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Subject: Learning Curve Notes rss

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David Jensen

Smyrna
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This may be helpful to those learning the game. Here are some notes from my mistakes over my first several games.

Calculate - Be sure to do this every round, plan ahead. Do not fall victim to a mechanic or routine that doesn't include calculating. I will have a calculator to speed up this process.

Placement - City placement is huge; don't always go for the cheapest start (though still good upside). There seem to be other critical 'choke' points and the most important is to avoid getting crowded. A choke point might be a location which neighobrs an expensive city, but provides access to cheaper cities.

Plants - First turn plants may only need to be first turn plants. Plan for the end game (15 or 17 production). Gaining access to a first resource plant (ie garbage or atomic) may not always make sense if it doesn't power enough cities. Keep an eye on monopolization - it's important not to let an opponent get this upper hand.

One additional note; KEEP AN EYE ON THE BOARD and have a game aid near by so you know all the plants coming.

Resources - Don't over pay for extra resources. CALCULATE. It may only make sense to stock pile on two conditions (I) the resources are less than 3E (II) you know you will be firing the plant multiple times (this would occur during the stall).

MAX Production / City - This seems to be critical. Always maximize your resource, city & plant fire. I imagine there are times to do otherwise, but that strategy seems to be beyond me.
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Chris Johnson
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Azusa
California
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One of Alabama 3's finest songs, especially the versions on the single this image is from...
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Sweet Pretty M*th*rf*ck*ng Country Acid House Music - All night long!
These are not bad thoughts, but some of them sound like you are trying to run before you can walk. Play the game a few more times; try to play from your gut rather than worry about calculating everything out, and try to link cause and effect with players' choices.

notyetsuperman wrote:
This may be helpful to those learning the game. Here are some notes from my mistakes over my first several games.

Calculate - Be sure to do this every round, plan ahead. Do not fall victim to a mechanic or routine that doesn't include calculating. I will have a calculator to speed up this process.


Detailed calculation is not necessary, most of the time; the only time it is really necessary is to see if you can build out a turn early to win the game, and even that tends to be fuzzy, as there are usually what-ifs all over the place.

Calculators (or pen and paper) in particular are a bit gauche. If you can't do the math in your head, you aren't likely to substantially benefit from going through the motions (at this stage in your experience with the game). And doing it in your head, or even better, just playing from the gut, will make you a better player of this game, and games in general.

Quote:
Placement - City placement is huge; don't always go for the cheapest start (though still good upside). There seem to be other critical 'choke' points and the most important is to avoid getting crowded. A choke point might be a location which neighobrs an expensive city, but provides access to cheaper cities.


Placement is more a matter of where in turn order you are (and what map you are playing); if you are placing first, you have very different considerations than the person placing last. Local groupthink also has a substantial effect. Cheapest is often not a good idea, though.

Quote:
Plants - First turn plants may only need to be first turn plants. Plan for the end game (15 or 17 production). Gaining access to a first resource plant (ie garbage or atomic) may not always make sense if it doesn't power enough cities. Keep an eye on monopolization - it's important not to let an opponent get this upper hand.


The early nuke and garbage plants are usually bad (mostly as a function of resource costs); the 6 is the worst plant in the game, on most maps. That said, *every* plant is the right choice, at some point, under some circumstances.

Quote:
One additional note; KEEP AN EYE ON THE BOARD and have a game aid near by so you know all the plants coming.


Meh. Not really necessary; especially early on; you don't know the game well enough to use that knowledge effectively...and by the time you do know it well enough, you should be well on the way to having the plants memorized. For now, it's enough to know how many 7s are in the game, and what resources they use.

Quote:
Resources - Don't over pay for extra resources. CALCULATE. It may only make sense to stock pile on two conditions (I) the resources are less than 3E (II) you know you will be firing the plant multiple times (this would occur during the stall).


There are a number of other reasons to buy extra resources; they will come to you in time. The only calculation of real value here is to make sure you will have enough to do the builds you want. (BTW, your point (I) is just bad advice, but it'll take being short on a critical build by $1 that you spent on a speculative buy of a "cheap" resouce to drive that lesson home.)

Also, with experience/better play, the "stall" goes away. Most players are *losing* the game during the stall; they should be moving the game forward. When *that* penny drops for your group, the game gets much more interesting.

Quote:
MAX Production / City - This seems to be critical. Always maximize your resource, city & plant fire. I imagine there are times to do otherwise, but that strategy seems to be beyond me.


Of course there are occasions for that; but, again, they will come with time and experience.
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David Jensen

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Well I continue to play and sure enough many of your comments I have learned.

Particularly hard lessons this week were starting placements are dependent on which turn your order you'll have! And! which turn you'll remain to have after round 1.

Second hard lesson was over paying for resources which cost me one build. In a close game, that sent me back.

I am not sure what you mean by '6 plant' is worst in the game. Are you refering to all 6 plants?

I have moved away from the calculator as one positive stride. But I still have no clue when to be the one who moves the game into stage 2.
 
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Russ Williams
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notyetsuperman wrote:
I am not sure what you mean by '6 plant' is worst in the game. Are you refering to all 6 plants?

