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S2E1 | Unique Starting Powers | Debate

Decking Awesome Podcast Unique Starting Powers reduce fun

Today we are debating unique starting powers in board games. This is our first debate so hopefully everyone will be civil and not yell although rage quitting I think is still acceptable. The proposition of this debate is “unique starting powers reduce fun”.

Did your opinion change on unique starting powers? Who do you think won the debate? Comment on our social media to tell us and decide who won. If you enjoyed it, share it. We’ve been Decking Awesome Games. Thanks for listening.


hello and welcome to the decking awesome

podcast my name is brian and i’m joined

by the awesome kira and owen hello

hi or am i joined by them        

today we are trying out a new style of

podcast where we’re going to be

debating different mechanics and parts

of games that we just like and enjoy or

dislike our first debates today

is going to be about unique starting

powers in games and different factions

whether they reduce the fun of a game or

whether they kind of pigeonhole you into

playing one different route

so with us today in the red jumper

weighing in at one donut heavier than he

was five minutes ago the man who’s hated

starting factions since he lost a game

of hopscotch to a kid with three legs

taking the stance against it’s owen

yay it’s me i love donuts

and in the blue jumper weighing in at

oh okay no she’s no i can’t yeah also


the woman who once super glued a fake

extra leg to a child

just to see own loser hopscotch taking

the stance in favor it’s kira

so for this podcast each person is going

to kind of lay out their arguments in


uh or against and we’ll give the other

person a chance to argue against us i

will also talk more because

you know i don’t like just sitting here

quietly so we are

going to focus on kind of um games where

players are all playing against each

other we feel like cooperative games

like pandemic and gloomhaven and stuff

like that

it’s fun to have different factions

because you’re all playing together and


so this is more about you know do

starting factions give

different players advantages so

kira talk to us a bit about some pros in

favor of

different starting factions cool so my


love of starting factions is to stop

people doing the exact same thing

every time we play a game there are

certain strategies that

we we play games three of us together

and the three of us all have

set styles that we love and we

constantly resort to whenever

we’re playing a game that we play a lot

so i think the worst one we have is

stone age

whenever we play stone age we resort to

the same

strategies each time one of us always

goes for

just the science cards and one of us

always goes for

trying to have the most people and most


and um one of us tries to build as many

huts as is possible within the length of

the game

and tries to get to the bottom of the

hood stacks as quickly as possible

so we’re very predictable when we play

and i think that this kind of

reduces down the quality of the gameplay

even though stone age is probably one of

my favorite games

yeah so that is my strong proposal for

why having random factions helps is that

random factions means you really have to


or you don’t have to but you really

helps to play towards the strength that

the starting faction gives you

so it means that you can be sure that if

everyone takes a random

starting faction that they will be

potentially forced to be a bit more


or try some things that they wouldn’t

normally try in their gameplay and it

means that they

the game doesn’t always end the same way

yeah true

that kind of reminds me of like pandemic

and stuff like that where you’d have

like starting factions but

you know even even when pandemic though

yeah there is that kind of if there is a

very balanced game everyone picks a

starting player in the case of random

randomly starting players that makes a

lot more sense but yeah stone age is

really good it

gets replayed so much because it’s such

a competitive game but it’s so well


but yeah i think having balance in the

starting players is such an

important thing especially for random

randomly associated starting perfections

so own taking an early opening backing

keira up on our points

an unusual tactic for a debate i like it

so owen would you say this you know the

you’d be opposed to opening factions you

like to be a creature of habit you like


play the same strategy if you think

you’ve found a winning one i think the

problem i have with starting factions i


is when it comes down to player choice

like uh keira was saying that

you know people do get stuck into a pat

a kind of rhythm

in stone age where they kind of keep

constantly picking the same

style of strategy okay kind of different

players will

mix things up themselves some players if

they find

a thing that they can kind of get good

at they’ll keep pushing away at it

problem i find though with stuff like

terra mystica and kind of lords of

water deep is it starting players tend

to do the opposite they’ll tend to


because there’s so many choices in the

game and so many different types of


people just tend to just pick their

starting faction and they will

whatever the best option for that

starting faction is they will just

only do that even if it’s against what

they kind of want to play or how they


they’ll just go that just to hope that

they’ll win through the power of their

starting faction

so it although the game could have lots

and lots of choices lots of different

kind of

varied mechanics the starting functions

limits their choice

so they really don’t have a choice at

all does that not add to the

replayability though so because you’re

trying out

things maybe you didn’t try it last time

in the game you’re making choices

sure you’re being forced to make them

because of your starting faction

but in lords of waterdeep for example

let’s say your starting faction was

piety and you know it kind of means that

when you’re disc

when you’re trying to decide on whether

you’re going to take a skullduggery card

you can kind of

really it makes you think about it a bit

more and weigh up the options better

gives you a different angle than you

would have played last time for the pros

and cons

that that’s true from a from a player

perspective each player gets to try out

all the different styles of play and

different mechanics i think even just

playing a game once

such a stone age where there is no star

infections you’ll just by seeing other

people playing the game

you should get a good idea as to what

different strategies work in a game

