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Subject: First Player Advantage? rss

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Mark Ehlke
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Hello! I've got about 8 plays of this game in with 2 players now, and it seems like there's a distinct first player advantage. In my experiences so far, it seems like 1 mastery is not nearly enough to offset the fact that the first player:
A) Gets first pick of the trade row
B) Gets to deal damage first.

This tends to be exacerbated by some of the cheap purple cards that do huge amounts of damage. It seems like the best way to win going second is to take a more defensive stance, but it still seems like first is favored.

Has anyone else noticed this effect? Am I missing any rules that help offset it?
 
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Adam Rouse
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I was planning to post about this once I've played it more so I could track the first player's win rate. I agree that on paper it seems like an incredibly flimsy compensation for the second player.

If it turns out to be a problem, I'd just borrow Star Realms' rule and have the first player draw three cards on turn one. But I wouldn't tinker with anything until I've played a whole lot more.
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Mark Ehlke
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I'm glad someone else noticed it may be an issue. I think this problem is inherited from Ascension, but at least in that game it's not a massive issue in 2p since both players get the same number of turns. It's definitely hard in 3+ player games, though.
I'd love to see your data, and I'll probably keep track of some stats myself. If it does end up being a problem, hopefully we can get an official "tournament rule" or something to fix it.
 
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Justin Gary
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I don't want to bias the discussion by giving my opinion, but I love seeing how different players value going first, so I'll give you an option to "put your Mastery where your mouth is" if you think the advantage is too great.

For competitive players who want a house rule to make the game start more skill testing, I recommend doing a first turn Mastery Auction. Don't use this rule unless all players know the game pretty well.

Each player alternates making "bids" to go first. Each bid number is how many Mastery you are willing to give your opponent(s) in order to go first. Go back and forth until someone is unwilling to increase the bid. The high bidder goes first and the other player gains mastery equal to the bid. If there are more than two players, players 3 and 4 gain an additional 1 or 2 Mastery respectively on top of the bid number.

You can do this before players draw cards and reveal the center row or for an even higher skill-test, you can wait until after cards are revealed.

For anyone who uses this system, please post here what the bids end up at and share your thoughts on how well it worked!
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Adam Rouse
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I love that idea. If we ever use that, I'll be sure to post our results, but I am definitely going to wait and see how our games go with the standard rule first.

I suspect 3 is the most I'd be willing to bid. I don't want my opponent getting to 5 on the first couple of turns and using an upgraded Shard Reactor that soon.

And I think 3-4p games are already balanced well enough by table politics. If first player has an advantage, we'll just beat on him a little extra.
 
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Mark Ehlke
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I love this mod, and I'll be playing it after seeing the center row.

My only other concern that if it's a small number you'll also have an slight advantage for bidding first, but that's probably just me being pedantic.

I'll definitely be using this when I play 2 player. Thanks for the quick response!
 
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David Stiritz
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First off, Id just like to say that this game is amazing! It's my first foray into the genre and I'm totally hooked lol. I'm playing ascension on my phone during my commute and lunch hour and shards at home with my girlfriend in the evening (she likes it just as much as I do) Anywho, the subject of first player advantage did arise, and we've played 6 games with the bidding method so far (after center row is revealed). It's great, and probably how we will play from now on. The average bid has ended at 3, with 5 being the highest so far. Awesome idea, thanks!
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Viktor
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I like the idea of doing a mastery auction after the center cards are revealed. My wife and I have definitely started prioritizing a few specific low-cost cards whenever they're available, so it'll be interesting to see how much mastery we are willing to pay for them if they show up at the start of the game.
 
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Viktor
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After trying out the mastery auction variant, I'm a big fan of it. We've played 7 games with it so far and while the most common winning bids have been 2 or 3, we had one game where the bid was 4 because there was such a good combination of cheap cards available. More importantly, having the opportunity to bid has drastically improved the perception of fairness when it comes to who goes first, which to me is just as important (if not more important) than the winning %s.
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Adam Rouse
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Tried it only a couple times myself because we normally play 3-4P games, where I think it's unnecessary. But my findings were the same. It felt more fair. It added an interesting pregame. And the bids didn't go too high. 2 or 3 on game 1, and 4 on game 2 because of a really good row.
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