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Subject: A question for the math/statistics department. rss

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"GAME OVER, MAN. GAME OVER!"
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I recently posted this picture of my homemade danish version of Codenames, and got a comment that made me wonder...



My cards have 9 positions marked for both the red and blue teams, and depending on how the cards are rotated, (we rotate them a bit while shuffling between games) indicates which team starts. The coloured dot at the top is the starting team.
First team has to guess all 9 and second team only has to guess 8,(as per the rules) but since second team still has 9 to chose from, does this change the odds of either team winning in any sicnificant way?

In the 50+ games I've played so far, it hasn't seemed important/game changing, but I would still like to hear the math/statistics viewpoint.

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"GAME OVER, MAN. GAME OVER!"
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P.S. To spare any "why don't you just buy the real game you cheap bastard!?" posters, I made the danish version to be able to play with more people, not just those with a large english vocabulary, and anyway, I think the essence of the game makes it play better with words in your native language...
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Ben Kyo
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It seems clear that giving the second team 9 possible hits and only needing 8 of them gives them an advantage over how it is played in the actual game. There's one more clue to link, and one more clue for the first team to have to take extra pains to avoid.

Whether or not that advantage balances or unbalances the game depends on how balanced the first player advantage is in the actual game, and that is something that will probably need a lot of data to resolve.
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Mark Nicosia
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I think it would be hard to quantify such a thing with hard numbers, but, compared to the actual published game, the second team in your version has a slightly easier game. They can choose to ignore the hardest word in their set, yet at the same time they have one more word than they should that has to be avoided by the other team.

So yes, I'd expect the second team in your version to have a slightly better winning percentage than the second team in the published game. In a significant way? Probably not. For what I consider a light, fun party game, I wouldn't worry about it.
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Alison Mandible
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It seems very significant to me. Suppose your team is down to 3 cards left-- it's a LOT easier to hit 2 of them with one clue than it is to hit all 3.

I'd suggest that instead, one dot on the card is marked as the 'double agent' -- whichever team goes first owns that word. This mirrors how the printed version works and keeps the balance right.
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Andy Kerrison
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grasa_total wrote:
It seems very significant to me. Suppose your team is down to 3 cards left-- it's a LOT easier to hit 2 of them with one clue than it is to hit all 3.
You're not hitting all of the last three though. For it to be significant, you need to be comparing the difficulty in hitting any two of the last three with the difficulty of hitting any two of the last two. Easier, yes. But probably not game-breakingly so. Most likely less than the natural difficulty variation coming from the random word distribution
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Clyde W
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Seems significant to me.
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mfl134
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I think the extra word makes it really hard for the second team to ever need 5 rounds.


In general the options are:

1st wins in 3 rounds
2nd wins in 3 rounds
1st wins in 4 rounds
2nd wins in 4 rounds
1st wins in 5 rounds
Other

I haven't played enough to assign odds but I think the way to look at it is the see how often 1st is winning in 5 rounds. Decide what % is significant. I'd guess "1st winning in 5 rounds" is maybe 5% of the games? I'd call that significant enough.

I'm sure somebody at CGE clearly has this info.
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Emmanuel B
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Not quite replying to your question, but you could put a special mark on one red dot and one blue dot inside your grid.
The first team would have to guess the 9 dots of its color, including the marked one.
The second team would have to guess only the 8 unmarked dots of its color.

What kind of mark would work ? I think a half-circle could do, or a dot with a blank center, etc.
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Alison Mandible
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Andy_K wrote:
You're not hitting all of the last three though. For it to be significant, you need to be comparing the difficulty in hitting any two of the last three with the difficulty of hitting any two of the last two.
Oh, right you are. It still seems like a large advantage to me and, as I mentioned, there's a simple solution (mark the 'double agent' on the board).
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"GAME OVER, MAN. GAME OVER!"
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grasa_total wrote:
Andy_K wrote:
You're not hitting all of the last three though. For it to be significant, you need to be comparing the difficulty in hitting any two of the last three with the difficulty of hitting any two of the last two.
Oh, right you are. It still seems like a large advantage to me and, as I mentioned, there's a simple solution (mark the 'double agent' on the board).
Would work, but I'd have to make all new cards...
 
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Andy Kerrison
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Yeah, the double agent is definitely a neater solution if you want to be able to have either colour go first and keep as close as possible to the original game balance.

But, since he's already made all the cards....

Edit: Ninja'd!
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"GAME OVER, MAN. GAME OVER!"
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manur wrote:
Not quite replying to your question, but you could put a special mark on one red dot and one blue dot inside your grid.
The first team would have to guess the 9 dots of its color, including the marked one.
The second team would have to guess only the 8 unmarked dots of its color.

What kind of mark would work ? I think a half-circle could do, or a dot with a blank center, etc.
DISCO! I had the same idea in the bus on my way to work... This way I can keep my existing cards, and just make a small addition to them...


Thanks all for your input!
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Marlene Thornstrom
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Have you tried using the official app to generate the grid?
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1 Lucky Texan
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doesn't this create an extra 'pitfall' for the start team? How does that affect the balance of the game?
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Jason Arnold
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I would assume the game was playtested and balanced pretty heavily before release. I usually trust the designer and publisher and don't start monkeying around with the rules.
 
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