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Subject: Power Grid is a must have for all serious gamers rss

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Christopher Halbower
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Power Grid was designed by Friedemann Friese, the gentleman who brought us Formidable Foes. Power Grid is a heavy Rio Grande Game where players buy power plants, purchase fuel and then power cities. The player who powers the most cities when a certain trigger is met will be the winner.

The winner will be the player with the most powered cities. To power a city, players must have power plants. Players may never have more than three and players may only obtain one new power plant a turn. The power plants are auctioned off to the highest bidder. Each plant has a unique starting bid. The plants become more efficent as players cycle the deck.

The powe plant cards have several pieces of information on them: the type of fuel the plant needs; its capacity (number of cities it can power); and its starting bid.

Power plants require fuel. Players will have to position themselves to buy the right fuels for the cheapest prices.

The starting prices for each raw material is different. Players will need to assess this when bidding on new power plants. The price of raw materials also goes up as the available raw materials are bought up. Thus, buying first will be an advantage.

Once players have a power plant and some fuel, they will want to place their buildings in cities. The closer the cities are to each other, the cheaper the connection fee. Thus, players will want to have a robust, long term strategy if they plan on being competitive. Initially only one player may have his building in a city.

After your initial building, all your cities must be connected by paying the connection fees. If you put yourself into a corner, you could be in for expensive connections.

After all players have had an opportunity to build, players will power their cities, paying the appropriate raw materials. The amount of money collected is based upon the number of cities powered. The game ends when someone builds 17 cities. The player who powers the most that turn is the winner.

Power Grid has everything that a serious gamer would like.
1. There are cutthroat auctions. You need a lot of capacity to win. But you also don't want your opponents to get cheap power plants. This makes for some interesting auctions.
2. The raw materials market is realistic. The cost of the raw materials goes up as the demand goes up; the cost of the raw materials goes down if no one is buying them.
3. Players can outmanuever each other in several ways: power plants, raw materials or the board. You can cut someone off on the board forcing him to pay higher connection fees. Maybe this will be enough to win...?

Power Grid scales nicely. The game plays 2 players about as well as it does with 6. This is because of the set up differences for different players. This is very attractive feature of Power Grid. Gamers can always bust open a game of Power Grid regardless of the amount of players they have available.

Power Grid has many nice expansions. The power plant expansion is cool. There are also several more boards, each representing a different country. The base game comes with a double sided board (Germany and the United States). This adds a lot to the game--giving it great replayability.

Power Grid is deep. There is a lot of strategy involved in every phase of the game. No decision is easy. And every decision is important.

Power Grid is not too difficult to learn. There are some fiddly rules dealing with the auctions and the future market. There are also several charts that you will have to refer to. Because of this, I would not recommend Power Grid as a gateway game unless you have played it several times and have an attentive newbie available.

Power Grid is a true classic. I look forward to seeing Friedemann's new Power Grid Factory game! If history is any indication, his new game will be a smash!

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Jay Sheely
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I totally agree.

Aside from Chess, this is my favorite game. It's perfect.
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Jason Hyman
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Nice review. The only thing I would disagree on is:

halbower wrote:
Power Grid scales nicely. The game plays 2 players about as well as it does with 6. This is because of the set up differences for different players. This is very attractive feature of Power Grid. Gamers can always bust open a game of Power Grid regardless of the amount of players they have available.


The rules do change based on the number of players, but I personally do not feel they really work, especially for a two player game. The auctions for power plants and contention for area control are not as exciting. I would recommend the two player game only for learning the game.
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Jesse Dean
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Wow. I had no idea I was not a serious gamer. Thanks for letting me know of this vital information! thumbsup
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Mike Gold
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Agree but the one caveat is that luck plays an inordinate role at the end when the best power plants come up for auction. The re-playability is very high given the number of different scenarios available. Korea may be my favorite. There is a sharp distinction in resources between the North & South which makes the resource strategy especially crucial. One other observation is that guys like this game more than women. My daughter is a huge gamer but she hates Power Grid. She is very good at it, but she finds it very slow especially with 4-5 players. All the guys I know really like it.
 
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mhgolob wrote:
Agree but the one caveat is that luck plays an inordinate role at the end when the best power plants come up for auction.


Luck for whom? Everyone still has the oportunity to bid on those plants. If you have played play well to that point, it doesn't necessarily favor any particular player.
 
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Alessandro Fibbi
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Nice review, Christopher. I agree with you, Power Grid is a masterpiece, but I think it doesn't scale so nicely: IMHO, it's great with five players and good with four and six; personally, we play with something else if we are less than four.

Ale

 
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Ben Pinchback
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Good review, but I have to pile on the scaling comment. I don't find the game fun with 2 for reasons others have said.

