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Subject: 1st play & 1st impression - both not so good rss

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♫ Eric Herman ♫
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I played Power Grid for the first time last night. It was a group of six, using the France board and the new power plant cards.

We went over the rules pretty quickly... only one other person and I hadn't played before, and I was pretty familiar with what was going on (not that it would help much!). I ended up passing through the initial power plant offerings and was the last one left... My choices were between the 01, 02, 03 and 25 plants. Getting the 25 right off the bat at its face value seemed very tempting, and one of the experienced players (Lynette) said that she'd probably do it, so I went for it.

Unfortunately, that put me at first in position, which of course means last in position for city placement. I ended up putting the one city I could afford down in the south of France, which seemed like the best place from what was still left, though in retrospect I should have challenged Lynette, who had placed three cities in Paris, which was a great deal at only the base cost of 10 each. Had I known the game better, I might have placed my city near one of those to try to stave off her expansion, which continued very quickly from there.

Considering I had blown most of my money on the 25 plant and 10 for a city, I had to wait a couple of turns to actually do anything more, but then I built up some more cities and was able to connect several of them right away. But being in the south of France, with the far bottom right region being the one blocked off for the game, that left me only the direction of north to expand, and it was expensive. Regardless, Lynette quickly jumped ahead and though two other players got up to 14 total powered plants on the final turn, it was fairly academic that she would win with 15. If the 3rd phase had been triggered a turn later (though it already came in late as it was... at least, I think it did), then perhaps another person might have been able to win.

Final scores were 15, 14, 14, 12 (I think), 10 (I think) and 9 for me, which I felt wasn't terrible considering the start I'd had. With another turn I should have been able to power another 4 or 5 cities and could have made it closer.

-------------------------------------------

I had wanted to try Power Grid for quite a while, though I'll admit that I didn't have a huge eagerness to play it or high expectations for it from the descriptions I'd read and from watching Scott Nicholson's video review. For whatever reasons, it just didn't seem to be the kind of theme or gameplay that really excited me, and hearing about how games usually lasted 2+ hours made it less appealing to even try, considering there are countless other games I haven't tried yet that seem more appealing, and I could probably fit two of them into the timeframe of one Power Grid game.

But if there's anything I've learned, it's that expectations are often wrong, or at least exaggerated too far. If there's a movie or book or game that I have low expectations for, I can often be pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoy it, and I suppose that sometimes that low expectation can even add a misleading color to the experience. In other words, it still might not be that great of a movie, but because I was expecting it to be so terrible and it wasn't really that terrible, then it can actually get mislabeled as "good" in my perception. So my interest in giving Power Grid a shot had grown, with the hope that my expectation would be wrong. However, Power Grid turned out to be a case where my expectation almost perfectly matched the experience... I really didn't care for it too much. It was okay, and I enjoyed the experience and the people I played it with, as is usually the case with any game we play. I can appreciate the game for what it is and some of the aspects of it and I understand and accept that others love it, and that's fine... But for me, though I do expect to play it again at some point if only to be fair to the game and give it another shot, now that I've tried it I really don't have any further desire to play it again any time soon.

Anyway, here are some impressions and maybe some explanations as to why this didn't work so well for me...

The game is a lot simpler than I had the impression of how it would be, which in one sense is great, as it's very easy to grasp, but it also didn't really feel substantial enough in some ways. I know that when people describe the "weight" of games it's not necessarily referring to the complexity, but more the impact of how the game feels in terms of the decisions you have to make. Sure, there are several important decisions to make throughout the game, but it's the same small set of things each turn, and often the choices seem kind of arbitrary...

First, the power plants come up and you auction for them... okay, so you weigh your money and what it will cost to power them and how many cities they'll power... that's important, but only a couple times during the game are you likely to really fight for or feel particularly compelled to need a particular plant. In the grand scheme of the game, is there that much of a difference between some of the different power plant choices? Especially when the resources to power them are readily available, which brings up the next phase... Buying resources has the clever design of increasing in costs based on the demand, but at no point in the game did anybody really seem pressed to buy what they needed with the money they had. It's almost as though to have a really decisive impact the prices should shoot up more drastically. Of course, I realize this is based on one game... I'm sure this has more of an impact on other particular games, depending on the circumstances. But this phase just felt rather arbitrary each time, and I guess my expectations were actually higher for that... considering six people were playing, I expected the cost of resources to be a bigger factor.

