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Subject: SoloPlay variant for Power Grid is available rss

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A way to play Power Grid in a solo format has been posted to the Geek.

The download is available using the following link:
PowerGrid SoloPlay Rules

The file includes 2 player aids, 1 for the solo game and the other a consolidated resource sheet for all of the boards available before Korea.

This is #4 in the SoloPlay series.
More game files available here on the Geek can be accessed from the following Geeklist:
SoloPlay Variants Posted on the Geek

Preface:
Power Grid has never been a game which has received much play in my collection. It looked good and plays fine but has always seemed a little dry.

When played with the “serious” group it became fun again until about game 3 when AP set in. Game times bloated to 3 hours for 3 and 4 player games. The accountants always won and I, not being one, became indifferent with the game results even when I would win. It just took too long to play.

So the game sat on the shelf except for the rare occasion when the kids would ask to play it. To make it fun and quick for all, I modified the auction and it shortened the time of the game to less than an hour and it was fun when played like that.

This became the starting point of the solo game.

Power Grid Comments:

The biggest trick that needed to be done in this game is to emulate the decision making processes that occur in the game minus the “bidding wars”. Since there would only be one player, the focus had to be on creating the fine balance that is represented when the game is played “properly”. There had to be tension. There had to be the “if I only had 1 more electro” events. There had to be resource market issues and considerations to take into account. There also had to be multiple ways to find success.

To create this idea I used the “parasitic” opponent who will always take the best option available. This opponent will not be tied to money concerns or other constraints but will continue to grow larger working the game to its conclusion at a reasonable pace. There are distinct phases in the game which the multi-player rules state but I rarely see happen. The steps always seem to be out of proportion.

The goal with the “AI” player was to give it a simple path to follow which is “indirectly” controlled by the active player. The “AI” player does a good job manipulating the resource market and taking the best options causing the active player to seek the best alternative paths. To win the active player must then make the alternative options the best options by keeping the “AI” player out of those markets or expansion routes for as long as possible.

The “parasitic” opponent is being used in some soon to be available solo versions as well where some level of physical presence is needed to allow the game to be played normally.

Once the solo game was put together, I bought the 2 board expansions and the extra power plants. I would recommend these for more variety in the play. Each board, following the additional rules for each one, can be used with these rules.

Goal of the rule design:
1. Give the solo game the same tension and feel of the multi-player game
2. Ensure that the resource market must be accounted for.
3. All types of power plants will need to be used to achieve success.
4. The game needs to play quick – it takes about an hour

I rate Power Grid a 7 in complexity to learn and play. The solo version will give the experienced player a good challenge and is slightly more complex (7+). Initially, the game may seem to be impossible but as time goes on you will begin to see the best options unfold. If you are new to the game or do not have a good knowledge of the plants in the game, you may/will be pushed pretty hard.

Comments are always welcome.

Strategies:
1. All of the best Power Grid strategies hold true in this variant including managing the turn order. Money, money, money.
2. Keep an open mind. Trash and nuclear plants can be crucial “life boats” to keep the money flowing.
3. Specialization can help or hurt depending on when it is used. Later specialization, I have found, is often more successful as long as the resources hold out.
4. The “AI” player will freely move between resource markets. It is the active player who needs to guide this “decision making” process. Having the “AI” player in 3 different markets can be very costly.
5. When Step 3 hits, you need to have built a fairly strong network because you will only have a few turns to play out your end game.
6. Take a little time at the beginning to decide which path you are going to attempt but keep your options open. A minor miscalculation in funds and the path may close quickly.

Play time for this variant runs about 60 minutes and the best of all, if you are AP prone, no worries.

Final Thoughts
I like playing Power Grid this way. It is fun, plays quick and is very dynamic. Since it runs about 60 minutes you can probably get in a couple games while watching a movie. Best of all, I do not need to worry about AP. Multi-player play, I have had maybe a handful of “real” plays. Solo, I am wearing the game out and not just during the play testing.

I need to stress this:
This variant is intended for at least an intermediate to advanced player. If this is you, you should have a good time with this. This variant will not teach you how to play the game.

Comments on the expansions – each board presents unique challenges but you can be successful on all of them. The expansion power plants when played alone, I have never combined the stacks, but they seem to make the game a little harder due to the loss of plants early in the game which shortens the game time.
Benelux - you need to get on it. With the lowest power plant being removed each turn, time is short. Rules clarification: if a "green" plant is moved down creating 5 available plants the 4th and 5th require 5 additional electros for purchase. The cheapest 3 still go at face value.
Central Europe - this one is about diversification and getting into the nuclear markets. Trash is especially good due to Wien.

