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Subject: Base Steam: Turn Order Selection Timing rss

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Roland Wood
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In the Base Game when you select your special action it also determines what your turn order will be for the following turn.

I wonder what would happen if in selecting your action it changed turn order immediately for the current turn. Instead of determining turn order at the end of each turn you would determine turn order right after each person selects their action.

I have two reasons for this thought:

Turn one advantage for 1st player
The player who is first on turn one can:
Urbanize
Build Track either 1st or 2nd
Move Goods either 1st or 2nd
Build essentially 4 tracks (3 tracks + Urbanized Town)

Last turn doldrums
During the last turn, turn order for the next turn isn't considered at all (Unless you think you might tie with someone). It makes the last turn pick a bit less excruciating than the previous turns' picks.


By changing the timing of when turn order is determined from the end of the turn to immediately after the actions are selected, both of these situations are avoided.

Any downsides? Unintended Consequences?
 
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jim b
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Roliander wrote:
Turn one advantage for 1st player[/size]
The player who is first on turn one can:
Urbanize
Build Track either 1st or 2nd
Move Goods either 1st or 2nd
Build essentially 4 tracks (3 tracks + Urbanized Town)

Can you quantify what that's worth?

At setup, they're at a $1, $2, $3 disadvantage to each player after them. (What is that, in first-player terms? In a 4p game, is it equivalent to 'minus $6' in the first-players pocket? If so, I assume it's also equivalent to -1.2 points on his income/expenses track.)

For Urbanize, they're also paying 6$, plus poor turn-order next turn. (Another -1.2 income/expense points.)

In a 4-player game, they likely will build 2nd, and could easily move 2nd too.

That's significant expense & tempo; and, the new city & goods are available to everyone. Mostly, I'm just asking how to quantify it, and/or what you think it's worth.

Roliander wrote:
Last turn doldrums[/size]
During the last turn, turn order for the next turn isn't considered at all (Unless you think you might tie with someone). It makes the last turn pick a bit less excruciating than the previous turn's picks.[/b]

I haven't detected doldrums in the last-turn ... everyone is making their endgame and VP calculations ... which also affects the value of all the actions.

edit - 'city & goods', markup
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Roland Wood
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jimb wrote:
At setup, they're at a $1, $2, $3 disadvantage to each player after them. (What is that, in first-player terms? In a 4p game, is it equivalent to 'minus $6' in the first-players pocket? If so, I assume it's also equivalent to -1.2 points on his income/expenses track.)


I see the $1, $2, $3, or at most $4 disadvantage in relation to other players as quite negligible and no way near enough of an offset to the advantage gained by going first in the first turn. In every game I've played the person who gets last pick of a starting spot views his starting cash with a sarcastic "whoopie!" while looking enviously as all the best spots are taken.

Quote:
For Urbanize, they're also paying 6$, plus poor turn-order next turn. (Another -1.2 income/expense points.)


The only difference is that they would get poor turn-order for the current turn and last pick of actions for the next turn. In the real rules, the 1st player gets the best starting spot plus can augment this juicy real estate with a new city and cubes of his choice. $6 in my view is a bargain for this advantage. In my variant, the player will get last choice of places to start his network but could create his own viable spot using the urbanization action. $6 is a fair price for this ability.

Quote:
In a 4-player game, they likely will build 2nd, and could easily move 2nd too.

That's significant expense & tempo; and, the new city & goods are available to everyone. Mostly, I'm just asking how to quantify it, and/or what you think it's worth.


It is interesting that in the real rules the 1st player would urbanize their city before most of the other players which would allow them to build into the new city if it was built in an accessible location. In my variant, the 1st player would end up going last which would practically guarantee that he would be able to keep the first 1-2 deliveries from/to that new city for himself...hmmmmmm....

In the real rules, I see the expense as not significant. Moving back 2-4 steps in order to urbanize and build track is easily recovered in the base game. The tempo gained is much more significant IMO. If instead of $1 offsets the first player had to start at -2 on the income track, 2nd & 3rd players at -1, and 4th & 5th player at 0, I still would like to be player 1 on the first turn despite the much larger penalty. This is all based on my games so far...


Quote:
I haven't detected doldrums in the last-turn ... everyone is making their endgame and VP calculations ... which also affects the value of all the actions.


I did not mean to imply that the final turn is boring. Simply that the turn order mechanic plays no real part so that that one aspect is not exciting. In all previous turns you are balancing turn order with what power you want. In the last turn you are balancing what power you want with the second string tiebreaker....

No the last turn has been tense with getting any last links and finding the best possible deliveries. It would, IMO, add more interesting decisions to the last round if the turn order factored as well...
 
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Anthony Simons
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After the last turn, action numbers are used as a secondary tie-breaker.

I don't think it's a good idea to adjust the turn order directly after action selection. Urbanisation occurs too late in the turn, as does City Growth. First Move is devalued; it can often be better to move first after having built last, for example; furthermore, it being #2, the action is kind of useless in conjunction with the number if the number is applied to the current turn. The latter point applies to the Turn Order action too.

I suppose what I'm trying to say is that some of the opportunity for manipulation of playing order in conjunction with action selection disappears if all is applied instantly.
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Roland Wood
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fellonmyhead wrote:
After the last turn, action numbers are used as a secondary tie-breaker.


Aware of this...

Quote:

I don't think it's a good idea to adjust the turn order directly after action selection. Urbanisation occurs too late in the turn, as does City Growth.


It is true that by having those actions occur "too" late in the turn none of the other players will be able to react to them until the following turn since all their builds will be done. This could make these actions too powerful especially if picked on the last turn...

Quote:
First Move is devalued; it can often be better to move first after having built last, for example; furthermore, it being #2, the action is kind of useless in conjunction with the number if the number is applied to the current turn.