Then there's the building phase, and this is probably the phase that seemed most interesting/involving to me... Where to build? Where to expand? But the choices are pretty limited once you make the first choice of where to start. Maybe it's just the way the particular game last night played out, but watching everybody place their cities it was sort of like, well, of course they would build there and expand there. As the phases change and the $15/$20 spots opened up, that adds another wrinkle, and there is some potential for screwage against another player who is hoping to expand a certain way... So yeah, this seemed like the most interesting part to me, but still not all that interesting, at least compared to other games involving area control.

And then what else is there? One more decision as to how many of your cities you want to power, which is usually all of them that you can... and then you collect your money. That's it.

I fully realize that all of these things connect together into a fairly intricate money management kind of thing, which can get right down to the dollar for making that final turn work out just right to power the extra plant that wins you the game. As I said before, I can appreciate the game for what it is... but I guess I just don't find that kind of thing as compelling as some (apparently many) others do. Or, I suppose that for the basic structure of what the game is, it would be great as an hour long kind of thing, but for 2+ hours?? It just doesn't feel that substantial. By contrast, I also played Notre Dame last night, and that took about an hour and twenty minutes, and yet felt very substantial with all of the different things going on and the many different decisions/approaches involved. I'm not trying to hereby declare that Notre Dame is a better game than Power Grid or trying to compare them to each other... they're very different, and different people would prefer one or the other, or would prefer Power Grid to other types of games... but only to say that for me, Notre Dame was a lot more enjoyable and engrossing and something that I'd be a lot more eager to play again.
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Malcolm
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Just a quick note to say how i agree with all you have said.

I have played a couple of games of this (and, yes, i know it will take time to get the best out of it) but so far i am very disappointed in this one.

I will stick with it a while but how this is #2 is a mystery to me currently...

anyways, i don't find it bad. just dull.

cheers,

mjl
 
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Damien Browne
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Overall, that isn't a bad summation - based on the one game you played.

I doubt you'll be convinced after one more play that it's any better, but here are some of my thoughts on what you've described.

Firstly, let me say that I have played the France map, but less times than Germany or even USA. (Germany is our "standard map" in my group.)

Secondly, let me say that I've never used the new deck of power plants but I will assume that though the plants will be different resources and values, I expect their relative power to the rest of the deck will be equivalent. So the 25 you got will be much stronger than the 8, as it is in my deck of cards.

Now for my thoughts.

The France map is quirky. Having the three zero cost connections right on top of each other detracts from the gameplay somewhat, in my experience, especially with some areas being quite expensive.
The true bottleneck of the France board is slightly south and slightly west of France. These are the hot market, in my experience.
So if anyone let the girl owning all of France into that area, when they could have blocked her, that was bad play.

More important is the tactical decision of buying the 25.
Normally, I advocate that going last gets the best plant, and you get the best plant you can.
But the 25 is half your money, before any other choices. I'd only get it if it is so superior you can keep it all game.
And then, because I am last, I'd buy zero resources, and zero buildings, putting me back into first place.
You'd only get 11 electro, giving you 36, but you wouldn't need a plant, and after seeing all purchases, you can make a double purchase with the cheaper resources on your plant

Until now, I've never seen the situation arise where it was better to power zero cities. But I think this is it.

Regarding your comments on the struggle of resources, that's a fair call.
The France map includes more resources than standard maps to begin with, the nuclear being increased. It also guarantees an early (efficient) nuclear plant.
This means that a third resource is being used early, which spreads the demand over three resources instead of two.
Normally the oil and coal is quickly pushed up to the 4-6 range, this isn't the case in France.

Not to forget that you received an extremely efficient plant as your first plant - which means people aren't required to buy 2+3 resources on their first two plants each turn, you would be using only one plant for quite some time.

This makes it very easy on the economic market side of the game.

