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Subject: Should I get Puerto Rico or Power Grid? rss

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David Williams
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Greets, Geeks, this is my first post, although I've lurked for a year off and on.

My friends and I have enjoyed Ticket to Ride: Europe for its high production value and straightforward - but not overly simplistic - gameplay. Some of us have also played Catan in the past. We are lucky to get together once a month.

I want to add a new game to my tiny collection this Christmas, and I've been looking strongly at Puerto Rico and Power Grid, reading a lot of the reviews here.

Please answer these questions:

I have read that in Power Grid, your skill and strategy is often secondary to which cards come up... in other words, dumb luck. How true is this?

I have read that in Puerto Rico, your skill and strategy is often secondary to your seating arrangement: Whoever goes after the worst player wins. How true is this?

And finally (since you were going to anyway cool,) which game is WAAAAY better than both of these for a group like mine and why should I get that one instead?

Thanks,

Sergo

 
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Adam D.
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Own PG but have not played it yet, PR, however I have, and IMHO (more acronyms please!) the turn-order issue with PR is overstated except amongst dedicated long-time players who already know the best moves. For a new group I think you would definitely get your money's worth in figuring out what those strategies are. And nothing is ever sure unless you play with the same people who always play the same way

Just my .02
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Rik Van Horn
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Power Grid is more fun. Puerto Rico is fun if all the players aren't experts, but once you get someone who considers himself an expert, the game becomes a bore.
 
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Bill Eldard
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Sergo wrote:
Please answer these questions:

I have read that in Power Grid, your skill and strategy is often secondary to which cards come up... in other words, dumb luck. How true is this?


Not true. There are occasions when a player postpones buying a power plant in the hope that the choices will improve during the next round, only to be disappointed by lesser choices, but that's called risk management. Luck is a very minor factor in Power Grid. For a comparison, there is far less luck in PG than in Ticket To Ride (any edition) or Settlers of Catan.


Sergo wrote:
I have read that in Puerto Rico, your skill and strategy is often secondary to your seating arrangement: Whoever goes after the worst player wins. How true is this?


One can levy this charge against any of dozens -- probably hundreds --- of great games. Any player going next after an inexperienced player has made some poor plays is the first player to take advantage of his/her poor play. Disregard it. Puerto Rico is a great game, and remains one of the best to emerge in the past decade.

Sergo wrote:
And finally (since you were going to anyway cool,) which game is WAAAAY better than both of these for a group like mine and why should I get that one instead?


You haven't described your group enough to make a reasonable suggestion. Don't be surprised if some responders offer answers ranging from Munchkin to Memoir '44 to Game of Thrones -- any or none of which may fit your group's tastes.

Both of the games you mentioned are lighter than either Puerto Rico or Power Grid, so if the group is looking for something more challenging and complex than Settlers and TTR, get either one or both. If Settlers and TTR appear to be the upper limit on complexity, don't get PR or PG.


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James Ludlow
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Sergo wrote:
I have read that in Power Grid, your skill and strategy is often secondary to which cards come up... in other words, dumb luck. How true is this?


Only among rank newbies who blindly buy every power plant that comes up without regard for the futures' market. You should get past this in a couple of games.


Quote:
I have read that in Puerto Rico, your skill and strategy is often secondary to your seating arrangement: Whoever goes after the worst player wins. How true is this?


Only among experts who have played way too many games of PR (hundreds and thousands) and have little tolerance for anyone who dares to deviate from their script.

In short, don't worry about either criticism. They are both great games that you're likely to have a lot of fun with.

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Jared McClellan
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My vote's for Puerto Rico.

The group I usually play Puerto Rico with, like your group, isn't too diehard or supercompetitive. In my experience, you won't notice the seating arrangement problem unless you consistently play with very unskilled vs very skilled players.
 
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David Gibbs
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I think you will find Puerto Rico a more generally enjoyable game than Power Grid. They're both very good games, but PR flows more quickly and smoothly than PG, and generally requires less careful calculation and weighing of options and less handling of fiddly details than PG.
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Eddie B
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I have played Puerto Rico about 12-15 times and I have played Powergrid about 4 or 5 times.

