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Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small» Forums » General

Subject: Is there a major first player advantage? rss

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Austin Norris

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I've had the game forever and only managed to play it once about two years ago. Anyway played it a few times today with a friend and we cannot figure out how second player is supposed to have a chance if the 4 original buildings are used.

As far as we can tell the first turn goes something like this.

1P: 3 Wood
2P: 1W/1S/1R
1P: 2 Stone

After this more or less 1P is so far ahead and able to setup anything they want but it seems that taking the Open Stables and there isnt much 2P could do to catch up. Maybe I just don't get what second player can do but it almost seems they just have to accept being behind and take the first player token in the first round or stay behind for multiple rounds.

I assume we are missing something which is why I am asking here but we just cant figure out a strategy for 2P to do anything but play catch up from turn one.
 
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DOAisBetter wrote:
After this more or less 1P is so far ahead and able to setup anything they want but it seems that taking the Open Stables and there isnt much 2P could do to catch up.


I'm probably failing to parse your sentence (hey, English isn't my mother language, so bear with me, please ), but I cannot help but note that you cannot build Open Stables on the first turn because you have to give up a Stall.
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pansonic
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From someone who has played this game many times, and always plays second player, just a couple of things that help with this:

1. Do not underestimate the power of [1W + 1P]. 6 (or 9) wood accumulated on 3W? - Grab that 1P.
2. Extensions give 4 points each when filled - go for 2 of them at least, especially if your opponent does not.
3. Really study and understand what animals give what points. Sometimes you can waste an entire round chasing, say, sheep, which will give you only +1 or +2 points in the end.

and finally, the thing that really helps with this:

4. Get an expansion.
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Austin Norris

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evacbs wrote:
DOAisBetter wrote:
After this more or less 1P is so far ahead and able to setup anything they want but it seems that taking the Open Stables and there isnt much 2P could do to catch up.


I'm probably failing to parse your sentence (hey, English isn't my mother language, so bear with me, please ), but I cannot help but note that you cannot build Open Stables on the first turn because you have to give up a Stall.


That makes sense didnt realize you needed a stable first I see it has a similar icon but didn't really notice or think it meant anything. That changes things a lot although it still feels like first player gets a massive resource advantage.

pansonic wrote:
From someone who has played this game many times, and always plays second player, just a couple of things that help with this:

1. Do not underestimate the power of [1W + 1P]. 6 (or 9) wood accumulated on 3W? - Grab that 1P.
2. Extensions give 4 points each when filled - go for 2 of them at least, especially if your opponent does not.
3. Really study and understand what animals give what points. Sometimes you can waste an entire round chasing, say, sheep, which will give you only +1 or +2 points in the end.

and finally, the thing that really helps with this:

4. Get an expansion.


1. Idk our games the 3W space never got more than 3 until it was end game and we were massing points but yea I almost feel like 2P has to not only gets the left overs of 1P, but has to lose an action taking the first player token as well.

2. Yea we both always got 2 at least and filled them.

3. We get that and didnt really have an issue getting tons of animals both games we played.

4. Have had both of them since their releases just never got to play them. We wanted to try games with the 4 base first before adding in the expansion buildings. We added them but we played open stables wrong which should change a lot when we play again.
 
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john newman
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There may be a slight advantage, but that is mitigated by ties going to thbe second player. It is not a tremendous advantage. As pointed out already, you cannot build Open Stables until after you build a stall.

Someone has also pointed out, don't underestimate the power of 1 wood and start player in the first turn. When I am second player, I often pick up an extension and often, but not always the 1 wood first turn.

Then the beginning of the second turn, I go first and pick up 3 wood. Let's say the original first player either picks up 1w+1s+1r or he picks up the expansion. At that point, I would argue that you are almost identical with resources, but now the original second player has the first player advantage. He may be able to build a stall before you, but you will be able to build one in round three. Odds are, you will be first player going into round three.

So there is a slight advantage, but an experienced ACBAS second player will crush an inexperienced first player every time. Remember, this is worker placement. A key component is timing your actions each round in such a way as to hamper your opponent. Keep an eye on what he's doing.

You may want to purchase the iOS app and play against the computer for a bit or play some players online. That will sharpen your strategy in a hurry.
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Ola Mikael Hansson
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No specific advice, but I've never felt the first player advantage to be all that significant in A:ACBaS. Nor are our first worker placements that scripted. But then, we play with both expansions (so 4 buildings from each), and what buildings are out greatly affects the first picks.

I'd also add extensions as a high priority and fairly common round 1 pick in our games - yes, you can get the extensions you want sooner or later, but getting them sooner lets you start building towards your final farm layout earlier and easier. Not getting an extension to round 4 or so if the opponent keeps grabbing them can be painful.
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Ad Astra Per Aspera
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I rated this game a 9. It's one of my favorite games of all time. I would say I would choose this over standard Agricola only because the amount of players willing to play this game (based on preference and game time) over standard Agricola is substantially higher for me. Agricola is a better game as a whole, but I have played far more games of ACBS than standard Agricola - or Caverna, Fields of Arle, Glass Road combined.

So I have a lot of games in. I also play the app too.

Having said all of this, my initial experiences led me to agree with you. Notable advantage to first player. But after having been smoked by higher rated players on the app who played as second player I can safely say that if there is an advantage for first player it's very small. And can be mitigated entirely with tactical and calculated choices. Sometimes very early.

I'll go on to say that I have won a lot of games as second player because first player is so scripted. Especially among the newer players. It's sort of like playing black in chess. The start player sets the stage with his opening and the onus is on the 2nd player to dictate the flow of the game. Moreover and unlike chess, you can take the 1st player marker and change it up. In fact in games against strong players first player token changes hands a few times. Sometimes taking that first player token at just the right time can net a decent if not insurmountable advantage.

That's one of the main reasons I love this game. To a non-gamer you're just plodding along making your farm look pretty. ACBS as played by serious gamers is a desperate struggle of 3rd and inches (NFL fans know what this means). games are tight. it can be forgiving and you can get away with a blunder half the time. But at it's highest level the game is truly a chess match. Prophylactic play often times supersedes aggressive play. Sometimes getting less points by way of denial is actually more points over your opponent.

The more you play. And the more seriously you take this game the more evident these subtle strategies become.

lastly, if you have the expansions (you say you have both?) then use them. Without expansions the game can almost be "figured out." it's difficult given the tree of choices, but it can be mapped out. Much in the same way a chess games opening 15-25 moves can be figured out. But add in those 4 to 8 new/random buildings and it's a tense and enjoyable game of tactics and strategy every single time.

Playing without at least one of the expansions, even at the most basic level of play, really robs this game if it's true luster. It's checkers vs. chess.

Much like any game, the ability to make advantages (as second player) are there and not really that difficult to spot if you're willing to put the time into it. It just comes down to how deep do you want your strategies to be. Adding the expansions pretty much eliminates any first player advantage in my opinion. Without them I think there is a clear, albeit small, advantage.

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