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Brass: Lancashire» Forums » General

Subject: How similar are Brass and Power Grid? rss

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Ryan Addleman
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I'm currently backing Brass: Lancashire on Kickstarter but have been having some doubts due to some comparisons of Brass and Power Grid. Power Grid is one my top three games of all time and I'm starting to get concerned that Brass is too similar to Power Grid and it wouldn't be worth owning both of them.

So for people who have played both, just how similar are these two games? Is it worth owning both?
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Maarten D. de Jong
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The games are nothing alike; comparisons are made only to give some crude idea of what you're getting into. Brass is (partly) about parasitic logistics: an element completely missing from Power Grid. Conversely, Power Grid is about auctions and associated state evaluations: something that is completely missing from Brass. There is a similarity of industries getting 'better' over time, but the way this has been implemented and used in both games really is quite different.

Whether or not it is worth owning both depends on you liking the specifics of both games. But in terms of one game resembling the other too much: no, not the case.
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Ægir Æxx
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The only similar thing about them is that they both use money.

You haven't rated any games and your top ten list doesn't have many economic games so it's difficult to gauge if you would like it.

To me, Brass is a top 3 best game of all time.
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The only similarities are that there is a similar market for the price of goods and that they're both economic style games. I suppose they both have an element of network building and blocking (blocking is much more punishing in PG though).

Brass has a semi-coop element that PG lacks. PG has a timing element that Brass lacks. Brass has a fixed number of rounds, whereas the end-game of PG can vary based on how much building the players are doing. Brass has loans and is (somewhat) card-driven (although in only one of the several actions does the card played actually matter).

In no way does one of these games make the other not welcome in one's collection.
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Dm225 wrote:
So for people who have played both, just how similar are these two games? Is it worth owning both?


And I'm someone who thinks that Quadropolis, Capital, The Capitals, Between Two Cities and Suburbia are all close enough to fall in the same 'slot'. Many people will call this heresy but I think it frames where I'm coming from.

That one is easy: yes, absolutely worth owning both, Brass and Powergrid are not the same at all.
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They're good games Bront.
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Eric Brosius
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I too love Power Grid. I don't care much for Brass. But I'll agree that they're not at all alike. Power Grid is a very straightforward game: you buy plants, you buy fuel, you connect cities, you power cities. Actually doing that well enough to win is tough, but what you're doing is simple.

Maybe Brass fans will disagree, but Brass is far less transparent to me than Power Grid. That's not a bad thing per se; I like some opaque games too. Sometimes it's a feature I like. But it feels very different. In Brass, a new player can easily say, "what am I trying to do again?" I rarely hear that in Power Grid. Now, an expert Power Grid player will usually destroy a beginner, but that's usually by making better decisions, especially in the auctions.
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Robert Masson
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Eric,

I agree, Brass and PG have very different feels. PG is a great intro game for players new to Euros. It is mechanically pretty simply, it is the strategy that is hard. Brass has much more mechanically going on with different types of cards, the rules changes between Phases, Construction rules of supply, etc.

To your point I think that Brass is a much more inter-locking game. You rely on the other players moves to help drive your next best move. As a result knowing what to do (especially at the beginning) tends to be very hard. I do think that there are some fairly good strategies. The Cotton strategy tends to be very effective and I have had very good luck recently focusing on the Port Strategy. But even those need to be adjusted based on the cards you have and what the other players do.

We play Brass more than PG in our group but we do enjoy both immensely.

Rob
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Sam Lam I Am
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They are not similar at all. They DO both have wooden cubes that represent coal, but they aren't even the same color.
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Malachi Brown
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I want to offer a... different opinion. I used to like Power Grid. I played it 17 times (not including a couple of plays of Funkenschlag). I owned it, several expansion maps, and a set of custom polymer clay resources and player markers I made myself. I eventually traded Power Grid away.

I own Brass and I have pledged to get copies of both of the upcoming versions. I have played Brass 77 times and it continues to hold my interest and have a place in my top 15 games.
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Spencer C
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Eric Brosius wrote:
I too love Power Grid. I don't care much for Brass. But I'll agree that they're not at all alike. Power Grid is a very straightforward game: you buy plants, you buy fuel, you connect cities, you power cities. Actuall doing that well enough to win is tough, but what you're doing is simple.

Maybe Brass fans will disagree, but Brass is far less transparent to me than Power Grid. That's not a bad thing per se; I like some opaque games too. Sometimes it's a feature I like. But it feels very different. In Brass, a new player can easily say, "what am I trying to do again?" I rarely hear that in Power Grid. Now, an expert Power Grid played will usual destroy a beginner, but that's usually by making better decisions, especially in the auctions.


I agree that Brass is more opaque than Power Grid, though my preference lays with Brass.
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Alex Drazen
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Quote:
So for people who have played both, just how similar are these two games? Is it worth owning both?


They're not very similar. Echoing the comments above, Power Grid is a fantastic, straightforward gateway game into heavier games. Brass is something you play when you already like heavier, more complicated games.

I find that Power Grid gets various reactions, while Brass tends to split into love it/hate it camps, with little in between.

Brass has more direct interaction (overbuilds, cooperation between port/cotton players). Brass lacks variable maps and rules, and has a bit more luck involved because you have to manage your game from a hand of cards, and you only see about half your cards for each era at the start of it. In Power Grid, you just count the plant deck.