Plant number 6 (the first garbage plant), not plants which power 6 cities. The latter are generally quite nice!
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David Jensen

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russ wrote:
notyetsuperman wrote:
I am not sure what you mean by '6 plant' is worst in the game. Are you refering to all 6 plants?

Plant number 6 (the first garbage plant), not plants which power 6 cities. The latter are generally quite nice!


Duh! Of course.
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David Jensen

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In attempt to redeem myself from my original post.
This has become a blog of my transformation from clueless to lost =)

I’ve read everywhere that 4 cap plants, don’t make for a good end game and I finally figured out why. They can reach 17 (4+6+7) so what’s’ the big deal? Its deceptively an end game plant because one problem is they can create a big void in capacity / income while you wait for that 6 to drop, but that first one to drop is typically inefficient. If you’re getting the 4er as your fourth plant, you’re likely finished. Keep in mind the #21, #24 have the potential to be less efficient and though the #29 offers efficiency it often comes late behind the #25/#26. Finally, if you do choose a 4 cap, this strategy can lock you into a 17 capacity max (rare that you’d be able to get two 7’s). Of course, this game has exceptions and the #21 and #24 seem to be very situational; long stalls before stage 2 where the #25 / #26 is out, an early #21 drop (round 3?) and no sign of the #25 /#26, or simply to push the plants out if someone got an early lead.

Any other times when a four cap makes sense? Are there any other insights into these plants?

The number of players will make a difference of course; I’ve tried to make this general, but I realize nothing in Power Grid ever is.

On another note, I think I may be over paying for the #25 and #26. It always seems like a great idea at the time but I’m losing a lot so I will focus here my next few games. To help me think about how much the #25 and #26 should go for is no easy task. Stage? Opponents capacity? Turn order? and of course resource requirements? The simplest I could make sense of this was to compare it to what other plants are in the current and future market.

First, let me go back and say that if you don’t get a 5er you’ll need to put together a combination of plants to secure the Elektro necessary to stay in the pack. I’ve seen this done a number of ways. Here are some plant combos I’ve noticed; 15 & 23, 16 & 23 (the 27 works too, but you’ll be behind the #25/#26 in turn order), #29 or #21 combined with #18 (rare!) or in some cases, they stand alone. I believe these should be secondary unless you’ve already picked one up and otherwise should bid for the #25 / #26. Using these combos I’ve compared the true value of the #25 and #26.

To do this, I’ve assumed that the cost to power up these combos is approx 10E and the cost to power up the #25, #26 is approx 12E through appropriate turn order management. Over the course of three turns, I’ve calculated plant cost, resource cost and three turns of income. I’ll show two examples then simply list the NET income.

Plants / Resource Cost / Cities / Income / Three Turn Income / Costs (Plant + Resources) /NET
#15 / 10E / 5 / 64 / 192E /68 /124
#25 /12E /5 /64 /192E /61 /131

In the example above the #25 gains 7E more than the combo #15 & #23, making the #25 true worth around 32E and be auctioned that way.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The key to the combos is making sure I am securing it with only my third plant. If I have to accomplish this by purchasing a fourth plant I’m finished.

Listed below is the profits using a similar format.
#15#23 124
#16#23 123
#21 111 (only powering 4 cities)
#15/#27 120 (or 116)
#15/#27 119 (or 115)
#24/#18 120
#21/#18 150 (powering 6 cities)
#20 127 (resources @ 15/ turn)
#25 131 (resources 12/turn)
#26 130 (resources 12/turn)

Has anyone done this?

I know so many people have said, use your intuition. However, I’m the type that has a budget for my personal expenses; without that I have no intuition what so ever. =) No wonder I apply it to games as well.

I’ll look forward to trying this out in my next few games and appreciate your input as well.

Good luck!
 
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David Jensen

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Another gaffe, I have failed to remember that a plant is removed at the start of Stage 2. Its why everyone has asked the player in last to move from Stage 1 to Stage 2 in stalls.

Doing such allows plants to come to the market quicker and give the losing player a chance to 'catch up'.
 
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tibbles von tibbleton
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This is a bit late and coming from someone else without a ton of experience, but to me the biggest flaw with using a 4 capacity plant for endgame (in 3/4-player, since you're talking about building to 17) is the lack of 7s.
The lost income vs someone who can snag a cheap 5 is an issue too, but doesn't strike me as the largest flaw as long as the 5s were all bid up.

There are (barring unlucky random removals) likely enough 7s in the deck for everyone to reach 17 via 4+6+7. But, what is not assured is for you to get one of those 7s before the game ends. My group normally doesn't see like half the phase 3 plants. What if all your 7s are in there? Or you get outbid for the only 7 that shows up?

I've won several games off inefficient 5+5+6 or 5+6+6 because my opponents all ran efficient lower capacity and could not get that necessary 7 before I built out to 17 with 16-17 capacity and ended the game while they sat at 14-15 capacity and stocked cash for a 7 that didn't come up in time.

Other times the 7 dropped in time, but with 2-3 competing for it, knowing it was 17 capacity to the winner, they'd bid themselves so high for the plant that they could no longer afford to build 17, again letting me do it for the win.


I think the general principle to take away is: You do not want lower capacity than anyone who could build out and end the game this turn. And having a 4 plant in 3-player likely means you have less capacity and will be reliant on a lucky auction for the save.
 
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