Games, games and more games!
As we did with the base game (see http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/384228), we played a tournament with the first expansion. We played each combination of start worlds once for a total of 72 games. This is playing the usual 2 player rules, but with no goals (we find they add an extra luck element to the game that we don't enjoy). The tournament was fairly even, with me winning with 39 games to 33.
The results were:
Start World Mywins Swins Total
0 3 3 6
1 5 2.5 7.5
2 5 4 9
3 3.5 5 8.5
4 4 4 8
5 5 6 11
6 4.5 4 8.5
7 5 1.5 6.5
8 4 3 7
Half marks are where there was an absolute tie, which happened twice in the tournament.
After my previous tournament someone said that if we found starting world 3 the strongest before the expansion, it would win even more when we included the expansion, as it encourages military strategies - this hasn't proved to be the case, ending up as just above average (8 being average). Starting world 0 was the worst starting world in this tournament, after an amazingly good showing in the last tournament.
Start world 7 also does very badly - but if you look at the results themselves you'll see that it's because for some reason my husband always does very badly with that start world. In fact in general, he seems to care about which start world he gets far more than I do.
Start world 5 comes out as the strongest of all the worlds, giving the highest stats for both me and my husband. I'm not quite sure why this is, other than that it's explore bonus means that it's useful for both military and production strategies, so perhaps more versatile than some. Again the fact that my husband seems to particularly like this one might be affecting the overall outcome.
Overall, some surprising results, and it also shows that although there are subtle differences in which start world you get in 2 player, the worlds are overall fairly balanced.
Military vs Non Military: The average score for a military start world was 8.4, compared to 7.7 for non-military worlds. Not sure if this is an indication that military strategies are slightly stronger in the new version, or just that those worlds are more versatile (such as 5).
New Worlds vs Old Worlds: The average score for the new start worlds was 8.25 compared with 7.8 for the old start worlds. This might be an indication that the new start worlds or slightly more powerful, or it might purely be because the "best" world in the tournament turned out to be one of the new worlds!! It's certainly not a large difference.
He's looking real sharp in his 1940's fedora. He's got nerves of steel, an iron will, and several other metal-themed attributes. His fur is water tight and he's always up for a fight.
He's a semi-aquatic egg-laying mammal of action. He's a furry little flat-foot who'll never flinch from a fray. He's got more than just mad skills, he's got a beaver tail and a bill.
I feel the advanced 2-player rules favor windfall worlds, and as such, military strategy, with the ability to settle/trade. Also, with the two terraforming cards, you can repeatedly play a military world for free and then draw 3 cards on a called settle, or even 2 on a mooched settle... and if it's a windfall, it's worth +2 points!
At that point you can see a bunch of cards per turn and usually one will be another military world for you.
Your metagame affects a lot to the outcome of your games, so IMO you really can't make any strong conclusions about the comparative strenghts of the starting worlds with just two people playing each other.
a few interjections:
1) Thanks for documenting this. It's nice to see the results even if it is one isolated group
2) The goals, although a little random, do add to the game. It takes skill to recognize what goals you should take, which you should work for, and which you should ignore. They can also boost corner case strategies become competitive.
3) While on the topic of goals, there are quite a few that help out DAF (ie #7)
4) The military vs non military comparison is fairly small (about a 4.5% from average) I would consider a 52.3% win percentage with such a sample size to show that there is little if any correspondance between the red vs blue start worlds and winning. Same with new vs old (with even less variablility).
5) How often do you and your partner explore? I think this could be the big reason why SC (ie #5) wins so often with you. If at least one of you calls explore often, it can skew the utility of the phase I power regardless of who controls it.
6) As I'm suprised OE did will last series, I'm surprised it did so poorly this time. I'm under the impression that OE has a larger learning curve to it; a new player will have a hard time using OE, it has subtle trade and consume power structure that is harder to grasp strategically than most of the other start worlds.