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Friday, March 2, 2012

3++ con statistics - Going First

It has long been believed by the Internet that in 5th edition, going first = you win. For the most part, this is a fallacy. Being able to get the first punch in certainly has advantages but being able to counter your opponent's moves more readily (and have the last move of the game) has such as well. This is covered in greater detail in this Fallacy 40k post.

Now, it's certainly arguable that some armies enjoy the first turn more than others. Dark Eldar for example are often a go first or reserve army (this is in very broad strokes people) but overall there shouldn't be a major correlation between who goes first and who wins (if there is, we have an issue!). There might be a more discernible negative correlation in objective missions (i.e. going 2nd in objective missions = higher chance of winning) but we would otherwise expect a roughly even spread. We also have a decently sized sample population (n = 147) this time around since we're not cutting anything down so results are more likely to be robust and less prone to error. Let's see what we get.
Blue = Wins when going first; Red = Losses when going first
And the data in table format with percentages:

Goes First Win Loss Win %
Round 1 (TQ) 10 16 38.46
Round 2 (Obj) 12 13 48.00
Round 3 (KP) 12 14 46.15
Round 4 (TQ) 11 11 50.00
Round 5 (KP) 12 11 52.17
Round 6 (Obj) 11 14 44.00
Totals 68 79 46.26

Firstly, there is no indication of a going first winning effect in any round or overall. Second, we're not seeing a going second winning effect in the Objective rounds either. This might be different for specific armies but overall, this data suggests going first is just as effective as going second. This brings us to the main point raised in the Fallacy 40k article - being able to pick who goes first is more important than who goes first because you as the general can best evaluate the situation and choose what works best for you and your army.

Now, this data does suggest going 2nd has a slight advantage (46 to 54%) but the difference is very small and not significant. If we saw this over 2000 games however, we could be more reliable in saying there is some advantage across all armies and missions in going second (and the data we have from 3++con suggests this is the same at least for missions). See below.

Goes First Win Loss Win %
Table Quarters 21 27 43.75
Objectives 23 27 46.00
Kill Points 24 25 48.98

Perhaps these results are different for each player?

And the results in table format...

Goes First Win Loss Win %
>.500 27 16 62.79
0.500 29 27 51.79
<.500 15 33 31.25

Two things to notice. One - there appears to be a correlation between winning more games at the event and winning when you go first. Two - winning players are also the ones who are also going first less often. This might therefore be more indicative of the winning players being better able to choose when to go first and take advantage of it whereas losing players feel they need to go first all the time and therefore are not maximising the situation. Furthermore, there could be a bottom feeding effect in play here with winning players increasing their winning percentage when going first by beating players they'd beat regardless. Basically, this result might simply reflect the winning percentages overall rather than be a representative sample of what's happening when players go first.

Let's look at the top three brackets on Day 2 then. This is generally all winning players playing against winning players (with some even players thrown in). This will give us a better look at how going first impacts upon the game.

And in table form:

Top 3 Brackets First Win  Loss Win %
Round 4 (TQ) 5 7 41.67
Round 5 (KP) 5 6 45.45
Round 6 (Obj) 5 7 41.67
Totals 15 20 42.86

This takes us right back to what we were seeing in the overall results - there is a potentially a minor advantage to going second but with such a small sample size we cannot say this for sure. This indicates the winning percentage when going first and broken down into winning, even and losing players is more likely a representation of how they did regardless of going first with the bottom feeding effect of winning players beating losing players. When winning players play winning players however, we see numbers akin to what the overall statistics are suggesting.

Now, let's see if we can't break this down by army! This is going to have the same issues we've been having before with sample sizes. Whilst we do have six games per individual, we still have some armies only used by one or two players and not every game has them going first. With an effective 50% average on each person going first, we really only have three results from each player to look at - even with 10 players that would only give us 30 results.

And in table form:

Armies Wins Losses Win %
Blood Angels 4 0 100.00
Chaos Daemons 1 1 50.00
Chaos Space Marines 0 1 0.00
Dark Angels 2 1 66.67
Dark Eldar 5 6 45.45
Eldar 4 6 40.00
Grey Knights 13 17 43.33
Imperial Guard 3 6 33.33
Necrons 4 3 57.14
Orks 14 9 60.87
Sisters of Battle 0 2 0.00
Space Marines 7 10 41.18
Space Wolves 6 9 40.00
Tau 1 3 25.00
Tyranids 3 5 37.50

Not a lot to make from here unfortunately due to sample size. We do see that the main 'alpha-strike armies' such as Dark Eldar, Imperial Guard and Space Wolves all have under 50% winning percentages when going first. Most of the other armies around around the 40-50% mark if they have close to 10 samples though we do see Orks hovering above 60% - this might be an indication they need the first turn to push across the board as much as possible to do well though they also had an unsually high percentage of games where they got to go first (64%) - perhaps a reason for why they did better than expected.

Conclusions -

Going first is not as big a deal as has been made out to be in the past. Whether or not going second is actually better is to be seen over the coming months as we (hopefully) compile more data. Either way, the difference appears to be miniscule though being able to choose who goes first is still important. Any time you can influence how the battle will unfold on the tabletop is an important part of game strategy and obviously being able to recognise when it's better for your specific army to go first or second against an opponent's army is a key skill when you have that option available.

Furthermore, and with further digging, the data does not suggest player's at a higher level win more often when they go first when playing against other individuals of similar playing ability. The same holds true across all missions though the relationship between mission and army when going first was not explored. We also see minimal going first effects for armies with only Orks really having the numbers and data to suggest they do better when going first. These numbers are small however so we'll need more samples to see if this holds up.

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