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Subject: Sitting close to your faction's home base? rss

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Jordan S
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I've seen related threads discussing turn order and potential imbalance when a player with a high board is the second player, but I haven't seen anyone discuss how to determine where you actually sit.

It's obviously convenient to sit close to your faction's home base and this is how our group has played, but I'm starting to wonder if this is eliminating a random variable because the factions will always take turns in the same order if you do this (the first player will be different as decided by which player randomly gets the #1 board).

I started to think about this a little more last night when I was Polania and had the Agricultural board and had originally planned to sit near the Saxony home base. In this case, I would have ended up going last (in a 4 player game because Saxony drew the Industrial board).

Since we've always played near our faction's home base, we switched seats and I ended up getting to go second, which did play a role in end-game scoring as Rusviet triggered end game before I would have gotten my last turn (which earned me roughly 13 points - I won one battle and gainted control of two additional territories while also stealing territories from opponents with only structures).

What are everyone's thoughts on this?

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Randal Divinski
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The rules are that the boards are handed out randomly, the players sit by their base, the numbers on the boards are used to determine who is the first player, and then play proceeds clockwise around the table. (The boards are not used to determine play order beyond the first player.)
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Jordan S
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randiv wrote:
The rules are that the boards are handed out randomly, the players sit by their base, the numbers on the boards are used to determine who is the first player, and then play proceeds clockwise around the table. (The boards are not used to determine play order beyond the first player.)


You're right. I thought about double checking the rules before posting so that definitely clarifies the rule, but I guess I'm still questioning if it's the best way to play.
 
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Trevor Schadt
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LiLNipsFatal wrote:
You're right. I thought about double checking the rules before posting so that definitely clarifies the rule, but I guess I'm still questioning if it's the best way to play.
If you're proposing a variant at this point, then this thread should be moved to the Variants forum, and you should probably check out the multiple other threads in that area that cover alternate player order ideas. (The most common one, as I recall, was to have players go in the numerical order of their boards.)
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Jason Brown
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There is no imbalance. The difference over nearly 1,000 plays worth of collected data is statistically insignificant. Just hand out the cards randomly and sit near the faction you draw.
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Jordan S
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MAJBrown22 wrote:
There is no imbalance. The difference over nearly 1,000 plays worth of collected data is statistically insignificant. Just hand out the cards randomly and sit near the faction you draw.


I just want to be clear that I have great respect for the amount of play testing that went into the creation of this game and I have a lot of confidence that this game is more well-balanced than a vast majority of games. With that said, no amount of play testing can simulate the amount of times the game is actually played when it goes live. It's only after games are released for a period of time that slight imbalances are discovered.

As players get better and better at this game and scores are closer and closer, I have a hard time believing that situations where a player with a lower board (2 for example) last in turn order position is not at a slight disadvantage to someone with a high board who happens to be directly to the left of the starting player.

Hence the reason I posted, which was to get other people's opinions and thoughts on randomizing seating placement as well.

This post has not generated the type of discussion I was hoping for, but that's ok. I'll go and post in the other threads.
 
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Jay K
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I have not seen any issues in this respect. In fact in a recent game, I had board 1 (playing as yellow) and the player playing black had board 5. However, blue won the game and I came second. I realise this is only one example.

Why not try a house rule if you are concerned? Deal out the board based on the number of players. The player with board 1 goes first and then boards are redistributed amongst other players such that they increase in value starting with the player to the left of the starting player. Or choose another method to determine the start player and hand out boards accordingly based on a random selection of boards.
 
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Jonathan Challis
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I think there may be an argument for using two sequentially numbered boards in 2p games. The board numbering offers (very minor) incremental advantages based on likelihood of not getting an extra turn, but in a 2p game that likelihood is the same in board 1 vs 2 as 1 vs 5, yet 5 gives a better starting position.

I doubt that there is a variance of win percentage of more than 5-8% even at the most extreme end however, and getting the right 1st encounter card is likely a bigger swing, and getting a board that matches to your starting resources is definitely so.

In 3-5p games I think this effect is so small as to be insignificant, and I'm not convinced it needs anything doing in 2p.
 