Powergrid is a great game but it feels a little dry to me. The game seems so perfectly balanced that it is always a very tight game. Powergrid comes down to making calculations every you time you are bidding on powerplants. The question you need to ask yourself every time is "how much money can I bid on this powerplant and how much money will I have left over to buy sufficient resources in order to power enough cities?". Yes, there is some luck with the draw of the right card but it is luck that can be controlled (especially by the more experienced players), so that begs the question is it still luck? Powergrid benefits from having at least one experienced player who manages all the cards and knows what to do with the powerplant cards during all the 3 phases. Other than the managing of the cards the rules are pretty simple, yet the game is hard to master. Powergrid is one of these games that can give me a headache because of the constant calculating and counting money.

Puerto Rico is one of my favorite games, and we (my wife and I) even enjoy the official 2 player rules from Alea. i don't know if you are interested in playing with 2 players, but I would not want to play Powergrid with two. When you read the rules for Puerto Rico for the first time it might seem a little overwhelming, but it really is a pretty ease game to understand and yet, just like Powergrid, hard to master. I know the are several articles on winning strategies (the corn strategy is one of them), but I would just not read those and figure the game out yourself which is a lot more fun. It will probably take you about 15 to 25 games before you might have some sort of good strategy. I have introduced this game to a bunch of gamers and non gamers and they all really enjoyed the game. Once you know the rules and what all the buildings can do it plays real smooth and explaining to even a non gamers takes about 6 or 7 minutes.

Both games take about 75-90 minutes with 4 players. My suggestion for your group is Puerto Rico. I think it would be an ideal step up from Settlers of Catan.
 
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Mat Nowak
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Hey David, welcome to BGG not lurking anymore!

Your circumstances are similar to my own. I play primarily with my family and small group of friends, and we all started off with Catan. After Catan I decided to go with Power Grid as the next game.

Everyone enjoyed it. The game makes sense, is a natural step up from Settlers (and even TTR) due to the building of cities on the board. Printing off one of the player aids found here though is a good idea because the rules themselves aren't written very well.

As for your question, while there is variability in Power Grid in terms of what power plants come up for bid, the luck isn't that profound and doesn't make as big of an impact that you've been lead to believe. More often then not that great plant the last player is trying to get a hold of might appear but will often be allocated to the bottom row of the plant auctions, to be seen in the future, therefore providing no great steal for that player. In fact, I'd say that Power Grid has minimum luck - the player who best plans ahead will win. In Power Grid you've got to walk on a tight rope if you want to succeed. You have to be able to gauge properly when to surge away and pull away from the pack and when to fall behind a bit to gain advantages over the others. The plant auctions play a part in this (should there be ties in amount of cities you own), but it is more often the number of cities you build that will determine what position you are in, and this is totally up to you individually (unless you happen to get blocked on the map, which is a big no no!). As you can see, there are a variety of factors everyone must consider, from what power plants they bid on and own, to what resources they must buy and how many, to the number of cities they should build, and where. As the game goes on your engine to make more money increases so every turn counts. You're all slowly building up your ability to power more cities to make more money, in order to build more cities, to make even more money!

Puerto Rico is the game I chose after introducing Power Grid to my group. Thematically it's more appealing than PG, and it has a different feel to it. It is a little more complicated to learn as it's unlikely anything my group has played. You don't just take your turn in this game and let the next player do likewise. Everything you do will impact the other players in what they have to do. This can lead to the "worst" player ruining somebody else's game, but this is an extreme case that only serious Puerto Rico players can complain about - I'm talking about players who have played dozens of games. If everyone starts off being new to this game at the same time this problem is nonexistant. No one knows what the "best" plays are at each given moment, so therefore no one can complain about someone playing wrong. For your group, seeing that you're lucky if you get together to play once a month, you should probably never encounter this problem.

What I like about Puerto Rico is that there are so many different ways to play. After your first play you'll likely think about the game for hours afterwards, trying to determine which buildings would be most helpful for you to have - it's a really blissful experience.

Personally, knowing now what I know about the two games, and owning both of them, there's nothing wrong with going either way. Power Grid is relatively simple to grasp yet is more complex than it lets on. Puerto Rico is elegant and will have you thinking about the game after each game.

