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Subject: Player Position - 4p Game rss

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Andrew Brown
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I am interested in what people think about player positions in a 4-player game of Louis XIV. The rules obviously try to account for advantages and disadvantages in player order, but it seems hard to believe that it would be equal given all the subtlety of difference. Lets evaluate the positions:

Start Player:
Pros:
- 11 influence markers to begin game (tied for most). Significant because this allows you to play 4 influence cards on the first turn (losing one piece unless you play a wild).
- Last on the 2nd turn of the game. Allows you to set yourself up for a fantastic 2nd round, getting several mission cards which will help you for 2 further rounds.

Cons:
- First on the initial turn. Puts you in worst position for getting multiple mission cards early in the game, which limits the number of turns they will give you their benefit.
- Often find that the Start Player will have a bad second round despite going last because of the need to play more pieces in round one to compete with those going after you early.

Second Player:
Pros:
- same number of influence markers as start player without having to go first in the initial round!
- Strong end-game position as you go last in round 3 and second to last in round 4. Going last in later rounds gives you the advantage of knowing who your main competition is and focusing your moves to hurt players doing well.

Cons:
- Go 2nd in first round and 1st in second round. Easily the worst early game turn order position in my opinion. Hardest position to get Mission Cards out in first rounds.

Third Player:
Pros:
- 2nd to last on the first round (good position for early mission cards).
- Last on the final turn of the game (lets you focus plays against your biggest competitor).
- With 10 influence markers in your supply during round 1 you have the option of playing 4 cards to place markers or plan for the next round by using one to pull markers from the general supply (decision may depend on how many jokers you are dealt). Going 2nd to last that round allows you the option of judging which is best from game to game.

Cons:
- One fewer influence markers to start the game. As with the Final Player, this often means you will only play 3 influence cards to place markers during the first round.
- Can stall during the mid-game, going 2nd in Round 2 and 1st in Round 3.

Last Player:
Pros:
- Last on the initial turn of the game and 2nd to last on the next turn! Best position for early Mission Cards which will help you in subsequent turns.
- Fewer influence markers in first round can put you in a position for a great second round as you still to 2nd to last and will often have more markers in your supply to begin the round.

Cons:
- 2 fewer influence markers to begin game (9 total). Usually means you can only play 3 influence cards to place markers in the first round. Better play position, fewer markers on the board.
- First on the final turn of the game. If your early player position gets you a lead, now others will know it and can target you.

So...
Do you think the game correctly balances player positions?
What are some other pros/cons in player positioning?

And finally, lets just see what people think:
Poll
What is the best Player Position in a 4-player game of Louis XIV
  Best Second Best Third Best Worst
Start Player
Second Player
Third Player
Last Player
      5 answers
Poll created by GodfatherPTS
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Andrew Brown
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Just an added note. The game I played yesterday saw the Starting Player win, the Last Player in second, and the Second and Third Players coming in much further behind. This is skewed because the Second and Third Players were playing their first game, but I lost from Last Player position to my Louis playing partner who was the Start Player (by 7 points).
 
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