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I've not played many games of TI4 so far, so I might be wrong, but it seems to me and my group that starting as speaker is very advantageous, and being 5th or 6th to pick strategy is a decent disadvantage.

Does anyone else feel this is a slight issue, or have suggestions for a solution?
 
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Christopher Halbower
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You are correct that the 1st Speaker is both powerful and arbitrary. We fix this by allowing race selection in turn order. So the Speaker picks first. The person in 6th order picks last. But he gets to make a more informed decision about his race. If someone is the Jol Nar, maybe you take the Nekro Virus. If someone took the Hacan, you could take the Mentak. Etc.

The ability to make an informed decision about your race helps offset the fact you pick your race later and your 1st strategy card later.
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Thomas Robb
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In TI3, players taking the 5th and 6th Strategy card would get a Trade Good or two.

Maybe players 3 and 4 get one trade good and 5 and 6 get two trade goods?

Note: In our games, players choose their races ahead of game day and we use a preset map.

 
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Nick Naz
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So we do the "set-up" in a slightly different order to make it as fair as (we think) it can be. So far everyone has been pretty happy with the following:

We collectively make the galaxy- however we want, doesn't really matter, as long as people mostly agree on things its fine. We randomly select player order by rolling die. Then each pick starting locations. Then in THE SAME order pick races. This helps balance out the 1st pick of location, with being very careful to pick a race that can't be taken advantage of easily. Then lastly we bid on the speaker token, with the 1st player automatically placing a 1 TG bid. Whomever wins the bid pays all the other players that amount. So far the winning bid has always been 1 TG and everyone's been happy with that. Although I could see Winnu or Muaat bidding up a little higher if someone really wanted to.
 
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preston smith
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We draw according to the rules. I think people worry to much about losing in the game. In the end most things work out....there's always a future game.
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Clayton Threadgill
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Jaedar wrote:
I've not played many games of TI4 so far, so I might be wrong, but it seems to me and my group that starting as speaker is very advantageous, and being 5th or 6th to pick strategy is a decent disadvantage.

Does anyone else feel this is a slight issue, or have suggestions for a solution?

I don't think it's that big a deal. The first turn is the round where nobody has enough resources, so very little actually happens. If you find yourself taking your 5th or 6th choice of SC because everything you really wanted is gone, use the 1st turn to set up a great 2nd turn, and start thinking about how you are going to use those secondary abilities to the best effect.

If an entire strategy hinges on getting the best SC on turn 1, that won't cause a loss. Lacking the flexibility to make the best out of what's available will do it.
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Riku Koskinen
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I could see giving TGs to players later in turn order. Leadership and Technology in particular give much better primary actions than secondaries. But I also think the game has so much variance and asymmetry that there is no way to make everything fair.

There is a very big difference in how easy some certain secret objectives are to carry out, and the power level of action cards varies from near-useless to amazing. People can gang up against players, and that can seem unfair. Combat rolls can be weird and the clear favorite to win may lose. The races aren't all equally good either.

Even if the later positions got 1 or 2 TGs at the start of the game, I don't think it would really change the likelihood for anyone to win the game. It's simple and elegant to not have any extra rules (the five-player rule of giving TGs to those with close neighbors makes perfect sense though), but of course if a group would insist doing so, I could agree to that.
 
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I don't think it's a huge deal; as has been pointed out, not loads happens on Round 1 and you can set yourself up for a great Round 2. Plus, if you late in the pick in Round 1, there's a high chance you'll be very early in the pick for Round 2, which is arguably better.
 
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Indio Shepard
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I'm the one hosting the game, and this has worked reliably well:

We determine factions and (random) seating order in the days beforehand, so I can have as much as possible set up and ready to go before anyone even arrives.

I make sure everyone knows "Doors open at X:00."

First guest to arrive gets the Speaker token. And the honor of a lot of shuffling.
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Its more powerful but should be dealt with above board... your just playing it wrong.

-M
 
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preston smith
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Indio wrote:
I'm the one hosting the game, and this has worked reliably well:

We determine factions and (random) seating order in the days beforehand, so I can have as much as possible set up and ready to go before anyone even arrives.

I make sure everyone knows "Doors open at X:00."

First guest to arrive gets the Speaker token. And the honor of a lot of shuffling.



I like it.
 
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AMK
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I agree there is certainly some imbalance. I agree with others that the imbalance isn't significant, but it is there and in my mind ANY imbalance caused by random starting order it unacceptable in a game.

For TI3 we used to "bid" for order. Nobody started with TGs at all. Each player would place some amount from the pool in their hand secretly and everyone revealed at the same time. Each player started with the sum of the TG from all other players and turn order was from the person who bid the most to the person who bid the least.

Our group rarely bid very high. If your group values it more you can cut the number in half (or whatever) to get to a more reasonable starting TG. Starting with 5-8 TG doesn't change the game all that much and the important thing is that it is fair.

When we play with 4 players we would have selection be done Catan style. That is, the person who got first pick also got 8th pick. 4th also got 5th. This was done ONLY for the first round.
 
