Clever ways to choose the first player
Joe Czarnecki
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Determining who goes first in a game can be a contentious thing, so a number of designers have helpfully provided means of making such a determination. Frequently this involves a die roll, but some games don't use dice...or the designer simply chose another method. Other designers either don't care or figure we're all big boys and girls and can figure it out for ourselves.

This list is dedicated to those designers who thoughtfully chose to provide unique, interesting or amusing means of determining the first player.
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1. Board Game: Fire & Axe: A Viking Saga [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:765]
Joe Czarnecki
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Frisco
Texas
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My personal favorite for thematic perfection: first play goes to "the hairiest" Viking. Yes, "Viking." There are no "players" in Fire & Axe.
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2. Board Game: Forbidden Island [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:591]
Joe Czarnecki
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In another thematically appropriate choice, the first player is the one to have most recently visited an island.

Unless, of course, they visited "the" Island, in which case you should avoid taking any trans-Pacific flights with them...
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3. Board Game: Dig In! [Average Rating:6.67 Unranked]
Joe Czarnecki
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Frisco
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Another Nordic-themed game, hair again plays a part: facial hair. The person with the most goes first.

Yes, ladies, this may seem unfair, at least until later in life when...well...okay, it's just unfair.
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4. Board Game: Citadels [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:320]
Joe Czarnecki
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Frisco
Texas
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The oldest person goes first. I speculate this is due to the conjunction of the qualities of age and treachery in overcoming youth and ambition and the prominence of treachery in this game.
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5. Board Game: Ghost Stories [Average Rating:7.37 Overall Rank:194]
Joe Czarnecki
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Frisco
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In another thematically appropriate choice, the first player is the one who most recently watched a Kung Fu movie.

If the players recently watched a Kung Fu movie together, I recommend the choice go to the one who most recently watched Big Trouble In Little China. If BTILC was the movie both watched, I say the first player is the one who can quote the most Jack Burton aphorisms from the film. If that fails, let the highest-rankng black belt in the house go first (Six Sigma doesn't count). If that doesn't do it, you're on your own.
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6. Board Game: Alhambra [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:394]
Joe Czarnecki
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Frisco
Texas
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In one of the more mechanically interesting methods, the first player is determined by the one to reach 20+ points of currency during the initial draw process with the combination of the fewest cards.
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7. Board Game: Vasco da Gama [Average Rating:7.30 Overall Rank:440]
Joe Czarnecki
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Frisco
Texas
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Another thematically appropriate choice: the player who has travelled the farthest in the last year goes first.
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8. Board Game: Cleopatra and the Society of Architects [Average Rating:6.81 Overall Rank:764]
Joe Czarnecki
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Frisco
Texas
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In keeping with the theme, the first player is the one with the best "Egyptian" qualifications.

Of course this may consist of nothing more qualifying than having a lithograph of a papyrus on the wall; a King Tut mask; or a stuffed crocodile toy.

Although this latter could present a problem if the stuffed crocodile toy is the dog's chew toy...unless the dog is a very good player.
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9. Board Game: The Princess Bride: Storming the Castle [Average Rating:5.19 Overall Rank:14938]
Joe Czarnecki
United States
Frisco
Texas
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Possession being nine tenths of the law, the first player in this farcical movie tie-in is the person who owns it.

So...if you successfully storm the castle...do you get the pink slip for the game?
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10. Board Game: The Downfall of Pompeii [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:448]
Joe Czarnecki
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Frisco
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The first player in this volcano-appeasing contest is the player to the left of the dealer. Of course, we're talking about the upper-crust of Roman society here, and at this rarified level, it is the people of property who control everything, so it will come as no surprise that the dealer also happens to be the owner of the game.

