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Old December 22nd, 2006, 01:35 PM
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Default Re: Moving 1st vs. 2nd


Thank you for your detailed reply sharing your design philosophy. If I were you I would find it very irritating to read comments suggesting that play balance can be improved after spending such a tremendous effort (and the effort shows) to balance the game. So I should first thank you for your patience. For the avoidance of doubt I would like to say that LOL is one of the best, if not the best, balanced strategy games that I have played. However, the very elegance of LOL ("chess like" is the description often used) means that even minute imperfections - ones that would never be detected in another game - might become noticeable in LOL.

I find that (now that I have learnt to play Acatta properly) I am winning almost all of the games against myself when I play first. I know you have quite rightly pointed out that, even if I were right, it would not be a problem in MP. So let me try to present the issue from a different angle. If the 1st player skips his 1st move, he essentially becomes the 2nd player with half a city-turn's gold more than the second player in hand. Yet I doubt any 1st player would skip his first turn to improve his winning chances. So it seems that half a city-turn's gold is insufficient to fully compensate for moving first. The only wild card is your point that the extra gold makes little difference until a certain point is reached. So the two situations are not identical. To evaluate that I went back to the drawing board and look at each of the races, with the following results. I would greatly appreciate your thoughts on this:

The earliest turn the second player can utilise the extra gold in maps without gold mines:

Human: after T7
Under normal conditions Prophets are recruited on T2/4/6, and the second city influenced on T5. On T7 a Paladin can be recruited. The 500G extra for the 2nd player is not sufficient for him to successfully deviate from this strategy. So essentially it would not come into play until later. By then the advantage of the 1st player should already be decisive. Playing 2nd as Humans need to use monks for expansion to utilise the 500G sooner ie. Monks on T1/2/3/4 and Prophet on T5. However, this might actually be inferior to the standard approach.

Elf: T5
Runners are best for expansion. So for the first player Runners on T1-4 and 2nd city on T6. The second player can utilise the extra gold to recruit an archer on T5, an option not available to the 1st player.

Gnome: as mentioned before the 2nd player can utilise the extra gold on turn 3 for a Gardener. Since Gardners earn 400G on the turn they arrive. This is almost like getting 800G for playing second. Even so I still have a slight preference to play first as Gnomes, as he gets his 2nd gnome on T4, only hallf a turn later.

Orc: T4
Raiders are best for expansion and 2nd city on T6. 250G raiding income on T3 and 250G or 500G on T4 depending on the map. The extra gold would allow the 2nd player to recruit a mystic on T4, half a turn ahead of the 1st player.

Dwarves: T3

Has the option to recruit Sniper instead of Omithopter on T3, several turns ahead of 1st player. This is not always desirable (depends on the map) but still pretty good to have as an option.

Undead: T5

Zombies are not useful during expansion, so the earliest the 2nd player can utilise the extra gold is to use it for recruiting a vampire on T5, only half a turn earlier than the 1st player.

Acatta: T5
The third Apprentice can be recruited on T5 for the 2nd player and T6 for the 1st.

Afflicted: after expansion phase (T9 or later)
Since Hags cost 2000G and are best for expansion, the 500G received by the 2nd play would just be sitting there until after the expansion phase. Like the Humans, the 2nd player can utilise the extra gold earlier if he uses Lepers to expand. However, I am not sure if it is desirable.

If you agree with me (I am always hopeful 8-)) one possible solution if it is feasible (I am no programmer) is to allow players to bid extra gold for the second player if both wants to play first and only randomise if the bids are tied.
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Old December 22nd, 2006, 02:46 PM
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Default Re: Moving 1st vs. 2nd

On second thought, ensuring all maps have at least a gold mine within one turn from the capital could be an easier way to allow the second player to use his extra gold earlier and compenses for moving second.
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Old January 14th, 2007, 09:51 AM
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Default Re: Moving 1st vs. 2nd

Wow, I had not checked the forum for a few weeks - there seems to be a bit more activity...

The additional gold for going second isn't much, but sometimes it does help. Against some nations, as, say, Humans, I'll buy Monks before I buy Prophets, and this lets me buy an additional Monk early.

The one situation where going second is really bad is on the "Z" map (is that Zeke's Pass? with mountains shaping the map as a big "S" instead of "Z") - many nations can't even prevent the opponent from seizing the two central cities when they have to go second. Other than that, it's more or less balanced.
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