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Subject: Last Player Disadvantage rss

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Andrew Swan
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Randwick
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Four of us had our maiden playing of this title on Sunday night. After we drew lots for the start player, the player going last observed that he would get to start one less auction round than everyone else and therefore be at a disadvantage ("screwed" was the word he used, I think).

Sure enough, the last player is the start player one less time than everyone else, regardless of whether three or four people are playing:

3P (four rounds per era):
Alf: 1 1 2 3 4 4 5
Bob: 1 2 2 3 4 5 5
Col: 1 2 3 3 4 5 -

Col has been robbed! arrrh

4P (three rounds per era):
Alan: 1 2 3 5
Brad: 1 2 4 5
Carl: 1 3 4 5
Dave: 2 3 4 -

Dave has been robbed! arrrh

Maybe the last player should get an extra 1db to compensate?
 
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Dick Hunt
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game_boy wrote:
Four of us had our maiden playing of this title on Sunday night. After we drew lots for the start player, the player going last observed that he would get to start one less auction round than everyone else and therefore be at a disadvantage ("screwed" was the word he used, I think).

Sure enough, the last player is the start player one less time than everyone else, regardless of whether three or four people are playing:

3P (four rounds per era):
Alf: 1 1 2 3 4 4 5
Bob: 1 2 2 3 4 5 5
Col: 1 2 3 3 4 5 -

Col has been robbed! arrrh

4P (three rounds per era):
Alan: 1 2 3 5
Brad: 1 2 4 5
Carl: 1 3 4 5
Dave: 2 3 4 -

Dave has been robbed! arrrh

Maybe the last player should get an extra 1db to compensate?


I wouldn't be too quick to jump to conclusions after your very first game. Try it a few more times and see if you don't see any compensating factors anywhere.

One possibility: when the start player in the first round starts auctioning off stuff, nobody has any idea what they need, want, or can score extra points with. That's gotta depress the values of the various starting tiles you see in Round I.

Being the start player in later rounds is potentially much more lucrative because certain tiles have more value to certain players now that they've already bought a few things. For example, the bonus tiles (canal, port, etc) have to fetch a better price later in the game--after someone has put up a couple of buildings that he knows will score from this or that bonus tile.

Another example: Going last in a 4-player game, Dave has a good shot at selling something like the Bank, which people probably tend to overvalue once they see how tight the money supply is in this critter. I know I did that in my first playing--I bid $3 to get the Bank, then spent another $3 to build it. I think it saved me about $4 after that in construction costs, so I lost $2 by bidding so high for the Bank.

Another example: by the time Dave gets to be the first auctioneer in rounds 3 and 4, he might be able to get high prices for buildings or technologies from players who need to get a certain tile in order to score their connection bonuses. Alan's obviously not going to be showered with high bids as the first player in the first round because nobody knows what connections they might be making later.

I'm wondering whether the first player isn't more disadvantaged by having to start the game as auctioneer than Dave is by going last. Dave's "compensation" for being the last starting player may be that he doesn't have to sell the cheap early game stuff OR the late game stuff which might be depressed in value because those last four buildings don't connect to anything via roads, are expensive to build, etc.

Everybody but the last player in the starting turn order has to be the starting player of a round in both the first and last eras, where I think most prices tend to get set at fairly low values. "Dave" might only get 3 shots at being the starting auctioneer while everyone else gets 4, but he doesn't get the disadvantage of being the start player in both of the eras most likely to sell stuff for lousy prices. All his turns as starting player are in the juicy middle rounds where lots of important stuff gets bought and sold...

All just a theory of mine, but to me it makes sense. It's hard to believe that no one noticed during playtesting that the last player to be First Auctioneer gets one less chance at that position, or that they didn't see it as the big disadvantage that you fear. If the last guy in the first round was that thoroughly screwed by the starting turn order, it certainly seems like someone would have noticed...
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Steve Dupree
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DSHStratRat2 wrote:
One possibility: when the start player in the first round starts auctioning off stuff, nobody has any idea what they need, want, or can score extra points with. That's gotta depress the values of the various starting tiles you see in Round I.


The only problem with this hypothesis is that those few dollars early are very valuable dollars; I don't know if 1 dollar early is worth 4 dollars in the mid to late game, but it's definitely possible.

So the fourth player (in a four player game) not only gets the shaft with the number of auctions, but also by not getting an auction in the first epoch, s/he is behind in income pretty much the whole game.
 