What I do love though is how the critical path to victory changes from 3 to 6 players. Area control dynamics changing of course based on the number of players.
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J C
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Luck for whom? Everyone still has the oportunity to bid on those plants. If you have played play well to that point, it doesn't necessarily favor any particular player.


I think mhgolob has a point. Suppose (a pretty common situation) it's phase 3, the players are neck and neck, it looks like the last round, and one of the powerplants yet to be bought is especially good given the resource situation. If the ueber-powerplant isn't on the board when the auction starts, one person's going to miss out on bidding on it. If it doesn't show in the next card flip, two people will miss out on bidding on it, and so on. Worse, the later it shows, the simpler the bidding on it will be for those still in (fewer bidding opponents). The worst case is when it comes up and is bought for face price by the last to bid. In earlier rounds, these kinds of effects are washed out by the negative effects in future turns of buying a big powerplant now, but there's no such effect in the last round. Of course, there's skill involved in jockeying into the best position in the bidding, but the extent to which it turns out to matter looks like luck.
 
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alethic wrote:
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Luck for whom? Everyone still has the oportunity to bid on those plants. If you have played play well to that point, it doesn't necessarily favor any particular player.


I think mhgolob has a point. Suppose (a pretty common situation) it's phase 3, the players are neck and neck, it looks like the last round, and one of the powerplants yet to be bought is especially good given the resource situation. If the ueber-powerplant isn't on the board when the auction starts, one person's going to miss out on bidding on it. If it doesn't show in the next card flip, two people will miss out on bidding on it, and so on. Worse, the later it shows, the simpler the bidding on it will be for those still in (fewer bidding opponents). The worst case is when it comes up and is bought for face price by the last to bid. In earlier rounds, these kinds of effects are washed out by the negative effects in future turns of buying a big powerplant now, but there's no such effect in the last round. Of course, there's skill involved in jockeying into the best position in the bidding, but the extent to which it turns out to matter looks like luck.


I must admit that I can understand your point, but it has never really been a factor in my sessions. It has been very infrequent that I have made any plant purchases in step three. By the end of phase step two I usually have the plants and resources I need and am just saving money to make connections.
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Travis Hall
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alethic wrote:
In earlier rounds, these kinds of effects are washed out by the negative effects in future turns of buying a big powerplant now, but there's no such effect in the last round.

What negative effects? The only negative effect of buying a very good plant early is that you go later in the turn order when tied on number of connections. A lucky plant will easily more than counter this negative. (By definition, really - if the higher number on the plant really offset its benefits, it wasn't a lucky draw, was it?)

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Of course, there's skill involved in jockeying into the best position in the bidding, but the extent to which it turns out to matter looks like luck.

Luck and risk management. They are two sides of the same coin, in a game like Power Grid.

And really, the opportunity to manage the risk is at its greatest in the late stages of the game. In phase 3, all the plants that still in the deck have been seen by the players. They invariably have high capacity (though they could be 5, 6 or 7 - 4 would be unusual). The players should have a good idea how much risk is involved in giving others the opportunity to bid on cards newly turned up from the deck, or in attempting to wait out the bidding to get that opportunity.
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alethic wrote:
Of course, there's skill involved in jockeying into the best position in the bidding, but the extent to which it turns out to matter looks like luck.

That's what risk management is.
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J C
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Wraith wrote:
alethic wrote:
In earlier rounds, these kinds of effects are washed out by the negative effects in future turns of buying a big powerplant now, but there's no such effect in the last round.

What negative effects? The only negative effect of buying a very good plant early is that you go later in the turn order when tied on number of connections. A lucky plant will easily more than counter this negative. (By definition, really - if the higher number on the plant really offset its benefits, it wasn't a lucky draw, was it?)


Well, it's a matter of degree. If something ten higher than the normal sort of powerplant coming up for auction suddenly appears and has the right kind of resource possibilities, then sure, any negative effects coming out of the reordering are pretty minimal. But going to the back of the resource queue when running the biggest powerplant (and tied on connections) is a negative effect that can take a bit of weighing up.

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Of course, there's skill involved in jockeying into the best position in the bidding, but the extent to which it turns out to matter looks like luck.

Luck and risk management. They are two sides of the same coin, in a game like Power Grid.


They are indeed. Skilful risk management doesn't preclude the game turning on the flip of a card in the last turn.
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Travis Hall
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alethic wrote:
Well, it's a matter of degree. If something ten higher than the normal sort of powerplant coming up for auction suddenly appears and has the right kind of resource possibilities, then sure, any negative effects coming out of the reordering are pretty minimal. But going to the back of the resource queue when running the biggest powerplant (and tied on connections) is a negative effect that can take a bit of weighing up.

Not that much weighing up. Ten higher is generally a big jump in capacity. It's the sort of thing you can often buy and then offset the cost of buying resources last by not firing one of your other plants.

