Looney Labs Icehouse Mailing list Archive

[Icehouse] Binary Homeworlds: Start player house rule and strength of banker opening

  • FromJoseph Peterson <jeepeterson@xxxxxxxxx>
  • DateMon, 30 Mar 2009 00:38:23 -0700 (PDT)
This weekend at Gamestorm (www.gamestorm.org), I played Binary
Homeworlds against Andy as part of Andy vs. Everyone.  In it, he
proposed using a house rule that the person whobuilds the Homeworld
second, plays first.  I had no objection to that rule at the time, but
now that I've thought about it, it seems to be giving a double
advantage to the second player. (Although we can debate the strength
of Banker later.)

I started with this configuration: B3 Y1 and a G3 ship

This is a losing start with Andy's proposed rule.  I cannot win if he
builds his Homeworld like this: Y2 G2 and a R3 ship

He immediately builds R1.  Then what do I do?  I have to switch to R3
or lose next turn.  If any other, he plays- move R3 from Andy to
JEEP. Now I have a G3 G1 or B3 or Y3 (since it's illegal for me to
move away, those are the only three other legal moves).  Next turn he
will take over my large ship and I lose.  If I switch to R3, it's
still a win.  I'm out of Green and can never re-enter, so I must pass
or change away from Red and putting myself back in the position listed

So I think that the house rule proposed limits the first players
options significantly.  It requires that (s)he play red in the
homeworld.  Anything else loses first turn.  So I'd be limited to RG
with Blue or Yellow.  I'm not saying that is bad.  I actually like
starting with red in my homeworld.  It just limits the options
significantly.  Does that hurt the game in any significant way? If you
both know the rule, I don't know that it's too bad, but I'm curious
about what others think about it.

Fortunately, he didn't take advantage of me picking poorly given the
added rule.  Am I missing something or is that kind of the point of
the rule?  I think that the second player has a slight advantage in
being able to react to the first players homeworld.  With the standard
rule, I think that the first move at least, and possibly more than
makes up for that advantage.  With this alteration, you get the double
whammy of reaction plus first move.  Did I miss something?  (Other
than Banker possibly.)

Before we move on, some terminology that I learned today will be

Banker: A homeworld consisting of a small and medium.  Thus, it is
connected directly to larges.  You can move your pieces into large
worlds and therefore save up large pieces to bring back when ready.  A
single green piece in a large can be sacrificed, returning the large
to the stash to be build by the build action.

Goldilocks: A homeworld consisting of a small and a large.  Thus, it
is connected directly to mediums (not too small, not too big, just

Fortress: A homeworld consisting of a medium and a large.  Thus, it is
connected directly to smalls.  Smalls run out easily, and this can
limit the ways into your fortress homeworld.

Okay, now onto Banker.  I suspect that the reason for the house rule
is that Andy perceives banker to be overpowered. (He didn't say that
exactly, so I'm speculating based on what he did say.  He did say
explicitly that he feels it's the strongest opening.) Is Banker really
so strong?  I find that Thibault cancels out Capo Ferro, don't
you?.... err, sorry Princess Bride digression... I think that
Goldilocks counters Banker.  Goldilocks gets to control the timing
that you get to the larges.  Fortress can stop some of the banker
strategies, but can't control when they get to large themselves as
easily as Goldilocks can control it.  Maybe I haven't played enough to
really understand the power, but timing seems to be more important
than banking in the games I've played.  Maybe I should go through the
SDG archives to do some analysis.  I only have a 47% win ratio in the
game on SDG over 57 games, but the players I've played against have
tended to be pretty good, so I'm 89th percentile and before I had to
drop out fo the ladder, I was number 2 after TwoShort (well, 3 after
the game I was in timed out).  That plus my across the board games
feel like I have enough experience to speak, even though my "study" of
the game is pretty lacking.  

I guess my question is: Is Banker really that strong?