which you know for something like lords

of waterdeep it can show you that

certain strategies are

a lot better and and certain factions


a lot better which can be quite

frustrating you know if you

start the game you pick up a starting

faction and it says your piety

and you’ve played this game so many

times that you know the

construction of your group and how they

play that piety just is not gonna win

it can be pretty hurtful and hard to


but it’s not the same thing as trying to

find the best strategy in a normal game

like there has to be a way that piety

can win right it just needs to

tweak well no in lower the water deep it

just sucks we can just accept that

and you get so little reward from it you

put all your time and effort

into getting it because that’s what your

starting faction benefits or bonuses you


but you know unless you rack up a huge

amount of them

does it really benefit you in the long

run yeah it’s it’s it’s a really tough

one because

we’re kind of describing balance and

mechanics you know if you if you balance

the starting powers

would the same be true so in lord’s word

if all the characters

all the factions were balanced would it

help kind of how stone age all different

strategies are balanced

kind of we is usually better but let’s

not go there

um yeah it’s about the balance of the


and the problem is that starting powers

tend to just i like strip out that

balance to

it it almost means the rest of the game

doesn’t matter it’s just a starting

faction if the starting faction isn’t


straight away it can feel like you’ve

lost but in a game with like stone age

even though we isn’t balanced you got a

chance to get your own wii

you know i think that in our games we

know that wheat is unbalanced

and i guess the one thing about playing

the same rules every time is

we all try and get weed now no one is

allowed to take all the wheat

whoever’s the first player gets the

wheat that was my strategy and i was

kicking ass you guys just keep stealing

you lost like

six times before that strategy started

to work


yeah but once i figured it out but there

there’s an example so that’s not a

that’s not a starting strategy but

that’s a game that doesn’t have

starting factions and yet we’ve clearly


one path that seems to work the best so

everyone tries to go for

this one faction so would that not be

in favor of starting powers you know if

maybe if

i in stone age if i had a an advantage

towards using tools

i’d focus more on tools than just going

down the wheat route

like we often always seem to because you

know if you don’t have to worry about

players gathering food

then you can focus your players on

getting resources so maybe

that’s a case where you know starting

factions would benefit a game

as opposed to just being a hindrance you

do have the problem

of if there is a stone age faction that

collects wheat

it’s just not a type type faction is

going to if it’s going to be picked all

the time

water deep has one where if you’re a

builder you get

four points or six points or something

like that now building obviously

is super competitive but if you’re

playing a two-player game if you’re

playing a low player count game

you can build a quite a lot of buildings

even though it is

really like competitive higher player

count it’s much more difficult

so i think maybe certain player factions

are more balanced than different player


i would just recommend just rip up that

builder for player fraction just don’t

play with it

just unfortunately through the pandemic

we’ve been playing online and you can’t

just tell the computer to rip up that


it’s still a science building to

somebody some every time

so another one of the pros that i think

in this is analysis paralysis which i

think is

a debate that we constantly have between

the three of us because

i’m blamed constantly on taking too long

in my goals

and yet owen and brian also take a

really long time in certain games to

have a go

and make us sit around i’m gonna have to

interject there because

you’re right own does take a long time

as well continue with your point

i do i do i’ll agree to that brian does

too sometimes

that’s not the debate that’s not what

we’re debating we’re not debating

this new hazard okay okay sorry but


a certain faction means that there’s

less of that at the start

of a new game i think that because you


something um you haven’t played a game

too often maybe you only played it once

or twice

you forget what the winning strategy is

because it’s been so long

and you’re given a certain faction if

this means that your goals take less

time because you’re focused on

one task or another and that gives you

something to look

to try and figure out whereas starting a

game like

gaia project and not having a certain


means you look at 500 choices on the

board and you have no idea what to do

okay so yeah i wanna someone who’s sat

there and watched

kira analyze over decisions and turns

not me of course but would you not be in

favor of

you know starting factions giving people

a a direction to follow

you do get to the problem of you know a

guy a project you have 500 choices

the saturn faction just means it’s 500

on one so it it does

it doesn’t help a whole lot it does it

doesn’t mean that your one choice of the

player faction is so powerful that

you’re kind of not even looking at the

other stuff but in the same time that

can kind of be a hindrance because

sometimes the winning goal or the

winning strategy

it might have nothing to do with your

faction i remember here had a fact she

started which guy project she had a

building faction where she had to go

around building she’s trying to get her

faction to kind of utilize that

faction power it never came to fruition

and if maybe she didn’t have that

faction at all she could have focused on

the other 500 options which probably

would have caused more analysis


you’re right but maybe she would have


okay okay that’s a that’s a fairly good

point thus you know starting factions

don’t necessarily guarantee you a

victory maybe they just say

here’s another option to consider when

you’re already trying to figure out

a massive things happening on a board

yeah it’s it’s tricky it’s a very tricky

one to kind of uh

get because another surprise is just

about playing the game as much as

possible and knowing how deep a game is

and sometimes for your first few plays

of the game you might just have to kind


play and not worry about your faction

maybe for the first round or for the

first game and then then start worrying

about your faction later on

but then you know it really depends on

the game

i suppose and i’d go that maybe when

