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Subject: Session Report rss

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Daniel Kearns
United States
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Silence is golden.
Your sea is so great and my boat is so small.
Power Grid.

Good game. Just played my first session of this with Katie and Rocco. The first nice point of the game is the selection of regions. We chose the Northeast US, Upper Mid-West and Northwest; a long thin corridor that would impact the game later. I can easily imagine a different set of starting cities creating a much different game.

Next nice point, I like the progression of the power plants. It’s random but basically works out right. You get fairly smooth development through the course of the game. One thing that kind of surprised me is that I think power plant selection and resource development is not the most important aspect of this game. To my mind, far more significant is board control.

Katie chose the eastern seaboard, Rocco started in Chicago, and I decided to try what appeared to be the worst zone, the Northwest (Cheyenne). It looked to me that Katie was struggling a bit being blocked in at 4 cities and running fairly inefficient powerplants. She thought she was doing fine and what would I know, I bought like a fool. She later put the final nail in my goofball helmet and turned over some plants to fire something like 10 cities for one or two resources I forget. Well done.

The Northwest was a pretty nice starting spot but I made some really dumb powerplant acquisitions and had a terribly slow start. I think my first two plants were 8 (CCC>2) and it took so much to buy the resources that I couldn’t buy two cities to make it worthwhile. Then I did something extremely dumb and bought the 13 (X>1) plant so now I had to buy three cities to make firing everything worthwhile. Again, I operated inefficiently. I too would later hit the gas and really shoot up to the top before crashing and burning. Things might have been different with the same plants in another region as I was forced to pay some significant connection costs. Katie and Rocco eventually bought all of the cities Midwest and East so I was stuck at 12 cities and could go no further while they could build at will. My game was basically over 3 rounds before the end. Even so, had I gotten one lucky draw and been able to buy a plant with one extra production after step 3 went off, I MIGHT have been in contention. Maybe not.

In the end, Rocco had control of game largely due to board position. By starting between Katie and I he had access to the entire board and set the pace of the game. I actually thought Rocco’s plant selection was the least effective (he was paying a ton for resources and downgraded a plant at one point to lessen the burden) of the three of us but board control ultimately carried the day. He could have actually ended the game before step 3 but a 4 city build from Katie boxed him in and made him pay more than he expected and was unable to reach 17 that turn. Added one more turn to the game I think but the result didn’t change. Well played.

Things I learned:

1) Board control is king. This fact could be overstated by the nature of the long thin board we happened to be playing. A more globular map might not have allowed such significant control by the middle.

2) Getting boxed in is terrible. For this reason, I think it is actually not worth starting on the far east or far west. Yes, the connections are cheap in the short term but you will pay dearly for the lack of long term strategic options.

3) Enivronmental plants are not that good. They are very expensive. They force your hand in building as you must always take into consideration that you will get one city free so you MUST build to take advantage of that. They give you no control over the market and you can’t hoard resources even if you want to.

4) I’m not sure how important it is to hoard resources. A few times I bought, let’s say, 3 extra resources at 3 gold beyond what I needed in order to force someone after me to buy the next at 4. Why did I do this? I basically spent 9 elektro to make the next person spend 2 elektro more than they otherwise would have. Who’s the victim here? Maybe you should only buy extra resources one turn if you planning on moving farther ahead in the turn order the next. Will make a point to consider this point in my next game.

5) The value of the plants is determined by how many plants of that type are already owned. If no one has a garbage plant, buying one is much more attractive as you won’t have to compete with other people in the resource market.

6) The value of the plants is determined by their max capacity. To power 17 plants (or thereabouts), you’re going to have to all three of your plants producing 5 or above. 3 city plants seem poor and 4 city plants seem even worse, if only for the fact that they’re more expensive but ultimately just as useless. You WILL need to replace them.

7) Late game, don’t power all of your cities. The payout curve is bell shaped. The maximum return hits somewhere in the middle, maybe 8-12 cities. Above that, it is sometimes not worth the resources to fire everything you own. Just not worth it. Buy plants with this in mind.

There are a lot of mechanisms to prevent runaway-leader/hopeless-lagger. I love this. On the other hand, if you get boxed in, you will fall out of contention like a stone, irrespective of what position you were in before it happened. Not a flaw, just be aware of it. Don’t chisel when buying your cities, splash out on an extra connection if it gives you more build options in the future.

Very, very, interesting game.
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