If I understand correctly you are saying that maybe last turn I picked Urbanization which puts me last this turn, but at the beginning of this turn I picked First Move which then would create the situation where I build last but will get to ship first. With my variant this manipulation would be impossible. This is a good point and all by itself makes me change my mind about the whole thing...


Quote:
I suppose what I'm trying to say is that some of the opportunity for manipulation of playing order in conjunction with action selection disappears if all is applied instantly.


I agree.

So it goes back to whether the advantage of being first is currently undervalued. Is it? Is a measley $4 offset from the last player enough? Still wondering...
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jim b
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Roliander wrote:
So it goes back to whether the advantage of being first is currently undervalued. Is it? Is a measley $4 offset from the last player enough? Still wondering...

If it's the first-turn that's most bugging you, you could use the Base auction for first-turn turn-order ... some auctioning might help w/ the value analysis, too.
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Roland Wood
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Very true. However, I like the speed of getting underway simply by randomly selecting initial priority. All my games so far have been with different people and always someone new to Steam so I didn't want to use the auction start since they had no idea how much value to attach to turn order.
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jim b
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Right, understood - a couple of related comments -

- I like it when my opponents choose Urbanize in the first couple of turns in Steam. To me, it's too early to know which cubes I could use - and I like drafting off their $6 investment, the new cubes, and the new city, for free. So, I don't agree Urbanization gives such an unbalanced advantage to the first player (I may be quite wrong, of course).

- If you want to keep it simple, you could also try doubling the first-turn turn-order payouts ($0, $2, $4, $6)? Ie, house-rule payouts you find more balanced, somehow.

- In the special case of a 2-player game, starting with $1 in 2nd place sure feels underwhelming. (Given some of his variant rule-sets, I think Ted Alspach may value this tempo at more like $5 in a 2-person game, though it's hard to infer clearly.) This makes me wonder if the payouts balance better with more players, but that's just speculation.
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Chris Berger
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Well, I played the Steam app yesterday and just found out that I was playing this wrong. I had played that choosing your action sets turn order for the current turn, and in my opinion it was a much more interesting game. Playing the app, where the same player gets Urbanization and first player for the turn (nearly every turn), has pretty much killed the Basic game for me. And previously I had thought that Basic was a very nice streamlined game, better in my opinion than Standard Steam and about on par with if not better than Age of Steam (with Age of Steam being meatier and better with experienced players, but Basic Steam being better with some new players).

So yeah, playing with your variant, when I thought it was the rule (I was taught the game that way and had never gone back and read the rulebook), made me enjoy the Basic game, and now I don't.
 
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arkayn wrote:
Well, I played the Steam app yesterday and just found out that I was playing this wrong. I had played that choosing your action sets turn order for the current turn, and in my opinion it was a much more interesting game. Playing the app, where the same player gets Urbanization and first player for the turn (nearly every turn), has pretty much killed the Basic game for me. And previously I had thought that Basic was a very nice streamlined game, better in my opinion than Standard Steam and about on par with if not better than Age of Steam (with Age of Steam being meatier and better with experienced players, but Basic Steam being better with some new players).

So yeah, playing with your variant, when I thought it was the rule (I was taught the game that way and had never gone back and read the rulebook), made me enjoy the Basic game, and now I don't.

If one player is taking Urb and then, with last choice, getting to be first next turn, maybe the rest of you are just playing poorly?
 
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Chris Berger
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snoozefest wrote:
arkayn wrote:
where the same player gets Urbanization and first player for the turn (nearly every turn),

If one player is taking Urb and then, with last choice, getting to be first next turn, maybe the rest of you are just playing poorly?


Please read more carefully. Urbanization is so good that you almost always need to be first player in order to take it. That means that the first player to choose will get Urb AND be first for the turn. Sure, someone else may take First Move or First Build, depending on the player count and how much people want City Growth and Loco, but it felt like so much more of an interesting choice when taking Urb meant you were guaranteed to be last to build and move on the turn you took it. Playing (accidentally) with this variant, that felt like the tradeoff/cost of picking Urb. Just like Loco has a money cost in Basic, and how the cost of picking Urb in Standard is that you have to bid high.
 
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I see what you mean, but I think you might be overvaluing urbanize? Urb is especially bad in first position because, on a competitive map anyway, everyone else can take advantage of that new city.
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Chris Berger
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snoozefest wrote:
I see what you mean, but I think you might be overvaluing urbanize? Urb is especially bad in first position because, on a competitive map anyway, everyone else can take advantage of that new city.


I think you are overstating that. As the one who chose Urbanization, I will be the first one to link to the new city, I will get to choose its placement so that it is convenient to my network, and I get the equivalent of an extra track build without having to pay for that track. In addition, I have at worst the second chance to move a cube off of it - and if someone else did choose First Move, then I can also prioritize locations that are not convenient to his network. Sure, he might be able to build so that he gets a 1- or 2-hop delivery just to steal a cube from me, but people that prioritize attacking in a multi-player game always seem to make themselves and their target lose.

Plus, it's not that hard to get 2 useful cubes on the new city - if one of them gets stolen and the other one is a 5-hop delivery, then that's a good trade. Even if I let the First Mover get a 5-hop delivery too, helping two people in a 5-player game, as long as one of them is me, is still a winning move. But that's often avoidable.

The tradeoff to going later in turn order when you pick Urbanization (under this variant) are a) good spots for track may be snatched up before you get to them, b) if you choose a spot that someone else connects to they always have first chance to steal a cube, and c) even if you manage to get yourself exclusive access to your new city, you have lower priority on the cubes that are already on the board (which, generally, you'd rather grab over the ones that other people can't get to yet).
 
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You didn't find going last every other turn to be a problem?
 
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