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Subject: Could Ground Floor replace Power Grid in my gaming life? rss

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Julia Ziobro
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Heresy! That I even *imagined* Ground Floor could replace Power Grid in my gaming life, even to myself, even for a moment! Yet Ground Floor reminds me of Power Grid in many good ways and avoids some of the pitfalls that make people critical of my favorite board game.

Even as a prototype PnP, Ground Floor has many things solidly in its corner.
- It's got real depth, with many different paths to victory
- If the real game's art looks like the prototype's rule book, then this is going to be a gorgeous game on the table
- Dynamic money and information management means that it's not just a race for the most cash
- Popularity drives turn order in a novel way, since popularity is gained through relatively complex mechanisms
- The lack of an auction will make the auction-hating folks happy
- Worker hiring and unemployment seems to fit the game well and the pluses and minuses of hiring and firing at each turn can be complex
- The theme flows through the whole game and always makes sense
- The replayability seems very high because you could make different choices and play a completely different game each time; even from round to round, to some extent, you can change strategies until you build second- and third-phase floors, which do make changing strategies a bit more expensive

Board setup is fairly straightforward, though the prototype's PnP components had some gaps and some naming differences that the rules didn't address. The shipping game won't have these problems. The rule set was good and I think it will be great once the components match the words.

Each player gets a player board, a set of ground floor-room tiles, a corporate-specialty tile (randomly drafted or chosen using any other means determined by your group), a set of time cubes in their color, a CEO marker, two other markers, a player-aid clipboard, and some starting cash. I like that the player pieces can be arranged to suit the table and the player's personality.

The main game board, the tracks board, the economic forecast cards, and a supply of money, information tokens, production-material cubes, remodeled-room tiles for ground-floor rooms, tenant improvement tiles (TIs), and building floors round out the components. These are set in a central place so that all players have easy access.

The PnP boards were simple rectangles, but it looks like the real player boards will have a special shape that making adding additional floors to the player board logical and even cool looking.

I noted a few things that I would change and I bet it's not too late to make these minor tweaks:
- I think popularity should be market share, market dominance, or something more thematic to a build-a-company game
- Player colors should be distinct to avoid problems for color-blind players. The standard red-green-blue-yellow does not work. Maybe go orange, purple, brown, black, white, pink? (It will kill me to not have my blue, but the player boards look like blueprints and so that color might be harder to discern).
- The retail selling area is supposed to have three bands, but these were really hard to distinguish on the PnP set and didn't look all that much better on the production art. Maybe make them obviously separated stores, with different decor, and not stacked rigidly together?

---- $16 ----

++++++ $12 ++++++++ $12 +++++++
++++ $10 +++ $10 +++ $10 ++++++

~~ $8 ~~ $8 ~~ $8 ~~ $8 ~~
~ $6 ~ $6 ~ $6 ~ $6 ~ $6 ~

!!!!!!! BARGAIN BASEMENT !!!!!!!!
!!!!!!!!!!!!!! $3 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You get the point. meeple

- The ground floor rooms/remodeled rooms should be obviously different colors. Similarly, the Phase I, II, and III floors need to be clearly different. Even printed in color, this was not so much the case with the PnP and it's hard to tell if the final art will be easier to distinguish in this way.
- I wish there was a way (even if very painful) to exchange money for info and vice-versa. There are times when this would have been worth it even at 10:1. Companies do pay for info, and do sell information, frequently, so I don't think this would break the theme. It might need play testing though to make sure it doesn't make things unfortunately easy. Maybe this is a new-player variant?

Game play time was significant. Just like Eclipse, I'd estimate 30 minutes per player (and I like that way of estimating game time). This does not differ much from games we've played with similar complexity, but I think the designer's estimate of 60 - 90 minutes is too low. I'd put the play at medium-deep to deep; this is not a gateway Euro, though it certainly is great fun and easily approachable for most gaming groups. The game design leans heavily towards strategy and away from luck, in that there are not many elements of luck:
- your initial corporate focus is randomly drafted, but they seem of equal strength so there's not one that conveys a significant advantage (that we saw)
- the Economic Forecast cards are shuffled and piled randomly
- within the Economic Forecast cards, different cards at the same level have varying numbers of consumers and unemployed, which in turn impact the number of goods that will be purchased at retail and the expense of hiring new workers
- we randomly arranged initial popularity but your group could choose to do this differently

There was one thing I didn't like at all about the game but it seems to be a quirk of mine according to the other playtesters yuk
I did not like the consultant meeting part of the board. You pay a relatively-high amount to put a time marker on the track. It just sits there until the city is resolved, and then it's moved to the other half of the track. On the next turn, people again pay relatively high amounts to put time markers on the track. Only if there are time markers on BOTH sides of the track does the first player collect 10i. If other players don't "help" you end up paying $12 for 10i (if you are the first person on the track; slightly less for positions further down the track but also at higher risk of nobody meeting with you to get you your 10i).

