Matty, Monkey and I met up for GC1, a seminal session of gaming that spawned from the DCs I have with my family. After chatting about it in the pub we decided that a single game session would be a laugh, and so I set about introducing them to the #2 game on bgg; Power Grid.
Now I've played this game many times (other session reports exist here) and this time I had the job of explaining the game. now this in itself wasn’t too hard. PG isn't the most complicated to grip, yet as we all know it can be one of the most irritating for "now why didn't I do that...?" moments. We agreed before hand that I would take them both through two turns before we reset and start again, just to get a feel for the mechanics.
We played America along the Eastern Seaboard and around Chicago. Both of the guys got to grips very quickly and once we had restarted we were away. Now when it came to what to do and when I did lay out options for the guys and they took it from there.
The early game played out by the game rather sweeping us along. For example in the Step 1 Auctions given we could see both markets (obv!) and with stations 03-10&13 coming next, we knew full well what would become available to the other guys. Even with replacements after connecting cities it took some time before the 'decent' stations in the futures market became available to us. Indeed Step 1 was the longest element in the game.
What we could have done was buy a cheap station, that we weren't really going to power and hope that each of the guys did the same so that we could get the better 2-3city stations out. What none of us wanted to do was make a jump into a 3x>2city station for fear that it was cost us too much to resource the thing and leave the others to pick up some of the more efficient stations and run away with the latter auctions due to lack of competition.
Now this is the first time I've played PG with three is this a very common outcome? I know similar problems occur in two player games.
In the four and five player games I've played we've hacked through the naff stations very quickly and got into step two quite quickly. Furthermore in this session once we did get into Step Two it was only two rounds of replacing the top station before the Step Three card showed its face.
The other thing that slowed us down in Step One and Two was that I had picked up the 1Urainium>2city station not really to use but to make it look like I was the only one interested in Uranium and thus keep the market to myself. As Uranium only regenerates a 1 per go in each Step I had hoped that my having the station would push the others towards owning either garbage and renewable each. Monkey was not to be put out and as last auctioneer bought the 1>3 then moved on to clear out the cheap end of the market. I had to power my Uranium and expand a little at this point in order to have cash to replace stations. So for a few rounds the cost of Uranium went to the max as we both scrambled for the resource. Incidentally, you might all be thinking "Why not get out of it and go for better coal/oil/garbage/renewable stations?" but as we didn't replace some of our lower stations (the 1 and 2 city bad boys) until step 3 there were no stations that were more cost efficient.
So when we did hit Step Three the game went lightning quick. What with an abundance of 15e slots left in cities and Matty sitting on a nice pile of Electros, from cashing in but not expanding in Step One and Two, with went screaming towards the 17th city in record speed.
Monkey won. The reason was simple, he bought the hybrid 2coal/oil>4City station in Step Two. He was able to outbid me as he was able to expand a bit while having a Uranium War with me while I wasn't due to being left with higher resource costs. As such he used this station to take home just enough cash to pip me and sometimes Matt at the Step Three auctions. Matty on the other hand had an eye on expansion but also some of the nice Step Three stations that were bound to pop up. (We all had been keeping an eye on what turned over earlier as we we're bound to hit Step Three). Monkey however sneaked in the win by noticing that we had held back on the resourcing to get the price a bit cheaper and thus he went for a massive expansion knowing he couldn't power many but it was more than us. Thinking about it I'll not hold back again when someone else is going to, it gives no challenge to such a move from the third player.
I'm afraid that for me this session fell short of my expectation only because I love this game as a 4-6 player. In a 4-6 player game the better stations come naturally as people get to that three station max. At no point with three players did I feel encouraged to buy a station so that the better ones came out as the others would get their filthy mits on them and not me.
Looking as objectively as I can it was a good game. both of the lads enjoyed their first sitting and G(eeks)C(onvention)2 is planned for February. We just need to find the forth player so as to get the most out of the game. Three does work, just not as well as 4-6. As many people on bgg seem to agree.
Still love the game though.