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Subject: Power Grid suitable as next step after gateway games? rss

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Ender Wiggins
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I'm making a reference list for BGGers about this question: What games are suitable for people who enjoy Settlers of Catan (the social aspects of the trading, the negotiation, interaction, and the civilization building and resource management), and are looking for something similar or for the next step? The criteria: * Good with 4 players * Plays in 1-2 hours * Not too much heavier than Settlers of Catan, but nothing lighter * A fun interactive experience * Not too dry/abstract.
Power Grid is one of the 25 games I've selected for the list.
Do you think Power Grid would appeal to players coming from Settlers of Catan, and why or why not? To what extent would it be a good choice for this purpose?

Here's the information I currently have on the list for Power Grid, which I submit for the comment and correction of people who have played the game.

-------------BEGIN LIST COMMENT-------------
BGG Weight: 3.41; Rating: 8.16; Rank: #4
Designer: Friedmann Friese
Players: 2-6 players (best with 4, good with 3-5) Just with two: Yes, good
Cost: $34.95 Duration: 120 minutes
Complexity: Medium-heavy
Mechanics: Financial management & optimization
Description: A heavy financial resource game about producing power to cities
Video: http://www.boardgameswithscott.com/?p=35
Theme: High
Luck: Low
Confrontation (Vicious factor): High
Tension: High
Interaction: Medium
Social: Low-medium
Components: Good
Comparisons:



Is this too big a step from Settlers? Is it a real brainburner, and too mathematical?
-------------END LIST COMMENT-------------

Power Grid is #24 on the list, I would ask that you please add any comments on its suitability there (although any corrections to the above information can be placed here), since that's where they'll get the highest visibility and be most beneficial to others. Hopefully the list will prove useful as a point of reference to others in the future as well, so feel free to comment on any of the other suggested possibilities on the list as well.

The Ultimate Next Step List: What should you choose after Settlers of Catan?
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/17146
#24 Power Grid
 
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Man thinks, the river flows.
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    The only caveat I would consider is the amount of time required for the first game. PG is likely two hours for seasoned players, but will be longer when teaching new folks. A minor issue at best.

             Sag.
 
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Mr. D
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What's good about Power Grid for this type of list is that it's the depth of the strategy that makes it a med.-heavy. The rules themselves are pretty easy to learn and teach and "slightly experienced" gamers can play the game and enjoy it - which is what it's all about after all. Just make sure you have someone who knows the game pretty well run the resource market - that's the only part that might turn people off.
 
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Mike Banks
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I think it is a natural step from Settlers, due in part to the fact that both games present easy-to-understand choices, which create difficult-to-predict consequences -- particularly the first time through.

An experienced player can explain to a newbie (with complete clarity) the long-term goals and ramifications of certain actions, but these are things that aren't *truly* understood until well into the game. The diminishing resource market in Power Grid seems to me to be a natural extension of the resource management aspect of Settlers.

As is the case will all of Friedemann's games, the graphics & tongue-in-cheek humor help lighten the mood, too. Also, the variety of expansion maps & rules help keep it fresh each time -- along with mixing it up for the experienced players who otherwise tend towards a trusted strategy.

The first time through will almost certainly be a slow-go for everyone -- especially the first couple of rounds. From there, it makes perfect sense, and the reason it's the #4 game here becomes evident. I still maintain that I would rather lose a game of Power Grid than win a game of almost anything else.



You should try it!!
 
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Nick Pitman
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I would echo a lot of the comments above and would even recommend it as a first off gateway game. Something which was confirmed when I played it with my wife recently.

My reasons for this are as follows;

- The look and feel of the game are very welcoming to non-veteran gamers with clear graphics and all the sweet wooden bits.

- There is an obvious underlying logic. Buy plants, buy fuel, build cities, power cities.

- There is never a bewildering array of choices. Tough choices yes, but never too many to make new players feel lost. I would not call it a brain-burner in the sense that Tigris & Euphrates and Reef Encounter can be, where you have to weigh up every possible option as many moves ahead as you can. You just have to calculate what you can afford to spend your money on each turn.

- The game has a natural progression slowly nudging the players onwards and so avoiding slumps (like the ones in settlers where the dice rolls can stop you producing for turn after turn).

- It has a very harsh "punish the leader" system which needs to be manipulated to play well. When playing as beginners it stops any one playing running off with the lead.

The only caveat I would make (as mentioned already) is that it helps if at least one player knows what is going on in the Bereaucracy Phase as it can be a bit confusing. Particularly the Power Plant Market.

I'll leave you with my collection of rules that I have made mistakes with, or overlooked before.

- In the bidding:
The first player has the option to start bidding. If he declines then he is not eligable to take part in any bids started by other players that turn. The next player now has the option to initiate bidding. Similarly if he declines he is out of the bidding for that turn.
If a player wins the bid they initiated then the next player has the option to initiate bidding on another plant.
If a player looses the bid they initiated then they have the option to iniate bidding on another plant.
Once a player wins a plant they are no longer able to bid that turn.
The effect is that provided that they do not decline the option to initiate bidding every player can gain one plant on each bidding phase.

- Building
You can leapfrog over other players cities when building to place a city "behind" them. You can leapfrog multiple cities in one go if you wish. To do this you pay (sum of all connection charges) + (cost of the city you are actually building).

- Bereaucarcy
While you usually remember to take the highest plant out of the Market and place it under the pile (in Step 1 & 2) it is easy to forget to remove plants from the Market once any player has built a number of cities equal to (or greater than) its value.

Oh and finally I recommend this player aid.
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/fileinfo.php?fileid=15138

 
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tex tex
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I echo the comment that it really helps if one player knows the game. I have found it is easier to teach if each other player gets an administration job: power plant market, auctioneer, fuel replenishment, banker, that they keep for the game.

It makes it much easier to explain the game if one is not simultaneously performing all the actions.

 
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It depends who you're playing with- the only way is to try.

If you make sure you know the rules inside out and teach them well then you shouldn't have any problems.

It is a good idea to share out the tasks, even for your own sake as there is a lot of bookeeping/buerocracy with this game. This also frees you up to concentrate on explaining things and generally keeping things running smoothly.

You should control the power plant market, because there are more small but important rules for that than anything else.

We put the bank in the middle covering regions not in play. Easy reach, 2 birds with one stone.

Paul
 
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Mario Lanza
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I wouldn't find it a good next step unless all the players were new to it. There are a lot of subtle tactics that would allow an experienced player tromp beginners.

One of the troubles with the game is it can be counterintuitive. In most games it feels that you just want to keep developing and improving your position as best you can on every turn, but Power Grid involves a good deal of posturing oneself for the last turn. Thus, someone can seize the win from a seemingly inferior position. For someone who is only just getting into boardgames, this can make for an unpleasant experience.

I'm not saying don't maybe play it with some new players, but do try to impart some understanding of these subtleties.
 
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