Thumb up
1 Posts

Power Grid» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Coal shortage all game as power plant draws are abysmal rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
flag msg tools
My favorite 18xx game for six players is two games of 1846 with three players each.
(Eric, Anton, Rich, Dan)

It was clear that there would be just 4 of us this evening, so we
had time for a 90-minute game. Anton wanted to leave fairly early
this time and suggested Power Grid, a game we hadn't played for a
few weeks. We asked him what map he'd like to use (we have both
the original US/Germany map and the France/Italy map, though we
haven't yet gotten the new Benelux/Eastern Europe map.) He chose
Germany and we set up quickly and began to play. We chose the
four southern regions, with a relatively cheap area up in the
northwest and a lot of expensive connections down south.

The principal luck element in Power Grid lies in the random power
plant draw, and as it would turn out, this game had an unusual set
of plant draws. Round 1 started out normally enough. Anton paid
$7 for the #04, Dan paid $6 for the #05, Rich took the #03 for list
price, and Eric bought the #08, with capacity for two cities. Rich
started in Dortmund, in the northwest, Dan in Wiesbaden, Anton in
Halle, and Eric in Fulda and Frankfurt. In Round 2, Eric auctioned
the #10 to Anton for $11, then settled for the #13 windmill. This
didn't bring any attractive plants into the current market, so Dan
took the efficient #09 oil plant and Rich the smoky #07. We were
burning a lot of fuel, especially coal, and Rich was able to make
the cheap connection to Koln. Neither Dan nor Eric built (though
Eric could have powered a third city for free, he couldn't quite
scrape up the needed cash.) Anton was better off, grabbing Erfurt
and Leipzig to become brightest bulb with three cities.

The popular #25 coal plant was in the current market at the start
of Round 3, and bidding was spirited. Rich and Eric bid Anton up
to $37 before they let him have it; in truth, both Rich and Eric
would have been in money trouble if they had gotten the plant,
though Eric did have the windmill to earn him $22 even if he had
been unable to buy coal. The replacement plant was the efficient
#29 hybrid, and Rich paid $32 for it as Eric and Dan hoped for a
better, cheaper option. Unfortunately, the only plants we could
draw were nuclear and uranium plants. The market was wreathed in
red and yellow as the #06, #14, #19, #11, #17 and #23 were all out
in the early going. None was attractive, and Dan and Eric chose
to pass rather than buy plants they didn't want. Dan jumped in next
to Rich, taking Dusseldorf to fully use his capacity. Rich moved
north to Munster and Eric took Kassel, giving him central position
but continuing a pattern of costly builds. Anton was unable to
build, given his high plant spending, but at least he had two coal
left over from the previous round and was able to run for $44.

Dan's strategy of hanging back at the dim bulb end of the turn order
was predicated on drawing good plants from the deck, but there was
nothing even slightly attractive. After the rest of us passed on
the Round 4 auction, Dan sighed and thought and thought and sighed
and finally took the #06 trash plant. We rarely see the #06 bought
(except on the Italy map where trash is cheap,) and it's even more
unusual to see it bought during Round 4! Dan reasoned that it would
pay for itself in a single round, and might prove valuable for one
more round. He connected Essen, giving him three cities to go with
his three capacity-1 plants. Eric declined to build, reasoning that
with a capacity of only 3, he was better off at the dim end (well,
brighter than Dan, but dimmer than the others.) Anton was able to
add a fourth city in Wurzburg and Rich claimed both Osnabruck and
Aachen. Rich was burning oil, which had become much cheaper than
coal, and the savings were proving to be substantial.

When we buried the largest plant at the start of Round 5, the new
plant was the #20 coal plant. This plant has a capacity of 5, which
is excellent for such a low-numbered plant, but it takes three coal
to run, and coal was not easy to afford. Nevertheless, Rich paid $31
for it, raising his capacity to 11, as compared with 8 for Anton and
just 3 each for Dan and Eric. Eric had not even bought a third plant
yet! Next, Anton put the #27 windmill up for auction. This plant
was tempting with fuel so expensive (windmills are most valuable in
slow-developing games like this one,) but the 3-city capacity was a
little low for Round 5. Dan bought it for $30 as the others dropped
out in hopes of something better. Our hopes were realized as the #32
oil plant dropped down from the future market. This was the first
capacity-6 plant to become available, and Eric was happy to get it
for just $39, even though it's costly to run. At this point, Anton
didn't like any of the remaining plants (not even the #30 trash
plant, which also powers 6 cities) and passed. Dan built into
Duisburg, his fourth city, and Eric placed his fourth in Mannheim.
Anton added Nurnberg for five as Rich sat tight.