I guess I'll share my innermost thoughts so that I do recommend one over the other. There's nothing wrong with Power Grid, yet I don't get as excited to play it as I do with Puerto Rico. I'm not really that big of a fan of auctions, and the game does seem to become repetitive at times. I appreciate the resource market of Power Grid and how effective it is at emulating supply and demand costs, but the game as a whole doesn't generate that same spark that Puerto Rico does. My biggest problem with it is that it's difficult to see who is winning throughout the whole game. Everyone is so close together because the game forces that, that often the winner is determined in the last, or second-last round of the game. I've often won the game without even knowing what I was doing in the grand scheme of things.. it felt kind of shallow at times. In Puerto Rico everyone can be doing their own thing and trying a different strategy out. You're able to be more creative in how you play.

So yeah, in the end I'll recommend PR over PG, but believe me, both games are good, it'll just depend on your group personally. Ask yourself, how do the themes of the two games appeal to them? Are they creative types or mathematical calculating types? You can't go wrong with either, but since they are so different in their experiences you'll have to take that into account.
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Ken F
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In my opinion, there is no contest. Power Grid hands down.

PG is a very balanced game, so if you fall behind, you get help from the resetting of the turn order each turn. There is luck in which power plant cards are available for auction, but even that has a balancing mechanism, and luck overall is very much minimized. If you like auction/economic games and don't mind going 2-3 hours, then I suggest you go for Power Grid.

Puerto Rico has its positives, but after one play I thought little of the game (I've played a total of 3 times). Obviously, many gamers like it and it is more accessible to players taking the next step from gateway games. The seating arrangement should not be a big deal in your group (or so it sounds), but you still might want to rotate seating if you play back-to-back games.
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Dave Lartigue
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POWER GRID POWER GRID POWER GRID
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Bill Eldard
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jdludlow wrote:
Only among experts who have played way too many games of PR (hundreds and thousands) and have little tolerance for anyone who dares to deviate from their script.


An excellent point, J L. Self-enamored experts get upset and critical when a player doesn't play the option that furthers the expert's plot for how each round should play out. Naturally, an inexperienced player is likely to make sub-optimal ("counter-script"?) choices more often than experienced players, and thus make gameflow chaotic for the expert.

IMHO a real expert is a player who can adapt to any unexpected events in a game.
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Paul Duroni
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I agree with the guy that said Power Grid is a little dry. I've played both quite a bit, and I prefer to play Puerto Rico. PR is also a bit dry, but it seems to be a little more intersting to me than Power Grid. Both are good games, however, I would rate PR an 8 and PG a 7. Power Grid is definately more like Ticket to Ride than Puerto Rico though. If I had to recommend another game I would suggest Imperial. It happens to be what my group has been playing and is a lot of fun. It is a bit different from PG and PR however.
 
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Bob Pitman
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sauron Power grid!!!!!!
Theres not a huge amount of dumb luck, its limited to the available power stations... but even then you must have a strategy and consider how each possible addition will fit your generating capacity, budget, competition for fuel, fuel price, fuel budget... and of course the poker element of the auction - you may not want the current station on offer, but how far can you push the price up for someone who does?
I've played the Italy, France, Benelux, Germany, USA, and central European boards and they all give potential for different tactics.
The player that saves money one round may be in a great position to buy the perfect power station next turn... or doing a killer set of builds... or may have just lost out to those that have spent to the max.

It can be a great game for what we call "buggerance"... the art of screwing over another player. There are very rarely two games the same, the maps sometimes lend themselves to a pattern of duplicated strategy but its never quite the same.

In Italy one player became trapped in the South, since then everyone is aware of that danger and tries to avoid it, the Garbage strategy worked great once but then it can be sunk if theres too much early competition for fuel.

Its a great game.

Puerto Rico is great too... but PG wins out every time given the choice!
 
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David Williams
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Thanks for all the replies so far.

My brother is a non-gamer, more of a creative type, so it sounds like PR would definitely appeal to him more. "Fiddly details" are not his first love. =)

However, 2 of the other guys are real gamers, D&D and Champions min/maxers from way back.

Does Power Grid come with 2 maps, one on each side of the board?

Does either game have an advantage in terms of quality of pieces, board, etc.? I recently bought the new Catan box for the after-school math club I sponsor, and was disappointed with the thinner cardboard hexes.
 
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Steve Bauer
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Sergo wrote:
Does Power Grid come with 2 maps, one on each side of the board?