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Paul Ferguson
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To make things 100% balanced, hand out the action boards first randomly. The player with the lowest action board, #1 in 5 player game is then given a random race/faction. Then, action board #2 sits to the left of player one and so forth. This would make the game 100% balanced instead of the mis-mash that the rules currently state.

To expand on this player #1 gets Noridc randomly, then player #2 gets Rusviet Union, then player #3 gets Crimean and so forth.

People go on and on about how many hundreds of play tests this game has had, to me it counts for zero. As we have no idea the skill level of each player in each of these 1000+ play tests. So to say that the balance of the game is ok, when player 1 with action board #1 sits next to player 2 with action board #5 is ridiculous. Give me action board #5 every game, I would be glad to have an extra 4 actions already given to me from the start via the extra pop and money, when other players have to waste 4 actions to get just to get to the starting bonuses of #5 action board.
 
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Greg
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So setting it up that way is going to ensure that each faction/board combo is going to win an equal number of times over the course the dozens of times a group is going to play the game? If not, then it's not 100% balanced.
 
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Jonathan Challis
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Hahma wrote:
So setting it up that way is going to ensure that each faction/board combo is going to win an equal number of times over the course the dozens of times a group is going to play the game? If not, then it's not 100% balanced.


No, that's not what balanced means. Over a statistically large enough sample (tens of thousands) with identical player skill on all sides, then that might be close to what it means.

If setting it up that way balanced for all setup variables, whilst allowing for differences in player skill, encounter cards, factory cards, etc then it would be balanced.
 
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Greg
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Kelanen wrote:
Hahma wrote:
So setting it up that way is going to ensure that each faction/board combo is going to win an equal number of times over the course the dozens of times a group is going to play the game? If not, then it's not 100% balanced.


No, that's not what balanced means. Over a statistically large enough sample (tens of thousands) with identical player skill on all sides, then that might be close to what it means.

If setting it up that way balanced for all setup variables, whilst allowing for differences in player skill, encounter cards, factory cards, etc then it would be balanced.


My point was that if you randomly choose factions and then randomly choose which faction gets the #1 board and the give other player in order #2-5, then how are you going to know that it is perfectly balanced? How are you going to test it? Is every game group going to have equally skilled players? Does player count matter?

If I'm going to implement the suggested 100% balancing fix, am I going to notice a difference from the way I play now? I often play 3 player games with my twin 13 year old daughters. I play 4 and 5 player games with experienced gamers in my game group, with different combinations of people playing each time.

How am I going to know that no matter the people or player count, that when player board 1 wins or when player board 5 wins, that now it would be a legitimate win?

 
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Jonathan Challis
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Hahma wrote:

If I'm going to implement the suggested 100% balancing fix, am I going to notice a difference from the way I play now?


Probably not - no-one thinks the imbalances are huge, and some don't think they are even measurably present.

It's not enough to matter outside of an ELO rating system, or perhaps money tournaments.
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Greg
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Kelanen wrote:
Hahma wrote:

If I'm going to implement the suggested 100% balancing fix, am I going to notice a difference from the way I play now?


Probably not - no-one thinks the imbalances are huge, and some don't think they are even measurably present.

It's not enough to matter outside of an ELO rating system, or perhaps money tournaments.


For what it's worth, I didn’t think there is a balance issue with the rules as written, and am completely happy with it as is. I was merely curious as to how the person claiming the other method is 100% balanced would know for sure, and how it would definitely affect the outcomes of the games.
 
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Jonathan Challis
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Hahma wrote:

For what it's worth, I didn’t think there is a balance issue with the rules as written, and am completely happy with it as is. I was merely curious as to how the person claiming the other method is 100% balanced would know for sure, and how it would definitely affect the outcomes of the games.


Well if we accept that there is a a difference in resourcing in ascending board order (empirically there is, and this was a design intention) then what he was suggesting has to push that trend line to more closely mirror the chance of an extra turn.

What he's saying mathematically has to be true, the only part we can debate is how big or small an influence it makes. Whether it's presence is felt over 1 in 10 games or 1 in 10,000 the presence has to be there...
 