When we buried the biggest plant at the end of the round, it was
replaced by the #28 nuclear plant, yet another red plant. Rich
passed and Anton bought the #28, wishing he had another shot at
the #30. The other available plants were awful and Eric and Dan
passed again. Every turn you hope for a shot at a good plant,
but there's no guarantee. One strategy in Power Grid is to spend
for the bigger early plants, even though they cost a lot to run.
Another is to wait for the more efficient later plants, hanging
around at the back of the turn order to save on fuel and get more
plant options. Dan was trying the latter strategy, and it wasn't
paying off at all. At least the low spending on plants gave us
a chance to catch up on our city building. Dan built Saarbrucken
and Eric Stuttgart and Augsburg. Anton then connected Regensburg
and Munchen to reach seven cities and trigger Phase 2. When Rich
saw this, he connected only Trier, saving his funds for cheaper
builds next round.

The plants for Round 7 were dismal again, and the first 3 players
passed, but Dan's capacity was only 5, and he settled for the #23
nuclear plant. This put him in contention with Anton for uranium
and guaranteed that the price wouldn't drop. Dan was able to
connect Frankfurt and Dortmund, giving him 7 cities he could power.
Rich steamed into 3 cities of his own, Saarbrucken, Mannheim and
Stuttgart, bringing him to 9. Eric added Konstanz and Freiburg down
in the southwest for 8 and Anton built Augsburg and Passau in the
southeast. Round 8 plants were so bad that we all passed. Dan
didn't build (he already had everything he could power.) Eric
jumped in to take Essen, Duisburg and Dusseldorf, trying to make
things a bit costlier for Rich at the same time as he got three
cheap connections of his own. Rich moved east instead, to Wurzburg
and Nurnburg, and Anton added Fulda, Kassel and Dresden to reach 12.
The coal was almost all used up, and Rich and Anton were stocking
one round ahead to protect against shortages, driving the price up
to $7 or $8 per load.

Anton stared at the plants that were on offer at the start of Round 9
and reluctantly settled for the #18 windmill (he was still running
the #10 he bought in Round 2, at a cost of more than $12 each time.)
Eric was still running the #08 and #13 plants, so he put the #19
trash plant, with its pitiful 3-city capacity, up. Dan bought it
for $21. Eric then took the only 3-city plant left, the #15 coal
plant, even though the threat of a coal shortage was acute. When
the #24 trash plant became available next, it looked like a terrific
plant in comparison to the other options, even though you'd never
consider it in Round 9 in a normal game. Rich bought it with a
smile. In this round four plants were bought: the #18, the #19,
the #15 and the #24. It was the most pathetic set of Round 9 buys
I've ever seen. Dan connected Munster and Osnabruck, giving him 9
cities he could power with his three capacity-3 plants. Rich took
Erfurt, Halle and Leipzig, zipping past Eric to take the second slot
in the northeastern cities. Eric declined to build; even with
the #15 he could only power the 11 cities he had. Anton connected
Weisbaden, realizing that it was hurting him to be too bright and
preferring to hang behind Rich.

We finally got half-decent plants in Round 10, as the Phase 3 card
was turned over in the "bureaucracy" phase. First up was the #30
trash plant that Anton had spurned so many rounds ago. Rich and
Anton had a fierce auction, with Rich finally buying it for $68 (he
had a big pile of money, thanks to his lower fuel costs and high
city count throughout the game.) Although there was another plant
with capacity 6 in the market, the #42 coal plant, Anton passed it
by, fearing a coal shortage, buying the #35 oil plant (five cities
for one oil) instead. The #46 hybrid now appeared, and Dan was not
going to be denied. Eric bid him up, but didn't want to spend so
much he couldn't use the plant, and Dan bought the #46 for $63.
The replacement plants had been weak, and the only plant left that
would power 6 cities was the #42. Eric saw that Dan could deny him
the ability to buy enough fuel to power both the #42 and the #15,
but he knew he couldn't win without the #42, so he bought it. Sure
enough, Dan snapped up five coal for his #46, leaving Eric unable to
buy more than 3. During the building phase, Dan connected Aachen,
Koln, Mannheim and Stuttgart, giving him 13 cities, all of which he
could power. Eric took Regensburg and Weisbaden, giving him 13,
even though he could only power 12, hoping to slow Rich down. Anton
built Konstanz for 14, his powering limit, and Rich ended the game
by connecting Essen, Duisburg and Dusseldorf for 17.

Final scores:

Rich_ 15 cities (connected 17 to end it but only powered 15)
Anton 14 cities
Dan__ 13 cities
Eric_ 12 cities (connected 13, plants for 15, but only fuel for 12)

Eric's rating: 9. This was an unusual game. Dan suffered from
extremely poor luck, and was frustrated for most of the game as a
result, but it's the possibility of unusual runs of luck that makes
the decision-making so tense. I've played Power Grid often enough
that I can tolerate the odd outlier.
 Thumb up
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.