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Subject: Play order - First player advantage? rss

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Chris Lear
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Has anyone discovered a problem with the first player (or two) getting an advantage in this game? We're considering ways of introducing some sort of rule for the first round, like the first two players only get one action, to balance this. But it's quite possible that the problem is a figment of our (or perhaps my son's) imagination. I have played 4 or 5 times, he has played over 10 I think.

It's certainly not the case that the first player always wins in our games, but we have not experienced lots of play with experienced players, and we definitely all want to win the first-player lottery when starting, and feel mildly miffed when we are fourth to act. I wondered whether anyone else had encountered/solved this issue (or non-issue as the case may be).
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bort
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What exactly do you see as the advantage in going first?
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Chris Lear
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bortmonkey wrote:
What exactly do you see as the advantage in going first?


Two things: you can get your hands on the best locations before anyone else does, and you have an improved chance of getting the two-point game end token. (In a theoretical game where everyone manages 5 buildings in the same turn, the first player will have an extra two points, but everyone will have had the same number of actions and turns)
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Michael Van Biesbrouck
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The first player can explore two meadows with no real value on his first turn, giving him a 4/3 of a point advantage over last place. You could bid a meadow tiles and victory points for turn order if you feel strongly about this (1VP = 1.5 penalty tiles).

Assuming that first turns are typically exploit and place a building site, people later in turn order will know more about initial exploitations and may pick a better location for their first building site.
 
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Ryan Post
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mlvanbie wrote:
The first player can explore two meadows with no real value on his first turn, giving him a 4/3 of a point advantage over last place. You could bid a meadow tiles and victory points for turn order if you feel strongly about this (1VP = 1.5 penalty tiles).

Assuming that first turns are typically exploit and place a building site, people later in turn order will know more about initial exploitations and may pick a better location for their first building site.


I would maybe agree with that, if it weren't for the fact that there are initial starting resources, so knowing a good building site for first 2 players is really easy.

Also with a starting resource removed, exploiting the missing resource that is closest to the rest or your building site is an easy move.

They get first pick of building site (near the starting resources). They get first pick of exploitation. They get first chance at the 2 end game points. They ALSO get an extra turn if somebody else is the one to end the game.

It doesn't stop me from enjoying the game a ton, but it's the kind of annoyance that you think about when you really like a game, and it should have been such an easy mistake to recognize in playtesting.

I've played three times; once it was the difference in who won, once it was the difference between last and 2nd, and the third time it didn't matter at all.

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Harv Veerman
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There are however LOTS of ways to change the tempo. If player two builds a Distillery, By Air, Express delivery, etc. They should be able to take over tempo. Building a two resource building to win the 2 point end card is also profitable.

Played this game A LOT. Make the most of the special abilities the buildings have and go for it.

Some sessions you just have bad luck (or good luck), but we haven't noticed a first player advantage.
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Daniel West
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They may be first to exploit or lay tile, which can then be taken advantage of by following players. A lot of this game is laying groundwork for future actions, however that groundwork sets up opponents as well, so I am not so confident there is an inherent first player advantage.

If anything, I would argue that the end game should be complete rounds so all players have the same number of turns. Of course, my analysis could develop with a few more plays.
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Harv Veerman
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rex123 wrote:
Two things: you can get your hands on the best locations before anyone else does, and you have an improved chance of getting the two-point game end token. (In a theoretical game where everyone manages 5 buildings in the same turn, the first player will have an extra two points, but everyone will have had the same number of actions and turns)


On the other hand: the first player on his first turn can ABSOLUTELY NOT profit from anything any other player has done.
 
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Michael Van Biesbrouck
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posterchild21 wrote:
I would maybe agree with that, if it weren't for the fact that there are initial starting resources, so knowing a good building site for first 2 players is really easy.

Also with a starting resource removed, exploiting the missing resource that is closest to the rest or your building site is an easy move.

They get first pick of building site (near the starting resources). They get first pick of exploitation. They get first chance at the 2 end game points. They ALSO get an extra turn if somebody else is the one to end the game.


Never place a tile, exploit a resource or move a resource if it will help the first player. If three people do that, then the first shall be last when VP are tallied. The difference between winning and second place can be a single action, so attentive play should keep the players balanced.

The 2 VP chip should go to a player who builds cheaper buildings or uses fewer actions to explore and exploit; the real advantage of ending the game is not being stuck with resources on building spots.

The game is only zero-sum with 2 players; at that point it is probably worth bidding for first player (and penalty tiles are 0.5 VP; if you think first player is strong, bid 1 VP and a tile for the privilege).
 
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Michael Van Biesbrouck
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Team D20 wrote:
If anything, I would argue that the end game should be complete rounds so all players have the same number of turns. Of course, my analysis could develop with a few more plays.