you’re playing your first

few games just go with whatever the

certain faction power is and try and use


because at least then you don’t have to

worry about 500 things you’re only

worrying about 10 things that aren’t

going to work

yeah well gary project has a problem

with of the factions definitely having

are not being balanced so there are like

really good factions and really bad


but i don’t know if that’s that was

meant to happen or not

but you can always just tear the

factions and play with

the higher tier factions the ones that

are really powerful and then sometimes

play with the really worse ones

i think uh geir project doesn’t so i

have another con point

on this debate which it’s not related to

this uh it’s a guy project it’s the fact

that some starting powers are hidden

and and this happens in certain games i

think my

obvious one that we use is lords of

water deep where everyone has a hidden


it takes a while to learn you generally

speaking you learn about halfway through

whose factions are what based on what

quests they picked up or if they’re not

picking up any quests

then they’re probably doing something

else so that one is

tricky because it it’s just you’re

putting in this kind of

end game scoring where people are not

really sure what the end game scoring is

or what what the kind of

choices that people are forced to do to


i would just pick starting fractions as

always face up and you can always see


i don’t really see the point in hidden

certain fractions at all but i don’t see

the point in certain fractions at all


so i don’t know it’s a tough one

okay so this the secrecy of the factions

er the secrecy of the starting powers

is a big con because you know players

can’t work against you they can think

they’re doing great throughout the game

but in reality you know that you’re 50

points ahead of them because but

if they’d tweaked that earlier on they

might have done something to

stop you or slow you down or interrupt

what you were doing

so you know maybe you know face up

starting factions if

everyone always knew what the other

players were doing but does that work

kara i just want to just just i just

want to add one more thing to the story

is that if you use our example of stone

age and a wheat

again if the stone if the starting

powers in stone age were faced down

and we didn’t know who the wheat

starting fraction was

okay we wouldn’t be able to counteract

it the same way we do

we attacks on stone age uh whereas if

everyone has face up

certain fractions stone age which is i

know it doesn’t exist

and we’d be able to attack the weak guy

because we know the weak guy has more

power than everybody else right at the

start of the game

and we could balance ourselves so i’m

gonna go

for i like a little bit of intrigue now

i will agree that where starting

factions have

a massive amount of point differential

that they might add like

50 points to the game i’m not a big fan

of that it unless everyone could add 50

points for a variety of different


but in a in a game where they only add a

few points

and the words of water sleep doesn’t add

an enormous amount of points

but i have won because of my certain

faction before on i think a few


so i’m i’m a little bit biased but i

like the secret i like having a minor

secret that just

impacts the game somewhat so it means

that a worker placement game which are

like my favorite type of games has a

little bit of

intrigue and a little bit of player


to try and figure something out in stone

age you

can generally see everything that

somebody is doing and i like that


but also other times i like to have a

little bit of trying to figure something


or trying to puzzle a way out of

something so i like the

layer that it adds on the intrigue

element but where it adds i’ll

agree that it can cause a game to be

very unbalanced

if there’s a really really big benefit

point wise in a worker placement game to

having a secret certain faction

like in in games like cold express where


you were talking about having the

faction type face up

that’s one where having

you have to counteract some of them i

feel like this i know

brian is one of your big games he when

you play with ghost though we don’t play

with ghost anymore

because it’s a super unbalanced card

having that one face down card at the

start so it’s

almost impossible to deal with for our

listeners who’ve never played cult

express it’s it’s like a programming

game where you

each take turns telling your characters

what to do and they don’t do everything

until the end

so if you can follow along with what

players are playing you can kind of

predict where they’re going to be or


ghost is a character where he plays his

first card face down

so you literally have no idea where he’s


you know maybe afterwards he’s running

to the rice or you know he’s gonna rob

something but you don’t know where he is

when he starts us

so it makes it very hard to predict no

other character in the game

has that ability they all have different

interactions with each other or they all

have different bonuses for

gaming stuff but ghost essentially is

impossible as a character to predict

what’s happening

so he’s one where even having face up

factions where everyone knows what’s

happening he still has an

enormous advantage yeah he is definitely

if he’s in the game

and we’re playing with enough players

that we have to bring him in we

literally just have to

he has to be defeated constantly if i if

somebody can like

mess with him on their go they tend to

mess with him when they go because

he’s probably already in the lead and

it’s stolen things

it’s weird because uh cold express is

actually a great example of it

so in that case you have a hidden kind

of card at the start not really kind of

what we’re talking about with the

certain factions

being hidden but every starting faction

has a specific power

and in cold express uh you also have

like a day thing where every every er

the cards are shown and displayed in a

different way

each day uh or done in different rounds

so that like you know we never really


what the next card is you’re trying to

hunt someone down it’s really difficult

because you’re not sure if you’re going

to make it in time

or if your programming is going to work

out but the ghost card

is really powerful in cold express if

you took out the starting factions

i think the game wouldn’t be as fun okay


because you took out the starting

factions the developers could have put

more uh risk into say like doing

different cooler things

on those day trackers so instead of

having like the second card face down

