Thanks for the long look, Wong... I'll jump right to the conclusions.
Merciless Wong wrote:Problems:
The 3 challenge bonus and the 3 city bonus means that in 1v1 and in 2v2 - someone will start with +1 or even +3 bonuses. Use of neutrals fixes this for 3 challenge, but what about the 3 city bonus??
Agreed that the cities will be a problem in 1v1 games; 2v2 games will have four starting players so things will be pretty spread out (bonuses are collected by individual players, not by teams). But I loathe coding a bunch of neutrals into a map - it means so many dead areas and somebody has to waste turns hitting neutrals to gain a bonus. On a typical six player game, everybody would start with just five territories rather than seven if I start setting the cities and challenges as neutral. And it wouldn't encourage the use of the cities or the challenges. So while starting with a bunch of neutrals will help two player games, in my opinion it wrecks all other formats.
The alternative, of course, would be to set starting positions. I could code all of the cities as two starting positions so that each player would start with four cities, and a +1. And we could code two of the neutrals so neither player gets that bonus. The down side of this is, of course, that now each player is starting with more territories: 16 (34/3 + 5) rather than 14 (44/3), so that first player gets to start the game by placing six armies and stealing his opponent's bonuses.
Ugh... I'll just say it: two player games are retarded. I've lost almost every 1v1 game in which I've gone second, and won almost every 1v1 game in which I've gone first. I've found that on some maps - even large maps - it is possible to crawl your way back into play after being hammered by the first player, but that there are some maps on which getting the first turn can be absolutely devastating - and the maps with a load of neutrals to get trapped behind like San Marino can actually be the worst.
Here's what I think would be the best solution: code TWO cities (not sure which yet) as netural. That gives us 42 start territories, which is classic-size and nicely divisible by most game sizes. Code TWO starting positions of TWO cities each (not sure which yet), bringing the number of cities that each player starts with to 14 (38/3 +2). Each player is guaranteed to start with two cities, and could start with as many as four cities. One player will probably start with an extra +1, but would have to take three territories from his opponent on the first round to knock down his drop of 4, and really what we want to do is ensure that player two gets to start with a fighting chance.
And I'd say leave the challenges as normal starts... if somebody drops all three (which is, what, an 3.7% chance?) more power to them.
Merciless Wong wrote:Sumer (if you consider the obvious combinations) is tremendously strong.
Make 6 cities neutral
Link Ur and anshan
Sumer back to +4 bonus
Given what was going on historically, Sumer should
be really strong. It's the center of civilization at the time, and the source of our epic. So I'd like to try to explore options that allow Sumer to remain the largest bonus on the board.
An Ur to Anshan connection is certainly possible, but geographically dubious. Anyway, I don't see how it solves the biggest problem, which is that Sumer is extremely powerful when coupled with Elam. This just creates another internal connection.
A more interesting option might be to add a route through the eastern mountains from Aratta to Awan. Awan - and by extension an Elam/Sumer bloc - would have another border to defend. Aratta would have another point to defend and could be pumped up to +4, which would not only create another enviable starting position but it would create a strong northern presence, putting more pressure on Aratta and Awan. Plus it would be fun to draw - I don't think I've yet made a map with an overland attack route.