I think that the penalties for unused resources would cause the game to degenerate to a race. I guess you could give everyone at least one more turn when making an even number of rounds, but that doesn't seem like a fun ending, either.
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Chris Lear
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mlvanbie wrote:

The game is only zero-sum with 2 players; at that point it is probably worth bidding for first player (and penalty tiles are 0.5 VP; if you think first player is strong, bid 1 VP and a tile for the privilege).


One of our ideas was to maybe for the first player to start with one resource in the -1 pile on their player board, which is a 1VP disadvantage, but can be mitigated using one type of building (caravan?), so in practice might be a little less than a 1VP disadvantage.

We definitely haven't played enough 2-player to be able to assess what bid value we might put on it.

Generally, thanks everyone for your input. Based on this feedback, I'm going to take the view that 4-player has no serious player order (dis)advantage, so any that we perceive is our fault. And that if we play a lot of 2-player we can consider a bidding system or just let the previous loser go first.
 
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Chris Lear
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mlvanbie wrote:
The first player can explore two meadows with no real value on his first turn, giving him a 4/3 of a point advantage over last place.


I think this is wrong, actually. There's a rule (which we missed originally) about where you are allowed to explore, which disallows pure exploration on turn 1 and no-value exploration in general.
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Harv Veerman
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rex123 wrote:
mlvanbie wrote:

The game is only zero-sum with 2 players; at that point it is probably worth bidding for first player (and penalty tiles are 0.5 VP; if you think first player is strong, bid 1 VP and a tile for the privilege).


One of our ideas was to maybe for the first player to start with one resource in the -1 pile on their player board, which is a 1VP disadvantage, but can be mitigated using one type of building (caravan?), so in practice might be a little less than a 1VP disadvantage.

We definitely haven't played enough 2-player to be able to assess what bid value we might put on it.

Generally, thanks everyone for your input. Based on this feedback, I'm going to take the view that 4-player has no serious player order (dis)advantage, so any that we perceive is our fault. And that if we play a lot of 2-player we can consider a bidding system or just let the previous loser go first.


Generate data. Start writing down how often first player wins in your 2p games, and by what margin. After X plays, SUPPOSE you find first player wins 80% of the games, and by a 2 point margin average, give first player a 1.6 point handicap.

And, off course, let us know...

 
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Michael Van Biesbrouck
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rex123 wrote:
mlvanbie wrote:
The first player can explore two meadows with no real value on his first turn, giving him a 4/3 of a point advantage over last place.


I think this is wrong, actually. There's a rule (which we missed originally) about where you are allowed to explore, which disallows pure exploration on turn 1 and no-value exploration in general.


That's true; I was thinking that it was legal to place next to one of the pre-exploited sites. So first player will need place a building site that will eventually be useful (provides no advantage to others and may hinder them) or exploit a spot that will be desirable to others (points, but not necessarily an advantage) before exploring. So you can get at least 2/3 of a point over last place, but if you plan to place all your buildings you are conserving an action that would be used later, putting you back to at least 4/3 of a point.
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Theofilos Koutroubis
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I played it today for the first time and came across the same problem. It was a 3 player game, so the 2nd player ended the game and had the advantage on building faster than me on the same spot and the 1st player played one more 2-action turn than us. The player who ends the game takes the 2 VP bonus + he probably won`t have any minus points, at least from building sites.
This whole turn order thing really hurt my experience, especially the additional turn of the 1st player.
(2nd player won (25VP)then the 1st with 23 and then me with 20 )
 
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Anthony Rubbo
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We have played two tight 2-player games, both players ended on the same turn, first player won by the 2-point bonus both times. Both games were a lot of fun, prior to the last turn.

I am a big fan of Wallace, however I will say that end-game mechanisms have traditionally not been a strength.
 
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Bill Eldard
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rex123 wrote:
One of our ideas was to maybe for the first player to start with one resource in the -1 pile on their player board, which is a 1VP disadvantage, but can be mitigated using one type of building (caravan?), so in practice might be a little less than a 1VP disadvantage.

That may be a good idea. We've played five 2-player games, with a 2-2 split and one tie (even down to the last tiebreaker). We've wondered if the first player in 2-player games has a distinct advantage, but we've been learning the subtle tactics of the game and need to keep a record of future games to verify or dispel the perceptio,

I suggested that if there is a problem, a solution may be to allow the first player only 1 action on the first turn.

We haven't played with 3-4 players, but I think the situation is different since the building tiles are in halves. The first player can lock-in a great building site by playing both halves, but that's all he/she gets.

EDIT 2-27-2017: We have now played several games with 3 and 4 players, and enjoyed them very much, but we haven't yet noticed a first player advantage.
 
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UA Darth
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I houseruled that everyone has equal turns. So, if person 2 ends the game, only the third player has an extra turn. Still think the 2 point bonus for finishing the game is a bit much. might move it down to 1.
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Chris Plumlee
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My wife and I feel that the first player has an advantage in being able to place two prime building spots on the first turn.

To combat this, we made a house rule that he first player can only place one building site their first turn. This seems to have solved the problem.
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