If on a turn you "help" a fellow player by paying to put a time marker next to them, they will collect the 10i for only one payment. You will move to the other half of the track, but there's no guarantee that that player will similarly help you. Maybe I'm a wuss, but this really frosted me more than once, and in a 2-player game, it was nearly unworkable, IMO. This is somewhat anti-thematic to me too; you schedule a meeting ahead of time, you don't just hope that someone shows up!

This is a small quibble and like I said, it didn't bother others like it did me (but I helped them and they didn't help me, so.....)

There are a few backstabbing-potential moments, particularly in construction. There are only two of each floor in the first and second phases (only two empty floors in the first phase, ever, so hurry up and build if that's your strategy!), and only one of each bonus floor in the third phase. I can imagine the fierce competition for some of these, and also hurting competitors by taking the bonus floor that they need.

There's competition in most other areas of the game, but it's thematic and not out of control. You're unlikely to walk away from the game table hating your game group, even if you lose this game.

The varied paths to winning seem to discourage the kind of unstoppable kingmaking that happens in some Euros, which is good. I am discouraged by games where it's possible for one person to massively get ahead and then impossible for others to catch them, though there's a little bit of that with the popularity track if someone also gets the PR improvement.

I encourage you to back this game on Kickstarter - http://kck.st/InNvWJ - where the project already has a strong start. The price is great and I really hope we make the $75,000 stretch goal, which will get each backer a copy of Skyline, also designed by David Short.



I posted a few photos of our PnP prototype in action in the Games gallery and will go add a few to the People gallery as well. Note that we grabbed game cubes from Pandemic and colonists from Puerto Rico (as production goods); the actual shipped components are sure to vary. And we used our Realm Coins yet again... they are awesome and I'm so glad we backed that Kickstarter! We've used them at least a dozen times in the past month.

Thanks to
Michael Mindes
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for making the playtest prototype available before the Kickstarter campaign, and to both of them for being so gracious and responsive when we've had questions and comments about the game. I'm usually not a fan of PnP as I find it all too fiddly, but having laminated this one, I can actually imagine playing it multiple times before getting the real game.

JAZ

ETA disclosures: Nobody paid me to write this review. In fact, I spent about $30 color-printing and laminating the PnP version provided to people who had asked to be on the pre-Kickstarter mailing list.

I've gone through all the rules carefully and we've played 2-player and 4-player games. I look forward to trying a 5- or 6-player game next weekend with our Saturday night game group.

I have personally backed the game on Kickstarter but don't expect any perks for my review (though if my game board got signed, I would not be sad!)
meeple
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Michael Mindes
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JuliaZ wrote:
Heresy! That I even *imagined* Ground Floor could replace Power Grid in my gaming life, even to myself, even for a moment! Yet Ground Floor reminds me of Power Grid in many good ways and avoids some of the pitfalls that make people critical of my favorite board game.


What a way to start a review. Thanks! I have added this quote to the Kickstarter project linking back to the review.
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Julia Ziobro
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DrMayhem wrote:
JuliaZ wrote:
Heresy! That I even *imagined* Ground Floor could replace Power Grid in my gaming life, even to myself, even for a moment! Yet Ground Floor reminds me of Power Grid in many good ways and avoids some of the pitfalls that make people critical of my favorite board game.


What a way to start a review. Thanks! I have added this quote to the Kickstarter project linking back to the review.

I can't wait to have the real game in my hands. If it were possible for it to have emotions, Power Grid would be very scared.
wow
JAZ
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Jonathan Warren
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Thanks for the review. I am backing this in a group of 6 and really looking forward to playing.

JuliaZ wrote:
Even as a prototype PnP, Ground Floor has many things solidly in its corner.
- It's got real depth, with many different paths to victory
- If the real game's art looks like the prototype's rule book, then this is going to be a gorgeous game on the table

It really has got some depth judging by the tiles that will be in the game. Am I the only person that thinks these tiles just can't be printed like that - they mess with my mind! You can't print 3d tiles on 2d cardboard, can you? Seriously. the game does look stunningly beautiful and I love the way your tower seems to rise from the player board. Great work.
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Michael Mindes
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JoffW wrote:
Thanks for the review. I am backing this in a group of 6 and really looking forward to playing.

JuliaZ wrote:
Even as a prototype PnP, Ground Floor has many things solidly in its corner.
- It's got real depth, with many different paths to victory
- If the real game's art looks like the prototype's rule book, then this is going to be a gorgeous game on the table

It really has got some depth judging by the tiles that will be in the game. Am I the only person that thinks these tiles just can't be printed like that - they mess with my mind! You can't print 3d tiles on 2d cardboard, can you? Seriously. the game does look stunningly beautiful and I love the way your tower seems to rise from the player board. Great work.


