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The Battle for Hill 218» Forums » General

Subject: Significant advantage to the player playing second? rss

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Larry Fryer
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In recent games of Battle for Hill 218, which I love, I've noticed that the player who goes first (playing just one card) usually loses. A friend and I usually play multiple games and switch first player role after each game. We have a very difficult time winning as the first player. Thoughts, and has anyone else noticed this trend? I've probably played 75 games, so I'm not real experienced, so maybe it is just our inexperience?
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Chad Ellis
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I think there is an advantage to playing second, probably similar in magnitude to the advantage of having the white pieces (i.e. going first) in Chess. I've played over a thousand games at this point so I'm far enough down the learning curve that I tend to win against almost anyone I play, but if I'm playing Darwin (the designer) or someone else who has played hundreds of games it helps to be going second.
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Larry Fryer
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Thanks Chad. I'll keep playing this wonderful game and hopefully improve. As a Chess player I know I can win as "black", so I can hopefully get to the point of winning equally in 218, whether 1st or 2nd player. I've also been thinking about a triple deck, triple base variant, that might present a "campaign" style game, whereby capturing an enemy base is worth 3-5 victory points and each surviving piece, another VP...
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Mike Fox
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I think I've only beaten the computer version when going second . Keep in mind that I've never played anything but the "hard" version!
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Justin
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Couldn't P1 draw two cards to start, rather than one? Seems a simple adjustment...
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Chad Ellis
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That might work, but I don't think it's really necessary. Most games have a small advantage depending on who gets the first turn. As a designer I think you have to look at how big that advantage is; if it's small enough that it's dominated by skill (or other luck factors) then it may be better to let it stand rather than put in an artificial fix.

The first-turn disadvantage in Hill is small enough that I don't see it as a problem, especially since (given the speed of individual games) almost every session I have involves multiple games.

My preference is to keep things simple. Draw X, play X, always end your turn with five cards (including unused air strikes).

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I'm not sure if the first-turn disadvantage as as small as the white advantage in chess... It seems noticeably bigger, especially against the AI. In chess, it is difficult to percieve this at lower levels, and only at higher levels does the white move advantage become significant. In this case, it seems that first turn disadvantage is large, and that large skill is required to overcome it. Perhaps the inclusion of an extra air strike for p1 would balance things out...
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Justin
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Chad_Ellis wrote:
My preference is to keep things simple. Draw X, play X, always end your turn with five cards (including unused air strikes).

Not to pick nits, but isn't it also simpler to have both players draw the same number of cards on every turn?

On the other hand, I could see Special Forces draws putting P2 a bit too much under the gun to start.
 
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Russ Williams
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astroglide wrote:
Chad_Ellis wrote:
My preference is to keep things simple. Draw X, play X, always end your turn with five cards (including unused air strikes).

Not to pick nits, but isn't it also simpler to have both players draw the same number of cards on every turn?

On the other hand, I could see Special Forces draws putting P2 a bit too much under the gun to start.

There are a fair number of games that do this (2 actions per turn, except the first player's first turn is only 1 action to compensate for the advantage of going first). It seems reasonable that game balance should trump the simplicity of making literally every turn work identically.
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Justin
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russ wrote:
There are a fair number of games that do this (2 actions per turn, except the first player's first turn is only 1 action to compensate for the advantage of going first). It seems reasonable that game balance should trump the simplicity of making literally every turn work identically.

P2 has an apparent advantage, and game balance is already in question. The idea is to mitigate it, and it only happens to be simpler.
 
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Russ Williams
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astroglide wrote:
russ wrote:
There are a fair number of games that do this (2 actions per turn, except the first player's first turn is only 1 action to compensate for the advantage of going first). It seems reasonable that game balance should trump the simplicity of making literally every turn work identically.

P2 has an apparent advantage, and game balance is already in question. The idea is to mitigate it, and it only happens to be simpler.

I assumed that playtesting found that giving 2 actions in the first turn (as in all following turns) gave a larger advantage to P1 than the advantage P2 has with the first turn exception rule, and thus it makes the game more balanced to make the first turn exception. (It seems obvious to me that if there was no first turn exception, that would surely be nice for the first player, but I don't pretend to be an expert in the game!)

If in fact P2 has an advantage even with P1 starting with 2 actions, then of course I agree that a first turn exception seems strange.
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Justin
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Resurrecting thread now that the iOS version is out.
Chad_Ellis wrote:
I think there is an advantage to playing second, probably
similar in magnitude to the advantage of having the white pieces (i.e. going first) in Chess.

I think it's generally accepted that the "hard" Java/iOS AI is competitive. Would you ask developer have the AI play itself a million times in order to estimate - at least for its skill level - the degree of turn order advantage present in the game?
astroglide wrote:
Couldn't P1 draw two cards to start, rather than one? Seems a simple adjustment...

And as a bonus, test simple mitigation variants if a material advantage is found?
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