they could go like three cards face down

or they could like or they could have it

in totally new ways or they could have

rounds where

punching takes people’s money and then

you pick it up immediately kind of like

what the native americans woman’s power


so all those kind of things instead of

those satisfaction powers being

a specific person and then a ghost

always winning everybody has that

starting power faction

like you know power on the board but it

appears at different times well

there’s there’s another point so do do

starting factions

like if you know a player has a powerful

starting faction does that

make them a target in the game because

whenever i get ghosts i love it because

you guys don’t know what i’m doing

so i have a very big advantage over you

guys but because of that

you guys focus on getting me so like

i now i’m playing a game against all of

you combined

so while i have the advantage of the

character i have the disadvantage of


coming after me so does a strong faction

you know

kind of balance itself out does this

does it almost work as a disadvantage

um well i’m on the con side of starting

powers producing fun

so i think yes


if if we’re if we’re being serious about

it though i think the starting powers

are the mechanics of the powers can be


but the problem is because they’re

associated with a specific person that

seriously reduces the fun because you

could have those mechanics done in

different places inside the game instead

and they could allow anybody to get the

powers and it’s just like you know how

if you’re playing a game where there’s

no starting fractions and one guy’s on

100 points and you’re on 70 points

and another guy’s on 60 points they’re

going to try and they’re going to try

and do king making on you and try and

bring you back from 100 all the way down

regardless of what the board situation

is or what starting powers are

so you’re always going to get that

problem of one person just maybe just

being better or being lucky look here

earlier on in the game

and you’re going to have that pull and

take but because it’s a starting power

thing that happens immediately

round one very start of the game

everyone’s going for ghost the game

hasn’t even started yet

that’s that’s the thing that kind of

worries me and i don’t necessarily

disagree with that

so i think that starting packets are a

great idea i do not think that a highly

unbalanced starting faction helps our

hinders a game i think that

especially for hidden they have to be

minor they have to be

they have to be something reasonable

they can’t be this massive

one person can just kick ass and then

everyone else is just

fighting to to take them down

i don’t necessarily think that factions

should be something that mean that you

have to form alliances

just so that you can win or they they

shouldn’t force you to

change the style of game into a


type of game i think that that that does

ruin the fun

because you’re playing a worker

placement game and you want to play that

sort of game you didn’t play a deception

or injury game you’re not playing

q or any of the other ones you’re you’re

playing a game that’s a work replacement


so it should just be something that

enhances it

and forces you to think of new

strategies and new challenges

something that having that starting


is more of a thing to broaden your ideas

of what it is to play a game

and not if ghost is on the table we all

need to stop ghost

yeah i think i think having hidden

secret starting fractions

is how kind of developers decided to fix

that problem

which i think in some cases it does say

lords of waterdeep

no one knows who the builder is at the

start of the game so no one’s going to

go against that person

no one’s going to try and find them out

the only problem is halfway through the


it tends to become obvious what whose

secrets are what which i love that

mechanic i love finding out

hidden things about players the only

problem is once you find that


out then say if i’m the builder i might

be losing because i usually lose a water

leaf so i might be losing

and everyone’s still going to pick on me

because they think i’m winning and so i


i’ll profess my case and say yes i’m the

builder but

i’m actually losing so i don’t know

who’s going to win but it’s not going to

be me so don’t pick on me

so it just it just it kind of delays

that effect

so instead of it happening at round one

uh where everyone’s attacking ghost

it happens around five when everyone

realizes i’m the builder and but it is a

cool mechanic i do love the secret

identity i love

finding things out with the players but

but not really starting powers

or factions i think that there’s also

you can play against it as well

so like sometimes i like to just build a

lot of things in lords water deep

i like the benefits that people using

your buildings have

even if i’m not the builder and that

sometimes causes

a lot of confusion around whether i have

the building

because i think before i did a lot of

building and i wasn’t the builder

and then i won just because people

weren’t really paying attention that


they assumed they were trying to stop me

building things i just like that element

i like that element of there just being

a little bit of

something i i will say that this yeah

the starting powers

they do kind of work better this this

lighter the touches

when it comes to starting powers so

games like

terra mysticate where it’s almost

central to the whole reason of the game

they you can see a much bigger swing in

the balance

between the different starting factions

but then the lighter the touches so

things like

terraforming mirrors because they’re so

only only a very starting bonus

almost a starting bonus only kind of

aspect to it they

are much kind of more engaging and they


put everybody in a different starting

spot and say go ahead and then you all

have different

almost slightly different starts so your

whole end game is going to be slightly


but even considering that i would just

say just get rid of them all completely

if they get better with a lighter touch

then just take it out it’s just

is there not some games where like

having wild

chaotic starting powers you know add a

big element of fun to the game and where

you know like if everyone

is is running off in different

directions doing just

crazy stuff you know is that not is that

not more fun is it not

brings a whole wild chaotic element to

the game

santorini is is one of the games that we

absolutely love

that involves wild starting powers but i

think santorini is quite a

almost a bland game without the starting

powers i think it’s

it’s simpler than chess it’s it’s fun

