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Author Topic: Table Checkbox - Identical starting hands  (Read 2119 times)

Offline Hertz Doughnut

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Table Checkbox - Identical starting hands
« on: 25 January 2017, 11:00:04 pm »
It would be great to have a checkbox when hosting a table for "Identical starting hands": all players begin the game with the same starting hand.

When my brother and I play, we always play that way so someone doesn't get that lucky 5/2 and buys a Cultist.  Currently we do it manually, passing turn after turn until we both have, say, a 4/3 copper split.  In one game today, Baths was a landmark, and the VPs ended up being dished out while we were getting compatible starting hands.

Shouldn't be too hard.  Maybe tournaments and league would also like this option...?

Keep up the great work!

Kind regards,
HD

Offline josh bornstein

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Re: Table Checkbox - Identical starting hands
« Reply #1 on: 25 January 2017, 11:31:34 pm »
Like Duplicate Bridge.  Interesting idea . . . hadn't thought of it, but it would certainly reduce the luck factor by a significant margin.

Offline allanfieldhouse

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Re: Table Checkbox - Identical starting hands
« Reply #2 on: 26 January 2017, 04:03:46 pm »
Your "passing turns" system is weird. You shouldn't get Bath points before the real game even begins.

When I've played this way IRL, we just both play with whatever starting hand the first player got.

Offline Hertz Doughnut

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Re: Table Checkbox - Identical starting hands
« Reply #3 on: 26 January 2017, 04:53:36 pm »
Your "passing turns" system is weird. You shouldn't get Bath points before the real game even begins.

When I've played this way IRL, we just both play with whatever starting hand the first player got.

Exactly.  Same for us IRL.

Since we don't have a baked-in option for identical starting hands online, the only options we have to get a game like that are (a) quit and start over repeatedly or (b) pass turns repeatedly.  Passing turns is the easier of the two.  (And doesn't affect player ratings... we were playing this way on Making Fun.)  The only time passing turns did something weird was with Baths, and once we noticed that, I was inspired to write this feature request. :)

Offline Donald X.

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Re: Table Checkbox - Identical starting hands
« Reply #4 on: 27 January 2017, 05:53:10 am »
I am against this.

I believe, no really, that overall people would have less fun if this were implemented. You personally might have more fun, but well, I have to look at the big picture.

I don't mind whatever variants you play at home. I don't mind if you skip turns with your friend in order to get the same start. It would be a bad option though.

Offline werothegreat

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Re: Table Checkbox - Identical starting hands
« Reply #5 on: 27 January 2017, 03:11:02 pm »
If getting identical starting hands is that important to you, you can just resign and start a new game.

Offline Icehawk78

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Re: Table Checkbox - Identical starting hands
« Reply #6 on: 27 January 2017, 05:45:04 pm »
I believe, no really, that overall people would have less fun if this were implemented. You personally might have more fun, but well, I have to look at the big picture.

I'm inclined to believe you if for no other reason than because you obviously have drastically more data on this than me, but I'm curious about what would make it less fun for people in general?

I understand for IRL games that this would be a larger impediment to starting the game (ie: How do you figure out what your starting hand is? How do you ensure they match? etc) but for a digital implementation where that would all be transparent to the user, I'm just curious as to why/how that would reduce fun overall.

Offline Cave-O-Sapien

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Re: Table Checkbox - Identical starting hands
« Reply #7 on: 27 January 2017, 06:33:12 pm »
I just don't buy the argument that identical starting hands makes the game more interesting. If my life depended on one single game of Dominion, then I would argue for it -- but then again, I would probably try anything to gain an advantage in that situation, assuming I wasn't paralyzed trying to figure out exactly how I got into a situation where my life depended on a game of Dominion.

In the cases where being on the wrong side of a 5/2 split is really disadvantageous, the game will probably be over quickly, and if it's not, then you can resign and play another one! Games are quick. And playing three games doesn't cost you appreciably more (in time or $) than playing one game. 13/18 times (on average) you'll end up with the same starting hand as your opponent. In the other games you'll have some interesting decisions to make. Sometimes you'll have an advantage, and that brings a certain amount of pressure to win; sometimes you'll be at a disadvantage and that brings an interesting challenge. Sometimes you'll complain about your shitty luck to your opponent and then quit a few turns later and let me tell you, that's not a good look.

I find it fascinating that the same user posted two feature requests in short succession: one arguing for blind buys to curtail mirror matches and another to force identical starting hands. Those two ideas seem incongruous!

Online AdamH

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Re: Table Checkbox - Identical starting hands
« Reply #8 on: 27 January 2017, 06:42:03 pm »
I believe, no really, that overall people would have less fun if this were implemented. You personally might have more fun, but well, I have to look at the big picture.