And if you had to ask that you obviously can't afford to live in Pompeii...
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11. Board Game: Arkadia [Average Rating:6.94 Overall Rank:736]
Joe Czarnecki
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One must have ambition to create great works of art or architecture, so the first player in this game is the youngest, perhaps due to the pairing of youth and ambition.
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12. Board Game: Ikusa [Average Rating:7.01 Overall Rank:693]
Joe Czarnecki
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Frisco
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In a nice little thematic take on the drawing of straws, the first player each turn is the one who draws the samurai sword with the fewest diamonds on the blade.
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13. Board Game: Munchkin [Average Rating:5.93 Overall Rank:3399] [Average Rating:5.93 Unranked]
Joe Czarnecki
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It is always good to close with a classic:

"Decide who goes first by rolling the dice and arguing about the results and the meaning of this sentence and whether the fact that a word seems to be missing any effect."

Of course, you can also argue about the fact that the game only contains one die, making it difficult to roll the "dice"...
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14. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:73]
Judd Vance
United States
Wichita
Kansas
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"Just get that sucka to the designated place at the designated time and I will gladly designate his ass...for dismemberment!" - Sho Nuff.
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The player who has been sick most recently goes first.
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15. Board Game: Start Player [Average Rating:6.39 Overall Rank:2625]
Kai Bettzieche
Germany
Ladenburg
Baden Württemberg
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Play a game of this one ..
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16. Board Game: Fearsome Floors [Average Rating:6.66 Overall Rank:920]
Jerry Wilkinson
United States
New Castle
Indiana
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When asking "What would Jesus do?", remember that flipping over tables and using a whip are within the realm of possibilities.
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The player who looks most like the monster goes first.

Best starting player rule anywhere!!
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17. Board Game: Chrononauts [Average Rating:6.22 Overall Rank:1962] [Average Rating:6.22 Unranked]
Rational Moderate
United States
Mountainside
New Jersey
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The player who is closest to guessing the correct current time goes first.
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18. Board Game: Zombie Dice [Average Rating:6.23 Overall Rank:1714]
Joe S
United States
Oklahoma City
Oklahoma
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Life is too short to be angry all the time. Smile and enjoy the ride.
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"The first player is the one who won the last game, or the one who can say 'Braaaaains!' with the most feeling.
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19. Board Game: Shear Panic [Average Rating:6.39 Overall Rank:1596]
J Weintraub
United States
Commack
New York
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Player who most recently had a haircut goes first. Last time I played, I was fresh from the barber...
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20. Board Game: Small World [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:188] [Average Rating:7.32 Unranked]
Caleb Frazier
United States
Glendale
Arizona
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The player with the pointiest ears goes first. This can cause some argument for those that have a small point, but those of us that have pretty rounded ears just sit on the side line.
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21. Board Game: Laborigines [Average Rating:5.43 Overall Rank:12922]
Matthias Schmidl
Austria
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Players shape a laborigine (monster/creature) from plasticine. Then they vote on which one is the nicest. The winner goes first using his creation as his playing piece.
If no consensus is reached, the laborigine of the heaviest player wins!



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22. Board Game: Betrayal at House on the Hill [Average Rating:7.10 Overall Rank:424]
Karl
Austria
Salzburg
Salzburg
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The player who's CHARACTER has birthday next goes first...
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23. Board Game: Ticket to Ride [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:127] [Average Rating:7.46 Unranked]
J.
United States
Bay City
Michigan
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"The player who is the most experienced traveler goes first."

Not bad, but when trying to figure it out, don't word the question as "how much experience do you have?" Some people might give you an answer you'd rather not hear. surprise
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24. Board Game: Alienz [Average Rating:5.10 Unranked]
J.
United States
Bay City
Michigan
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"The player who most acts like an alien goes first."

Trying to figure out the answer to this question is about the most fun you're going to have while this game is on the table.
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25. Board Game: Android [Average Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:1026]
 
Guillermo Heras Prieto
United Kingdom
York
North Yorkshire
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The player who has read more science fiction books goes first. Appropiate for the science fiction theme of the game, sure.
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