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I Go First

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01 Mar 2022 00:00 #331210 by oliverkinne
I Go First was created by oliverkinne
Let's begin with games where you have to select someone...

After setting up a board game and explaining the rules, if necessary, the next step usually is to decide who starts. Different games decide this differently, so in this article, I want to discuss the various ways in which board games choose the first player and I will also touch on games where the first player changes from round to round.

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02 Mar 2022 15:42 #331211 by Sagrilarus
Replied by Sagrilarus on topic I Go First
I've always presumed that cutesy rules for who goes first are designed to be ignored, just a little throw-away flourish of the person who wrote the rule book. But given the somewhat-aspergers nature of a lot of boardgamers these flourishes still manage to get in the way. That said, a game I play whose rule simply states "select a starting player" gets people on the Internet complaining that it's not specific enough.

You can't win.

30 years ago you just came up with your own interpretation for when rules were vague or unavailable. Now people look for guidance on the most arbitrary little details in any rule book. Kids these days.
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02 Mar 2022 16:09 #331212 by cdennett
Replied by cdennett on topic I Go First
My group has for the longest time taken a piece from each player (pawn, marker, whatever is in their player color) given it to one person that tosses them all at an arbitrary spot on the table/board. Whoever lands closest goes first. Works for basically any game that has individual player pieces. If those don't exist, there's an app for that... But we'll sometimes follow the cutesy rules if we're in the mood.
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02 Mar 2022 17:35 #331214 by Jackwraith
Replied by Jackwraith on topic I Go First
We just Chwazi it. Phone's always nearby. Seems random enough. Done.
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03 Mar 2022 04:45 #331231 by Erik Twice
Replied by Erik Twice on topic I Go First
Characterizing funny starting rules as "elitist" is so uncompromising that I can't imagine anyone remaining free of the sin of gatekeeping if that's the bar to clear. It's not that I don't see the argument, is that it's pretty damn brutal place to draw the line.

I remember when Elizabeth Hargrave brought up the same point about that travel game being exclusionary. And all I could think about how Wingspan costs has much as two other games put together but is considered "accessible". I guess that, in this debate, some sins are much worse than others.
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03 Mar 2022 10:17 - 03 Mar 2022 10:18 #331245 by Sagrilarus
Replied by Sagrilarus on topic I Go First
"Elitist" -- what a bunch of hooey. Does nobody have any self-agency anymore? It's your copy of the game, do what you want with it. Change any rule that doesn't appeal to you or your group.

And thirdly, the code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules. -- Barbossa

I think the entire hobby is due for a refill of its sense-of-humor.

2.5 SHL Approved Security Containers
The game requires the use of two Solar Hanseatic League
Approved Security Containers. Normally these containers
retail for 15 galactic credits apiece, but if you send in your
proof-of-purchase, you can purchase two containers in a
single order at the low, low price of 30 galactic credits (plus
postage and handling from Alpha Centauri). One container is
used to hold Nastian Units (called the Nastian Cup) and the
other holds Surface Installation markers (the Surface
Installation Cup). Using an unauthorized set of containers—
such as a coffee mug or other opaque container—is strictly
prohibited, violates the End-User License Agreement, and
will result in mandatory forfeiture of your kidney or bladder.


As best I can tell, there's a fair portion of the hobby boardgaming community that would hit this passage in the Escape From Hades rulebook and think to themselves, "sure, I could use coffee cups, but technically I'd be cheating. Can I Iog a play of the game at that point? And if I can't log it, is it worth the time to play?"
Last edit: 03 Mar 2022 10:18 by Sagrilarus.

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03 Mar 2022 10:34 #331248 by Not Sure
Replied by Not Sure on topic I Go First
"Place the game board in the center of the table"
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03 Mar 2022 11:03 #331254 by Jackwraith
Replied by Jackwraith on topic I Go First

Not Sure wrote: "Place the game board in the center of the table"


I like the trend in rulebooks that started probably 10-15 years ago that directs you to place X components "within reach of everyone at the table". I always wondered how many people end up fretting about that directive, depending on the number of people actually at the table, the amount of components, the size and shape of the table, etc.

"I can't reach those. Can you grab me a-"
"THE RULEBOOK SAYS THESE WERE SUPPOSED TO BE WITHIN EVERYONE'S REACH-!"

I'm fully on board with the "change whatever rules makes you happy" approach, if that's how you want to play it. It rankles a bit, though, to see the number of people who jump on BGG after one play and say: "This rule is totally unbalanced and we're house ruling it!" This was a constant refrain in the first couple weeks of Tiny Epic Dungeons making it to people, where many were having trouble with the difficulty of the game... but mostly because they weren't reading the whole rulebook and were playing it wrong. This kind of dovetails with those who find one thing "wrong" with the game (i.e. something they don't enjoy) and immediately condemn the publisher/designer for having produced something that doesn't meet the writer's tastes. Sometimes you're just not going to like a game and it's no one's fault.
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03 Mar 2022 11:09 #331256 by Msample
Replied by Msample on topic I Go First
I can't tell if the obvious rules statements like "place the board on the table" are being serious, or its designers mocking the insipid questions you see on BGG.
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03 Mar 2022 15:55 #331266 by RobertB
Replied by RobertB on topic I Go First
Usually the first time someone at the table has played it, we'll determine first player as per the rulebook because sometimes they're interesting. "Last person to have a colonoscopy." After that, if it's the same group and we remember who it was, the winner of the last game gets to/has to go first. If we don't remember, we'll roll a die or pull a token. It the token belongs to the player that pulled it, they always get accused of cheating.

As for house rules, I try to stay away from them because I've seen what Jackwraith is talking about. I have a friend who, after one play, often thinks that something should be houseruled. Especially if he lost. Annoying as hell.
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03 Mar 2022 18:00 #331273 by boothwah
Replied by boothwah on topic I Go First
In our house, until it's been canonized as a "Game We Play" vs "One of Dad's games" the first player is me, because my wife refuses to read/have rules explained in their entirety. I have 3 minutes, max, and then she says, "why don't you just go first and we'll figure it out."

I get accused of cheating in every first game of everything we play because of that as well.
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03 Mar 2022 18:44 #331274 by Sagrilarus
Replied by Sagrilarus on topic I Go First
That’s your role as husband. I think it’s in the vows.
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03 Mar 2022 19:32 #331275 by Jexik
Replied by Jexik on topic I Go First
Yeah, despite first player advantage in a lot of games, “i’m new so I’ll go last to see some turns” is a decent house rule.

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03 Mar 2022 23:14 #331278 by Jackwraith
Replied by Jackwraith on topic I Go First

boothwah wrote: "why don't you just go first and we'll figure it out."


Have a guy like that in one of my regular groups. I'm in the middle of a lengthy explanation and he's like: "Let's just get started and we'll figure it out." Three turns later, I'm all: "No, you can't do that." The reproachful response: "Well, if I'd known that..."

That stopped when I started teaching them Cole Wehrle's games. "Let's just-" "No. N. O. That just won't work because two turns from now you won't have the first clue about what you're doing. Just sit still for five fucking minutes and I'll explain, even if you don't get it perfectly on the first try."
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04 Mar 2022 09:39 #331291 by Shellhead
Replied by Shellhead on topic I Go First
If I am teaching a complex game to impatient players, I switch from explanation to "let's play a couple of practice turns." Since we're not playing the real game yet, I have them slowly work through a couple of turns while I explain what is happening and what their options are at each stage. If there are cards, I have everybody put their cards on the table face up during the practice turns. People tend to learn faster by doing than just listening.
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