Posted by: david865williams | July 8, 2012

The Zeroeth Move

Hawai’i is just like Dominion. Okay, that’s a disingenuous lead to get you to read the rest of the post. But I do believe there is an important similarity: The most important part of both games comes before the first move.

Hawai’i has resource/building tiles that are located randomly before the start of the game. Some buildings will be farther from the beach, and therefore more expensive to get to. This changes the relative value of things. I may think fruits are more valuable than boats, all things being equal. But the genius of Hawai’i is, all things are not equal from one game to the next. Fruits may be much farther away than boats. So Hawai’i has this element of looking at the board, figuring out what’s cheap in this game, and finding the intersection of cheap+synergistic. Which combination of tiles produces the best outcome, factoring in the cost?

Dominion has a similar 0th move. Players see the cards that are available for purchase. After a handful of games, players learn which of these cards work powerfully together. Some cards are weaker if a card that counters them is in the set, stronger if unopposed. So Dominion also rewards players who look at the setup for this particular play and determine what synergies are functioning.

Are there other games where the initial setup varies, and it’s wise to craft unique strategy for every game based on known factors? What other games make you concentrate on your 0th move?


  1. Would you consider Settlers? Maybe it is 0.5? It has seemed to me that the original placement can have a drastic determination on the outcome of the game. Possibly it does not determine a winner but could determine a most certain loser or two.

  2. Settlers springs to mind. And Agricola if you are playing with occupations.

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