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Samurai: experimental 2-player variant
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MaBi
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Joined: Jan 01, 2006
Posts: 919
Location: Italy

PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2008 9:33 pm    Post subject: Samurai: experimental 2-player variant Reply with quote

As all experienced players know, in Samurai 2p games the starting player has a great advantage. The game is balanced enough for casual play, but online is not uncommon to play dozens or hundreds of games, reaching the point where a little edge becomes a great superiority and the game really suffers for this balancing issue. Well, at least this is what happened to me, I had even stopped playing 2p Samurai for this reason.

Now I would like to try fixing the problem with a variant which introduces some handicap for the first player. To start, I have implemented a variant suggested by astroglide (who certainly has a lot of experience in 2p Samurai): remove the SHIP-2 token for the starting player.

This is now available as an optional variant for 2p games. Comments and feedback are welcome.

MaBi
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Freidenker



Joined: Jan 12, 2008
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2008 9:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My variant (posted on BGG) was;

- The first player can only play one token on the first turn.
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MaBi
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Joined: Jan 01, 2006
Posts: 919
Location: Italy

PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2008 9:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, I know. Actually it was that thread you started on BGG that re-raised my interest in Samurai and eventually led to the implementation of this variant, after a discussion with astroglide. His opinion is that your variant is not enough. I was a bit skeptic at the beginning, because removing the 2-Ship seemed too strong to me, but we have played a few games and it seems to work well.
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Fenris



Joined: Sep 25, 2007
Posts: 13

PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I actually was thinking of another variant: both players start with all pieces. or the first person to move gets X # of pieces and the second player gets Y number of pieces to start.
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wanderer



Joined: Nov 06, 2006
Posts: 3
Location: NYC

PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2008 11:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How are random starting hands affected by this experimental variant? My friend and I have found that that is usually enough to keep two-player games interesting.
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Freidenker



Joined: Jan 12, 2008
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2008 11:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

MaBi wrote:
Yes, I know. Actually it was that thread you started on BGG that re-raised my interest in Samurai and eventually led to the implementation of this variant, after a discussion with astroglide. His opinion is that your variant is not enough. I was a bit skeptic at the beginning, because removing the 2-Ship seemed too strong to me, but we have played a few games and it seems to work well.


It's possible, but I'm skeptical (although I'm certainly not as strong as astroglide). The problem with removing the 2-ship, IMO, is that it's going to give a fairly strong advantage to the 2nd player unless the 1st player really knows how to play in the opening.
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Schuyler



Joined: Aug 21, 2006
Posts: 54
Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Thu Apr 17, 2008 7:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wanderer wrote:
How are random starting hands affected by this experimental variant? My friend and I have found that that is usually enough to keep two-player games interesting.


I agree with wanderer. I think that the variant may work well with non-random starting hands. But with random starting hands, my experience has been that games are much more balanced, and are not in need of a handicapping feature.
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astroglide



Joined: Apr 20, 2006
Posts: 78

PostPosted: Thu Apr 17, 2008 8:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Freidenker wrote:
My variant (posted on BGG) was;

- The first player can only play one token on the first turn.


i almost always play one (1) token as P1 on the first turn, and still find that i have a commanding advantage.
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astroglide



Joined: Apr 20, 2006
Posts: 78

PostPosted: Thu Apr 17, 2008 8:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Schuyler wrote:
wanderer wrote:
How are random starting hands affected by this experimental variant? My friend and I have found that that is usually enough to keep two-player games interesting.


I agree with wanderer. I think that the variant may work well with non-random starting hands. But with random starting hands, my experience has been that games are much more balanced, and are not in need of a handicapping feature.


assuming that P1 has an edge with equally good hand selection i can see how random hands increase variance, but how would it eliminate advantage in the long term?

if i pick a grade A hand and you pick a grade A hand, P1 has an advantage.
if i pick a grade B hand and you pick a grade B hand, P1 has an advantage.

if the hands are random, both of us will eventually end up having the same average grade of hand...
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RickT



Joined: Apr 15, 2007
Posts: 9

PostPosted: Fri Apr 18, 2008 1:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Schuyler made a good point to me in the 2-player game I set up, using Random Hands and the new variant. Randomized hands break up the advantage of going first enough that giving up the 2-ship is a big handicap to whoever goes first. Maybe the variant could be disabled for games using random hands?
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MaBi
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Joined: Jan 01, 2006
Posts: 919
Location: Italy

PostPosted: Fri Apr 18, 2008 9:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

RickT wrote:
Schuyler made a good point to me in the 2-player game I set up, using Random Hands and the new variant. Randomized hands break up the advantage of going first enough that giving up the 2-ship is a big handicap to whoever goes first. Maybe the variant could be disabled for games using random hands?

I don't play random hands so I don't have experience on this but yes, personally I wouldn't combine the variant with random hands. Anyway, currently all the variant combinations are optional, so it's up to the players to decide how they want to play.
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astroglide



Joined: Apr 20, 2006
Posts: 78

PostPosted: Fri Apr 18, 2008 11:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

new data...

all samurai: 4678 games played, 41% P2 win rate
random hands samurai: 1931 games played, 42% P2 win rate

this seems to prove that the P1 advantage is not really reduced by using random hands.
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tibelix



Joined: Jan 06, 2007
Posts: 14
Location: Budapest

PostPosted: Fri Apr 18, 2008 2:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Guys!

I was gonna save the idea of choosing random hands, since I always do that (even when I seem to play with selected tokens), but the statistics has convinced me too.
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tibelix



Joined: Jan 06, 2007
Posts: 14
Location: Budapest

PostPosted: Fri Apr 18, 2008 2:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've just checked out my games and found that:

- won by me as 1st player: 38%
- won by me as 2nd player: 32%
- won by opponent: 30%

If I look at the games I have won:

- victories as 1st player: 54,3%
- victories as 2nd player: 45,7%
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tibelix



Joined: Jan 06, 2007
Posts: 14
Location: Budapest

PostPosted: Fri Apr 18, 2008 2:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Always random hand.
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