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Subject: Getting the Chair rss

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Jay Tweet
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Last night I played two games of St. Pete (4 players). I noticed that in both games the person that started with the worker token (player A) seemed to be at a pretty serious disadvantage. Everyone buys two workers the first round, so getting to choose first is not much of an advantage at all. In the second and third rounds, player A is pretty much guaranteed to only have the opportunity to buy one worker. In both games, player A seemed to be at a pretty permanent disadvantage. Fewer workers early means less money throughout the game and it is also harder to upgrade your workers to get even more money.

So here are my questions:

1) Has anyone else noticed this, or is it just faulty anecdotal evidence on my part?

2) If there is a disadvantage, is there a way to balance it out? How much extra money would you give the player starting with the chair token?

3) Anyone have a good strategy for winning when starting with the worker token?

Happy playing.
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Kory Stevens
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I always like starting with the chair, it means that at the start you get the cheaper workers, when money is crucial. It means about an extra $4 usually, I would guess.

As for the later rounds, it can be worth manipulating how many cards are being dealt out by picking up cards. At the end of the square round in a 3 player game you notice that there are 5 blank spots. Pick up a card so that there are 6 blank spots and you get a second worker next round. The building that increases your hand size to 4 can help with this.

Anyway, I'm not exactly an expert on this, but thats my thoughts on the subject.
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Ed Sherman
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Well, if you get workers first, you are pretty much guaranteed to start rounds two and three with more money than anyone else. This is a pretty big deal in my mind.

Also, if you're not getting a shot at buying things in later rounds, you need to look farther ahead and managing the empty spaces on the board. You may want to put a card in your hand to guarantee a buying turn in later rounds. I think "board management," for lack of a better term, is really important.

P.S. -- Also, when you get "the chair," you have to seat your player token in it. This is a rule that didn't make in into the book somehow.
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Eric Brosius
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My favorite 18xx game for six players is two games of 1846 with three players each.
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Yes, I'd prefer getting something else, too. However, the random card draw is more important than the random draw of wooden pieces.
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Tim Earl
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I agree with you. I prefer to be the person to the left of the first chairholder so I get a decent pick the first round and the first pick the second round (when there may not be many workers on the board).

But if you do start with the chair, you definitely need to buy all the workers you can on turn 1.
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norman rule
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Our group doesn't see a real disadvantage to getting Workers first, unless you happen to be 3rd or 4th in the Nobles round. By then, all that extra money you have from the 1st round might get you... an author.

The ideal position, as far as I'm concerned, is first in Workers and second in Nobles. You've probably got the cash to take anything that comes out and still have a little cash left over. Additionally, the person who has Nobles went last in the worker round, so they have the least starting cash. If a Mistress or a Judge comes out, they may actually pass, rather than hold it for 2-3 rounds.

After all, which makes more sense? Warehouse Manager who will return 3 every turn and comes out at the beginning, or a Mistress who returns 6 every turn, but it's turn 3 or turn 4 before you can afford her?
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Todd McCorkle
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mrorwell wrote:
Our group doesn't see a real disadvantage to getting Workers first, unless you happen to be 3rd or 4th in the Nobles round. By then, all that extra money you have from the 1st round might get you... an author.

The ideal position, as far as I'm concerned, is first in Workers and second in Nobles. You've probably got the cash to take anything that comes out and still have a little cash left over. Additionally, the person who has Nobles went last in the worker round, so they have the least starting cash. If a Mistress or a Judge comes out, they may actually pass, rather than hold it for 2-3 rounds.

After all, which makes more sense? Warehouse Manager who will return 3 every turn and comes out at the beginning, or a Mistress who returns 6 every turn, but it's turn 3 or turn 4 before you can afford her?

That's funny. I have the opinion that the best place to be is first in nobles, 2nd in workers. 1st crack at a mistress or judge and 1st crack at an extra working, either by opening #players +1 spot in the upgrade round, or only 1 space opens. Usually rare since the other players should be opening spots for themselves as well.

I have to ask, why is the starting noble player passing on a mistress or judge? The 1st rule of St. Pete is: "Thou shalt not have less than $18 when starting the noble round." Even if you are going last in the first worker round, you should have enough unless you get stuck with the 8 and a 6 or 7 cost worker. Somewhat rare (someone better than me can figure out the actually probability of that).
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William Simonitis
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With the update/expansion, in our group, first round judge has become the best possible aristocrat. There are advantages to going first in each round during the first turn (cheaper workers, observatory chances, judge/controller/mistress, some strong upgrade purple cards). That being said, I will gladly take going first during the worker phase since it's pretty much a guaranteed good deal (as opposed to the others, which are more likely to offer nothing special to the first player).
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Daniel Corban
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A major part of the game is manipulating the card pool to optimize how many cards you have available during the next phase. If player 1 is the only one getting one worker in round 2, then he was pretty damn stupid for not taking that final card into his hand in the last phase of round 1.

