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Subject: First player advantage? rss

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Morten K
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We played a four-player game last night where there was some talk about whether the game has a first player advantage. Since there is some amount of luck in which workers and enterprises come out each round there can be a noted advantage in going first. With four we felt that the last player several times ran out of options for placing his managers in a meaningful position. Picking the spot that would award him the first player seemed too expensive and it would only push the now first player into second position in the player order. The difference of 8 credit at startup wasn't that strong. Did we miss some advantage or is that just how it is in a four player game?
 
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Peter Hazlewood
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No. I think there is a distinct advantage going first at any player count. If you're 4th in a 4p game then it might be a very good use of an action to ensure best pick of the actions.

The action isn't expensive, you gain a victory point.
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Morten K
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If you're playing one of the harder levels that one action might be the one that means you'll be too far behind the demanded points for the round though.
 
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Peter Hazlewood
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Tigrillo wrote:
If you're playing one of the harder levels that one action might be the one that means you'll be too far behind the demanded points for the round though.


Yes it might mean that. So plan ahead, and make sure to hit the target on the rounds where you get a bonus card. This game is all about hard choices; to me it doesn't really make sense to complain about how being first player is better. You have the power and I personally love how tough it can feel.
 
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Peter Hazlewood
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You can also try to get your extra manager early- negate that 'lost' action.
 
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Morten K
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The previous first player is only moved down one spot so still in a very good position. That's the way I understand the rules at least. It seems being first player is too strong since there is quite a bit of luck involved with which workers and enterprises come out. That's not something you can plan ahead for...
 
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Peter Hazlewood
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You are correct about the turn order rule. Ok, we'll all I can say is we haven't noticed a particular issue with first player being too powerful but I shall watch out for it in future games.

Of course if 2 different players took 1st and 2nd (which has happened in one of our games) then suddenly the whole complexion changes.

And if someone takes that one staff member or business you really wanted then you take something else powerful that they might also want. We've not found a situation where people have wasted actions or not been able to do something with their turn even if their favoured spots were taken.
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Morten K
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I just played a three-player game and had no issue. Perhaps it's just better with three than four.
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Peter Hazlewood
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Tigrillo wrote:
I just played a three-player game and had no issue. Perhaps it's just better with three than four.


That's interesting. I've only played 2 and 4p so far.
 
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Tom Favazza
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I remember that the players that go later get more starting money, correct? So you are saying that is not enough of an equalizer?
 
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Morten K
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Re: First player advantage?
It wasn't in that game. Perhaps because of the workers that came out in that game and the factories. There is definitely some luck in that.
 
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Pantelis Bouboulis
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Hi guys!

Undoubtedly the first player has a significant advantage. We tried to compensate for the loss in turn order, by giving more money to the following players. In a 4-player game, for example, this means that the 4th player will get 6 more credit units than the first player (i.e., 27% more money). Hence, he/she will have the resources needed to acquire the strong and expensive buildings right from the start, or import some expensive products, e.t.c.!

In the following rounds, the other players can change the turn order.

An advise: It is important to be first player at the beginning of rounds 6 and 7 (to get the best Level III building for your economy)...
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Morten K
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TurambarGR wrote:
Hi guys!

Undoubtedly the first player has a significant advantage. We tried to compensate for the loss in turn order, by giving more money to the following players. In a 4-player game, for example, this means that the 4th player will get 6 more credit units than the first player (i.e., 27% more money). Hence, he/she will have the resources needed to acquire the strong and expensive buildings right from the start, or import some expensive products, e.t.c.!

In the following rounds, the other players can change the turn order.

An advise: It is important to be first player at the beginning of rounds 6 and 7 (to get the best Level III building for your economy)...


And be able to afford them.
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Peter Hazlewood
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Tigrillo wrote:
TurambarGR wrote:
Hi guys!

Undoubtedly the first player has a significant advantage. We tried to compensate for the loss in turn order, by giving more money to the following players. In a 4-player game, for example, this means that the 4th player will get 6 more credit units than the first player (i.e., 27% more money). Hence, he/she will have the resources needed to acquire the strong and expensive buildings right from the start, or import some expensive products, e.t.c.!

