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Maharaja: The Game of Palace Building in India» Forums » General

Subject: First player wins the game? rss

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Stefan De Cap
Belgium
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We really like playing this game. The game itself looks good and the gameplay is brilliant.

But after playing it several times, there is one very important question popping up:
is it true that the first player always wins the game? In the latest games we played it was always the case. Maybe it is coincidence or maybe the other players were just not good enough. But it seems to be true that the first player has a very big advantage since he may build the first palace. As a consequence he will also be the player who gains the most money in the first round... so he is also able to build in the second round.

Due to this reason we don't play the game anymore. But I hope some of you can give advice or can show me that our statement is incorrect.

Looking forward to your answers!
 
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Nathan Morse
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I have an obscenely high win record at Maharaja, but I extremely rarely win much (if any) gold in the first city. I nearly never go first - though it certainly has its advantages.

The crucial element to succeeding at Maharaja is trying to impress the maharaja when it's most beneficial to you, and/or most harmful to your opponents. The first player will probably make the best showing at the first city, which is why you should be focused on the second city, and perhaps changing what that second city is, if you're going last, just to be sure to hose other people's plans.

Sure, player 1 gets the most money the first turn, but in our games, she usually doesn't get much in the second or third turns, because those best spots are taken, and someone else has taken her low role tile. On the other hand, I've seen player 1 soundly take the victory, as you describe - at least on occasion.

Just my experiences.
 
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Jason Nachtrab
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If the first player always wins, it is because the others are letting them. It takes awhile for people to learn all the various ways to mess with things in this game, but after they do each turn typically yields a lot of changes and redirections that have to be accounted for (this is what I love about it).

In most games I've played recently, the Maharaja's destination at the start of the first turn is almost never the destination by the end of the turn - someone always changes the governor order. Even when the first player tries to "protect" the first destination, they end up with the same situation as described above - income in the first city, then little or nothing for a turn or two.
 
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Jim Cote
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Until players are willing to "experiment", it's easy to fall into the trap: everyone moves to the current city and builds as much as they can. There are so many ways to attack this game:

- Build ahead.
- Use houses to collect tolls.
- Move your houses to block roads.
- Adjust governor track to change next destination.
- Steal roles to prevent a player from: going first, getting cheap travel, building cheaply, etc.
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Ed
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ekted wrote:
Until players are willing to "experiment", it's easy to fall into the trap: everyone moves to the current city and builds as much as they can.

This is exactly what happened last night! I played a 4-player game for the first time in several months, and it was very lopsided (and hence uninteresting) with one player holding the first-player tile for most of the game and grabbing most of the center palaces. I was wondering why the game felt so broken when my previous games were all so tight. You nailed it right on the head: we were moving as a herd from city to city, which of course gives the advantage to whoever goes first and builds the center palace.

Thank god, I was wondering what the hell happened. I thought someone pooped all over my favorite Indian palace-building game.
 
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Stefan De Cap
Belgium
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Thanks for the reactions!
Many thanks for your reactions. I recently played the game again and guess what... I won the game without having the 'start playing first' - card. It's indeed a very good tactic to focus on the next cities.

I have to admit that this game has a lot more possibilities than you would think on first sight
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Nathan Morse
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That is great news, Stefan! Way to go!
 
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Alain Renaud
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To be first to play is an advantage like in most game, but the other player will often go build their central palaces elsewhere and have a good turn 2 or 3. And if you find the 1st player role too good, then steal it. You'll see that if two player don't stop fighting for the role, the others will often take advantage over them.
It's also an advantage to play last so that you know exactly what you can do with the options you have and you never overbuild.
Being first in this game is in no way a garanteed win, but it can be a slight advantage, giving you a good start.
Actually, one thing I like to do is to take the first player role and on turn 1 Build palace-house and change role with character 5 (which is the most popular in our group.)
On turn 2 I change the order of the maharaja's visit and build a palace-house in the 4th or 5th city(since usually the central spot is taken in the 2nd and 3rd by that time) lowering it so that it is the next to visit and so I have a good turn 1 and 3. Of course a lot of thing can affect and change that.
 
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