but it’s

it’s not as as intriguing and then you

have these

really powerful characters like apollo

in owns hands just constantly fills the

board those little blue tops



but to me it doesn’t have to kind of

slightly ruin santorini because i i

love being atlas and uh but once i’m

atlas i don’t really care what everyone

else is

and i’m just gonna do my thing so it

doesn’t it doesn’t look like it our

santorini board by the end of it

but without the extra powers i just

don’t think the game has enough pull

i like trying to figure out how each of

the characters

like attina and aphrodite how they would

oppose each other

as opposed to always thinking

oh well owen constantly tries to build

up something in the corner or brian


tries to build up something in the

corner and block himself off from

everything i can’t remember which of you


but i know one of you does that’s me i

like kind of secluding myself and then

you can’t do anything to stop me you

can’t get into me

i’m just gonna win in like eight turns

so i like

trying to figure out how you would stop

the other person doing it

even though i know you both have like a

strategy you tend to like

and so you have to worry about that

strategy depending on the player

or the character you get you tend to

adjust that to something different each


so it’s fun to figure out how i could

use the character that i got at random

to oppose that because i think it has to

be at random in that game doesn’t it i

think you shuffled it

guards yeah so it makes it more

interesting yeah i would agree with that

i think santorini i know i should be

agreeing with the vape but

you guys have both done a lot

yeah i think we can still be against the

main topic but i think

santorini is a fantastic game where

starting powers are

kind of core to it i think the pro when

we’re talking to other

other games the other games have like

stone age and terror music and stuff

like that they have a lot of randomness

in it and it’s that randomness that

makes it competitive and kind of

engaging so in santorini

the game itself the rules are really


and you know so you play a couple of

games without any powers just to

understand what the game is

and then you bring in the the powers i

would say

it’s a trickier game because it needs a

lot more focus and development to take

out the starting powers

you’d need some way of randomly giving


abilities as they do things so like you

know if they maybe if they

build a level one dome a level one

thing they get a power and but there

needs to be some other way of doing it

but yet even in santorini the powers are

so vastly different

that if you get a power that you know

you don’t like i don’t know if you’re

gonna have as much fun

now in saying that when i get atlas i

have so much fun

you know and it’s it’s really cool to to

see the interaction between players

i wouldn’t call it balanced but atlas

doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to

win it doesn’t mean you’re going to

destroy the board

doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll win

though i don’t i don’t usually win

you just stop everyone else from winning

easily by

destroying everything that’s true yeah

and you’re just as likely to trap

yourself behind your walls of blue

things as you already strap anyone else

behind anything

yeah so i just find that quite a lot of

fun i find

i think that that starting power just

adds a lot of fun to the game

doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to

win or lose even though it’s an

incredibly powerful starting power

but because all the other ones like move

to the edge and build

when you’re anywhere on the board like

that’s crazy

that’s like you know if you use that


it means you have a load of skills that

you have to if you get

any of the different gods you have to

try and think of a strategy

that that’s gonna win with them and that

just means that you’re always on your

toes you’re always thinking

a few moves ahead to try and take

advantage of that thing

i don’t know if we go into santorini

when we play it

to have a competitive engaging game

where we’re trying to figure out who the

winner is

it’s not like chess or something like

that where two people will go in and

then we’d see who

is like better but it’s more of just

yeah i don’t know it’s on the edge of

like uh competitive and

cooperative i don’t even know how i’d

explain it but we’re not going in there


to see who the best is you know like

terra mystica it’s really easy to see

who’s gonna be who can build

who can terraform the most sand dunes

you can tear the most mystic out yeah

so i don’t know i don’t know how i’m

trying to say but i i don’t think he

should you can

just frame santorini in the same light

as zero once but like it’s like starting

faction is the whole point of santorini

whereas a game like stone age uh the

whole point of it is a competitive

game to see who can live in the stone

age times

i’m not sure you know what any of these

games are about really

okay so like do do do some games

need starting factions like we’re saying

santorini is a

you know it’s it’s pretty much the same

game every time without the different

gods who throw in

chaos into us i was just going to say

that if you were looking for a

competitive game to see who the best is

at santorini

you probably wouldn’t do it with the

starting factions if you were trying to

do like just a pure skill

kind of chess game now i’m not saying

that’d be fun


but i would tell you who’s better at it

and this is i i

i think there’s probably the same could

be true for like terra mystica or lords

of waterloo

where if you took out the starting

factions you would find out who the best

player is

but you know i i do think those games

would be i don’t know for me it’d be

more fun because i know it’d be more


i don’t know if everybody would agree

with that but i think just starting

you know if you didn’t have those

starting fractions you still have the

randomness and the chaos and the player

interaction that you’d still have

and also have more choice as to you know

you’re not limited by your where you’re

starting infections so

i think that you’re only getting fun


you’re removing areas where you’re

getting fun from so like

you’re not checking in those situations

what the adaptability of that player is

you’re only checking their skill at one

of the features in the game

so in santorini you’re like you’re not

checking how adaptable and versatile the

player is to win

you’re just saying that they are good at

placing blocks

in a weird set of rules in lords water

deep you’re saying

they are good at understanding what the

