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Subject: Player board advantage and order rss

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Steve Hajducko
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I'm curious as how much of an advantage the higher number boards have and how it relates to player order.

Usually advantages to players because of turn order is actually reflected by the real player order. But based on the rules ( that I could find ), since the boards are randomly assigned, the lowest board goes first, and then proceeds clockwise, you end up with a situation where someone with the highest numbered board ( and thus, the most advantageous starting track positions ) could end up going second.

Am I missing something here?
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Greg
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There are other factors that value a player board other than the starting track positions. Some of it has to do with top and bottom action combinations and bottom row cost distribution.
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Mathue Faulk
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There are at least a couple threads on this topic as well, with some design thoughts from Jamey.
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Steve Hajducko
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Hahma wrote:
There are other factors that value a player board other than the starting track positions. Some of it has to do with top and bottom action combinations and bottom row cost distribution.


Sure, but it specifically states in the rulebook that higher numbered boards have a track advantage, due to the fact that they may not get the same amount of turns. Whether or not their combination of top/bottom actions is advantageous really is up to the player's strategy and who it's paired with faction-wise.

That'd be all well and good except that the only board that determines turn order is the lowest numbered board in play, and then clockwise from there, which creates the situation I described above - a high numbered board ending up going second.

So, for reference:

#1 - 2 obj, 2 rep, 4 coins
#2 - 2 obj, 2 rep, 5 coins
#3 - 2 obj, 2 rep, 6 coins
#4 - 2 obj, 3 rep, 6 coins
#5 - 2 obj, 4 rep, 7 coins

Which, on the face of it - looks like a pretty normal thing that many games do for people who have to go later, to negate the early player advantage, except by the rules, you could end up with:

Player #1 - 2 obj, 2 rep, 4 coins
Player #2 - 2 obj, 4 rep, 7 coins
Player #3 - 2 obj, 3 rep, 6 coins
Player #4 - 2 obj, 2 rep, 6 coins
Player #5 - 2 obj, 2 rep, 5 coins

Which doesn't seem to make a lot of sense in terms of balance, so it feels like I'm missing something.
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Steve Hajducko
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mfaulk80 wrote:
There are at least a couple threads on this topic as well, with some design thoughts from Jamey.


I'll have to go search again - I looked but didn't find any obvious threads ( but I was looking on my phone while feeding a baby, so.. )
 
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Mathue Faulk
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sjmh wrote:
mfaulk80 wrote:
There are at least a couple threads on this topic as well, with some design thoughts from Jamey.


I'll have to go search again - I looked but didn't find any obvious threads.

I'd look, but I'm on my phone. I understand the logic of your statement especially since the rulebook specifies the resource discrepancy, but I don't feel like it has a significant impact on the game winner, at least relative to gameplay decisions.
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Jamey Stegmaier
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In the other threads I mention how the starting items on the player mats are based not only on the order, but also the marginal differences in strength (based on playtesting data) of those player mats. Overall, though, as Mathue says, these starting items have a very small impact on the outcome of the game.
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Steve Hajducko
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Yup, found the thread over in General instead of Rules - sorry about the repost!

I'm not sure I agree with it in general ( given equally skilled players, it would matter ), although I do think the impact of faction + action board would play a bigger role than the money advantage, but then again, I obviously don't have the play test data or experience designing games, so there ya go.

I will say that it did cause a bit of confusion though when setting up and getting the game going. We played it for the first time last night and unfortunately it left a bad taste in a few people's mind when we discussed afterwards, as the #5 board ended up being right after #2 ( who was first ) in two games played by 2 different groups ( all new players for both games ), and the #5 board ( both with Polania ) won both times. Waaayy too small of a sample set obviously, but first impressions are important for games when so many games are out there.

I'd almost consider it an advanced variant to do the randomization of action boards and if I had new players playing again, just assign them according to board order.

 
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Jamey Stegmaier
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Steve: I appreciate you sharing the game with new players, and in the future I would recommend that you simply say that the player mats are balanced in different ways by the order of the actions, the costs of the actions, the order of the mats, and the starting items.

