first player to move all six of his/her pirates onto the boat wins.

It's your turn next, then blue, green and yellow (in that order). Each of your opponents has lots of cards but you have no idea what they are. Your hand consists of the cards shown at left. What moves should you make that will guarantee you victory?


As is getting to be a regular occurrence here I made a mistake when "adjusting" the above puzzle. The intended solution does not involve moving three pirates to the boat on the first turn. (Which seems to me to be a rather obvious solution and the variety that most people submitted.) I had the details worked out so that you could not send three pirates to the boat on the first turn and I think its much more difficult to determine what the proper moves are if this is the case. However, there were several symmetric moves that the solution could take. (That is, "Use a Dagger with A and a Hat with B" being functionally equivalent to "Use a Hat with A and a Dagger with B".) I made some small changes so that there were no such symmetries (which, as it turns out there were anyway) and this had the very unfortunate effect of allowing three pirates to reach the boat on the first turn.

Either way the main trick of the puzzle was recognizing that only Blue could possibly beat you to the victory. Green and Yellow each have four pieces left and so cannot possibly get all of them off the board in one turn. Since Blue moves directly after you you can prevent his winning by leaving at least one of each type of symbol between his first pawn and the boat. The following moves accomplish this:

First Turn:

  1. A - Key
  2. C - Key (in the boat)
  3. A - Hat (in the boat)

Second Turn:

  1. B - Skull
  2. B - Knife (in the boat)
  3. D - Knife (in the boat)

However, the most common solution involved moving B, C & D into the boat on your first turn. There are several different ways to accomplish this but one such move is:

  1. B - Knife (in the boat)
  2. C - Knife (in the boat)
  3. D - Hat (in the boat)

It's then trivial to get A in the boat with three cards.

In any event, congratulations to David Plank, the winner of our random draw!

- Greg Aleknevicus

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