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Who plays first?

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sedjtroll
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I have noticed this in many games before, and recently noticed it on this very board...

The instructions dictate that the oldest player plays first. This is rather arbitrary, maybe even random, but certainly not equitable.

Any thoughts on this? Is it so dificult to say "Determine by some random method who plays first," or even spell it out "roll the dice, high roll plays first."

???

- Seth

Scurra
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Who plays first?

Well I don't think that's any more controversial than the sort order instructions on the Forum software which always seem to offer me the option to sort "Oldest first"... :)

Actually, I think there are far more "Youngest player goes first" games - and the list at http://www.spielboy.com/whogoesfirst.php seems to reinforce this; only about 20% of the "Age-order" games seem to be "Oldest first" (and that only seems to be about 20% of the total list there too.)

Anonymous
Who plays first?

Perhaps one reason that German rules sometimes note that the youngest (or oldest) player should go first has something to do with seat advantage. For example, in Tigris & Euphrates I've heard it's a slight advantage to go earlier in the turn order because it increases your chance of getting an extra turn. In Germany where gaming is a family pastime it is probably not uncommon to see a wide age range at the gaming table--adult to teenager. Perhaps explicitly naming youngest player is an attempt to seat the weakest player in the advantage seat and, perhaps, naming the oldest players is an attempt at putting the wisest player in the disadvantage seat--remember in some games it is better to go first (T&E) and in others (Mexica) it is better to go last.

zaiga
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Who plays first?

What Mario says. Plus, it has become sort of an in-joke to come up with weird "start-player" rules.

For example, in "Nautilus" (a game about underwater exploration) the starting player is the one who can longest hold his breath. In "La Citta" the player who has most recently visited Italy may begin.

sedjtroll
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Who plays first?

Mario wrote:
Perhaps one reason that German rules sometimes note that the youngest (or oldest) player should go first has something to do with seat advantage.

This assumes that the younger players are the weaker players. I don't expect that's always the case.

Dralius
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Who plays first?

One more to mention. In nuclear war the owner of the game goes first. In some games going first is not a great advantage. If it is an issue you could of course do it by die roll or high card depending on the randomizer built into the game.

Scurra
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Who plays first?

I've just run into this very problem in a design I'm working on - the last player gets a large advantage, so I have been experimenting with ways of handicapping the last player to try and deal with it.
For instance, since it is a scoring game, giving the first player a certain number of points to begin with, and reducing until the last player starts with 0 points and thus has to make up the difference.
However, I haven't had a chance to test this yet, so it may not work!

Another device involves auctioning the right to be the Start Player (the various Key- games use this mechanic to great effect) but it seems to add an extra bout of complexity to the game that you don't always want.

Anonymous
Who plays first?

I think in any game with "rounds", it's great to have the player who is behind go first. This takes some of the runaway victor problems away. I know that in Torres, being able to place the king AND being able to go first is a great step towards making a player feel that they still have a fighting chance.

I have a game in which there are definite advatages to go first OR last, depending on what the board looks like, so the rules read that whoever is behind chooses who goes first (they may choose themselves).

Dralius
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Who plays first?

I recently played two games that had odd first player conditions. It seems the creators of the games thought that the starting order was not as critical as keeping with the theme of the game.

Queens Necklace - Player with the most expensive jewelry starts

New England - The player who can trace back their heritage the furthest starts.

hpox
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Who plays first?

Cartagena, the one who looks the most like a pirate start.

Dralius
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Who plays first?

Then i would go first :wink:

phpbbadmin
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Well...

Do you actually look like a pirate or is it just your avatar? I think inevitably, Johnny Depp will always go first... :lol:

-Darke

Scurra
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Who plays first?

Dralius wrote:

New England - The player who can trace back their heritage the furthest starts.

Of course, that's probably funnier to Americans than to Europeans...

FastLearner
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Who plays first?

Spielboy has an excellent little database of starting player methods, with over 900 games in it now:
http://www.spielboy.com/whogoesfirst.php

One of the most entertaining categories is Personality/Ability, which includes the game Coco Crazy where the starting player is the player that can do the best impression of a monkey.

Anonymous
Who plays first?

One of the unusual things about my friends who play Magic The Gathering is that every time we play we generate a new way to decide who goes first... we got bored with "cut for the card with the highest casting cost"...

Some of the recent things we have done:

Cut for coolest art on the card (requires passerby as judge)
Cut for the most tactically useless card (again requires judge)
Cut for earliest card name, alphabetically
Cut for most letters in the card's last name
Cut for most instances of the letter 'S' on the card

Etc, etc, etc, it has almost become a subgame in which the winner is the one who comes up with the coolest thing to cut for...

Anonymous
Who plays first?

I used to agonize over how to write rules for picking first. But then I realized that you don’t really need to for some two player games. I just simply tell the players to decide. It really works. I have watched people blind test some of my games with this and they just pick all by them selves.

Chip
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Who plays first?

For what it's worth - for a party game I'm just now introducing I decided "the team with the person who most recently had a birthday begins the game." It's obviously based on birthdate, but not age. I figured it's sort of like giving that person a belated birthday gift.

Chip

Anonymous
Who plays first?

If it's a matter of the first player has some sort of advantage, then why not give the second player another advantage? I admit, this may be hard to balance. But in the game I'm working on, the second player to go gets to choose what arena the game starts in. (When I playtest my little brother always wants to go second)

Anonymous
Who plays first?

Foolster41 wrote:
If it's a matter of the first player has some sort of advantage, then why not give the second player another advantage? I admit, this may be hard to balance. But in the game I'm working on, the second player to go gets to choose what arena the game starts in. (When I playtest my little brother always wants to go second)

That's a good idea, but in games like chess where the amount of possilities of game play are so complex, even though the white player
(who always goes first) has the initial advantage, this is soon lost as the game progresses. I think having a set side that always goes first can be a great idea when any advantage given by this is not too great because it allows for a simpler game setup and allows the players to associate a ccertain color/side with certain tactics depending on if that side/color goes first or second. But this is just my opinion.

zaiga
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Who plays first?

It's not even proven that White has the advantage in Chess. Perhaps Black can setup a very tight defense that eventually forces White to make a bad move. However, based on actual results it does seem that White has an advantage.

In some games it is clear that the first player has an advantage, but it is not always the case. In some games it is even a disadvantage.

-Rene Wiersma

FastLearner
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Who plays first?

In many German games either the youngest player goes first or the oldest player goes first; it's easy to determine from that whether the designer thinks it's an advantage to go first (youngest) or a disadvantage (oldest).

-- Matthew

(Post 500... I think I may be obsessed. ;))

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