It's an asymmetric game, and a lot of different factors go into balancing that asymmetry. If people are new to asymmetric games, I understand why this might be confusing, but otherwise it's just one of those things they need to accept and start playing.
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Greg
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Polonia is an easy faction for new players to do well with. Also, the faction and player board combos can be more straight forward at times.

Games with different factions often have those that are more straight forward and some that require more finesse and experience. There will often be threads about one faction being too strong, then later another faction is too strong and so on. Some games take more plays for people to start to see different results than from their first few.
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Steve Hajducko
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jameystegmaier wrote:
Steve: I appreciate you sharing the game with new players, and in the future I would recommend that you simply say that the player mats are balanced in different ways by the order of the actions, the costs of the actions, the order of the mats, and the starting items.

It's an asymmetric game, and a lot of different factors go into balancing that asymmetry. If people are new to asymmetric games, I understand why this might be confusing, but otherwise it's just one of those things they need to accept and start playing.


No worries - everyone really enjoyed the game ( and I think one or two are going to be buying it, based on the plays ).

Everyone who played was quite familiar with asymmetric games - I think it's just a few things that caused confusion/discussion:

a) The rulebook stating the higher #'d boards have a track advantage due to being further in turn order ( but then not really being further in turn order )

b) Track advantage and turn order advantages are much easier concepts to grok to new players than faction+action board synergies and top+bottom action strengths.

Looking forward to playing again.
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Paul Ferguson
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I have only played it 3 times, 2 x 5 player and 1 x 4 player. I personally don't see the extra starting bonus being a huge advantage and don't see going first being an advantage. My feeling is that everyone should just start with the same starting bonus.
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Mick Whyte
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In the 10 odd games I've played I've never seen an overall advantage to turnoorder and I do agree that some matt combos are easier to grasp for new players and that gives them a slight advantage. For instance I've seen personally Nords are harder start with for most New players and a lot of people thus complain they had the weak faction, I have won with them severaltimes now and love them.

But you know the easiest fix of all.time for your group? Just move where youareare sitting so you are in clockwise turn order from lowest to highest coin value. Allocate mats befor factions change seating arangment then grab a faction and set up.
 
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Erik Burigo
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Well, that subtle discrepancy annoys you (and this is a sort of impersonal "you": not aimed to anyone in particular), you could try this variant.

Assign faction and players board as normal.
Sit around the table as normal.
The player with the lowest numbered player board gets the starting benefits as normal.
The player to her/his left gets the starting benefits of the 2nd lowest numbered player board in the game (no matter who it belongs to).
The player to her/his left gets the starting benefits of the 3rd lowest numbered player board in the game.
The player to her/his left gets the starting benefits of the 4th lowest numbered player board in the game.
The last player gets the starting benefits of the highest player board in the game.

Personally, this design choice doesn't bother me at all, especially considered what Jamey stated about its magnitude of impact.
 
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Chris Edwards
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Painkeeper wrote:
Well, that subtle discrepancy annoys you (and this is a sort of impersonal "you": not aimed to anyone in particular), you could try this variant.

Assign faction and players board as normal.
Sit around the table as normal.
The player with the lowest numbered player board gets the starting benefits as normal.
The player to her/his left gets the starting benefits of the 2nd lowest numbered player board in the game (no matter who it belongs to).
The player to her/his left gets the starting benefits of the 3rd lowest numbered player board in the game.
The player to her/his left gets the starting benefits of the 4th lowest numbered player board in the game.
The last player gets the starting benefits of the highest player board in the game.

Personally, this design choice doesn't bother me at all, especially considered what Jamey stated about its magnitude of impact.


This variant ignores the fact that the starting benefits are meant to balance the relative strengths of the boards themselves, independent of player order. My hunch is that this is a bigger factor in the differences.

Edit: I think a better variant would only partially readjust the starting benefits. Maybe subtract coins like this:
-2 for boards 4 and 5
-1 for boards 2 and 3
Then add those coins back in based on seating order:
+2 for positions 4 and 5
+1 for positions 2 and 3
Something like that, anyway.
 