most efficient way of getting points is

but like are you really testing out how

good they are at winning the game

how good they are and adapting to new

situations like isn’t that part of the

whole like

winning of the game is and then and like

following is seeing how a player can

deal with a changing landscape

like i like that yeah i i i agree with

that i think some games

alfred uh better than others so tara

miska i don’t think your strategy would

change a whole lot obviously

in in santorini you would not have the

strategy would not change

at all and you’d have you’d have moves

like the queen’s gambit

all that kind of stuff would be very

stark because they’d be so well defined

if you didn’t have certain powers but uh

lord’s worthy but that was a good

example i think of where it could

actually increase the fun because

if you didn’t have piety and paella’s

certain faction didn’t exist and you’re

playing the game

and that this the four quests that came

out were all piety

and you’re thinking to yourself all

right i don’t usually play piety

uh because i never get the chance

because the cards never come out and now

you see four party quests

and you’ve picked up a couple of piety

quests yourself from your starting hand

you’re thinking yourself yeah this could


and then you you try a piety for that

for that time and you see and you see

how it works

and then you’re still doing the piety

starting faction although it’s your own


and it was the role of the kurds you can

you’re adapting to what the

the players start off is in lords of

waterdeep is

if you know you aren’t focused towards

one type

of quest are you not just going to find

that everyone goes for the highest point


every time yeah but i think i think

george waterloo

is balanced enough that if one person

takes the highest point of quest

other people there’s still synergies in

the cards so there’s cards that

have like uh constant use cards where

you pick up a

skullduggery card and it lets you you

know do some bad things

for cheaper later on and so you’ll

always have that kind of synergy

between cards i think lords is a little

bit different because

you still get cards at the start of your

game so imagine i pick up my imagine my

certain fraction is the piety one

and then i pick up five cards and

they’re like five i think it’s five


uh when you’re six i think it is it’s

only two is it okay

yeah two or five they’re both the same

number just upside down

we have mandatory quests as well but

when you pick up those cards if they’re

not your starting faction cards

then you’ve got a really tough choice to

make of going should i even care about

these quests that i just picked up

because they’re not my quests whereas if

you didn’t have a starting faction and

that you picked up two skull dug


you’d be like all right guys i’m a rogue


i’m gonna be i’m gonna be doing rogus

stuff maybe maybe

you could solve that problem two ways

you could either have no starting

fraction or no

picking up quests and i would have

taught yeah that’s just the same thing

that there’s ways in which lighthearted


if they’re if they’re only a small

influence because i guess the difference


the starting faction and the quest cards

is your bonuses tend to be much smaller

so like if you do a skullduggery quest

you only get two victory points for

every additional skulldugger request you


if that’s what the reward is whereas

or maybe it’s one victory point and it

might be four

as the starting faction you think i can

remember the points but i actually

haven’t no i can’t remember how many

points you get for any of those things


it’s four it’s four for the certain

fraction and and then i don’t know it’s

like one or two or so

you’re right though if you have start

infraction you’re gonna go with


but if you didn’t have the certain

infection and you has those two cards

you still have the cards that are laid

out on the board which means that you’re

the choice between becoming skullduggery

and not

it’s a harder choice to make because you

have to start thinking about everyone


and what i’m trying to say is it’s not

around one decision and

also no one will really know if your

school does recruit the entire game

because you’ll never be 100 skullduggery

you know you’ll always be like

60 you’ll touch on pilot a little bit

you can mix and match the kind of things

a little bit more but you are right that


a 23 story point or 23 pointer quest

comes out

everybody’s going to want it but that’s

really the same case i think

in it with stern affections just people

tend to go for their own

i think anyone would pick up a 23 point

or the 25 point

quests i think they’re all better off on

your certain faction versus those

that’s probably true people aren’t gonna

go ah you know i’m not getting the bonus

four points for that so i’m just going

to ignore those 20 something points

yeah yeah the only only issue you might


with this is at the start of the game if

no one has a faction

then you might just like if i go purple

brian goes

the orange guy’s kira kind has to go


and then isn’t that kind of deciding

what your starting fraction is

there but that might be better than just

the starting fractions being piety


at least if i if i go white

and curious piety i’ve just taken her

body i didn’t realize it

and now you’re on a you’re in a bad foot

or we might be competing over the same

resource and brian might not be

he might be free reign to just build as

his heart content

and then just win so it’s a tough one

that’s true sure so what’s uh let me ask

you this what about

games that have starting factions where

you know they’re not really beneficial

so like look at the likes of role for

the galaxy you know a roll for the

galaxy gives you

a different starting faction for every

player where you know you might get

extra advantages for building this type

of planet or

you know you get bonuses for shipping or

stuff like that

whereas you know the game ends when

someone builds 10 planets

so is there you know is there not a

tactic there to just

build as many planets as possible build

the highest value planets you can and


focus on building 10 and then you have

the best chance of winning it doesn’t


if someone’s getting you know two extra

bonus points for shipping or

someone’s getting an extra dice because

you’ve finished your 10 planets

you know is that a game where starting

factions are pointless you know do you

need them

i think it’s 12 months 12 planets sorry

and i believe that you think this

because you win a lot we win

all the time with that tactic i don’t

think you win as much as you used to

nano we know that that’s your tactic

