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Cartagena» Forums » Variants

Subject: Handicap for the player moving first rss

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Sight Reader
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Since the player moving first is at a considerable handicap, we've found it expedient to give the first (few) players an extra card.

Especially in 5 player games, we generally eliminate one tile so the game finishes in a comfortable amount of time. Don't eliminate two tiles, though... the game completely breaks down if you do that.
 
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Rob Rob
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While it may seem like the player moving first has a handicap, I've found it is easily countered by what I call "bringing the ladder with you". Out of you startig hand of six you are bound to have a pair or better of one "suite" (for example: skulls). Invariably the starting player's first three moves are:

1) skull - move meeple #1

2) skull - move meeple #2 past meeple #1

3) knife (or whatever) - move meeple #1 past meeple #2

Now you've left an "empty" tile between the start position and your meeples. meeple
 
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Ronald Tin
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Robrob wrote:
Out of you startig hand of six you are bound to have a pair or better of one "suite" (for example: skulls). Invariably the starting player's first three moves are


it doesn't always happen so nicely. Allow me to encode the six shapes like this :

1 = key
2 = bottle
3 = ...

If the starting boards look like this: (123456) (356124) (which is in one of the photos) and you have 112345. Playing A1 B1 A5 is no different from playing B1 B1 A5. Even if you have 234566 it seems quite expensive to use 664 on the first turn because it forces you draw cards next turn. 553 is probably a little bit better because you always get a chance to move back to a position with 2 pawns.

On the other hand, giving an extra card is probably too much. It gives you too good a chance to get 3 cards of the same suit. You can play (6P) then (664) next turn and still have 3 cards in hand.

I have the following untested suggestions. Will any of these options overcompensate the starter?

1) one chance to discard your hand and draw another set of 6 cards;
2) San Juan like start: draw 7 cards and discard down to 6;
3) If the you have 4 cards or less in the first turn, turn over the top card from the draw deck so everybody could see it, and add it in your hand.
 
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W. Eric Martin
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I've played 400+ games of Cartagena on YouPlay.it, mostly with two and three players, and have never noticed a first-player disadvantage. Keep in mind that the start player isn't forced to play three cards.
 
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Ronald Tin
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One thing I noticed is that it is seldom a good idea to play 3 cards in your first turn, so as a starting player you are forced to play 1 or 2 (even take a card as 3rd action), while the latter players have some revealed information. I forgot to mention that I almost only play Jamaika so I do not know anything about other players' cards until they have taken at least a turn. If you play Tortuga you can A/P your way out. In Jamaika the problem is sometmies quite serious with 4 players...
 
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Alex Limoges
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I play with five, Jamaïca version, and the results yesterday were the same: player 4 wins just before player 5, having thus played one more turn than him... unfair !
 
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Kevin Dusik
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I have played many times now (F2F only) and it seems that much of the time the first two players finish in last and second last place respectively. I agree that there should be some sort of "extra" thrown in to help those players during the first round.
 
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In a 2 player game, the first player has an advantage.
In 3 player games, chanches are equal.
Only in 4 or 5 player games the first and the last player have a slight disadvantage.
 
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Jeremy Frank
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Interesting comments here - this topic has been on my mind for a while, as Cartagena is one of my favorite games, but the first player weakness really bothers me, especially with new players. I don't like telling someone the 'optimal' way to play their first turn so they don't wind up in last place, and if I'm going first, I frequently have to explain why I am only taking 1 or 2 of my 3 available actions.

I think I will introduce a house rule that the first player gets one extra card at the beginning of the game. I'll report back on how this works out.
 
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James Boardgame
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Furthermore, for those who don't like going first, every player gets the opportunity to ensure that they look as little like a pirate as possible. Before any game of Cartagena, I am always careful to leave my eye-patch and parrot at home, and hold my cards in my left hand whilst keeping my hook concealed in my pocket. Arrrr! Damn, I've done it again...
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