I hope you have fun with this and find it has a great deal of re-playability.

If you have questions about the rules, you can be post them here or to this user’s mailbox to be answered individually, if needed. I will add a FAQ to this post as I see the need.

Other games that will be/are available from SoloPlay/GameRulesforOne are posted within a Geeklist that I created: SoloPlay Variants Posted on the Geek

All new variants and information about upcoming projects will be listed there.

A game that sits in a closet is a waste. Get it out and play it any way you can. These are just my ideas.
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Nice.
Looking forward to your solo variants for Blue Moon City and Carc!
 
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Iain Cameron
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Why would anyone want to play Power Grid by themself?
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The "mission" of this user with regards to the solo rule sets is to add value to games that I have that just don't get played anymore for various reasons but that I still want to own. I have been one who does alot of research to determine which games I will buy and I don't like to see the money go to waste.

I have been posting these rules to give others a similar opportunity who may be in a similar circumstance.

I know some have mixed opinions with say Puerto Rico or here Power Grid but I can't get anyone to play these titles anymore. As a result of these endeavours, the games are getting much more use than they ever did before.

It is a matter of taste playing a multi-player game solo or playing Tichu with less than 4 players but it can be done and it can be fun and often more challenging.
I understand that not everyone will share the same sentiment.

Thanks for your comment.
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| Scott Kinzie |
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tongalad wrote:
Why would anyone want to play Power Grid by themself?


Because it's a fun game and can be fun to play alone.

Thanks to Solo for designing these rules and posting them. I can't promise to use them "as is" (I'm an extensive game hacker, even to the point of hacking other people's hacks), but I very much appreciate Solo sharing his or her work. I will definitely try this out once it gets posted.

THANK YOU!
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Joe Salamone
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After reading these SoloPlay Rules, everything seems pretty clear except one point. On page 2, the rules state: "The AI player builds in 1 or more cities matching and connecting to the cheapest connection cost available to the active player's network." Could you please clarify how the AI's placement works? I don't really understand it. Perhaps you could provide an example using the U.S.A. map by describing where the active player's house is built and where the AI player could (or must) build. I'm unclear about what is meant by "cities matching and connecting to . . . " Thanks!
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Joe Salamone wrote:
On page 2, the rules state: "The AI player builds in 1 or more cities matching and connecting to the cheapest connection cost available to the active player's network."
Could you please clarify how the AI's placement works? I don't really understand it. Perhaps you could provide an example using the U.S.A. map by describing where the active player's house is built and where the AI player could (or must) build. I'm unclear about what is meant by "cities matching and connecting to . . . " Thanks!


Sure, using the USA map and only focusing on the network expansions:

Preface: the example that I am using is not necessarily a good starting point nor strategy but is to demonstrate the network expansion process.

Round 1: You are required to place in at least 1 city in the 1st round
- I will choose Savannah

For the AI player's turn, he will take the cheapest connection to your current network. For Savannah, it would be Jacksonville(0). The AI player takes it.

Strategy point: looking at the current positions the cheapest connection point for the next round will be through Jacksonville to Tampa (0+4). I could let the AI player take it or;
If I am 1st in the next round, I could take the Tampa connection creating the new cheapest connection to the my network to Miami(4). This could be a good idea as long as I am 1st in the next round.

Round 2: No longer am I "required" to expand the network.
- But, I will go ahead and take Tampa which gives Miami to the AI player as noted.

Let say that I made an error in estimating cost and I am now 2nd to expand due to a larger power plant.

Round 3:
The AI player expands at the cheapest points off of the active player's network which will in this case give 2 cities because Raleigh and Atlanta both have a connection cost of (7) as the cheapest connection(s).
- Now as a point of strategy if I expand only 1 city I will be 1st to expand in the next round. I will take Norfolk for a connection cost of 10.

Round 4: the current cheapest expansion point off of my network is Washington (5).
This is not to be confused with the 3 connection cost off of the AI player's network into Birmingham or the 5 connection cost into Knoxville.
The cheapest connection cost always goes back to the my network.
Birmingham (7+3), Knoxville (7+5), Pittsburg (3+7) for example.

Back to the play ...
If the active player builds only once into Washington he will give the AI player 2 expansions into Philadelphia (3) and into New York (3+0). This is not a good move.
- I will go ahead and expand twice into Washington and Philadelphia.
This creates the new cheapest connection into New York (0). The AI player takes the single expansion into New York.