I have played this game a lot, and I love getting the chair in round 1.
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norman rule
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kusinohki wrote:
That's funny. I have the opinion that the best place to be is first in nobles, 2nd in workers.


Well, I didn't want to get TOO greedy... If someone found themselves in that situation in our group, the moaning and complaining (from the other players) would last the entire game. No one would CARE about the moaning and complaining... it would just go on.

Quote:
I have to ask, why is the starting noble player passing on a mistress or judge?


I have seen it. Not often, and it's usually someone who recently got burned by something expensive sitting in their hand for the entire game.

Quote:
The 1st rule of St. Pete is: "Thou shalt not have less than $18 when starting the noble round."


Funny, I don't see that in my rule book, but it certainly should be there!
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Jay Tweet
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Thanks for all the responses. I will occasionally put a card in my hand to influence how many cards come up in the next phase, but I'm loathe to use up slots in my hand for cards I don't really want. But if you're starting with the chair, there is no way you're getting two workers the next round unless every card is taken in the first round and I don't see that happening. And the odds are against you getting an upgrade to one of your workers in the first round as you don't have first choice in the trading phase.

Glad to hear it is not as big of a deal as I feared, but I still will be happiest when I get the chair in the 2nd round.

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Daniel Corban
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If you are the first player of the following worker or aristocrat round, and there are four cards taken, you have a huge incentive to take one more card. Then the second player, likewise, has a huge incentive to take one more card. Then the third player, and so on.

Every building and upgrade phase works the same way in every single game.

So in your example, if you are the last player of the following worker round and three cards have been taken, then it is clear that you must take one more card into your hand in order to keep your income level the same as your opponents. This forces the next turns start player to decide if it is worth him taking a card to provide him with two available workers. If he did, then the next turns second player has to make the same decision. And so on. If this results in only one card left, and you are the last player of the following worker round, and you have enough cash to purchase two workers, you should take the card.

I admit this extreme situation does not happen often, because somewhere earlier along the chain, a player will decide to not take the card. So while you are complaining that you won't get two workers, remember that at least one other player is not getting two workers, either. And if some players are getting two workers and some players are not, then someone along the chain made a mistake (or a calculated risk) in not taking a card. It has absolutely nothing to do with your seat position.

This sort of gameplay is so obvious that it has almost degenerated the game. It is one of the several reasons why this game is virtually solved. If you are the third player in the following aristocrat phase, and only one card has been taken, it would be silly to take a card. If you take a card, you are giving the second player a free aristocrat. The logical thing is to force the second player to take a card, which will allow you to also take a card, giving yourself an aristocrat. And so on.

This game could probably be played solitaire with minimal difference in outcome than if you played it with four veterans.
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Jay Tweet
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"I admit this extreme situation does not happen often, because somewhere earlier along the chain, a player will decide to not take the card. So while you are complaining that you won't get two workers, remember that at least one other player is not getting two workers, either. And if some players are getting two workers and some players are not, then someone along the chain made a mistake (or a calculated risk) in not taking a card. It has absolutely nothing to do with your seat position."

I know it has been a while but I just wanted to throw this out there. I mentioned this theory to my normal St. Pete group (that getting the chair round 1 kills you) and we've seen that person come in last every single time we play. It doesn't matter who it is.

I've played quite a few times now and I have never seen the scenario you described above (where all the cards are taken in each phase of the first round). In the second phase (buildings), taking a card you don't really want to get a worker is a huge risk because you are counting on all of the cards put out in phases three and four to get taken. There is a good chance that you are holding three cards going into round two when you have last pick on workers.
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Daniel Corban
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The decision to take cards in the building phase is based on the desire for aristocrats.

The decision to take cards in the upgrade phase is based on the desire for workers.

In both situations, you always want to ensure you are getting as many of each as the other players.
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Jay Tweet
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Sure, but there are times when you want to take risks as well. For instance, if I am going to be going third in the aristocrat phase I might risk that the person going fourth in that phase will pick up an extra building to make sure he/she gets the chance to get an aristocrat. So even though buying or putting a building in my hand would guarantee me an aristocrat, passing would put the pressure on the person going fourth that round to get two. Especially if that person also happens to be in the bottom two of the next worker phase. Odds are pretty good I'm going to get my aristocrat without having to spend any money or spots in my hand. But if everyone passes, well I'm screwed, but so are the players going 3rd and 4th in the worker phase of the next round.

Money is scarce, so if you can pass off your costs onto other players it gives you a big advantage. But it also is a big risk. There's some bluffing and chicken being played, which is why the worker phase of the second round frequently has neither four nor eight new workers (when playing a four player game).
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Daniel Corban
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Must be a group thing. No one in my group would ever give someone a free aristocrat like that.
 
