To Go First, or Not to Go First, That is the Question

The most puzzling question about Number Cortex may be the following: is it better to go first or second?

The short answer? It does not really make a difference. However, if you are going to be playing a decent number of rounds, you may want to continue reading.

The following table shows the result of a simulation to answer the question. Five difficulty levels of AI were set up to go against a copy of itself, 2000 times. “Computer One” always went first. A 4 x 4 board was used with the full set of attributes (odd/even, primary/composite, middle/extreme, single/double), and the diagonals and four squares were enabled.

Computer One Wins Computer Two Wins Tie
1 Star (Easiest) 987 969 43
2 Star 999 999 1
3 Star 1020 973 6
4 Star 683 808 508
5 Star (Hardest) 651 851 497

For the first three levels of AI, there was little difference between “Computer One” and “Computer Two.” However, for the harder two levels of AI, “Computer Two,” which always went second, had a significant number of additional wins. Hence, if you are often tying against your opponent, you may have a slight advantage if you go second.

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