which is why i think certain factions

are important

i think that there are like strategies

that work

that transcend starting factions in some


i think role for the galaxy is one of

them and if you can balance

you know somebody with five planets and

remember that five pounds eight planets

can beat your twelve planets if those

eight planets are really high scoring


and that has i think been the thing that

catches people up

with with using the same strategy each


but the point i think is that having

different starting factions means that

it can’t just be

build this you know there’s a good

chance somebody’s gonna have a certain


that they are really good at using or

that they can think of a really good way

and they can stop

just the same way of winning each time

which makes it a little more fun and

means that the same thing doesn’t work

every time

i don’t know that building 12 planets

would work every time i think

it’s casual unawares it doesn’t i try

and do that all the time and i lose

a lot but i might just be doing it wrong

it’s fun game like rolling dice that’s

really why i’m there


i love rolling dice i think that that uh

that really adds to it

so everyone agrees picking up like 20

dice and dumping them on the board all

at once

the the two things that you get at the

start or

one or two i kind of roll it’s kind of

like a two block but like uh

it can be one power and stuff they tend


be no more powerful than a normal tile

so like

in that game your certain faction is


so that you don’t start with zero

resources or zero anything

it’s not really but then is it is it

even worth having starting factions in

the game

if they’re so minimal that they’re

essentially pointless

i think i think uh role for the galaxy

is a tricky one because

it can be really complicated to figure

out how the best

solution is because you’re building a

machine but you’re not really sure when

it’s going to pay off

if you haven’t played the game enough

you’re you’re going to be building your

shipping routes you’re going to be


trading things down on planets and

you’ll be like cool i have a little

system going here i’ll need to ship out

all the games over oh i have zero points

oh yeah and you have completely

misjudged the situation

i don’t know if certain powers are going

to help that at all or hit or even

affect it but i

i do know that the role for the galaxy

starting powers are pretty random

there’s a lot of them they’re kind of

all over the place and they do kind of

push you down a specific path yeah i was

space pirates

tree the first three games of it i

played as face pirates

and i hated space pirates i didn’t want

to be space pirates and they were random

we literally shuffled those cars each

time every time i randomly got space

pirates this is either a really

complicated ploy

by odin brian to upset me terribly

the other solution is just don’t when it

says have randomly shuffle out cards


just do whatever you want it’s your game

you can just choose to

choose whatever factions you want well

is that not a good uh

argument against having starting


in a game where you know what the

starting factions are

or where you know you have one that you

really like

you know which ones are crap you know

which ones are good if you get a bad

starting faction

does that not take away from the fun of

the game from the word go

i think that i just was unlucky i don’t


getting space pirates three times in a

row though randomly out of all the dials

just sucked but but that that one

example aside like

look at look at any other game with

starting factions where you have one you


or you have one you think is crap you

know if you’re dealt that from the word


does that not take away from the fun of

the game you’re already starting

you know on a bad foot would it not

would the game not be more fun

if you didn’t start on a negative i

don’t think it’s that straightforward

i think there are and there are some

badly balanced cards

in any game but there’s badly balanced

rules in games

i’ll give you a very old example we

traveled the world for five months

back many many years ago and we had to

take out cards

we only brought like four games and they

were all card games and one of them was

monopoly card game which was probably a

bad idea but we we this is before we

were into board games that much

and we had a very limited amount of

games and we had to take out cards

from that game and just get rid of them

or change the rules on them

because they were so rubbish if one of

them was like you could

just win a whole section or something

like that

i can’t remember what it was but it gave

you three cards and whoever got

it won and like that is a a problem with

that game that game just has

a badly balanced card in it that

shouldn’t be in that deck

some starting factions do reduce fun yes



some certain factions are badly balanced

but like some components and games are

body balanced

like you can’t you can’t say staring

fractions are bad

just based on some really bad examples

of them being implemented

starting factions would add a lot to

stone age

starting fractions do add a lot to

santorini and they

do add a lot too and i think they do

have a lot of watery

i actually think the lords of water jeep

is a good game

i disagree that the deck i think the

deck is too big

i think that but i like the fact that

you have starting factions i enjoy that

i have to figure out what other people

starting fractions are

i think that lord’s water would be worse

if it didn’t have certain factions

and i don’t think that having those two

quests would be enough

i think that if everyone got to pick

based on the cards that were out on the

table it’d be too transparent

if you only got two quest cards and four

quest cards came out

and you picked between them everyone

would see more of your hand

than they see in a normal game

so they would just be able to guess what

you’re what you’re planning

and they’ll be able to tell what you

have bonuses for so

transparently that there’ll be nothing

to try and figure out

yeah but the thing is in in lords of

water it doesn’t take you that long to

figure out who

who’s what so if someone picks someone

backs three party quests they know

they’re the party guy

so they’re gonna if they can they’re

gonna block piety anytime they can

like if four party come out and that

person’s winning they’re gonna clear the


the problem is if there’s no starting

factions and the person picks up tree


that could just be their early game you

know you fall into my trap i am not

doing piety mid game or late game

i’m changing my tactics so in that case

you can you can always like