Regarding the auctions, imagine what might have happened if the 25 came out on the second last player's turn to act. It would have been a psycho-analytical war to push the other player to their purchase limit without being stuck buying a plant for more than you could afford.
Yet, if you didn't get it, you might end up with junk that you HAD to buy.

I think what I'm trying to say is that there's more to the game than you saw in your one play, yet - at the same time - when you simplify it as you have done, there isn't really much more to it.

It either tickles your fancy or doesn't.
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Man are you guys nuts? This game rocks! And the best part is it is a gateway game to get non gamers into the "sport" I have a buddy who dislikes it because of the math involved...aka asset mgt, bidding, and $$$ planning.

It's fun, it makes you think constantly, and I have won multiple times coming from behind.

I respect your opinions but give Power Grid another try. IT ROCKS!
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♫ Eric Herman ♫
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bluebehir wrote:
I think what I'm trying to say is that there's more to the game than you saw in your one play, yet - at the same time - when you simplify it as you have done, there isn't really much more to it.

It either tickles your fancy or doesn't.


Yeah, that's it exactly. I definitely "get" the game... it's not a question of the math or anything like that. And certainly with more plays I would be able to play it (a lot) better and appreciate it somewhat more in that sense. But it's just more of a "feel" kind of thing... where it just doesn't grab me that much and all of the parts don't add up to an outstanding game experience for me.

But of course, as Vonnegut described, it's a chrono-synclastic-infunibulum situation, where two people can believe the opposite things and both be exactly right. Lynette from the game group said that Power Grid is probably her favorite game, and certainly many others here would concur. And they're exactly right.
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Steve Wessels
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Honestly, what I'd decide if I were really there and saw the game as it was playing out would probably change my mind a little about this. But I think I would have purchased the 03 plant. I've seen people do that just so they get first choice in resources and city placement AND last bid for the next set of power plants.

The 25 is a nice plant, and it tempts. But I would have purchased the 3, I think.

Some folks really don't like the "luck" associated with the power plant deck. Personally, I love this game. I find that the more experienced a player is, the more difficult it is to win against them, no matter what plants come up.

Here's hoping you get some better experiences with PG. BTW, I still prefer the USA map. And I own all the expansion maps.

- Steve
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♫ Eric Herman ♫
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fastfingers wrote:
The 25 is a nice plant, and it tempts. But I would have purchased the 3, I think.


Definitely the thing to do, in retrospect... Especially being a first-time player. I was pretty much doomed from that point on, not so much from having that plant, but from the inability to place anything for two more turns.
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Patrick Jamet
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IMHO, with the new deck, I would have bought the plant #1 and 6 coals. During the game, you can store 6 coals on it permanently to artificially rise its cost by 2€.

Pyjam
 
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Joe Wyka
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I love Power Grid, maybe because it's the most involved game that my casual gamer family loves to play as well. I DO think the weight of this game has been overstated. When I first played, I had a bit of a "that's it?" reaction as well. I thought the game was good but not great. But since seeing how broadly appealing and playable this game is, I have come to appreciate a lot more. Ultimately it may not get your goat, but it is a fantastic game to have if you aren't blessed with a bounty of hardcore gaming partners.
 
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Patrick Jamet
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Recently, I played a little on brettspielwelt with players who have hundreds of games behind the belt. Good, in my opinion this is really a much better game when played with such experimented players. With beginners, too often someone do a mistake that give the victory to someone who couldn't win without it.
 
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Grudunza wrote:
bluebehir wrote:
I think what I'm trying to say is that there's more to the game than you saw in your one play, yet - at the same time - when you simplify it as you have done, there isn't really much more to it.

It either tickles your fancy or doesn't.


Yeah, that's it exactly. I definitely "get" the game... it's not a question of the math or anything like that. And certainly with more plays I would be able to play it (a lot) better and appreciate it somewhat more in that sense. But it's just more of a "feel" kind of thing... where it just doesn't grab me that much and all of the parts don't add up to an outstanding game experience for me.