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J C Lawrence
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Being first player is not necessarily an advantage in the game. While the start player for each epoch is guaranteed to lead at least one auction per epoch, there is absolutely no guarantee that they'll start any more than that. There is also no reason to assume that they'll make money from being the auctioneer. The players can conspire to ensure that the first player has an advantage, but they don't need to and in fact the game encourages them not to. If you're really worried about this, simply don't bid on their auctions and get a new auctioneer.

I'm about 20 games into Industria at this point (started playing before I started recording games). I've won and list at every starting position. The luck of the order tiles are down
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Dick Hunt
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stannius wrote:
The only problem with this hypothesis is that those few dollars early are very valuable dollars; I don't know if 1 dollar early is worth 4 dollars in the mid to late game, but it's definitely possible.

So the fourth player (in a four player game) not only gets the shaft with the number of auctions, but also by not getting an auction in the first epoch, s/he is behind in income pretty much the whole game.


I don't buy it. I haven't played much Industria yet, but I don't believe for a minute that being the last player in the turn order at the very beginning of the game screws you over for the whole game. It just can't possibly be that broken.

I'm wondering whether some of you aren't victims of groupthink--the 4th player in your first game got screwed, you haven't yet figured out how to combat the "problem," and so you're just assuming that his position is hopeless.

All you have to do is start making the auctioneer eat some of the stuff he puts up for sale. Stop bidding on every freakin' thing he tosses out there, or at least cut your bids down some. For example, do people in your games tend to bid on the resource tiles? They don't in my group. Our theory is that you can always trade in the resource tile for 1 taler, so there's no point in selling it for less than 2 talers. That means that the auctioneer usually won't try selling resource tiles until he's sold everything else off first.

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Dick Hunt
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The only serious advantage I see to being the first auctioneer in any round of play is that you get first choice of which tile you want to keep. Even so, you have to make the crucial decision: do I just grab that tile I want and give up the auctioneer's hat, or do I dare trying to sell off some of the other tiles in an attempt to make a little dough before I simply take the tile I really want?

Trying to sell off other stuff first is a big gamble, particularly if it's obvious to the other players which tile you'd really love to have. If that building tile would give you something like 9 or 12 points in connection bonuses, don't screw around trying to make an extra buck before you put it up for auction--take the tile you want and let the others sell off the dregs.

Like I mentioned in my earlier post above, my group only bids 2 talers on resource tiles when the bidder is absolutely desperate for that resource, like when he needs it in order to get his building points before the era ends. We're debating a bit more seriously the value of the bonus tiles. If you buy them early, merely owning them drives up the price that people want you to pay for any tiles that score off them. But if you try to buy them after your buildings are up, the other players will bid up the price for the bonus tile itself.

The killer about bidding on stuff in Industria is that you're really only bidding for the rights to build something. Even if you win the bid, you've still got to pay any costs associated with actually building your coveted tile. That's why I was crazy to offer $3 for the bank the first time I played the game. At the time, I thought I was being shrewd because the bank isn't worth any victory points, so it wouldn't hurt me to build it after its era had ended. The problem was that I bought it when my next chance to auction stuff off and make any money was a couple of auctioneer changes away, so I was poverty stricken for an auction or two before getting a chance to make the money I needed in order to construct the bank.

Being the auctioneer in Industria reminded me a bit of doing so in Power Grid, where you also have to be careful what you try to sell for fear of getting stuck with something you don't really want to buy yourself. You've got to offer up the stuff you wouldn't mind getting stuck with yourself, and if there's something there you'd truly love to have, the safe bet is to simply take it and be sure you get it. Of course, that's a lot easier to do if you already have saved up the dough it takes to build your coveted tile!

Anyway, to get back to the original point of this thread, my group has yet to see any natural disadvantage that's suffered by any particular position in the turn order. If going last in the first round dooms you for the whole game, I'd say you're definitely doing something that's strategically wrong.
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Chuck Parrott
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Having played other Schacht designs, I would say that the number of auctions for each player position was designed to be unequal. It would have been easy to adjust the number of tile auctions and board to match the number of players. I think it was done to balance a subtle advantage gained by being further in the player order. I haven't played it enough to figure what that advantage may be, but I submit it was designed that way on purpose.

On another note, in the OP, the breakdown showed 5 epochs played for 3 players. Only 4 epochs are supposed to be played with 3p, in which case only the first player gains one extra auction round. Again probably for design balance. Otherwise why not play all 5 epochs?
 
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Andrew Swan
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I was wondering how long it would be before someone spotted that deliberate mistake!
 
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