I'm inclined to believe you if for no other reason than because you obviously have drastically more data on this than me, but I'm curious about what would make it less fun for people in general?

I understand for IRL games that this would be a larger impediment to starting the game (ie: How do you figure out what your starting hand is? How do you ensure they match? etc) but for a digital implementation where that would all be transparent to the user, I'm just curious as to why/how that would reduce fun overall.

The Johnny in me likes coming back from a disadvantage at the start of the game and still winning. I feel this burden lifted off my shoulders when my opponent gets a lucky 5/2 where if I lose, I can just blame the opening and whine about it, but if I win I was David and I conquered Goliath.

Offline Donald X.

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Re: Table Checkbox - Identical starting hands
« Reply #9 on: 27 January 2017, 11:42:08 pm »
I'm inclined to believe you if for no other reason than because you obviously have drastically more data on this than me, but I'm curious about what would make it less fun for people in general?

I understand for IRL games that this would be a larger impediment to starting the game (ie: How do you figure out what your starting hand is? How do you ensure they match? etc) but for a digital implementation where that would all be transparent to the user, I'm just curious as to why/how that would reduce fun overall.
IRL you just have one player shuffle and go by their opening, unless you have cards that mess with the opening (e.g. Doctor) in which case it's trickier.

I think "identical starting hands" is something some people would play with because they felt like it was an advantage they shouldn't give up (why hurt your rating compared to people who never have to beat turn one Mountebank), or because their opponent wanted it. People who had no special interest in it would nevertheless end up playing with it.

And well the game could have just had identical starting hands. It intentionally does not, to increase variety in the opening turns. In fact the 7 Coppers was chosen with starting hands in mind. I think that the variety of openings contributes a lot, makes the game more fun.

Obv. the randomness does not stop on turn one. People sometimes want identical starting hands; no-one ever asks for identical turn 2 shuffles. That matters so much though; shuffle your starting buys to the bottom and it's an uphill battle. For me, it's not like the starting shuffle is magical, the perfect amount to be non-random before your randomness starts. It's a game of shuffled cards.

So it's like I haven't answered the question yet, just addressed how people who weren't interested in the option would end up using it. Why is the variety fun? Uh. I think it's just great across the board. It's more interesting when our strategies are different. It's fun to deal with the situation rather than just always doing the next step of the plan, and that applies even turn one, since that's where the randomness starts. There are special cases too, like the fighting-the-5/2 situation Adam describes. You never get the joy of beating turn one Mountebank unless some games your opponent gets the 5/2 and you don't.

People always focus on it being about 5/2, though obv. some games 3/4 is way better, and the 5/2 sometimes even turns into 4/0. There are certainly cards that give a big advantage to a 5/2 though. In later sets cards have sometimes been tested to try to make sure the 5/2 wasn't too good, when it looked like it might be. Not all cards got that testing though. I guess here I am just saying, yes there are a few cards like Mountebank where you are in trouble when your opponent gets to open them; there aren't a ton of those cards though, and there are cards that go the other way too, e.g. Remake.

Offline Funhaver

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Re: Table Checkbox - Identical starting hands
« Reply #10 on: 28 January 2017, 01:51:44 am »
I played in a tournament hosted on isotropic in 2012. The four of us in the match were supposed to have identical starting hands per the tournament rules, but whoever set up this particular game forgot to check that box. I got a 5/2 split, everyone else had 4/3, and it was put to a vote whether we would remake the game or play it as it was.

There wasn't a single $5-buy on the board.

I was outvoted 3–1 and did not win that game. It may well be that 75% of the players had more fun, but at what cost?

There's a difference between variety and inequality. On some boards, sure, there's a healthy tradeoff between 5/2 and 4/3. You get an early Laboratory, but you miss out on two Silvers. That's variety. On other boards, such as in my game above, the 5/2 split was a distinct disadvantage. Or put Mint and Fool's Gold in there, and all of a sudden 5/2 dominates. That's inequality.

I get that shuffle luck is inevitable. But can't we at least start each game on equal footing?

Offline Donald X.

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Re: Table Checkbox - Identical starting hands
« Reply #11 on: 28 January 2017, 05:54:33 am »
I get that shuffle luck is inevitable. But can't we at least start each game on equal footing?
If that's how you want to think of it, then no. You can't. Except of course IRL, where you are free to play whatever variants you want, or by convincing your opponent to skip turns until you have the same draw.

It is 2017. The game was published in 2008. This is not the first time someone has cried "at what cost" because they felt they lost a game to their opening split. I was unmoved back in 2008. At this point I have so many happy games of Dominion backing me up. Equal starting hands is strictly bad, I remain completely against it despite your tragic loss, and man Shuffle iT have other things to work on.

