First mover advantage

In some games the player that moves first has a distinct advantage, it can be a big benefit and can really skew the outcome of the game. The first move advantage in chess is a well known example of this, although mathematically it may not be an advantage to play White, the statistics tend to show an advantage to games played in the real world.

It’s important to look at your first mover advantage, to try and ensure that there isn’t one, or that it’s balanced for another advantage given to the player that moves second, or that players play more than one game, switching the first player each time.

To find a first player advantage you need to play series of paired games, two players take turns to be ‘White’ and ‘Black’, and if White always wins, then there’s probably a first mover advantage.

You’ve got to decide if you want to maintain this advantage once you’ve found it, if you’ve got a way to determine the weaker player, then allowing them to play first can balance out the fact that they aren’t as accomplished at the game.

If you want to remove it, you’ve got to find a way to balance this. You can choose to reduce the options given to the player that moves first, such as Magic: the Gathering‘s rule that the first player doesn’t draw a card on their first turn. If you don’t reduce the options for the first mover, you need to give the second player more options, let them play an extra piece, make an extra move, or give them more initial resources.

Be aware of the potential for first mover advantage, and make sure you take steps to counteract it if you see it occuring.

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