In the following rounds, the other players can change the turn order.

An advise: It is important to be first player at the beginning of rounds 6 and 7 (to get the best Level III building for your economy)...


And be able to afford them.


All I can say is 4 games in taking first player or investing in level 3 companies on medium difficulty is not impossible. It is just difficult, by design.
 
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Morten K
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But if you're last player in the first round three other players have the option of getting the good buildings before you - and at Level I they can also afford them. If you as the fourth and last player take the first player spot you then lose an action compared to the others. If the third player takes the spot you do not become 2nd player but remain at fourth and the previous first player is only moved down to the second instead of the third spot. All in all I find that to be biased.
 
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Peter Hazlewood
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Ok, well my assurances are getting this conversation nowhere. Virtually any worker placement game has an advantage for first player; maybe you prefer randomly assigned turn order that rotates but I don't. What about other games like Stone Age? Going first is great, but when you're not going first there isn't even a perk. Having money in Crisis can be very helpful. If you're 4th in a 4p game on the first round then you have 8 more money than first. If the first 3 players all take businesses then you get the pick of employees knowing that they probably won't be investing in any more companies.
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Morten K
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Well your assurances do not counter the issue we experienced. Of course a WP game will have a first player advantage. The question is if it is too much of an advantage and if it's too expensive for a player to change it. That is what we experienced. Perhaps you did not which is good for you but the question remains.
 
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Pantelis Bouboulis
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Morten,

undoubtedly, at some point the last player has to change the turn order. He/She can do this right from round 1. Alternatively, the player might choose not to take any building in the first round (if the player feels that no good building is left) and get his engines prepared for the next rounds, i.e., buy energy, get some employees, take a loan, e.t.c. If the first players choose to buy buildings and acquire employees, then all the other spots are left for the last player. And beilieve a loan is very helpful in the begining.
In our playtests I hadn't any problem being the last player. In fact, this opens strategies that are not available for the first player due to a lack of cash.
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Peter Hazlewood
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Thanks Pantelis. That's what I was trying to get across :-)
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Thilo Fobes
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Firstly, I only played a few games so far, so please dismiss my opinion if you want to. I am also aware it's designed to be a hard game.

I played 3 player and felt the advantage was not that big to go first, still good, but not that massive. In a four player game I felt very differently. There is hardly anything meaningful left to do for the 4th player and in both 4 p games the person stuck on position 4 crashed the economy in round 3 or 4. The real issue is that there are hardly any factories left, so even if you get good workers, you can't use them.
And every action is precious so getting 1 vp and first player just seems not enough to make up for losing an action in a turn, where you try to make the best of the last actions you get.

sneakypete21 wrote:
You can also try to get your extra manager early- negate that 'lost' action.

Only if those factories are still left when your action comes up, which I find unlikely as they are usually the sought-after buildings.

Setting up you engine is a nice idea, but quiet hard when you don't know what factories are coming up (I think it helps here to be the designer, or know the game well enough to know which fatories are in the deck, but think that makes it very unkind to new players).

Tigrillo wrote:
I just played a three-player game and had no issue. Perhaps it's just better with three than four.

matches my experience as well. I do think the game does not scale up well (as mentioned have not played many games, but we tanked very early in 4 player game).

TurambarGR wrote:

And believe a loan is very helpful in the begining.

In our playtests I hadn't any problem being the last player. In fact, this opens strategies that are not available for the first player due to a lack of cash.

So if the loan is so helpful one of the three first players grabs it before the last one (only one player can use loan per turn, right?). also, often loan is not available in early rounds due to cards.
if being last is not a problem, why even introduce a spot to change turn order (sorry a bit facetious, I understand it is important later)?

Anyway, instead of just sounding negative, here are my suggestions, where I would love to hear if you playtested them or tried them:
1. Have a Power grid style turn order, where whoever is last on the VP track goes first next turn; overall turn order is revere from position on VP track. I would say that is almost always the last player from the turn before, especially at the start. I know this would incentive tanking, but the overall pressure would keep players from doing it too much, at least in my gamegroup.
2. Reverse order for 2nd and 4th Action: exp Player 1 starts placing a manager, then player 2 then player 3. Then player 4 places one manager and also his 2nd one. then player 3 places his 2nd manager then player 2 and then player 1 places 2nd manager and then 3rd manager and so on. This means that maybe the money needs to be adjusted, but in my ezperience, being able to pick the first factory is worth more than 8 credits, and you quickly make up that money.