Yes USA on one side, Germany on the other.

Sergo wrote:

Does either game have an advantage in terms of quality of pieces, board, etc.? I recently bought the new Catan box for the after-school math club I sponsor, and was disappointed with the thinner cardboard hexes.


The are about the same, maybe power grid has the edge. All wood for both. Same wooden cylinders for good/fuel. Power Grid has a big, nicely done mp board. Puerto Rico has cardboard mats, one per player and a shared one to store the things you purchase during the game.
 
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Ken Dean
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Plenty of good answers, both as factual replies and opinions/preferences. I expect you'll enjoy either game. I own both and find them both to be fun to play.
I suggest you also consider this one, which has been described as "Settlers on steroids"
Keythedral


and this one - for its beautiful bits and exciting play.
Maharaja: The Game of Palace Building in India

as games you might enjoy. If you're like me, (and I know I am ) you'll find they offer more challenge without the steep learning curve. These are deeper than TTR and Settlers, but not as deep as PR and PG.
You should also check out the collections and ratings from others who have tastes similar to your own.

You may want to show us what games you own and play by entering that info on your profile.

Or just buy all four!
 
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Steve Sisk
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I think that you should definitely get both, even if not at the same time. They're both really good games that give very tense sessions that come right down to the wire.

Power Grid does involve a LOT of calculating (constantly mulling over what you can bid and what you can do with what money you have left), so in that sense I prefer Puerto Rico, but I'd never turn down a game of either one.

Something else to consider is expandability. PR does have the expansion (a must get, but try the base set out a few times before adding in a ton of new buildings). There's also another role you can print and use (I haven't used it so I'm not sure how it plays).

Power Grid has a bunch of great expansion maps that really do give new gameplay experiences, plus the second deck of power plants now available.
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Steve Bauer
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kdean1 wrote:

I suggest you also consider Keythedral, which has been described as "Settlers on steroids"Keythedral


I tried Keythedral with a group of regular settlers players and it went over like a lead balloon. The things I like about it, no dice more strategic choices, did not appeal to them and the lack of trading made them hate it. The didn't like the walls either. I should have known, this is a group that will send the robber back to the dessert to prevent hitting someone when there is no clear leader, but I am slow.

As others have said you need to decide if you are looking for a deeper game or just a different game because the choices would be very different in each case. Keythedral is a great 'next step' game, not as complex as PR or PG but much deeper than settlers or TTR.
 
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Ken Dean
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Steve -
The group personality has a lot to do with it. We have some friends who love cuthroat play. Then there was the time one player cried in TTR because one player kept blocking her. We razed the blocker about it for a loooong time. laugh
 
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Burster of Bubbles, Destroyer of Dreams.
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You've said that your game collection is tiny -- one reason people have tiny game collections is that they are new to the hobby, another is that they have limited funds to devote to it.

Power Grid comes with two maps, and there are two pairs of expansion maps, plus a second deck of power plants, all of which greatly increase the variety of play available. I suspect that most of the people who rate PG so highly have one or both of the expansion maps.

Puerto Rico has an expansion available, which greatly increases the variety of play, but my impression is that there are a lot of die-hard players out there who don't even consider playing with the expansion.

So, if you like Power Grid there are a lot of popular expansions that add variety to the game, and that probably are a factor in the high ratings; the same thing can't be said for PR.

One thing I strongly recommend: try both games online or on the PC before you commit to buying them. Power Grid is available on BSW; Puerto Rico was pulled off to reduce competition for a commercial version, but I think you can still find PC versions.
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Mike Kollross
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Get PR. I like both a lot but PR is awesome.

DO NOT READ ANTY ARTICLES ON STATEGY!

Explore and enjoy the game on your own.
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Robert Richardson
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Get both.
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Kris J
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Power Grid
 
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Scott Ferrier
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All the board gaming conventions I've gone to people are played out on Puerto Rico usually I only see it played once and I see power grid being played about four times.

If you get Puerto Rico the expansion ($5) is almost mandatory as it helps mix up the predictability of the annoying "experts" that like to tell you that you should just stop playing the game now as you bought the wrong building on turn 2 and your just wasting your time.

For me Power Grid has more replayabilty but it's not much to look at meeple

 
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