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Subject: Catch the leader... rss

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David Tolin
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For those of you who have played often, a question:

Should Power Grid have a big "Catch the Leader" problem? We've only played it a handful of times, but the endgame never seems to pan out as very exciting. The game plays nice and is very interesting during the beginning, but in the games we've played, it has always ended in a sort of anticlimactic... "oh well" sort of way. It's difficult to explain.

Mainly, it just seems that there is always a person in the lead that is unlikely to be caught. Heck, in our last game, we didn't even get to step 3 before the game ended! Maybe we're just not playing well -- and maybe a lot of it has to do with the fact that each play session has been with new people learning the game -- but it always just seems to fizzle out. Even if it's not a landslide in the victor's favor, it's always pretty clear who is in the lead.

Also, a sort of related question: Is resource depletion ever an issue? Maybe we're all just striking out in different directions to avoid competing for resource costs, but our resources are never really in short supply. It seems like a game based on this theme would have a serious shortage of at least one resource by the time the endgame rolls around. It would make it more exciting if the clear winner might actually lose due to a lack of available resources to power plants. As it is, money is so plentiful toward the end that finding the resources to power plants is not a concern.

Thanks for any discussion.

David T.
 
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Jim Cote
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Re:Catch the leader...
DavidT (#46603),

Are you using the payout chart that came with the English rules? This gives too much money, and you end up being able to build 2, 3, or even 4 cities each turn after the first 1 or 2. This makes the game a giant leap frog, and anyone who gets ahead stays there. Using the German payout chart (or my tweaked one which will hopfully be approved shortly) the game stays very close and you really need to consider every dollar that's spent and wasted.
 
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David Tolin
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Re:Catch the leader...
ekted (#46604),

We've been using the payout chart from the English rules. Is the German version readily available online? Thanks!

David T.
 
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Jim Campbell
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Re:Catch the leader...
If you enjoy the other payout chart, great. However, the intention of the new payout chart is to make the game shorter than the original game (Funkenschlag) while being just as competitive. Played reasonably well, Power Grid is a very competitive game with an exciting endgame. It is not uncommon for stage 3 to be short or to never occur at all, depending upon how the plant market progresses and which sort of attempted victory becomes possible. Your experience that resource squeezes rarely or never occur may mean that people are diversifying their fuel too much in the early game; that could very easily lead to runaway victories by players who focus on coal and/or oil plants early in the game. There are many lower-numbered plants that rarely offer good value relative to the coal and oil plants at the same level (I'm talking about 11, 14, 17, 19, 23, and 24 vs. 15, 16, 20, 25, and 26). Assuming as a group that the lower-numbered plants offer equivalent value will tend to deliver an advantage to the players that get the better plants; this can lead to runaway victories.

Jim
 
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Jim Cote
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Re:Catch the leader...
DavidT (#46618),

The German chart is included in the image section here, and hopefully my tweaked one will be up soon.
 
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Dave Eisen
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Re:Catch the leader...
I too prefer Funkenschlag classic, original payout chart and all.

That said, no, there is not a runaway leader problem in Power Grid and yes, there can be real shortages of resources. Played just yesterday and it was far from clear who was going to win until the last turn. Resources never ran out, but coal was very expensive most of the game.

This was with the American map. I imagine it is even more true with the German with its higher connection costs.
 
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Dave Eisen
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Re:Catch the leader...
I too prefer Funkenschlag classic, original payout chart and all.

That said, no, there is not a runaway leader problem in Power Grid and yes, there can be real shortages of resources. Played just yesterday and it was far from clear who was going to win until the last turn. Resources never ran out, but coal was very expensive most of the game.

This was with the American map. I imagine it is even more true with the German with its higher connection costs.
 
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Alex Sorbello
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Re:Catch the leader...
DavidT (#46603),
sorry but with good players there will not be a catch the leader problem as the leader will always have bad worst plants and have to pay more for his resources if he can still get them!
Better players tend to stay in the last position untill the last turn!
Try to be mean and make that leader pay for starting phase 2 because other players will cut him of and he'll have to make bigger jumps or has to wait till pahse 3
just my 2 cents but i have never seens a runaway game, most games i've seen were games in wich the last player won the game in the last round!
lexen
 
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Alex Rockwell
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Re:Catch the leader...
imo, the payout chart does NOT give out too much money. Using the chart as is is just fine.


For those who want money to be tighter, play the german map, it costs more.

 
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Chris Farrell
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Re:Catch the leader...
You can also configure the maps to increase/decrease the difficulty ... with 4 player on the US map, for example, you can delete the Western sectors, which yields just about the shortest and cheapest game possible, or you can eliminate eastern states for a longer, more challenging game.

I do think there is something slightly awry with the balance of Power Grid, but I'm fairly certain the payout chart is not it. Using the original Funkenschlag payout sheet will simply a) make the game longer and b) hammer the "leader" even more - since the nominal leader is already hosed in so many ways, it seems like pileing on. In Funkenschlag, for this reason as well as others, you just simply couldn't win if you were "ahead" in the last couple turns. In Power Grid, that's not the case - which is good I think.
 
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John Stimson
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Re:Catch the leader...
DavidT (#46603),

We have had the run away leader problem in one game, all the other games ended horrifically for the leader. In fact, in our group it is almost impossible to win if your in first place. People dump plants, etc... and in the end there is never any resources left for the leader to buy. Absolutely none at all.
 
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David Tolin
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Re:Catch the leader...
stayman (#47967),

I suppose we're just going to have to play more and see how it works out. Based on the 4-5 games we've played, I can't imagine resources *ever* being so scarce that it makes a difference. Heck, they hardly ever deplete to the point that the cost is an issue.

I'm sure the game is perfect as is, but it seems like less resources should be pouring out each time.
 
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Dave Eisen
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Re:Catch the leader...
DavidT (#48625),

Play some more. I almost think you must be getting some rule or other wrong. Resources definitely deplete at the end both so cost is an issue and so that the very existence of the resources is an even bigger issue.
 
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David Tolin
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Re:Catch the leader...
stayman (#47967),

I suppose we're just going to have to play more and see how it works out. Based on the 4-5 games we've played, I can't imagine resources *ever* being so scarce that it makes a difference. Heck, they hardly ever deplete to the point that the cost is an issue.

I'm sure the game is perfect as is, but it seems like less resources should be pouring out each time.
 
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Jim Cote
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Re:Catch the leader...
The last game I played (2 player) I lost because coal ran out. My opponent bought extra to keep me from being able to fire one plant, so I came up 3 cities short.
 
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Eric Brosius
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Re:Catch the leader...
DavidT (#46603),

One way to reduce this problem is to play on the less populated areas (thus, on the US map you eliminate the East Coast.) This makes it more costly for a leader to get a big lead in number of cities.
 
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Dave Eisen
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Re:Catch the leader...
Eric Brosius (#48683),

Just played tonight. Coal depleted. Was totally out by the time the last person to buy it went in the resource market the last few turns, to the point where I considered buying an expensive coal plant to replace my other expensive coal plant to prevent another player from buying it and sucking up all the coal before I got to it.

 
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Eric Brosius
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Re:Catch the leader...
dkeisen (#48700),

Yes, a resource squeeze is one very effective way to catch the leader. That's one advantage of the wind and nuclear plants; they are harder to squeeze out.
 
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