Recommend
4 
 Thumb up
 Hide
7 Posts

Power Grid» Forums » Strategy

Subject: Two Player Power Grid Thoughts & Opening rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Brian Bankler
United States
San Antonio
Texas
flag msg tools
badge
"Keep Summer Safe!"
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Has anyone played this 2 player? I'm wondering how the opening should go. First player opens the 4 plant. Should second player just let them have it and take the 7, or should there be a fight over the 4? [Or should it be the 4 and 5 plants?] I think it should be 4/7, with the 4 player buying two cities (since he'll win the tie anyway).

On the second turn the 7 player opens the 8, but the first player probably has to bid on it (to get 3 cities powered) and the second player takes the 9. So we have 4/8 vs 7/9

The market seems really clogged, because the 3/5/6 are there. The 3 presumably goes away on the second turn, leaving 5/6/10/13 (or 11 or 12).

So, is the two player game interesting?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jim Cote
United States
Maine
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Re:Two Player Power Grid Thoughts
Bankler (#47477),

What I find in the 2 player game is that some of the aspects break down. Both players need to build ALL 21 cities. So presuming you don't get "cut off" during Step 1, or take unnecessary connections, all building costs will be exactly the same. Going first is HUGE for fuel costs, so there's a kind of competition NOT to build, or to choose a smaler numbered plant.

Since you can only build 4 plants and need to power 21 cities (can be less, but I've never seen it), you need to shoot for plants something like:

5-5-5-6
4-5-5-7
4-5-6-6

Every time you replace a plant, you are wasting its cost, but of course you need cheap plants at the beginning. I will never ever buy 2 plants that supply 4 cities; you must always replace one of them, and they are too expensive to waste.

As far as bidding on turn 1, I don't like to push up the price for the opponent if I can get another plant at cost, unless they are bidding on the ONLY plant I want. Our games usually come down to less than $10 difference (we always both supply 21 cities), and that $10 can usually be traced back to bidding wars, and an occasional bad choice in plant upgrades.

I really think the mechanic for managing plants is "broken". It works, but just barely. If you stressed it in any way, it would fall apart. I've made this criticism before, but I have no solution.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Alex Rockwell
United States
Lynnwood
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Re:Two Player Power Grid Thoughts
Bankler (#47477),

I think 2 player is very interesting. Even the board play is very interesting. WHoever builds first is faced with the problem: I cut the cake, you choose a side. They need to find a spot near the midle so that whichever side theri opponent builds on, its good for them. Also, when your opponent already has less than half the map available to them without an expensive jump, so they cant trigger phase 2, it can pay to plan a jump into their territory to steal their remaining cities, if it means that they have to pay much more to jump you in return.


Regarding the opening, the 4 plant costs 5 for coal for two turns, or 2.5 a turn. The 7 plant costs 9 on turn 1 for two cities, and then 10 on turn 2 for two cities, if no other oil plant was taken.

Additional Profit (if paying face vaue for the plants) is:

4 plant: 12 (1 city) - 4 (the plant) - 2 for the coal = 6. It also gives two coal for 3 more, which is of benefit.

7 plant: 23 (two cities) - 7 (the plant) - 9 (3 oil) = 7.

Since the 4 player has advantage of turn order for buying cities on turn 1, auctioning plants turn 2, buying resources turn 2, and buying cities turn 2, its clear that this is all worth some significant amount.

You should ABSOLUTELY fight over the 4 plant!

Note that the other plants are worse than the 7.

The 5 plant gives a profit of:

12 - 5 - 5 (two coal, after the other buys 4) = 2 or five bucks less than the 7 plant, while still not gaining turn order.

The 3 plant gives a profit of: 12 - 3 - 6 = 3. Here, you have 3 bucks less than the other player, and turn order, but your plant is far worse than theirs, AND you didnt get to buy the cheap coal. But its actually better than the 5 in terms of profit. Given that it gives you turn order, this is better than the 5

The 6 is horrible, profit is 12 - 6 - 7 = -1.

So 4 is the best turn 1 plant, followed by 7, 3, 5, 6.

Profits if one pays face for the plants are:
04: 6 profit + turn order over the 7
07: 7 profit
03: 3 profit + turn order over the 4 player
05: 2 profit
06: -1 profit

All those dont include the 10 one gets for no cities.

While the 03 might look more attractive than the 07 plant on turn 1, the fact that it is so bad later on makes the 07 plant a better buy.

If the 04 plant goes for 7, its rofit is equal to the 03 plant profit, yet it is better on later turns, as coal is much cheaper.


You should bid up the 4 plant a few bucks, until you think the gain in money from the 7 plant is worth the cost paid in worse turn order.


For turn 2, we now have the player with the 4 and the player with the 7. There is 2 coal available at 1, and 2 oil at 3. The 4 player has 1 coal bought at 1 buck (if the other player bought the 5 plant or 3 plant, they would have bought 4 coal last turn instead of 3)

The 07 plant player now chooses a plant to auction.

If they choose the 03 or 05, the other player lets them have it and takes the much better 08 plant. If it was 03, they now need 5 oil which is very bad. If 05, the other buys many coal first, and they pay too much for coal for the 05. If the player with the 07 plant auctions the 06, its terrible.

