Looney Labs Icehouse Mailing list Archive

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

  • FromRob Bryan <2short2@xxxxxxxxx>
  • DateMon, 30 Mar 2009 22:28:29 -0600
I've thought a lot about Banker vs Goldilocks, and the who plays first
question.  Keep in mind that I almost only play the SDG way -
first-builder-plays-first, and that I tend to change my mind about
such things with some regularity :)

The strength of Banker vs. Goldilocks depends on the strength of the
players.  I don't mean just that stronger player can beat a weaker
player with either, though that is certainly true.  Goldilocks slants
somewhat toward aggressive tactical strikes, e.g. a move out from the
homeworld that pulls a crucial 2 point out of the stash while
simultaneously opening up your growth in a color your opponent isn't
ready to grab.  Banker slants toward more conservative growth
strategies.  Aggressive tactical strikes are fun, and vs. weaker
players they're devastating.  But a stronger opponent won't give you
the opening, and will last into the longer run where the defensive
growth pays off.

So my opinion is that between two strong players, Banker is better.
Not overwhelmingly, but definitely an advantage.  Note that the stats
on SDG are certainly skewed; when I go first I choose Banker vs
stronger players, and Goldilocks vs. weaker ones.

Under first-builder-plays-first, both advantages go to the same
player, so Andy's fix is to split them up with
second-builder-plays-first.  I was dubious about this at first, but
now I think I'm coming around.  Particularly when you note that in a
friendly game you can agree to start with whatever stars you like:
we're interested only in optimizing the balance between two strong
players in serious game.  When death is on the line, to stick with the
Princess Bride reference.  The two objections I previously entertained

1) It limits the first builders options.  As Jeep noted, there's a
fools-mate for the second builder versus the otherwise popular
yellow-blue star. (I think a green star blocks it, as well as a red).
But in any case, the first builder only has one or two viable options.
 That seems lame to me, but upon further reflection I realize that, if
death is on the line, I'm going for the same option every time anyway.
(Red 1, Blue 2, Green ship)  So really it just means some options I
didn't think were very good are instead really obviously terrible.

2) It gives the second-builder more advantage than the first-builder
had previously.  By considering what the other guy built you can
sometimes get an advantage by building something in response to it,
and getting to go first makes this even better.  But this is really
the first objection in disguise.  You get an advantage building in
response to something only if it's not one of the one or two viable
options; the fact the opponent might do this is what makes the other
options non-viable.

So, I think second-builder-plays-first is more balanced, and a good
answer for tournaments, blood feuds, etc.  But I'm not sure I'd want
to play that way every time because it makes things more predictable.

As far as a pie rule, I generally like pie, but I want to build my own
homeworld.  Particularly if death is on the line, I don't want to pick
between (for example) the two Gemini yellow-red worlds my opponent set
up... With both players doing building (in whatever order), both
contribute to defining the ground of battle, and this strikes me as an
essential element.

Hmm... Someday I want to write down a whole bunch of thinking about
homeworlds strategy and tactics, but whenever I try, I spend all the
time I have without getting beyond Homeworld selection :)

-Rob "TwoShort" Bryan

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