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Subject: Second player advantage rss

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Craig Duncan
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I've been playing Spline a fair bit recently on Jocly, both against the AI and against my son (passing the iPhone back and forth between us). I've noticed that the second player wins much more than the first in my experience. Has anyone else noticed that?

Thinking about it, I think here is one reason there might be a second player advantage. Note that the player who plays the 28th ball will always win. This is because the 28th ball must be the third ball on the third level (since the first layer has 16 balls and the second layer has 9 balls, and 16+9+3=28). Since the third layer is a 2x2 grid, the third ball on this level necessarily makes a line of its own color across the grid and wins. It is the second player who will play the 28th ball, since the second player plays the even numbered balls. Thus, all the second player has to do is tread water and play defense for all his turns; if he does that, then he is guaranteed to win.

Now, playing defense against a skillful first player is not easy, so this is not to say that the second player always wins. But it means that the first player must engineer some kind of trap in order to win, but the second player needn't engineer a trap to win. That's why I think there is a second player advantage.

Moreover, I do not believe that this advantage can be fixed by a pie rule (e.g. play a turn each, and then player 1 chooses which color to play). A pie rule won't work to fix it since the advantage is not due to initial placements but rather to the fact that the second player plays the even numbered turns. Hence a pie rule would just flip the advantage over to player one.

I think the best fix is probably moving to play Spline+! That said, I do still enjoy Spline. I'm enjoying the challenge of trying to figure out what traps are open for the first player to set...

Any thoughts?
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Néstor Romeral Andrés
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cdunc123 wrote:
I've been playing Spline a fair bit recently on Jocly, both against the AI and against my son (passing the iPhone back and forth between us). I've noticed that the second player wins much more than the first in my experience. Has anyone else noticed that?


Yes, you're right. Spline was not intended to be a balanced game, but the simplest (and playable) possible Shibumi game.

As you point out, the pie rule doesn't help.

Quote:
I think the best fix is probably moving to play Spline+!


You're right again. Spline+ is the real game while Spline is just an introduction to Shibumi.

Have fun!

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Craig Duncan
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nestorgames wrote:
Spline+ is the real game while Spline is just an introduction to Shibumi.


I agree that Spline makes a great introduction to Shibumi.
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