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Subject: Super Mean Power Grid!! rss

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Chris Jones
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I've got PGrid and have played it about 20 times so far with players ranging from 2 to 5 (not yet had everyone together for a 6 player yet).

I've found the game well balanced and most people end up at the final round pretty close together, what with the reversal of play priority that the game forces.

HOWEVER.. I have felt rather bored with the resource buying and replenishing mainly as I felt it wasn't punishing enough and no one went without anything and prices soon sort themselves out. At no point have we played a game using the restocking rules where a commodity has run out completely or anyone has been really stitched up.

In response to this 'worry' at being bored by one of the potentially dilema inducing aspects of the game, I reduced the restocking values (secretly for the last 2 plays..a 4 and 5 player game respectively). Well...play was ruthless, far more dramatic and the game tension shot through the roof. The lead player got stitched almost every round and the lead thus swapped between almost everyone over the course of play. Previous games the leader was held back but still maintained the prime spot till gaining victory.

If anyone is interested I'll post the 'altered' restocking values and see what feedback I get.

There was also a suggestion for a random events table (which a rough is passing around my group) which I shall post if there is interest!

CHRIS
 
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Shannon L
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I'd be interested in your re-stocking numbers. Please post.

Thanks
 
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Mat Nowak
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I'd love to see them too. I'm always up for a vicious game.
 
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David
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Hmmm, I've played lots of games where coal or oil has run out. The people I play with are perhaps unusually ruthless in that they often buy 2x fuel just to push the price up for the next player. Reducing the supply would certainly push up prices and make exhaustion more likely. How dramatic are your numerical changes?
 
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ɹǝsɐɹɟ
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Back in the days when there were less maps we played every map back to back
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Goldenturkey wrote:
At no point have we played a game using the restocking rules where a commodity has run out completely or anyone has been really stitched up.


Wow, we have played quite a few games where a resource has run out and people have been stitched up as you put it. One memorable game, one payer couldn't buy trash for his power plant three turns in a row due to evil buying by other players. We regularly see coal being totally used up on the normal maps. Maybe we just play mean meeple

If you really want to see someone stitched up play the Italy map and get somebody heavily into coal plants.
 
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David desJardins
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Goldenturkey wrote:
At no point have we played a game using the restocking rules where a commodity has run out completely or anyone has been really stitched up.


I really don't understand how you could play 20 games with no resource ever running out. In my experience, most games see one of the resources run out.
 
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Chris Jones
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My general feeling was that resources were not working "as they should" and I can't explain why if people have managed to exhaust their supplies in their games. It just has not happened.

We've got low down on the resources for sure but then they just reset all too quick for my liking. My thoughts were that the lead player should always be stitched so that the other players can catch up and pass them.

Rule One: Don't be the lead player unless you really can't avoid it
Rule Two: Repeat Rule one

MEAN RESTOCKING RATES

PLAYERS 2 3 4 5 6
COAL 2/3/3 3/4/3 4/4/4 4/5/4 5/7/5
OIL 1/1/2 1/2/2 2/3/3 3/4/4 4/5/5
GARBAGE 1/1/2 1/1/2 1/2/3 2/3/4 2/4/4
URANIUM 1/1/1 1/1/1 1/1/2 1/2/2 1/2/3

CHRIS

PS. I've also posted a word document in the files section entitled SUPERMEAN POWER GRID RANDOM EVENTS. Its the rough document so far and for ideas and suggestions. Feedback appreciated.
 
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Chris Jones
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Posted the random events and apologies for the restocking list, but the text editor doesn't recognise spaces.

CHRIS
 
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ɹǝsɐɹɟ
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Back in the days when there were less maps we played every map back to back
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Goldenturkey wrote:
My thoughts were that the lead player should always be stitched so that the other players can catch up and pass them.


In my experience all the other players are working very hard to ensure precisely the opposite - i.e. that they do not catch up and pass the lead player!
 
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Chris Jones
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Okay, semantics aside, "so the gap between the lead and last player is reduced".

But not closing the gap means you're going to struggle to hit first place by the game end.

In the games we've played so far, though held back the lead player has always managed to keep the pressure up (earning more money, shutting down access to new sites in each step by expanding the building into cheaper spots..etc) and has usually won anyway.

My take on this was that though (in the games we played) the lead player was held back, but it was not by enough!