Both players now have 5 cities and turn order is not that important for expansion since the single cheapest expansion is into Boston (0+3) which will not improve my board position. This is where looking ahead and determining play order etc. is so important.

4 quick rounds assume that the active player (me) is 1st in all cases. I will only make single expansions.

- I take Pittsburgh
- AI takes Boston (0+3)

- I take Cincinnati
- AI takes Detroit (4)

- I take Chicago
- AI takes Knoxville (6)

- I take St Louis
- AI takes Kansas City (6)

If the play order changed at this point the AI player would take 2 expansions into Buffalo (7) and Memphis (7)

The key to remember is to always refer to the active player's network and make sure that connections through cities are looked at. They may be the cheapest available.

I hope that this "visual" example has helped to explain the AI player's ability to expand its network demonstrating the "parasitic" opponent.
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Joe Salamone
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Excellent explanation . . . thank you. I hope to try a solo game over the next few days.
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I tried this last night and really enjoyed it!

Kind of funny though... I have played Ticket to Ride for years and am definitely in the intermediate to advanced category in that game.

Meanwhile, I just got Power Grid last week and have not found any opponents yet (though it looks like a great game and eager to try it).

I downloaded your TTR soloplay rules a couple of weeks ago, tried to play it and had to give up - I just did not understand the "manual" pdf for that game beyond the set up phase. (I'll probably try another crack at it later)

Meanwhile, I downloaded Power Grid soloplay (having never played the game) and had no problem following the rules for it. Go figure. (although I had to quit about an hour in due to the lateness of the hour). Great idea and many thanks for developing something like this for those of us who lack time/opponents for multiplayer!
 
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I am glad that you are enjoying the Power Grid solo variant.

If there is something specific that you are having difficulty with in any of the solo variants feel free to use my geek mail if needed. I will do what I can to assist you.

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Thanks - will do. BTW, I got to soloplay PG again. It was a miserable score of 95... but hey, I'm a newbie what can I say.
 
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Thanks to SOLO I can now play Power Grid I ordered the game because I have, at last, found this Solo version.

Many more for solo-ists like me please !
 
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Just to clarify:
GameRulesforOne wrote:

For the AI player's turn, he will take the cheapest connection to your current network.


...regardless of whether the active player built an active city or not, correct?

With the result being that, if the active player does not have sufficient funds to expand his network in turn X, his expenses will only increase in turn X+1 as the cheapest part(s) of his network have been taken by the AI.

Thanks for confirming or explaining why that's incorrect.
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Quote:
GameRulesforOne wrote:

For the AI player's turn, he will take the cheapest connection to your current network.



furtherbum wrote:
...regardless of whether the active player built an active city or not, correct?

With the result being that, if the active player does not have sufficient funds to expand his network in turn X, his expenses will only increase in turn X+1 as the cheapest part(s) of his network have been taken by the AI.


Answer: You are correct ... as long as the AI player has not exceeded its power capacity as noted in the rules. There is a strategy that I have employed successfully where you limit the AI player by forcing him to build to exceed capacity to give you 1st dibs at supplies and expansion in the following round. This can be advantageous at times to control the turn order. There is a cost as you mentioned because he took 1 or more "cheap" connections so you need to consider this option carefully.
 
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First, thanks so much for putting together this solo variant. I have many more opportunities to play my games alone than with others and so the more solo variants I can find, the better.

I'm not sure if I played the variant wrong or just got lucky, but I won my first time with 500+ electros. This was due in no small part to a lot of high capacity plants coming out early that the AI couldn't purchase and then a lot of low capacity plants coming out late (which meant neither of us could expand) allowing me to rack in the electros.

My one question in the rules is about purchasing power plants. Am I correct that the first player always gets to purchase first. In other words, if I have more cities am I guaranteed first dibs on purchasing a power plant on the next turn?
 
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Jimmy O wrote:
My one question in the rules is about purchasing power plants. Am I correct that the first player always gets to purchase first. In other words, if I have more cities am I guaranteed first dibs on purchasing a power plant on the next turn?


Answer:
You are correct. The same rules for determining multi-play turn order is the same in the SoloPlay variant. Most cities = 1st power plant and last in build and resources.

Comments: 500 electros seems high but I do recall 1 of the boards getting somewhere around 400 or just over once.
You may want to review the placement of houses for the opposition.