So the only good choice is to auction off the 08 plant.
If they get this, their remaining cash will be:
50 - 7 - 9 + 33 - 8 - cost of two cities = 57 minus two cities. If these cities were a total of 27, they have 30 left. They cannot afford fuel for the 07 and the 08 plants, and get 4 cities. Thus, they would do best to remain at 2 cities, and power one plant. However, they do much better than their opponent who goes to two cities and uses more resources than them to power cities, AND they have better plants.


I would guess that the 04 plant player needs to buy the 08. They bid 9 on it. The 07 player should let them have it and take the 05 plant and buy coal!

I havent analyzed this all extensively, its my initial hypothesis. Buying the 09 plant gives the 07 player poor turn order, and the money saved is about as much as the difference in cost between the plants. There is a benefit to buying the 05 plant and burning more coal, drivign up the cost for one's opponent to use the 08 plant in the future signifigantly.


It seems that the plants should fall 04 with 08, versus 07 with 05. The 04 plant should be bid up several dollars on turn 1, I dont know by exactly how much.

5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Thomas Bornheim
United States
California
flag msg tools
mbmb
Great in-depth review of the 2-player opening!

I didn't fully go in depth on The 7-plant, yet. but I agree to the suggested order: if you take the 7-plant in the first round, in the second turn, you can immediately bid on the 3-coal powerplant to raise the price and put your opponent under pressure. In case you get it, you'll have a 2-2 situation, in the next round, you won't need to buy another plant, will most likely be able to settle on second position after your opponent is forced to buy a higher plant and can stay with powering 2 sites only.

But - as a counter-strategy for the 4-player in the second round: if he buys the 4-plant (fired by 2 coal) and the 3-plant (powered by 2 oil) now and buys 4 coal and 4 oil in the second round, this will make resources so expensive for the 7-8-player he will have serious problems getting anywhere in round 3...
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Rich Plunkett
Australia
Balmain
NSW
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Quote:

Since you can only build 4 plants and need to power 21 cities (can be less, but I've never seen it), you need to shoot for plants something like:


You dont NEED to power 21 cities. (Its good to plan for 21, but the assumption the game will last that long is false).

If its near the end of the game, and you can power more cities than the other guy, buying your 21st city triggers the end-of-game and you win or lose based on powered cities - which could easily be 17-20.

This means you need to be careful about letting you opponent get ahead of you in potential power production, and that can mean having to buy an extra "midgame" plant, just in case the endgame turns up early.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Thomas Bornheim
United States
California
flag msg tools
mbmb
[q="richardplunkett"]
Quote:

You dont NEED to power 21 cities. (Its good to plan for 21, but the assumption the game will last that long is false).

Strictly by the rules, you are right, but I've played ~150 2p games with different people, and i never saw this happening. I can only imagine this to be happening when player's get really lucky/unlucky with the plants, and the leading player is totally dominating.

Keep in mind, to win based on this, you need to invest the money on one or more extra city you cannot power, and you need to be in a situation where your fellow player cannot reach up to the number of cities you are powering yourself. If you buy the extra cities, he is most likely to have more cash than you, after you bought the extra cities.

My guess for the reason why 2p games mostly end at 21: players get close to receiving 150€ at least two turns before the end game, this is generally enough to buy the rest of the cities. This does not apply to a 3p+ game.

If i may add a comment, this is the reason why I get annoyed by the 2p sometimes, because the auction for 21 is too important than other mechanisms, and the 'random' new card (in the mid-game) may be too powerful.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jonas K
Denmark
flag msg tools
Bankler wrote:
So, is the two player game interesting?


I haven't played Power Grid at any other player count yet, due to not having the opportunity to do so. I bought the game off of having played two 2p games; that was enough to sell me on it. Yes, it's interesting.

ekted wrote:
Both players need to build ALL 21 cities. So presuming you don't get "cut off" during Step 1, or take unnecessary connections, all building costs will be exactly the same.


Assuming both players build 21 houses, each $10 house you build makes a $10 difference in the money tiebreaker: instead of paying $5 more than your opponent you pay $5 less, and $5 - (-$5) = $10.*

Given that there's an odd number of cities, one player will build more $10 houses than the other. Assuming both players build along the minimum spanning tree**, one player will build more $10 houses than the other. Thus, total building costs can only ever be equal if someone pays more than the minimal connection costs.

(*) If you think the right answer is $5 rather than $10, you're likely comparing the situation "$10 house for player 1, $15 house for player 2" to "no one builds in this city". But I assumed that 42 houses get built, so you make a different comparison—to "$15 house for player 1, $10 house for player 2".

(**) The minimum spanning tree is the set of (20) pairwise connections that minimize total connection costs. One way of finding it: start in any city. Build one house along the cheapest*** connection available to you. Repeat this step until you've built 21 houses. (Prim's algorithm.) For example, if you start in LA, your next houses might be San Diego, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Phoenix and so on.

(***) Break ties any way you like. All choices lead to identically priced builds; only the order of house construction changes.

I'm not suggesting that this is the right strategy for actually building houses; it just tells you what set of connections is the cheapest. The non-minimal connection costs highlight which regions are easy to defend against jumping intruders and where the strategic frontiers are; use that to guide your building decisions. Probably you want to build where you can easily reserve a good chunk of the optimal connections for yourself while having only a small risk of getting boxed in.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] 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.