CHRIS
 
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Ann De Haes
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I think we are mean players too: we're always buying high. Favoring dubble resources plants, because the screw factor is. We always look at the higher ranked players and try to find out if we can 'help' a bit by buying lots of resources. I think we are ruthless players. We really don't need less resources devil
 
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Chris Jones
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It's an interesting issue this, as in the games I've played everyone is doubled up on resources and some rounds theres nothing left to put out on the resource track, but we've never run out before........

....are the restocking values different in editions, because I thought we played mean (grabbing resources) but there we use alot of tactical plant buying, bidding for ones that spread the demand of resource rather than just focus on Oil or Coal, though it is interesting that in the last phases of the game, fossil fuel plants cut it whilst the green options are wanting.

So much for stopping global warning.

I'm getting the feeling that Power Grid is a cleverer game than most people at first realise!

CHRIS
 
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David
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You can use the Code formatting - [ c ] and [ /c ] to maintain text formatting:

MEAN RESTOCKING RATES

PLAYERS 2 3 4 5 6
COAL 2/3/3 3/4/3 4/4/4 4/5/4 5/7/5
OIL 1/1/2 1/2/2 2/3/3 3/4/4 4/5/5
GARBAGE 1/1/2 1/1/2 1/2/3 2/3/4 2/4/4
URANIUM 1/1/1 1/1/1 1/1/2 1/2/2 1/2/3

 
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David desJardins
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Goldenturkey wrote:
My thoughts were that the lead player should always be stitched so that the other players can catch up and pass them.


That would really suck, imho. I've played other games like that: you might as well just skip the first 80% of the game as if you get any lead, you'll just be penalized for it.

Power Grid is much more subtle. There are advantages to be had by taking the lead (good) but they require careful play to manage (even better) and there are also opportunities for other players to come back (better yet).
 
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Chris Jones
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its all a matter of tactics. At present it doesn't play as i'd like, so I've changed things. With empirical testing if that doesn't work then I'll change back, but I'm not quite sure what point your making.

PowerGrid punishes the lead players thus they won't be in the lead for long, others will pass them as they grow their power grids during the game, a prerequisite of winning.

Why this would "suck" would be if the lead player remained the lead player and didn't get any resources....well how could they remain lead player in this case OR if they were a good enough player to still remain lead then they deserve to win.

CHRIS
 
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David desJardins
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Goldenturkey wrote:
PowerGrid punishes the lead players thus they won't be in the lead for long, others will pass them as they grow their power grids during the game, a prerequisite of winning.


Well, this is not true. It's not unusual that the same player is the "leader" from beginning to end (and wins the game). That's ok with me.
The advantages of being the "leader" (more income from more cities, cheaper connections from being the first into cities, getting to build last so you can react to what others do) can sometimes outweigh the disadvantages (more expensive resources, less plant selection, having others build first and take spots you wanted). Sometimes they don't. That's what makes the game interesting.

If being the leader were "penalized" so that anyone who achieves a good position through skillful early play is penalized to have no advantage in the endgame over players who played worse early on, the game would be ruined. You might as well just skip the first half of the game, if making good decisions has no impact on who wins.
 
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David
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Rather than the game itself punishing the leader, I think it's more correct to say the game allows other players to put additional pressure on the leader(s). However, if a careful balance is achieved a player can maintain a 'leading' position and remain ahead. It's up to the other players to disrupt this balance. The balance can be achieved in various ways, such as monopolising a particular resource, strategic city connections, or buying renewable plants.

That said, it's a perfectly valid strategy to 'hang back' in one of the last positions, and wait for a good opportunity to strike. Even if you are earning less income than other players, careful purchases can mitigate this disadvantage. On less constrained maps (such as France), this can work very well.


 
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Chris Jones
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I think the route of disaggreement is the nature of games people like to play.

Personally I do not prefer games that are purely skill based (Go, Chess) mainly for the reason that getting beaten by a better player can be grinding after a while. THere is little room for that chance event that levels the playing field. I agree that this is one view point on games of skill.

I much prefer games where there is a contant uncertainty in the players mind as to what exactly will happen in the next round. Just because you are in the lead now, only means you stand the best chance of winning but who knows what might be around the corner. Some people would feel cheated by such a strategem, deserving to be first by good planning and shrewd game play.

I am very much a "taking part" player rather than a "I must win player" so game where the outcome can be in flux (now theres a random game for you) appeal to me.