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Gerald Katz
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mrorwell wrote:
Our group doesn't see a real disadvantage to getting Workers first, unless you happen to be 3rd or 4th in the Nobles round. By then, all that extra money you have from the 1st round might get you... an author.

The ideal position, as far as I'm concerned, is first in Workers and second in Nobles. You've probably got the cash to take anything that comes out and still have a little cash left over. Additionally, the person who has Nobles went last in the worker round, so they have the least starting cash. If a Mistress or a Judge comes out, they may actually pass, rather than hold it for 2-3 rounds.

After all, which makes more sense? Warehouse Manager who will return 3 every turn and comes out at the beginning, or a Mistress who returns 6 every turn, but it's turn 3 or turn 4 before you can afford her?


Even if you can't afford the Mistress you take her and put her in hand, because most assuredly if you don't take her, the next person will and he will play it and gather up all the rubles and points. The money you didn't spend on nobles can be used for upgrades or workers next round.
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Gerald Katz
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kusinohki wrote:
mrorwell wrote:
Our group doesn't see a real disadvantage to getting Workers first, unless you happen to be 3rd or 4th in the Nobles round. By then, all that extra money you have from the 1st round might get you... an author.

The ideal position, as far as I'm concerned, is first in Workers and second in Nobles. You've probably got the cash to take anything that comes out and still have a little cash left over. Additionally, the person who has Nobles went last in the worker round, so they have the least starting cash. If a Mistress or a Judge comes out, they may actually pass, rather than hold it for 2-3 rounds.

After all, which makes more sense? Warehouse Manager who will return 3 every turn and comes out at the beginning, or a Mistress who returns 6 every turn, but it's turn 3 or turn 4 before you can afford her?

That's funny. I have the opinion that the best place to be is first in nobles, 2nd in workers. 1st crack at a mistress or judge and 1st crack at an extra working, either by opening #players +1 spot in the upgrade round, or only 1 space opens. Usually rare since the other players should be opening spots for themselves as well.

I have to ask, why is the starting noble player passing on a mistress or judge? The 1st rule of St. Pete is: "Thou shalt not have less than $18 when starting the noble round." Even if you are going last in the first worker round, you should have enough unless you get stuck with the 8 and a 6 or 7 cost worker. Somewhat rare (someone better than me can figure out the actually probability of that).


If you're third or last in workers, first in nobles, and second in buildings and two observatories come out, you can't pass up the observatory to ensure having 18 money for nobles. Even the warehouse or a potemkin village can't be passed. You put the mistress in your hand and hope you can pay for it next round. Put a needed upgrade in hand, buy next round's workers, keep passing on next round's buildings. You should be able to afford mistress on nobles.

Hopefully you'll get a next round noble for your hand first. If you need to take a blue to open a space, you're screwed unless you have the warehouse. Without the warehouse, your hand is full and need to purchase your noble immediately. Mistress stays in your hand. With the warehouse, take a noble as your fourth card. Pay for mistress on your next turn.

It sucks to have the mistress sitting in your hand for at least two turns, but it is a lot better than your opponent having her out for those two turns.

There's a reason why my friends and I call her The "Female Dog".


 
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Paul Harrington
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hadsil wrote:

If you're third or last in workers, first in nobles, and second in buildings and two observatories come out, you can't pass up the observatory to ensure having 18 money for nobles.


Why not?

If you just can't bear to pass the observatory, you should at least stick it in your hanad and keep the 18 rubles and hope for the game-breaking Mistress or the almost game-breaking Judge. Personally, I would just as soon pass and let someone else open the second spot up for me, and keep my three hand spaces free. Let the next opponent take an observatory, that way I can win if TWO Mistresses come up because he'll have to take his into his hand.
 
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Paul Harrington
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I am going to try to answer the original poster's last question. Try the Duck Gambit!

It works best when:
(1) you are playing the regular St Pete, no expansions
(2) you are last in reds and first in greens (normally a horrible position)
(3) no observatories come up and not much little stuff

It looks so ridiculous that your friends will think you've gone totally nuts - until you win or sneak in for 2nd.

To play this gambit, named after the first player I first saw it who had 'Duck' in his handle:
In round 1, buy a big blue, preferably the 17. Thus the crazy part. You hope that they don't open up a lot of spots for red as you don't intend to take either a red in round 1 or a green in round 2 (but will stuff an author in hand if need be.)

After that, your job is to get the game to end in 5 rounds. That's why no observatory out is important, the observatory player will slow the game down. You aim to end the game with the blue deck running out, which means either buying markets or sticking them in your hand during the green phase. At the end of round 5, nobody will have that many reds, and the 25 victory points from your library (and whatever else you picked up) may be decisive.


You'll note I said 'not with the expansion'. New Society games take more rounds, you can't win this way. Fortunately, being first in greens in New Society isn't nearly as much of a disadvantage because of the New Farmers (greens costing 9.) Your money advantage rates to be larger, somewhat making up for the other disadvantages of going first in greens.
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