But of course, as Vonnegut described, it's a chrono-synclastic-infunibulum situation, where two people can believe the opposite things and both be exactly right. Lynette from the game group said that Power Grid is probably her favorite game, and certainly many others here would concur. And they're exactly right.


Hey Eric, I just got Power Grid recently, and played once with my wife, my dad, and brother in law. We struggled through a few turns before realizing we were butchering the rules - so we started over. While I own the game and all the expansions (long story short - I knew this was my BGG SS present when the power plant expansion showed up, so I went ahead and got the expansion boards, but the game itself took a while to show) we decided to play the basic game with the USA board (figuring that geographically it would benefit us)

I made some dumb mistakes myself. First off, was thinking it would benefit me to save my money to put in a higher bid on a better plant -- well, no. Everyone else built their first city, I did not. They of course powered it and made a ton more than I did - putting me in an early hole.

Then, in trying to bid-up the cost of the final plant - level 60 - I made what would be my last bluff at $80 -- which I thought would be easily called as other players had a ton of money - they let me have it for $80. It'll be 2013 before I stop hearing about that move.

all in all though I enjoyed it. Sorry you didn't like the first play, hopefully you give it another shot.
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I did not like this game at first. So we (well, me, as it's my copy) buried it for a while in the games-not-to-be-played-again-soon chest.
I gave it a low 6 on the BGG ranking.

Lately, for some unclear reason we (yeah, me) gave it another try.
Found out that we made a bit of mistakes the first time [see below]. Somehow this time it was a lot more fun! This was a 4 player game, played on the Germany map. I decided to give it a 7.

So, as this is probably my most "noob-gamer-friendly" game that I own, I took it along to a local gaming night where all kinds of interested but non-gamer people could play all kinds of "new" games that they've probably never heared of. There were 6 players, we played on the USA map and when it was finished all of them were eager to play again! Me included. 8 it was!

And last night my regular gaming group wanted to play it again, this time on the France map and again it was great experience. It only took 2 hours to play, was A LOT more exciting than before as everyone seemed to know what they wanted to do. Everyone trying some new strategies. Which basically revolves around the "buy powerplant" action and where you can manoeuver yourself on the turn order track without falling too far behind for the end game. I've given it a 9 now, and I'm eager to play again next week!

I don't know what did it, but I do agree with the current high ranking. This is a great game which has grown on me, from boring to very exciting...

But that's just my humble opinion of course.


ps. The mistakes we made the first time(s) are:

-The amount of cities needed for victory. This changes with the amount of players that participate. And these changes are burried in the exceptions chapter at the end of the rulebook.

- We also misinterpreted the rule about each player choosing an area in which you can play. In a new rulesset that I downloaded here this is written more clearly. All players can play in all the chosen areas, so if you pick an area at the start, that does not mean that you have to start there. It's just to make the board smaller with fewer players.

- Note that even with 6 players, you only play on 5 areas!

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em m
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I kinda really disliked Power Grid when I first started playing it. Too slow with a huge runaway factor. If a player got 2 cities ahead in the early rounds of the game, that player had enough money to outbid everyone on the best power plants available. Oh yeah, and I found the game to be gruellingly boring and dull and way too long. Did I mention boring? I really want to emphasize that part - the boringness of it all.

And then I tried the Benelux map expansion. What a big difference! The slightly modified power plant drafting system really opened up the power plants for all players. If memory serves me right, here are the following 2 changes that I can think of: 1) all green power plants immediately go to the "bid-right-away" row (not into the futures market) and 2) the removal of the lowest power plant every round (in all phases).

This has the following impact: 1) the attractive green power plants come into the game sooner, which increases the likelihood that there'll be a green power plant and a great regular power plant up for bid at the same time - the richest player won't have a monopoly on both and, in some cases, may miss out on bidding on the green plant entirely. 2) The lowest power plant removal increases the turnover of the power plants, and removes the undesirable ones at a faster rate (making room for the better plants).

The Benelux map itself probably also has some slight mods that make for a better game play, but I can't think of any right now.

As you can probably tell, Power Grid with the Benelux map puts it on my "don't mind playing" list - I know that I'll enjoy a good game with it.