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Riku Koskinen
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Keele047 wrote:
I agree there is certainly some imbalance. I agree with others that the imbalance isn't significant, but it is there and in my mind ANY imbalance caused by random starting order it unacceptable in a game.

For TI3 we used to "bid" for order. Nobody started with TGs at all. Each player would place some amount from the pool in their hand secretly and everyone revealed at the same time. Each player started with the sum of the TG from all other players and turn order was from the person who bid the most to the person who bid the least.

Our group rarely bid very high. If your group values it more you can cut the number in half (or whatever) to get to a more reasonable starting TG. Starting with 5-8 TG doesn't change the game all that much and the important thing is that it is fair.

When we play with 4 players we would have selection be done Catan style. That is, the person who got first pick also got 8th pick. 4th also got 5th. This was done ONLY for the first round.


5-8 TG skews the game a lot. Devalues trade, makes Tech even better because you can easily go double-research round1, some factions benefit much more from quick large fleets, etc. Why should the speaker get TGs? Why not just scale them so that you remove TGs from everyone by the amount the speaker would get? If it's 5-8, it would become 0-3, much more reasonable.
 
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james herbby
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o.O

Sounds like people being whiney to me.

We just go with what the rules say. Speaker doesn't always, or even usually, win the game. Seriously, a small one turn advantage that evens out in 2 or 3 turns isn't that big a deal.

Every strategy card is useful. Every, one. Now if there were ones that were WAY!!!! better I could see something to harp about. But that is not the case.

And, for those who whine about any randomness giving even a tiny advantage, go play a euro game. That is what they are there for.

This is for people who are able to have an entire game go down by some bad luck. Not people who bitch about something as trivial as 1st turn order. It will happen. All you people are doing is unbalancing the game even more by changing the balancing already in the game.
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Sander Stroom
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Severedeye wrote:
o.O

Sounds like people being whiney to me.

We just go with what the rules say. Speaker doesn't always, or even usually, win the game. Seriously, a small one turn advantage that evens out in 2 or 3 turns isn't that big a deal.

Every strategy card is useful. Every, one. Now if there were ones that were WAY!!!! better I could see something to harp about. But that is not the case.

And, for those who whine about any randomness giving even a tiny advantage, go play a euro game. That is what they are there for.

This is for people who are able to have an entire game go down by some bad luck. Not people who bitch about something as trivial as 1st turn order. It will happen. All you people are doing is unbalancing the game even more by changing the balancing already in the game.


I agree with this. There is no real bonus of being the speaker in the first turn. It is much more crucial in the last few rounds.

What can you do differently in the first round if you are the speaker? Take one free technology. Get 3 command counters (but not use them). Build PDS and Space Dock on a planet you just took. Use Warfare to take more planets. Refresh your planets so you can buy more stuff. Really, everything can be useful and the difference is not so big that some players would need a compensation for being last.

This game is not based on "balance". Some races are so much stronger than others in some areas that it will take 2 players to shut them down. You can not win only by mechanically playing better than others. You also have to deal with player interaction, bargain and so on. The winner is usually the one who can make both of his neighbors leave him alone until it is too late.
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Will
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If you really feel 1st turn Speaker gives an unfair advantage, rather than dealing Speaker randomly have everyone bid TGs on it. Go around the table starting with a random player and raise the bid or pass, keep going around until all players have passed. Winning bid is paid out to all players except the winner.

eg

Player 1 bids 0
Player 2 raises to 1
Player 3 passes on bidding
Player 4 raises to 2
Player 1 passes on bidding
Player 2 passes on bidding

All players have passed except 4, whose bid stands; thus player 4 becomes Speaker and players 1 2 and 3 each receive 2 trade goods.

The advantage of this method is that the "balance" between picking first or not is self-correcting; the bids cease at the point where all players feel the advantage of extra trade goods equals or exceeds the advantage of picking first.
 
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Peter Walsh
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theepicwinguy wrote:
If you really feel 1st turn Speaker gives an unfair advantage, rather than dealing Speaker randomly have everyone bid TGs on it. Go around the table starting with a random player and raise the bid or pass, keep going around until all players have passed. Winning bid is paid out to all players except the winner.

eg

Player 1 bids 0
Player 2 raises to 1
Player 3 passes on bidding
Player 4 raises to 2
Player 1 passes on bidding
Player 2 passes on bidding

All players have passed except 4, whose bid stands; thus player 4 becomes Speaker and players 1 2 and 3 each receive 2 trade goods.

The advantage of this method is that the "balance" between picking first or not is self-correcting; the bids cease at the point where all players feel the advantage of extra trade goods equals or exceeds the advantage of picking first.


This is the Shattered Ascension method for selecting the Speaker, which is broken if anyone has a mind to game the bidding system. Two or more players can collude to mitigate the TG benefits for the players choosing downstream. They get to have their cake (Early SC picks) and eat it too (Access to the "balancing" TGs). This was done in every SA game I played on the TI3wiki (5-6 IIRC). It also devalues Trade.

The Speaker advantage on R1 isn't that big a deal unless you're misplaying/undervaluing the Politics SC.
 