Love to hear your thoughts.
 
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Peter Hazlewood
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I played a 4p game for the first time in a while on Wednesday (medium difficulty), including with 2 beginners. Myself and Jon have played this many times between us so there really was a difference in experience levels. So here's what happened and my thoughts on your thoughts:

1. All 4 players recognised the problem with being 3rd or 4th in turn order so the 1st and 2nd player spots were taken multiple times over the course of the game. It is a very worthwhile action to give you the advantage in upcoming rounds.

2. Even players in 3rd and 4th usually have a useful spot to take and thus by the time it's the turn of players 1 and 2 there was always cursing that their next choice of action had been taken e.g. Player 1 chooses the +3 engineer, Player 2 chooses the best power plant, Player 3 takes the buy one resource without spending VPs, Player 4 takes a loan. Player 1 wanted the power plant so now has to go to Plan B, Player 2 has to spend money to bring in migrant engineer, Player 3 gets to choose from 4 companies, Player 4 boosts their workforce. This is just an example of how even being in last place in a 4p game is not always the end of the world. Sometimes you have to accept that this round is not going to be the best for you so start preparing for future turns (including taking 1st or 2nd player spot).

3. I put out one of the player aid cards and explained what export contracts might come out in later rounds plus how you can often take basic resources, like food and minerals for instance, to power more prolific companies later in the game. Of course you don't know what exactly will come out, and in what order, but it's not impossible for a newer player to put a good plan in motion. And this is exactly what happened in the game on Wednesday. Zara, who had never played the game before, slowly built an engine that was then in prime position to clean up on the most lucrative export contracts and comfortably win the game.

In 18 games, with many different players and player counts, I have found no issue at all with first player advantage. Sure being experienced can help but as recently demonstrated a beginner can also come in and do exceptionally well. Therefore, my tip is to not underestimate what players lower in the turn order can do...but if all else fails take the first player spot!!
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Morten K
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I still think it's a problem that the former 1st player goes into 2nd spot when someone else takes the first. I may start playing it so that it'll just be clockwise from first player.
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Peter Hazlewood
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Tigrillo wrote:
I still think it's a problem that the former 1st player goes into 2nd spot when someone else takes the first. I may start playing it so that it'll just be clockwise from first player.


I still don't see why people need to fiddle with this. It's the same rule for all the players!
 
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Morten K
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sneakypete21 wrote:
Tigrillo wrote:
I still think it's a problem that the former 1st player goes into 2nd spot when someone else takes the first. I may start playing it so that it'll just be clockwise from first player.


I still don't see why people need to fiddle with this. It's the same rule for all the players!


Just because you don't care it doesn't mean it cannot be an issue for others. It might be the same rule for all players but if you by luck of the draw end up as first player in the first round you are much better off.
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Kurt R
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Tigrillo wrote:
sneakypete21 wrote:
Tigrillo wrote:
I still think it's a problem that the former 1st player goes into 2nd spot when someone else takes the first. I may start playing it so that it'll just be clockwise from first player.


I still don't see why people need to fiddle with this. It's the same rule for all the players!


Just because you don't care it doesn't mean it cannot be an issue for others. It might be the same rule for all players but if you by luck of the draw end up as first player in the first round you are much better off.

A lot of w-p have the mechanism whereby turn order is clockwise from the start player. So you can have your position improved as a result of someone else's action which is nice.

Part of me would prefer to see that here. The game is so tight that it might be more fun to spend fewer actions on turn order and more on other actions. I don't like when a game forces me to take a turn order action b/c it feels like a false choice. You simply MUST do it. Others may like that, just stating my preference.

But I'm not sure it can be done. What happens to 2nd place? Also, the starting money is staggered to compensate players lower in turn order. Would changing the mechanism overly reward players lower down in the order? Maybe you got 28 monies to start with and then on turn 2 are going 2nd without having to take an action. Sounds like where I'd want to be.
 
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