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Subject: Chester Gamers: Our First Game of 'Power Grid' rss

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paz AKA Matt Lewis
United Kingdom
Great Sutton
Cheshire
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On the first Sunday of 2008, five members of our role-playing group met up to play some of the board games we'd acquired over the festive period. Power Grid was our second and final game of the night. Four of us (Simon, Ian, Aaron and Matt (me)) had played Ticket to Ride and agreed to keep the same colour pieces to avoid confusion; we were joined by one latecomer, Daz.

I bought this game a week earlier, and had been giving it the 'hard sell' to the others over the few days prior to the game night, as none of them are BGGers (and thus didn't know the game's good reputation), and they weren't too enthusiastic about the theme. I persuaded them with the promise that I would read and digest all of the rules in advance; I even went as far as playing out the first couple of turns of a two-player game on my own the day before our session, to help things run smoothly on the night.

After setting up the board, resource market and power plant market, and explaining the rules, we made a start. Any illusions I had that people wouldn't have much enthusiasm for a game based on electricity providers were soon dispelled by the first power plant auction phase, with people bidding furiously. Eventually we each had a power plant we were relatively happy with, and bought our first resources. I was happy with my purchase of the 05 hybrid plant, as it meant I could buy the cheap coal, while still having the option of buying oil in the next couple of turns.

We then moved into the building phase. Before the game we had blocked off the south-western area. Ian built in Washington DC, and I built next, in Philadelphia, failing to heed the warnings of the Ticket to Ride game we'd just finished (which featured an extremely clogged East Coast). Aaron built in Detroit, Daz in Savannah, and Simon chose Dallas (which he thought appropriate, having bought an oil-powered plant).

The next few turns were spent slowly acquiring plants and building up city networks. Daz was left alone in the south-east, Ian & I battled over the north-eastern cities, Simon worked his way almost due north, while Aaron moved south, but was hampered with cash-flow problems. I leap-frogged Aaron into Chicago, only to be blocked by Simon moving in to Omaha and Minneapolis. Ian went even further, spending large sums to establish a plant in Cheyenne.

After quite a few turns we moved into step 2, which gave a bit more breathing space for building cities.

For the first part of the game, it was very difficult to tell who was winning, but after a while a clear leader emerged: Daz, who had a good network of cities and a nice variety of plants with low costs to power. Ian & I both had good plants, but were competing on fuel (mainly uranium) and were hampered by having plants of similar 'size', so ended up having to pay to power 10 or 11 cities when we only had 7-8 cities on the board.

The game then seemed to move up a gear; step 2 was over extremely quickly and then after only a couple of turns of step 3, Daz was up to 14 cities built. As he was able to power most of these, it was inevitable that we only had one turn left. At this point I held plant 25 (2 coal -> 5 cities), plant 30 (3 garbage -> 6 cities) and plant 34 (1 uranium -> 5 cities), and had 12 cities.

In the last turn Daz bought plant 36 (3 coal -> 7 cities) for near-cost, to add to his other plants which could power 4 and 6 cities. None of the other players could stop him, as we knew that to do so would irreparably harm our ability to expand our respective networks, currently standing at 11-12 cities. In the end Ian expanded to 15 cities (all powered), and I managed to build up to 16 cities, placing them in such a way as to try and block Daz off. Alas, it wasn't to be; Daz extended his network to three more cities with cash to spare.

The final positions were as follows:

1st: Daz - 17 cities powered
2nd: Matt - 16
3rd: Ian - 15 & €5
4th: Simon - 15 & €0
5th: Aaron - 11

The only real rules mistake we made was to keep referring to the step 1 column of the resource table when restocking the raw materials in step 2. We realised this after 2-3 turns of step 2, and retroactively added the extra raw materials for one turn to the resource market, figuring that trying to do any more fixing would do more harm than good. A couple of people got confused about the extra re-determination of player order after phase 2 of turn 1, either not realising that would happen, or thinking that this was what happened every turn.

All in all, I think people were surprised at how good the game was (especially those who were a little dubious about the theme), and most of us thought we'd play better on the second game than on the first. I can't wait to try it out again!
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Matt Vollick
Canada
St. Thomas
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Good review.

Power Grid to me has a few finicky rules that don't seem to come naturally, such as the one time removal of the lowest power plant in the market and replacing with a new one from the stack when entering step 3. I too forgot to look at the Step 2 and Step 3 tables for replenishing goods the first time I played.
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Carlos García Montoro
Spain
Valencia
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I recommend you this file in order to avoid to forget some of the odd rules of the game: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/file/info/13186

I find Power Grid amazing. I played it last Friday with a group of 4. I was the only one who knew the game. I gave a copy of this sheet to each player, so they could see what will happen. It was a very nice night for all.

Enjoy playing,
Carlos
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paz AKA Matt Lewis
United Kingdom
Great Sutton
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Thanks for the tip. Some sort of 'cheat sheet' would definitely help. The task of restocking the resource market was delegated to one guy and I think he reverted to auto-pilot to some extent. One thing I forgot to mention was that people tended do the admin jobs too soon, e.g. turning over new power plants from the deck, and restocking the resource market when not all players had finished burning resources.

Another thing I meant to say in my report was that we were going to try using poker chips rather than the paper money, but unfortunately the chips had been left in a room with a sleeping 2-year old in it, and we couldn't get them for fear of waking him up!

You can find the session report for Ticket to Ride, the other game we played that night, here.
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