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Richard Young
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A few variables to consider, when assessing the balance. I see the merit in having the action boards assigned according to the turn order however that may be resolved. When it matters, we draw numbered chits out of a cup and that establishes the initial turn order. If you care (and we don't), that could also determine your seating if you insist that turns be done in a strict rotation. We would prefer to sit by faction and it doesn't matter to us if that messes up the counter-clockwise rotation of turns. Sure, recruiting bonuses have to be remembered as relating to turn order not seating adjacency (or do they necessarily?) but that's no big deal in our view. So if that was all there was to it, you could see if assigning action boards that way seems more fair.

What isn't accounted for is the different action board/faction interactions. Drawing for action boards as described above, or however, then choosing factions randomly puts different combinations together in which some may be better than others. All of this is very speculative as I sense the differences are very slight in any case, but many players seem to have developed faction/action board combos that they like better than others. One might consider letting the players choose factions in reverse order of their action board numbers, then establish seating according to turn order or by faction location depending on the group preference. A danger in that system might be that few would relish getting the #1 action board since that would mean no choice in faction selection.

Options are there but it's not clear whether any of it really matters...

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Jonathan Challis
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Bubslug wrote:

What isn't accounted for is the different action board/faction interactions. Drawing for action boards as described above, or however, then choosing factions randomly puts different combinations together in which some may be better than others.


This - precisely an action board that works well with the starting resources on your island, is a much bigger swing than the difference between action board order.
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Greg
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Kelanen wrote:
Hahma wrote:

For what it's worth, I didn’t think there is a balance issue with the rules as written, and am completely happy with it as is. I was merely curious as to how the person claiming the other method is 100% balanced would know for sure, and how it would definitely affect the outcomes of the games.


Well if we accept that there is a a difference in resourcing in ascending board order (empirically there is, and this was a design intention) then what he was suggesting has to push that trend line to more closely mirror the chance of an extra turn.

What he's saying mathematically has to be true, the only part we can debate is how big or small an influence it makes. Whether it's presence is felt over 1 in 10 games or 1 in 10,000 the presence has to be there...


Well I'm not exactly a math or statistics expert, so I'll take your word for it that there may be an effective difference in a game here or there, or not, depending on how many games a person plays. I don't know how it would be recognized or measured. But if it gives some people more of a sense that their games will be legitimate, then more power to them. I've played 13 or 14 times so far and have really enjoyed it as is.
 
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I think there is another thing to consider before implementing the discussed player mat house rule (to sort the mats clockwise by ascending number):

It enforces that each player mat always has the same two neighboring player mats (at least in games with the maximum player number). Which can be pretty important for the Recruit Ongoing Bonuses: Let's say I and both of my neighbors have the same bottom-row action giving us 3, 2 and 2 coins (an example for that is the Enlist action of player mats 3-5). It is therefore probably used with above-average frequency by all of us. So it should usually be considerably more attractive to enlist a recruit from there compared to both of my neighbors having their "0-coiner" for the action that yields me 3 coins. So the house rule might change game balance somewhat in this regard. For example, the existence of a particularly attractive Recruit Ongoing Bonus should be an advantage for faction-player mat combos for which it is easier to enlist a recruit early.

I am not sure how relevant this is, though. The Enlist action on the Mechanical mat seems to be the only one with 7 "adjacent coins in order" so far, but the expansion could change that.
 
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Jonathan Challis
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Darador wrote:

It enforces that each player mat always has the same two neighboring player mats (at least in games with the maximum player number). Which can be pretty important for the Recruit Ongoing Bonuses: Let's say I and both of my neighbors have the same bottom-row action giving us 3, 2 and 2 coins (an example for that is the Enlist action of player mats 3-5). It is therefore probably used with above-average frequency by all of us. So it should usually be considerably more attractive to enlist a recruit from there compared to both of my neighbors having their "0-coiner" for the action that yields me 3 coins. So the house rule might change game balance somewhat in this regard. For example, the existence of a particularly attractive Recruit Ongoing Bonus should be an advantage for faction-player mat combos for which it is easier to enlist a recruit early.


That's a fair point!

Personally I like more chaos effects, and assymetry in my games, so I've no intention of of changing from RAW. I don't mind the odd percentage point or 3 of variance if it exists. As I've said there a bigger swings, and I'm good with those too...
 
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