Offline allanfieldhouse

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Re: Table Checkbox - Identical starting hands
« Reply #12 on: 28 January 2017, 04:32:02 pm »
Equal starting hands is strictly bad

I wouldn't go that far. It might not be quite as good, but it's still going to be a fun game of Dominion.

When there are two options of relatively similar fun level, we can argue all day about which is better. Or we can just play the game the way it was designed and not worry about it. Maybe someday there will be optional variants online, but that's super low priority.

Offline Hertz Doughnut

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Re: Table Checkbox - Identical starting hands
« Reply #13 on: 30 January 2017, 11:01:34 pm »
Thanks everybody for the feedback.

This started as a simple feature request.  By "simple" I'm talking about adding a checkbox and 3-5 lines of code.  I'd be surprised if it takes SI more than 10 minutes.  I did not expect SI to attend to it immediately and place it above their current priorities.  It's something that would be nice for me and other like-minded Dominion fans.  I posted it here so they could add it to their list.  Isotropic had it.


I.  It's unanimously agreed that in certain circumstances Different Starting Hands gives one player a significant advantage over the other

The first turns are often the most important ones and largely set the pace of the game and the effect of opening moves is exponential on what happens later

Often the player with $5 is better off, but as DonaldX and Funhaver pointed out, having $5 can also put you at a disadvantage.  According to the Isotropic stats, some opening combinations in pre-Dark-Ages-Dominion had the effect of making you perform 8 levels higher than normal.


II.  It's a matter of opinion whether or not Identical Starting Hands is more fun

Randomness, Variety, and Inequality exist on a continuum.  The game of Dominion could have less Randomness/Variety/Inequality with Identical Starting Hands or Stack-Your-Deck-On-Each-Shuffle or Ban-Swindler.  The game could also have more R/V/I with a house rule that, say, randomly dishes out a couple Silvers/Golds into some players' starting decks.

It doesn't sound like the whole community sits in the same place on the R/V/I continuum.

For me, Dominion more than satisfies my need for variety in the random nature of the kingdoms.  That's a form of variety that doesn't put any one player at a large advantage over the others.  I've been playing Identical Starting Hands for years and never once thought "Gee, this game would have been way more fun if one of us had a $5/$2 and the other didn't."  And, obviously, we started playing that way, because there were many post-game whines about how it was "impossible to catch" the guy who started with the advantage.  Analogies to playing a game of chess starting a "rook down" were made... or running a footrace with cement blocks for shoes.  That all resonates with me.

I understand that AdamH likes the David-defeating-Goliath dynamic, and I can relate to a certain extent.  But, the position I really don't like is when I'm "Goliath"... because it feels like a no-win.  Either (a) I get a tainted win (and my opponent usually reminds me of it), or (b) I lose and feel like I totally suck. 

But again, R/V/I is a continuum, so we can pull this in the opposite direction.  How would the community feel about the feature request: "let's have one random player add 2 curses to their starting deck"?  That adds more variety, right?  If you have the curses and win, man, that's like David besting ten Goliaths!

Point being that for me, going from Identical Starting Hands to Different Starting Hands feels like randomly giving someone a starting curse.  Yeah, that game can still be enjoyed.  (I mean, with the right crowd Cootie and Uno can be enjoyed... and obviously, in the "big picture" those games outsell Dominion by some ridiculous margin.  Casinos testify that plenty of people enjoy the thrill of sheer luck.)  But you can't wash away the stigma of a lopsided match when there are starting inequalities.  Every single poster in this thread acknowledges that that stigma is there.


III.  "People who had no special interest in [Identical Starting Hands] would nevertheless end up playing with it."

This objection is totally work-aroundable.

(a) Identical Starting Hands is not an option in auto-match
(b) Identical Starting Hands is only available as an option when you create your own (private? or password-protected?) table
(c) Identical Starting Hands is only available when you are playing with someone on your friends list

Those of us who desire Identical Starting Hands, can play it all day with one another without affecting anyone else.  I have no idea how many people here prefer this.  I just know that all my real-life playgroup does.  Maybe it will only be used by me and my friends... but it doesn't cost anything or hurt anyone if implemented this way.

Kind regards,
HD

Offline josh bornstein

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Re: Table Checkbox - Identical starting hands
« Reply #14 on: 31 January 2017, 12:11:53 am »
I'm with you.  I've never tried this, am not sure if I would try it, but I simply cannot see how giving it as an "opt-in" option diminished the game in any way for the rest of us.

And, frankly, it seems like an interesting enough option to include in the game's coding.  Obviously, I'm in the minority here.