or you can also just like if someone

tries to remove the piety stuff you’re


winning on piety pilot doesn’t change it

at all so

not having starting factions would help

a lot um i would say on the on the point


roll for the galaxy though the starting

factions are really random but

i find anyway that everything is random

and role for the galaxy you’ve got the

dice you’re gonna roll which is super


then you’re picking up planets which how

could different colors do in all sorts

of different things

but then with abilities and developments

that are all super different as well

it means that you almost have no choice

ever you can’t

you get a whole lot of things you’re

like okay i’ll put this blue planet

beside this

red ability i don’t know what i can do

so maybe that’s not the best example for

the galaxy um

so owen what about games like villainous

vilnius is

you know it’s more or less a multiplayer

solitaire game where everyone’s trying

to achieve

different tasks different goals sure

they can interact with each other but

for the most part you’re trying to

complete your own

little quest the starting factions in

there give different people

different unique advantages but it’s one

that benefits them

but not necessarily hinders other

players you know

does something like that not work quite

well uh it’s been a long time since i

played vilnius

so um i don’t know

concise i like it i just


what about owen can you give me an

example of a game

where you like the starting factions

where you think it really benefits the

game itself

i think a good example of that is

probably terraforming mirrors

i love the idea it’s a very light touch

now the rest of the game i don’t like

don’t get me wrong

but i like this i like the starting

factions of it

the fact that it sets up the game based

on uh what kind of corporation you are

coming onto mars

um is great but also the fact is in

terrifying mirrors they have a default

faction okay or default starting power

and this is the it’s what beginners play

beginners pick one and they’ll go and

everybody can be that starting faction

or someone who’s more advanced could try

a different one and they let people go

off on their merry way

and try a different strategy if they

want to the best thing about this

is first of all it doesn’t cause

everybody to pick on

one guy so even if one guy picks a new


and they’re trying a new tactic not

everyone’s going to pick on that person

because of their faction because they’re

they don’t really affect the game too


because there’s no powers that they have

through the game

but the fact is they have a default

faction that everybody can pick and i

don’t i think

like games like lords of water will be

might might solve the problem if they

had a default faction

that say gave them four points for doing

something else

for every quest two points for every

quest and for every building they built

something like that

uh just a point for everything that

could work but at that point you’re

really talking about not having a

faction at all

so in that case i would just be like in

terraforming mirrors it sounds like a

faction but really it’s just a starting

off point

and if you just had no factions at all

and you just said everybody gets this at

the start of the game

pretty much the same thing it’s like the

mechanics of the game and it

from from the from round one it no

longer affects the rest of the game you

could forget about what factions are it

doesn’t matter

and so that’s why i love that and but

it’s more of like a do you know how like

you can have

variant setups to games it’s kind of

like that except for

each person can choose a variant setup

that all work together but in this at

the same thing i still think it’s more

fun if we just everybody

removed that and just said you just did

it without it

okay okay and kiera can you think of a


that you know has a lot of starting

factions where you think it doesn’t work

i think gaia project is a good example

of that and in gaia project it’s very

very complicated

to win anyway at the best of times

having a starting faction on your mind

can even though i like the less analysis


i think that it’s quite difficult to


a path to winning as it is it doesn’t

need the extra

burden of very complicated trying to

wing in your piece and other people’s


and the variance in powers between those

starting fractions is also a pain

okay so there you have us pros and cons

on both sides

own do you want to give us any closing

statements against

starting factions and games yeah i think

uh as you’ve probably got from this

podcast there’s like lots of different

categories when it comes to

starting fractions like some that only

affect the start of the game the setup

some that are bonuses throughout and

some that are imbalanced and there’s

loads of examples we’ve given

but i think we can safely say that just

taking the selling powers out

would usually mean increased amount of

fun uh but you know it depends if it


obviously it depends on the game and the

randomness and the choice

but in most cases just take it out yeah

i think if you’re if you’re still

struggling with a game with starting

fractions take it out

even though i was one of the person who

gave an option of putting it in for

stone age i’m not really sure why i did

that early on in the podcast

but uh yeah take it out

and kira have you got and to say in

favor of

starting factions yes i think

there’s a lot of games in a lot of the

genres but particularly in worker


that would just become too boring

without staring factions

i think that the fun element needs to

come from things changing

i don’t think that if a game is well


and there’s no variance players will

just play the exact same pattern each


and i just think that i would get bored

so i think that all of the fun

comes from forcing people to do things

that they weren’t planning on doing so

that it’s different each time

um and i think that their certain


are the best

concise to the point

so there you have it everyone that about

wraps it up for our first debate

you know did did all this back and forth

change your opinion on unique starting

powers and advantages in games

who do you think wanted a base

personally as moderator

me i say brian and since i have the

final vote

brian good work brian proud of you

couldn’t have done better but do leviton

do let us know on social media or on the


what you think who won was akira was it


do you like starting factions do you not

like starting factions you can find us


if you’ve enjoyed us please share us we

have been decking awesome games and

thank you for listening

see you later bye