Starting position selection on a map
Jeff W
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Parker
Colorado
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Playing Tempus this weekend for the first time, I was struck by how unfair it seemed to be going last. Furthermore I feel like it will be the same for every game. This got me to thinking about other games that have people selecting their initial positions on a map and how the games address the fairness issue.
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1. Board Game: Catan [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:292] [Average Rating:7.21 Unranked]
Jeff W
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Settlers of Catan and its family of games have the mechanism of the first player choosing first and last (1-2-3-4-4-3-2-1). When the game first came out, I thought this was a brilliant mechanism.

Yes, certain positions still can have tough placements, but I have never felt that I was out of the game due to the initial placement.
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2. Board Game: La Città [Average Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:590]
Jeff W
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This game has a similar mechanism for choosing the starting cities as Settlers. However, it seems like going first is still an advantage since there seem to be only a couple of great locations.
 
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3. Board Game: Power Grid [Average Rating:7.90 Overall Rank:34]
Jeff W
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This is similar to Tempus in that there is only one starting location, and your network extends from there for the rest of the game. However the starting location, while important, is secondary to the power plant auctions. Also, the purchasing of the initial power plant dictate the order of selecting the starting cities, so the players have some say in their order.

However for some reason, I don't feel that the last player for placement is disadvantaged. Perhaps this is an indication that my first reaction to Tempus is just an anomaly.
 
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4. Board Game: Attika [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:591]
Jeff W
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The first player has the first option to choose the location of her first village. But later players are compensated with more resource cards. Also additional villages can be built anywhere for a cost. The board also grows as the game goes on which further reduces the impact of the starting location.
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5. Board Game: Tempus [Average Rating:6.50 Overall Rank:1567]
Jeff W
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Unlike the games above, there is no counterbalancing mechanism for going last. The first game (going last) made me feel like I had no chance in the game and made me feel like a Kingmaker in the initial placement.
 
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6. Board Game: La Strada [Average Rating:6.19 Overall Rank:2777]
Jeff W
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Another Martin Wallace game which made me feel that the initial placement was a big factor and that going last is a big disadvantage. I don't remember much about the mechanism anymore.
 
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7. Board Game: Vinci [Average Rating:7.11 Overall Rank:628]
Kent Reuber
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San Mateo
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Going last has the disadvantage that other players will already have carved out their territory. However, they'll have all picked civilization attributes before you and you'll have choices that they might have found too expensive. Equally important is that you get the last turn, which means that you can go all out without having to worry about leaving yourself in a defensible position in the endgame.
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8. Board Game: Twilight Imperium (Third Edition) [Average Rating:7.89 Overall Rank:49]
Scott Lewis
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While the starting areas are pretty uniform for 3, 4, and 6 player games, for 5 player games (at least out-of box), some of the players are in more "disadvantaged" positions than the others. While it's not necessarily a "who picks last" situation, it is one where the starting position does determine some of the impact of the game.

In TI3, in the 5 player game, the 3 players in the less desirable positions are compensated with Trade Goods to start out with. Whether this is a good balance or not is up for debate (I've not played with 5 players myself, so I can't say for sure).
 
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