Youngest player…oldest player…person to the dealers left, we’ve all heard these rules and seen them written in countless boardgames but what I love is when a game takes a strange approach in choosing who goes first. I’ve played a fair few games over the years (and collected a couple as well) and I enjoy keeping a note of this unusual deciding tools, so here’s a list of 10 games that have an odd or thematic way of picking who gets the first turn. And hey, if you can memorise this list…might give you a step up when you play them!
A different take on a medieval themed game where all the players run a shop in town, looking to outfit the local adventurers with gear so when they defeat the big bad evil attacking the town, you get the claim to fame of it being your gear that helped slay the beast! You manage advertisements, upgrade your store and compete with the other stores in town to grab the best merch to try and make your store the go to shop. It has cool little fold out mats that look like your store from the inside and the front and a few The first player mechanic in this one is perfect fro a shopkeeper but was a little trickier during lockdown, as it was the person who most recently paid for goods or service in cash. So pick up some snacks on the way to game night so that you’ll get first pick of the goods.
A little box game by Z-Man games, makers of Carcassonne, in which you play as archaeologists digging in the sands of Egypt trying to find buried secrets in hopes of riches. This is a fun set collecting game where you try to complete collections but have to sell them at just the right time to score the big points. With the added element of thieves which allow you to steal cards and sandstorms which make everyone discard half of what they have, its game that is good for travel and easy to play. And keeping with the design is the first player mechanic which states the first player is: the last person to have had their feet in Sand. Perfect if you are actually playing it in Egypt, just make sure your the last to leave the beach!
You need to own this game. Tiny little bag full of well designed cards that are used for a fun but increasingly simple game. Everyone has a card that signifies the person carrying your love letter to the princess, highest number wins, but on your turn you draw a new one and play one of your two cards to try and figure out what the other players have until your either the last one standing or the deck runs out. Then you reveal the card you’ve kept and the highest card is the one that has successfully delivered your love letter to the princess. So if you want to go first and have the best shot at ‘wooing’ her, you need to have been the person who last hand wrote a letter.
A quaint little settlement builder with super simple rules from SinisterFish games where you try to collect skilled workers for your town, improving the things they can make and create giving you money for the trouble. The skills that generate the most points at the end of the game are the hardest to create, but some of them getting you money from other players as they need your skills to make things they can’t. It’s easy to set up due to the box layout, coupled with the smaller size box makes it a game you can play anywhere. It’ll be harder to get the upper hand for first player in this one as first player is the player who’s lived where they live, the longest. It’ll take true commitment to never move house to go first, but I believe in you!
The smallest game on this list, punto is about the size of a matchbox and could literally fit in someone’s pocket. The game is just as simple, you lay cards with coloured dots into the play area trying to get a line of 4 in your colour to win. Other players can stop you by blocking your path or by laying a card on top of yours if the number of dots is higher, breaking your chain. It’s an interesting twist on what is essentially connect 4 but a lot more transportable and can be played with up to 4 players, and if you want to go first you’ll need to spend some time in the sun because the first player is the player with the most freckles. You could also draw some dots on your face, but that’s up to you
A easy play, push your luck game where the players are children digging and looking for treasure…they just happen to be in the local graveyard, those silly kids! As you flip cards from one of the three digging piles you’ll find shiny gold, secret maps and referential relics to bring you victory and special abilities. But if you dig too deep you’ll find horrible curses, evil maggots and worse…the sewer main. It’s quick fun that is a great game to play before the main event as a warm up and if your eager to be the first to go grave-robbing you need to turn up to the game night as the dirtiest player, to prove your the best at digging.
A great game that every board game lover should at least play once in their life. Players run a bear park and there job is to organise the layout to make the best park possible. You need to collect animal pens of different shapes in order to try and fill your park with as little gaps as possible, getting the most points for being the first person to feature certain bears, making sure to build places for guest to eat, and ensuring that you get the best land permit in order to expand your park and make it the best you can. To lead in this game you need experience, so you need to get ideas from your closest zoo and be the player who most recently went to an animal park to gain that first player status.
A really beautiful game with box art to match (which the game knows, as the box is built to be hung up on your wall to display it!) this game is all about creating works of art to try and fulfil the criteria set by 4 judges to try and win the most awards. Players collect acetate cards with different elements of paintings on them, and they stack them to try and match the symbols at the bottom the the judging criteria for the points. Some can be awarded twice with he same painting but each player only gets to make a total of 3 paintings, so trying to match those symbols is a must. To get the extra step against your players, make sure you are the player who most recently painted something. Now the rules are a little vague for this, so you could count home decorating, or your nails. Might have to argue your case a little though.
Second game on the list all about art except this time we just get to look at it, not paint it. Modern art is a classic, well know by most game collectors. Players are looking to great a collection of artwork that is worth the most at the end of the game but to do this you everyone also has a turn at being the seller, collecting money that they will use to buy artwork in future turns. Auctions are kept fresh by having different types of auctions, such as blind bidding, lowest offer and double bids, so each round you need to think about your money to avoid running low and missing out. And if you’ve seen any of these in person recently you get to be the auctioneer first, as the first player is the one who most recently visited a museum
A set collecting game themed around creating the best theme park that you can. Players need to gather cards with various themes in order to improve their park by giving it extra rides, which are then improved with higher quality seating and shorter lines giving you more money to spend on even cooler rides. Events happen to mess with the players, and if you want you can play with rules to allow players to sabotage each other, making this a tense card based game right until the end. So going first is helpful, and making sure its you is going to be fun as well, because first player is the on who most recently rode a roller coaster! Yeah baby!