I am drawn to the idea of adding a little randomness to PowerGrid to reduce the runaway nature of the lead player (which many admit can occur). I love Settlers of Catan, but if you made poor choices initially or you get boxed in by tactical play, it can be a very boring hour or so to just sit and watch someone else win. I wich to make my Power Grid games less "predetermined"

CHRIS
 
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    I for one like what Chris is doing here, and plan to try his revised restock.

    Last night we played a four-player game and we were very balanced on our plant types. There was virtually zero penalty for purchasing fuel last because the supply was plentiful enough. I see how it could happen the other way, but in my opinion it doesn't enough.

    One of my buddies asked last night if you could buy fuel and simply discard it (quickly crowned "The Exxon Valdez Strategy"), which the rules don't say CAN'T happen but naturally we didn't allow it.

    In most games someone has to volunteer to screw the leader. In Power Grid it's partially built in. I've played more than a few kinds of games where you need to edge up to the finish line without crossing until you're ready to make a mad dash -- limiting resources more will just add to the fun in my opinion.

             Sag.


 
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Nomadic Gamer
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Funny, out of 30 games I've seen it happen twice.
 
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davedanger wrote:
Funny, out of 30 games I've seen it happen twice.


    Seen what happen twice?

             Sag.
 
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Chris Jones
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Sagrilarus wrote:
davedanger wrote:
Funny, out of 30 games I've seen it happen twice.


Seen what happen twice?

Sag.


Sounds about the rate I win games these days!

CHRIS
 
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Steve Burt
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DaviddesJ wrote:
Goldenturkey wrote:
PowerGrid punishes the lead players thus they won't be in the lead for long, others will pass them as they grow their power grids during the game, a prerequisite of winning.


Well, this is not true. It's not unusual that the same player is the "leader" from beginning to end (and wins the game). That's ok with me.
The advantages of being the "leader" (more income from more cities, cheaper connections from being the first into cities, getting to build last so you can react to what others do) can sometimes outweigh the disadvantages (more expensive resources, less plant selection, having others build first and take spots you wanted). Sometimes they don't. That's what makes the game interesting.

If being the leader were "penalized" so that anyone who achieves a good position through skillful early play is penalized to have no advantage in the endgame over players who played worse early on, the game would be ruined. You might as well just skip the first half of the game, if making good decisions has no impact on who wins.

-----------------------
But if the leader is so penalised, then taking the lead does not constitute achieving a good position, and clearly is not skilful play; in fact it is weak play. Clearly your decision to take the lead early was not a good one.

Not that this necessarily applies to Power Grid, but I think your general point is invalid. If a game penalises the leader, then skilful players will not take the lead until they can win by doing so.
Diplomacy is a good example of such a game - being an early leader is often poor strategy as everyone will probably gang up on you; so taking an early lead is not a good idea; better not to jump ahead till you can do so in a manner that stops everyone jumping on you. That's hard of course, but it is part of the skill of the game.

This is true of a lot of multi-player games with a lot of player interaction; the skill is not in the board play, it is is managing the other players. 'Skilful play' isn't what happens on the board, it is what you can persuade the other players to do.

Maybe you don't like that style of play, but I don't see a game which allows everyone to bash the leader as flawed. You just need good diplomatic skills in such games.

 
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Sagrilarus wrote:

One of my buddies asked last night if you could buy fuel and simply discard it (quickly crowned "The Exxon Valdez Strategy"), which the rules don't say CAN'T happen but naturally we didn't allow it.


Well, I don't have the rules handy --I'm at work-- but the rules DO state that you can only buy 2-turns worth of fuel, and that you need room to store it in your plants. It seems pretty clear to me that you cannot buy extra.

I like the name "Exxon Valdez Strategy", tough

 
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David desJardins
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steveburt wrote:
This is true of a lot of multi-player games with a lot of player interaction; the skill is not in the board play, it is is managing the other players. 'Skilful play' isn't what happens on the board, it is what you can persuade the other players to do.


If you want a heavily diplomatic game, then I wouldn't think that Power Grid is what you're looking for. It would make more sense to play something like Diplomacy, where players have many ways to help and hurt each other, than a game like Power Grid, where the ability to help or hurt other players is pretty unpredictable.

Rather than turn Power Grid into a Diplomacy-style game by removing any opportunity for good play to gain a tangible advantage on the board, it would make more sense to me to keep it in the genre of relatively non-diplomatic games, where I think it belongs. Of course, that is a matter of taste.
 
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