Questions:
Did he always take your cheapest connection during expansion?
When he did, did he only expand 1 house per turn or was he able to expand more? Remember if you have 2 "cheapest" connections the AI player will expand into both.
Which map were you playing?

Thanks for your comments and questions.
 
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Jimmy Okolica
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We were playing the Germany map and we quickly got to a point where he had plants that powered 4, 4, and 3 cities and I had plants that powered 5, 4, and 3 cities. So I had a total of 14 cities on the board and he had a total of 12 cities on the board. Then, the lower plants started showing up - lots of 2s and 3s. Neither of us would buy them; one would go away and another 2 or 3 would show up.

Since, I already had 2 cities of my ability to power and I couldn't expand and since he had 1 city of his ability to power, he couldn't expand. So, we kept purchasing resources, powering cities, and getting income. This went on for 3 or 4 turns. Then when we hit Step 3, the game ended in two turns. He built two cities the first turn and one the second.

Did I do anything wrong?
 
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GameRulesforOne wrote:

When played with the “serious” group it became fun again until about game 3 when AP set in. Game times bloated to 3 hours for 3 and 4 player games. The accountants always won and I, not being one, became indifferent with the game results even when I would win. It just took too long to play.

You must play with some seriously slow players. I don't think our six player games with certified AP people have taken that long.
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Jimmy O wrote:
We were playing the Germany map and we quickly got to a point where he had plants that powered 4, 4, and 3 cities and I had plants that powered 5, 4, and 3 cities. So I had a total of 14 cities on the board and he had a total of 12 cities on the board. Then, the lower plants started showing up - lots of 2s and 3s. Neither of us would buy them; one would go away and another 2 or 3 would show up.

Since, I already had 2 cities of my ability to power and I couldn't expand and since he had 1 city of his ability to power, he couldn't expand. So, we kept purchasing resources, powering cities, and getting income. This went on for 3 or 4 turns. Then when we hit Step 3, the game ended in two turns. He built two cities the first turn and one the second.

Did I do anything wrong?

It sounds like you were playing it correctly unless you were not discarding the lowest power plant each turn? According to normal and SoloPlay rules, if there is not a power plant bought in the round then the lowest power plant is discarded and the highest is placed on the bottom of the power plant deck.

To go 4 turns and not draw a 4 or higher seems very unusual if you were drawing 2 plants at a time. What are the odds?

It is a strategy to get the AI player "stuck" in this position as a way of advancing your cause but I have never seen it go past 1 turn and it will eventually stunt the active player. I can see how it might happen but I never experienced this to this degree in playtesting.

The German board produced a 340+ electros for a record high during final testing so it is one of the boards that can generate a good victory.

Question:
When you tallied the final score did you subtract the number of cities below 21 and the number of regions not occupied. This would have affected your score unless you made a 7 city expansion on those turns and still had 500 electros? If you did, you would have had to have 700-800 electros on hand to make the win.

Please review this and let me know if you need more on this topic.
 
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Karlsen wrote:
You must play with some seriously slow players. I don't think our six player games with certified AP people have taken that long.


It really is too bad that this occurred. I like the game as long as it moves. The game has been shelved except for "family" game nights due to this fact. Some refuse to play it for the same reason. If those players don't come though ... Hasn't happened yet.

Hopefully the game will be "activated" again for multi-player play someday.
 
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Karlsen wrote:

You must play with some seriously slow players. I don't think our six player games with certified AP people have taken that long.


A week ago we played with six players. Each exhibited some AP out of necessity: the next to last turn ended with all six tokens on the city counting track stacked on the same space, one less than the game ending number. Game lasted over three hours. You didn't have to be a perfectionist to enjoy that evening but there were definitely a few in attendance.

I find the SoloPlay version of Power Grid at least as much fun as that incredibly tight six player game. I play to win and thus allow myself unending AP. [My wife rightly accuses me of running numbers in my head just for fun.] Solo games of PG take over two hours but that gives me at least the lowest level win every time.

Some play quickly for the game experience. Some play slowly for the joy of complete analysis. Thanks to SoloPlay for giving us all such great fun.
 
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bankrupt wrote:
I find the SoloPlay version of Power Grid at least as much fun as that incredibly tight six player game. I play to win and thus allow myself unending AP. [My wife rightly accuses me of running numbers in my head just for fun.] Solo games of PG take over two hours but that gives me at least the lowest level win every time.

Response: Exactly my feeling. Just as fun to play without the delays.

