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Subject: First player advantage rss

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David B
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I own the board game but have had the opportunity to play more games of Samurai now because of the ios app. I have found that, against fairly evenly matched opponents in a 2 player game, I win most of the time as first player and lose most of the time as second. I can even make glaring mistakes as first player and still win. However, I have to play nearly flawlessly to have a chance of winning as second player. I remember someone reporting statistics on first player win percentage and it seemed rather significant. Does everyone find that it is much harder to win when not going first? Many games have a first player advantage, but Samurai seems to be little more than most. Also, are there any suggestions as to how to level the chances?
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Laszlo Molnar
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When Samurai was playable over at mabiweb.com the statistics showed that there is a slight advantage of going first. There were several suggestions to solve this issue; finally a nice solution proved to be very good (it was easy to check the statistics after hundreds of plays) - the first player starts the game without the "2" ship in a 2-player game.
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Justin
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There were a total of 849 2P games played using the ship variant before the game was pulled from the site. The totals: P1 won 54.4%, P2 won 42.6% and 2.9% were tied. This was a modest bump from the win rate for P2 with the standard game, but still not nearly enough to balance it. Removing both the 2-ship and a single 1-ship seems more than fair to me, and I'm inclined to think that P1 could compete with no ships.
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David B
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It sure seemed easier to fix the first player advantage in Through The Desert (first player only plays 1 camel on turn one).
 
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Angus G
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Interesting... any idea what is so advantageous about going first? I only have a few plays under my belt, but it seemed to me that the second player had a bit of an advantage because they get to see what Player1 is doing and can react to it.
 
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Justin
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dooof wrote:
Interesting... any idea what is so advantageous about going first? I only have a few plays under my belt, but it seemed to me that the second player had a bit of an advantage because they get to see what Player1 is doing and can react to it.

Players have completely equal pieces, but P1 rates to get more turns than P2 because the game doesn't have a fixed number of turns. I can tell you exactly what my opening move will be with pre-selected hands too: a 3-samurai piece played into Edo (the 3-piece city). With random hands, I'll still be playing into Edo. Now tell me how you can win it :-)
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Laszlo Molnar
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(Edo is far from the only place you can start at. You start at Edo, I will let you spend 6 tiles there while I collect several others elsewhere. Or maybe when you are at 4 tiles I jump in with my ronin.)
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Laszlo Molnar
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dooof wrote:
Interesting... any idea what is so advantageous about going first?

Well, in 50% of the games the first player gets to have one more turn (quite possibly playing 2 tiles more) than the second player.
Still, the 2-player game is far from very unbalanced.
dooof wrote:
the second player had a bit of an advantage because they get to see what Player1 is doing and can react to it.

After a few more plays you'll see the first half of the game is just about setting up positions and not playing tiles that are easy to react to...
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Justin
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lacxox wrote:
(Edo is far from the only place you can start at. You start at Edo, I will let you spend 6 tiles there while I collect several others elsewhere. Or maybe when you are at 4 tiles I jump in with my ronin.)

I don't have to spend 6 tiles there. The only way the game will end without Edo being finished is if 4 pieces are tied. By placing first, P1 gets max influence value (3-samurai = +3 influence on four pieces) and gets ahead in tempo. With pre-selection of hands, P1 can easily make Edo a lost cause for P2. Without, they still have a critical tempo advantage.
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Still, the 2-player game is far from very unbalanced.

Personally, I consider a 40.9 win percentage for P2 to be notably unbalanced. In practice, among experience players, I perceived it to be far worse than the average. I don't have any way to filter for "experienced" games, though, so it's just an anecdote. I would submit that experienced players would tend to select the variant, and the variant didn't improve things that greatly for that context. If I were to guess, I'd guess that it's something like 30% for P2 with experienced players, and 40% if using the 2-ship variant. Would love to explore more, but we can't angry
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Aaron Gelb
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How does this all translate to 3 and 4 player games? More balanced or player 1 more at an advantage?
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