It boggles my mind too...
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David Short
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JuliaZ wrote:
DrMayhem wrote:
JuliaZ wrote:
Heresy! That I even *imagined* Ground Floor could replace Power Grid in my gaming life, even to myself, even for a moment! Yet Ground Floor reminds me of Power Grid in many good ways and avoids some of the pitfalls that make people critical of my favorite board game.


What a way to start a review. Thanks! I have added this quote to the Kickstarter project linking back to the review.

I can't wait to have the real game in my hands. If it were possible for it to have emotions, Power Grid would be very scared.
wow
JAZ


And yet another quote... Julia is on fire!
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David Short
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JuliaZ wrote:
It's got real depth, with many different paths to victory
JuliaZ wrote:
The theme flows through the whole game and always makes sense

This is music to my ears. Thanks for the kind review Julia!

JuliaZ wrote:
I have personally backed the game on Kickstarter but don't expect any perks for my review (though if my game board got signed, I would not be sad!

If you're attending BGG.con I will definitely make this happen.


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Michael Mindes
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dshortdesign wrote:
JuliaZ wrote:
It's got real depth, with many different paths to victory
JuliaZ wrote:
The theme flows through the whole game and always makes sense

This is music to my ears. Thanks for the kind review Julia!

JuliaZ wrote:
I have personally backed the game on Kickstarter but don't expect any perks for my review (though if my game board got signed, I would not be sad!

If you're attending BGG.con I will definitely make this happen.




Seth and I will also be at BGG.con
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nyn -
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I was happy to back this one as well. My wife loves economic games and this looks like a solid and well balanced implementation. I'm looking forward to giving it a go (and excited to see that the $75k stretch goal is a realistic one!).
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Serious? Lee
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I enjoyed your honest review. I've also had the chance to play test this great game and I noticed that while you weren't fond of the "consultant meeting part of the board" I found that part to be one of the more clever mechanics in the game. I really liked the anticipation of how that worked - taking a chance that you may or may not be rewarded for your effort based on what placements are made in the following turn. Kind of a push-your-luck aspect.

All in all, this was a really good review of a great game. I can't wait to see how well it does.
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Leonard Moses II
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Extremely well written review. You don't seem new at writing or writing reviews. I don't write at that level but I read a lot and enjoy writing too.

The review made me wonder how this game would play with 2? See I just recently picked up Power Grid with the Robots expansion to play with my wife.

I've added it to my notepad list that functions as my radar. I will remember it.

Honestly? They should send you something special for the exposure. This review will sell copies of this game. That is a surety.

However I understand what you are saying and appreciate your lack of bias.
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Ariel Seoane
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JoffW wrote:
Am I the only person that thinks these tiles just can't be printed like that - they mess with my mind! You can't print 3d tiles on 2d cardboard, can you? Seriously. the game does look stunningly beautiful and I love the way your tower seems to rise from the player board. Great work.


Glad you liked it. I happen to have some clever ideas from time to time.
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Julia Ziobro
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seo_ wrote:
JoffW wrote:
Am I the only person that thinks these tiles just can't be printed like that - they mess with my mind! You can't print 3d tiles on 2d cardboard, can you? Seriously. the game does look stunningly beautiful and I love the way your tower seems to rise from the player board. Great work.


Glad you liked it. I happen to have some clever ideas from time to time.

Nice to see you in this thread... I agree, the art is gorgeous. I'm not afraid to admit that great artwork can sway me towards a game, and it definitely did not hurt in this case!
thumbsupthumbsup
What other games have you worked on?

JAZ
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Julia Ziobro
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darkestoceans wrote:
Extremely well written review. You don't seem new at writing or writing reviews. I don't write at that level but I read a lot and enjoy writing too.

The review made me wonder how this game would play with 2? See I just recently picked up Power Grid with the Robots expansion to play with my wife.

I've added it to my notepad list that functions as my radar. I will remember it.

Honestly? They should send you something special for the exposure. This review will sell copies of this game. That is a surety.

However I understand what you are saying and appreciate your lack of bias.

My husband and I will probably play another 2-p game tonight... our first learning game was 2p and I don't think that's a fair evaluation. My first impression though is that the adjustments to the setup are good and that the game still has snap (I hate complex games that fade without the tension added by other players; I want the game to build that element, to keep it fun). I don't think it's easy to scale most complex games from 2p to the max number (in this case, 6) and few games do it really well.

We are going to BGG Con in November and I'll be glad to get my board signed by all involved. That's enough of a reward... I don't want to become biased because of perks.

I am a technical writer/editor in my work life, creating API docs and other complex developer documentation for a Java-based XBRL business application. Writing reviews is a refreshing break for me. ETA: I'm also a 7-year Elite Yelper, where I've written over 500 reviews. http://juliaz.yelp.com I guess this bug bit me pretty hard a while ago, and it's just now that I've started combining the writing and the board games, even though I've been involved in both for a long time.

JAZ
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