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alita_4b wrote:
If memory serves me right, here are the following 2 changes that I can think of: 1) all green power plants immediately go to the "bid-right-away" row (not into the futures market)

It's not quite that drastic. The change is that if the plant in position #5 is green, it is also biddable along with the usual #1-4 positions; the #6-8 positions are never biddable in step 1 or 2 even if they're green plants.

The other game-shortening factor is that the Benelux board is an extremely cheap board. There are only a few spots where a connection is more than 9 Electro, and most of them are to the pairs of cities in the extreme northeast and south. (In many cases, even skipping over a city stays under 10 Electro.) This leaves lots of cash for faster expansion.
 
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♫ Eric Herman ♫
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Okay, so my wife played this at our last game night and liked it pretty well, certainly better than I did. And she also said we might buy it...

Now, not being one to turn down an encouragement to buy a game from the Mrs., even a game that I'm not all that crazy about, I went ahead and picked it up at a good price from Boards & Bits. And being that she likes the game, that automatically bumps up my interest in playing it, as I'm always happy to play games together with her. I also think that I might enjoy this better with fewer players, even just 2, so that might work out well for my appreciation of the game.

Therefore, even though I haven't played it again yet, I've bumped up my rating by a full point to 6.5. And guess who gets the last laugh after all... Friedemann Friese and Rio Grande!
 
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em m
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Thanks for the clarification! I didn't explain it as well as you did!

At any rate, I think this subtle power plant change (as you described ) is a small modification with drastic results: there is usually more than one great power plant to bid per bidding round in all phases (since the weak ones are dropped).

In basic Power Grid, we found that the leader just ran away with the game at around the 5-7 city mark (around the same time that the leader pulls ahead by 2 cities), since the leader can outbid everyone else on the choicest plants. And since the lowest plants don't get removed until phase 2(?) and 3, at least one weak one takes up a position in the immediate bidding area.

Question: I was under the impression that the green power plant goes directly from the draw pile to the #5 position in the immediate market (not in the futures market - so even the 50 nuclear power plant can be bid on right away). I'm guessing by your description that this impression is incorrect?

Thanks!
 
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Chris Linneman
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Only if a green plant is the cheapest one in the futures market does it move to the current market to be available for bidding. And the 50 is actually a fusion plant, not an ecological plant, so it would not be subject to this rule (although it would be impossible for it to be the cheapest plant in any market being the most expensive in the deck!--unless playing with cards from the expansion deck of course).
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I didn't read every comment of every post so hopefully I am notduplicating too much.

France is obviously an expansion map so it brings aout some new challenges. One is the over-emphasis on Nuclear power. (But playing the PG2 deck, that ws offset from the beginning). Second, the map is a bit tricky because of hte Sirens's call of Paris and potential getting "stuck" in a region. I think now that you have the base game, you will see Germany should be more balanced and less demanding of a starting area. The US is "easier" than the French map as well.

Second, you used the exansion deck. I haven't played it yet but from the feedback I have read, using Variant 1 is a bit too efficient. This is probably why you felt the resource availability was lacking. You can probably accomplish most of your goals through these plants. If you get around to PG2, try Variant 2 (which looks promising albeit time-consuming to set-up) and Variant 3 (which will probably be the more common use of this deck).

With the basic map and deck, you should find it a bit more engaging. I like the 2-player quite a bit though it still pales in comparison to multi-player games. Hopefully you nd your wife will enjoy theis version of the game.

As mentioned, Plant 25 probably wasn't the best bet as it takes a lot of Oil to power 5 cities. But lesson learned. There are some other subtle strategies in stockpiling fuel on your Power Plants in a couple respects. One, you are buying it (hopefully) cheaper now to use in the future and two, you are driving the price up. There is a strategy on which plants to give so you can also manipulate the market without driving up the price up on yourself. There is also an art to manipulating the turn orde to be first when you need to be and last when it counts. In most of my games, the winner is usually hovering in he middle of the pack until they can surge ahead for the win.

Now that you own it, hopefully you will find the joy in this game. I, too, was turned off by thetheme for a long time. BGwS actually convinced me to get it. I liked the first play but love it even more after each play.
 
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