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Greg
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After making adjustments, how will people know things are balanced?
 
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Garbage Person
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Don't adjust anything on the boards at all and you don't have to worry about balance.

Pull random boards equal to the number of players. Randomly pick first player. Give them the lowest numbered board. Then hand them out clockwise in ascending board order number.

This is a perfectly valid and possible thing to have happen by random chance, and so should be "balanced" by default without any hand-wringing or gnashing of teeth.
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Erik Burigo
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nate_lockhart wrote:
Don't adjust anything on the boards at all and you don't have to worry about balance.

Randomly pull boards equal to the number of players. Randomly pick first player. Give them the lowest board. Then hand them out clockwise in ascending board order number.

This is a perfectly valid and possible thing to have happen by random chance, and so should be "balanced" without any hand-wringing or gnashing of teeth.


Yes, but this - in 5-players games - leads to the same relative positions of player boards.
 
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Garbage Person
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Painkeeper wrote:
nate_lockhart wrote:
Don't adjust anything on the boards at all and you don't have to worry about balance.

Randomly pull boards equal to the number of players. Randomly pick first player. Give them the lowest board. Then hand them out clockwise in ascending board order number.

This is a perfectly valid and possible thing to have happen by random chance, and so should be "balanced" without any hand-wringing or gnashing of teeth.


Yes, but this - in 5-players games - leads to the same relative positions of player boards.


Gotta take the good with the bad if you feel like it is an issue I guess.
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Erik Burigo
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nate_lockhart wrote:
Gotta take the good with the bad if you feel like it is an issue I guess.


Painkeeper wrote:
Personally, this design choice doesn't bother me at all, especially considered what Jamey stated about its magnitude of impact.


I don't feel like it is an issue.

But I think there are ways to "not taking the good with the bad": like the two tweaks Chris Edwards and me suggested a couple of posts above.
 
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Alex G
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Engine building games pretty much never have "turns after winner", and very often don't even provide any kind of boost to late turn players. This is because engine efficiency that develops DURING the game is massively more important to the outcome, than starting position. Think Dominion - player 2 doesn't get any advantage whatsoever, yet there's virtually no advantage to being player 1.

Starting position is mostly important to worker placement games.
 
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mfl134
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unonameless wrote:
Engine building games pretty much never have "turns after winner", and very often don't even provide any kind of boost to late turn players. This is because engine efficiency that develops DURING the game is massively more important to the outcome, than starting position. Think Dominion - player 2 doesn't get any advantage whatsoever, yet there's virtually no advantage to being player 1.

Starting position is mostly important to worker placement games.


If there were an odd number of provinces there would be a starting player advantage.
 
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Matthias Reitberger
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unonameless wrote:
Think Dominion - player 2 doesn't get any advantage whatsoever, yet there's virtually no advantage to being player 1.


Depending on the setup there is a big advantage for the first player.
I played a lot with my son when it came out (basic version) and in 2/3 of cases starting player won.
 
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Nick Case
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I've only played once with 5 players (all first timers) so please take what I say with a pinch of salt.

I like the random splicing of faction and player boards but I concur with the OP that the best (highest number) card gaining second in turn order does seem curious (although not game breaking). What I consider less balanced is the principle that tail end players (who could easily have weaker player boards as well) will most likely get one turn less at game end. Early game I see no problem but at game end you could have gathered 9 more resources and possible 12 more points in that missed turn. Where final winning scores can be in the 60's a missed opportunity of 20% of final points is a lot. Sure you can see when someone has 4-5 stars out so you know that the game will be ending soon, but that extra turn is more crucial as a result.

Where is the compensation that I'm missing here?
 
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Greg
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One way to find out is to keep track of it over the course of all game plays. On television surface it may appear that the later players may get fewer turns but I haven't seen any real data to prove that to be the case.

For me anyway, I've seen the last player end the game in both a 5 player game and some 3 player games. I've also seen the first player end games.
 
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