One similarity: if you think people call Power Grid fiddly, wait until they start learning about how coal works in Brass, vs. iron. The coal mechanism is the #1 point of confusion I've found for newbies. I can almost always explain Power Grid rules to a novice, but Brass is way harder to teach, in my opinion.



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Maarten D. de Jong
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alexdrazen wrote:
I can almost always explain Power Grid rules to a novice, but Brass is way harder to teach, in my opinion.

I'm no slouch at teaching games, and found Brass 'doable' in about 20 minutes. But it required me to be fluent with the rules beforehand, and come up with a different more hands-on approach: if you try to do it in the usual way you'll end up with frustrated players for sure. The result was that the people I played with immediately demanded a rematch, and asked me to bring it along to our next game day: 'With such an explanation everyone present ought to understand it'. I suppose I must've done something right.

Of course I fscked up magnificently by not separating the VP and money markers, but other than that we got almost all rules correct.
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Jeff M
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Not similar. (Couldn't resist placing a cheap post. )
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Alex Drazen
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Quote:
I'm no slouch at teaching games, and found Brass 'doable' in about 20 minutes


I still think it is quite fiddly to learn to play face to face.

First, the rule about playing a card for every action. Some people find that counter-intuitive; if they are not using the Build Industry card to build in a city, I find they need prompting. Even the experienced players can have trouble remembering this, if they're not playing on OOTH

Second, the concept of connectivity seems to confound people (just look at some BGG posts, where experienced gamers think connectivity requires an industry in a city, not just a link to the city). The use of everyone's canals/rails as common shipping lanes for coal and selling cotton also raises some eyebrows.

Third, the coal transportation and distant market sales (of both flipped coal/iron and cotton) trips a lot of people up. In my first game, years ago, as it was taught, I interpreted the instructions as having to connect to a distant market SPACE to sell cotton (rather than knowin that you could sell it to the DM via someone's port). Then you tell them iron teleports. I do wish the Brass board had "£5 if none in market" printed below the market for newbies as well, as being able to buy from an empty market may also not be as common (especially if you came over from Power Grid, where the market can run out).

Fourth, the scoring vs. income distinction. This isn't hard but it is uncommon to find a game where you only score points at two fixed times the whole way through, and the "doubling up" of L2+ techs scoring in both Canal and Rail sometimes seems odd to people.

Finally, I did not find the rulebook or quick reference to help much when starting out. Mostly, I do not feel like it flows as well as it could. The information is all there, but I definitely have a hard time if I want to demonstrate a particular rule by looking it up. Just yesterday, after 100+ games of Brass, I was playing a game where I was asking myself something that, amazingly, had never come up for me before: "if I build this disconnected L3 coal mine, can the 4th player in turn order overbuild my L2 coal because the coal demand market is empty?" (Answer: No, but it took me a while to find the information that it's both the demand track AND cubes on the board which prevent an overbuild of an opponent).

None of these things are overly complicated, but I do think they are often unfamiliar, which leads to misinterpretation.
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alexdrazen wrote:
None of these things are overly complicated, but I do think they are often unfamiliar, which leads to misinterpretation.


We're sidetracking the original topic a bit but I absolutely agree with you. Some people will pretend that both games have the same amount of rules and the same complexity, but Powergrid is extremely intuitive and mechanically clear, Brass is a lot more indirect, opaque, and ultimately intricate which makes it unusual and unfamiliar (which is half its charm really, but can't be neglected when teaching it).
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Maarten D. de Jong
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Lapsus wrote:
... Powergrid is extremely intuitive and mechanically clear, ...

Okay, I respect sidetracking the topic, so this will be my final contribution to this subthread, but there has been a fair amount of bitching too about the PG rules to the point of them being rewritten, and frankly I've since given up trying to memorise when which cards come into and leave the game. I just keep the rules at hand, and look up the relevant sections when the situation presents itself. Then there are the city connection rules to contend with, and they allow a 'pass through' just as does Brass. I find it hard to accept that this sort of thing is considered 'extremely intuitive and mechanically clear'.
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Eric Brosius
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cymric wrote:
I find it hard to accept that this sort of thing is considered 'extremely intuitive and mechanically clear'.

Maarten, many of the issues you mention are things that the person running the game needs to keep in mind, but that the new player doesn't need to know. I usually run the game, and I too sometimes need to look something up (in particular, what to do depending on what phase the Step 3 card shows up in.) The one exception is power plant building and "tunneling" through one city to get to another, but I haven't had too much trouble with that either. I've been very successful teaching the game, and have no fear teaching it to a brand new gamer. I wouldn't dream of teaching Brass to a brand new gamer.
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I find the idea of teaching a new gamer Brass in 10 minutes very unusual, but well done if you really pulled that off.

To me there is no question that Brass is a much heavier, brain-burning game than Power Grid. As mentioned above, some of the more fiddly and hard to remember rules in Power Grid are upkeep steps that can be left to one player. The actual decisions you make on your turn in Power Grid seem fairly intuitive. You can tell pretty quickly if a choice you made either helped or hurt your chances of winning the game.

The mechanics in Brass have more moving parts to keep track of, and it took our game group several plays before any of us had a sense of a global strategy. It takes a while, I think, before you have a sense of what went wrong if you lost or what went right if you won.
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