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Subject: First Player game mechanic - strategy rss

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Anton Tolman
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I've played a number of great games where one of the important mechanics is the "first player option". Usually this involves worker placement in a location that enables the player to become the first player in the next round, often with an additional bonus. This is found in games such as Caylus, Lords of Waterdeep, and Agricola.

My questions for your consider are how important, as a player, do you think this mechanic is? How often should you just into that spot and under what conditions? The problem with it is the cost -- you give up your chance to do something else in order to gain that spot. Is this option more vital in games with more than 2 players than in 2p games?
 
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Stephen Williams
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I would say it's probably more vital in 2p games than multiplayer. That said, there will be 2p games where it's not really that vital anyway.

It can be a useful option in games that present it, but I don't always use it myself. Usually only if I have a very specific "next move" planned and I want to make sure no one blocks me. Otherwise I'll just go with the flow in whichever player position I naturally land.
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Chris
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I don't think this is a thing. So many games have subtleties which make first player more or less important.

You can go play steam with 7 players, and turn order there is often critical if you want to do a certain thing. Other games, really doesn't matter a huge amount. I played Francis Drake the other day, and turn order didn't really matter a huge amount in either part of the game, in fact it can almost give away strategy to other players.

I guess if there's a dividing line it *might* be games where there is a frequent "reset" to the board rather than player count.
 
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Jason Bush
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I think its very important unless everyone gets equal turns once a victory condition is met, then its only minor. For instance, in caylus, I'm usually the only one to take first and no one can stop my massive snowball strategy after that.
 
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Anton Tolman
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Stephen, interesting point. In a 2p game, more of the options are available to both players and perhaps this can offset the value of the first player position. With more players, options are slimmed down and I think this would make the first player position more viable and important.

Sometimes, I think the other bonuses are also important. I was playing Agricola the other day and my opponents strategy seemed to revolve around taking all the available food options and trying to force me to go begging. It didn't work, though, partly because I would use the food buildup in the first player position to feed my family and then would take the wood to expand my house on my next turn. In Lords of Waterdeep the bonus is not as good, although it can give you an extra Intrigue card.....now if that accumulated....hmmmmm.

Jason -- your point is also a good one. Is there a specific time in a game when taking that first player position means the ability to jump ahead of the others and create momentum that cannot be stopped? What is the cost of doing so?
 
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Pete
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We've been playing 4-player Caylus a lot lately. Let me tell you, it's not so much about being first...but it's really about not being last. You can't do anything if you're last.

Pete (never sees the guy currently going 2nd take first player)
 
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