Thanks for your comments and summarizing my thoughts..
 
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I had almost abandoned solo games to maximize my time outdoors during our brief Vermont summer. Four months of 70's and 80's and now at noon on Halloween it was 28, windy, & snowing. Time for Power Grid solo! [I really like this game.]

Two questions about possible ambiguities in, or just my own misreading of, the solo rules:

1. If the active player has built to his maximum number of cities and then buys a power plant that results in reducing the number of cities his plants can power, does he remove one or more houses from his network? The rules are clear about not expanding beyond powerable cities plus two but don't seem to me to address my question about continuing existence in the case of loss in power capacity.

[This came in a game where I'd made a mistake by buying a city that three turns later resulted in the AI building two cities in a turn. I'd bought a power plant that reduced my capacity by one to force the AI to take a plant that would result in it consuming too much coal, which I was not relying on at all. The AI thereby would become unable to expand for two or maybe even three turns because of lack of resources to power existing cities.

But that two city purchase ended the game too soon for my strategy to work. I needed two more turns earning cash by powering 14 cities to pay the penalty for the difference between 16 and 21. If I'd been forced to remove one house, the one I shouldn't have purchased, the AI would have added only one city for the next two turns, been caught in the resource squeeze, delaying at least one more turn before adding the 15th city, and I'd have earned at least 240 more Electros, to add to my 400, which were no where near what I needed to win in the end.] Calculating every move and expense two or three turns in advance is great fun that can't be had with live players, if for no other reason than that I won't sit still for the time it takes them to do the same.

I'm consistently winning with over 300 points/Electros by never relinquishing first position, thereby mostly controlling, after the first three rounds, which plants and thus what fuel the AI receives/uses, and sometimes making plant acquisition by the AI impossible. But, I'm not sure about resource allocation. Hence the next question.

2. When filling the AI's power plants with fuel I've been filling the highest number plant's current and reserve spaces, then going to the next highest number plant. In re-reading the solo rules I'm not sure that is correct. Should I fill the current resources of all the AI's plants before going back and filling the reserves?

Thanks for your response and for your solo game designs. No matter what the season, I'd never have the time and dedication, much less the skill, to devise innovative and challenging rules as you do.

Rick
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bankrupt wrote:
1. If the active player has built to his maximum number of cities and then buys a power plant that results in reducing the number of cities his plants can power, does he remove one or more houses from his network?

Answer#1: No, you don't remove houses to meet the new output. You will just power up inefficiently for awhile. I had never thought of this as a possible strategy or idea to try. I am not sure that I can come up with a reason to do this unless it really straps the AI somehow. You have noted your primary method of victory as power plant manipulation to the nth degree. Interesting.
I generally lay back a little and try to control the markets to ensure that I am supplied as cheap as possible. I will generally go 1st when looking at the game as a whole but up until 7 houses are built I may go 2nd 2 or 3 turns depending on the circumstances. I don't recall going the whole way being 1st.

bankrupt wrote:
2. When filling the AI's power plants with fuel I've been filling the highest number plant's current and reserve spaces, then going to the next highest number plant. In re-reading the solo rules I'm not sure that is correct. Should I fill the current resources of all the AI's plants before going back and filling the reserves?

Answer#2: You should fill the primary power supplies of all of the AI power plants 1st and then go back and fill the reserves. To perform this would seem to limit the expansion possibilities (due to not being able to power up all of its plants) of the AI player giving a stronger advantage to the active player. Please make that correction. The challenge should be higher with this process in play.

Glad to here from you. It has been a little while like you mentioned.

I hope that what I said cleared things up for you but if not, you know where to find me.
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Played solo on the Spin/Portugal map. Seems much easier [376 point win] but I haven't figured out why. Other maps are on my Christmas list so I can play them solo. Starting from each different city on each map results in a significantly different solo game. Somewhat remarkable to contemplate.

Question please: Although the standard rules require the "blind" discard of some power plants during set up, your solo rules don't mention this. I have played without doing so. I've not yet come close to running out of power plants so I may be doing this wrong. In the "official" rules the paragraph about discarding plants includes other rules that you do modify so I inferred that silence meant the discard was not to be done. Should I make the "2 player plant discard" or not?

Varying the number discarded could affect the difficulty by hastening a game end condition. An additional strategy opportunity arises by blocking the AI from purchasing plants during one or more rounds and then not purchasing yourself to put off the out of power plant ending. It also allows the electro build up necessary for victory.

Thanks,

Rick
 
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