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Pete Walsh wrote:
theepicwinguy wrote:
If you really feel 1st turn Speaker gives an unfair advantage, rather than dealing Speaker randomly have everyone bid TGs on it. Go around the table starting with a random player and raise the bid or pass, keep going around until all players have passed. Winning bid is paid out to all players except the winner.

eg

Player 1 bids 0
Player 2 raises to 1
Player 3 passes on bidding
Player 4 raises to 2
Player 1 passes on bidding
Player 2 passes on bidding

All players have passed except 4, whose bid stands; thus player 4 becomes Speaker and players 1 2 and 3 each receive 2 trade goods.

The advantage of this method is that the "balance" between picking first or not is self-correcting; the bids cease at the point where all players feel the advantage of extra trade goods equals or exceeds the advantage of picking first.


This is the Shattered Ascension method for selecting the Speaker, which is broken if anyone has a mind to game the bidding system. Two or more players can collude to mitigate the TG benefits for the players choosing downstream. They get to have their cake (Early SC picks) and eat it too (Access to the "balancing" TGs). This was done in every SA game I played on the TI3wiki (5-6 IIRC). It also devalues Trade.

The Speaker advantage on R1 isn't that big a deal unless you're misplaying/undervaluing the Politics SC.


How can two or more players collude to "mitigate the TG benefits" in the example I provided? Feel free to add more than 4 hypothetical players if it helps illustrate the point.
 
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Peter Walsh
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You cut a deal with the player who gets to pick 2nd for X TGs in exchange for going 2nd if you bid a sufficient number to win the bid (which usually doesn't have to be much 4-6 typically worked.)

If there were six players it was often possible to go to the player getting 3rd pick to get a smaller number of TGs, even getting one was worthwhile. So you might get something like this:

Player 1 bids six TGs and wins the Speaker.
Player 2 gives Player 1 two TGs.
Player 3 gives Player 1 one TG.

1 = Speaker with 3 TGs
2 = 4 TGS
3 = 5 TGs
4,5,6 = 6 TGs

If I can be Speaker and collect some TGs has this method really balanced the game? We did this all the time in SA games on TI3wiki.

There's already a mechanism in the game for balancing the Speaker position - the Politics SC. It's only unbalanced when you undervalue taking Politics.
 
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Pete Walsh wrote:
If I can be Speaker and collect some TGs has this method really balanced the game?


I would argue that it has. In your example, the players further down the pick order get more trade goods than the one further up. All this collusion has done is spread out the TG advantage to compensate for 2nd pick being better than 4th.

If I, as a player, felt like I was getting the short straw as 6th pick, I'd up the bid to 7 TGs and secure a similar arrangement from players 1 and 2.
 
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theepicwinguy wrote:
Pete Walsh wrote:
If I can be Speaker and collect some TGs has this method really balanced the game?


I would argue that it has. In your example, the players further down the pick order get more trade goods than the one further up. All this collusion has done is spread out the TG advantage to compensate for 2nd pick being better than 4th.


Spreading out the TG advantage means that it has been diluted. If your initial position was that SA style bidding resulted in a balanced game, then dilution of the advantage represents an imbalance. Furthermore with this method I can reliably secure the Speakership, when that is randomized in the regular game.

theepicwinguy wrote:
If I, as a player, felt like I was getting the short straw as 6th pick, I'd up the bid to 7 TGs and secure a similar arrangement from players 1 and 2.


Right, except you didn't think of this arrangement. I just walked you though it. But if the SA method now results in a bidding war it's creating a starting position far less stable and balanced than just accepting a randomized Speaker.
 
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Federico C.
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I used to just plain simply hand the speaker to the previous winner and give everyone 5Tg to use for bidding race, home system and first strategy card. It worked fairly well. Ties are resolved by the speaker.
 
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Honestly, I feel handing out Trade Goods in an effort to "balance" later opportunity to select a Strategy Cards (however this is structured and/or worded) does more to upset the Balance than a slight Turn 1 disadvantage.

As already has been pointed out - what about later turns? Choice of Strategy Cards matters MUCH more during critical mid-game turns than on turn one, whereas handing out TG - especially in "bidding" variants with up to 5 TG - probably upsets game Balance more. You Keep bidding for Player one and being the first to pick a race. I'll happily be the last to pick my race (being able to Chose the perfect race to Counter the ones already present), and from the last three strategy Cards available. That seriously upsets game Balance a bit more.

Trying to Balance the "unjust" situations of TI leads to a simple follow-up question: What about "unjust" situations later in the game? What about "unjust" Distribution of planets/Systems?

Also, do not Forget that "Strategy Card seletion" is a theoretic Advantage, subject to Player decisions how big that Advantage will be. TG are TG. That's a definite Advantage that might upset the gamebalance even more, by allowing, for example, additional carriers on turn one, maybe even a flagship on turn one.

TI isagame of inbalances and injustice. The fun Comes in learning how to deal with this situations and overcome them. If you want to play a perfectly predictable game with everything equal, there are games like that out there. TI will, however, never be "completely fair".
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