And if you know you are going to be last in the order, you can make sure you aren't tied on connections by buying a couple extra, and make money off the extra capacity. That makes purchasing more good plants difficult, but if the plant you are buying is so good in the first place, the good purchases others make will simply be playing catch-up.

And as I said, if there's a peculiarity in the resource market that makes a particular plant much less useful than would usually be the case, that's not a lucky turn-up, is it?

I'm not saying that a high turn-up is automatically the best plant available, but the truth of that matter is that the disadvantage of the turn order tie-breaker really isn't so great as to often negate early "lucky flips", when compared to the effect of late "lucky flips".

Quote:
Quote:
Of course, there's skill involved in jockeying into the best position in the bidding, but the extent to which it turns out to matter looks like luck.

Luck and risk management. They are two sides of the same coin, in a game like Power Grid.


Quote:
They are indeed. Skilful risk management doesn't preclude the game turning on the flip of a card in the last turn.

But skilful risk management does preclude the game from turning only on the flip of a card in the last turn. That flip of a card is only the last in a long series of events that leads to the outcome of the game. We shouldn't overstate its importance just because it is at the end of the event chain. Sure, a player won because the right card turned up, but he also won because the player before him chose to buy a power plant, causing the new plant to be flipped. Presumably that player chose to do that for a reason, and so we trace the causes and decisions all the way back.
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Russ Williams
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I agree with other comments that Power Grid is not as good with 2 players due to losing a lot of map tactics. (2-player auctions don't bother me like they bother many.) But I still like PG 2-player OK, and I play it 2-player with my SO fairly often. She being female, that leads to:

mhgolob wrote:
One other observation is that guys like this game more than women. My daughter is a huge gamer but she hates Power Grid. She is very good at it, but she finds it very slow especially with 4-5 players. All the guys I know really like it.

I've not noticed any particular sex-based correlation for liking PG; anecdotally, I know plenty of women who like it, plenty of men who don't, and the proportion of men/women I've seen playing it seems about equal to the proportion of men/women playing many other analogous eurogames. I've played it 6-player with 3 men and 3 women. I saw multiple games of Power Grid at BGG.CON with women in them. Etc.
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tim
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Riptcord wrote:
It has been very infrequent that I have made any plant purchases in phase three. By the end of phase two I usually have the plants and resources I need and am just saving money to make connections.

Really you don't buy plants in phase 3? How many times have you played?
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eightbit wrote:
Riptcord wrote:
It has been very infrequent that I have made any plant purchases in step three. By the end of step two I usually have the plants and resources I need and am just saving money to make connections.

Really you don't buy plants in phase 3? How many times have you played?


Not usually. Ive played between 30 and 40 games. I usually win(~+90%).arrrhlaugh
 
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Riptcord wrote:
eightbit wrote:
Riptcord wrote:
It has been very infrequent that I have made any plant purchases in phase three. By the end of phase two I usually have the plants and resources I need and am just saving money to make connections.

Really you don't buy plants in phase 3? How many times have you played?


Not usually. Ive played between 30 and 40 games. I usually win(~+90%).arrrhlaugh


You probably need to be playing more competitive players then. I am very careful about purchases in phase 3 and sometimes don't need to make one, but often it's critical to stay ahead of (or even with) my opponents in capacity. If your opponents let you lead them in capacity into P3 such that you never need to buy plants, you're out of their league.
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jsciv wrote:
If your opponents let you lead them in capacity into P3 such that you never need to buy plants, you're out of their league.

Yes, I have to agree. I've noticed that new players underestimate the value of high plants. ("Why would I want to spend so much money on that plant? It'll be ages before I have enough connections to use the capacity.") In my group, where I introduced Power Grid (having played it before in another city), this allowed me to win a number of games quite easily, most often on the first turn of step 3, after having been allowed to get a strong lead on capacity early in the game. Everyone else would spend a big wad of money on new plants, and I'd ignore the new plants and just build enough new connections to finish the game.

But my opponents have been learning. They have seen how I was doing it, and started to compete for big plants earlier. I've still only been beaten the once, but on that occasion, I was last out of five players, and to win I have to pull out different tricks now (including having to make up new tactics on the fly sometimes).
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jsciv wrote:
You probably need to be playing more competitive players then.


They are very competitive and competent in game play. It's never a blow out.

jsciv wrote:

I am very careful about purchases in step 3 and sometimes don't need to make one,


This is exactly what I said, so why the disbelief?

jsciv wrote:

but often it's critical to stay ahead of (or even with) my opponents in capacity. If your opponents let you lead them in capacity into P3 such that you never need to buy plants, you're out of their league.


Were all usually fairly close to one another; I am rarely leading in capacity. When I do add capacity at the end of phase 2 (rarely in step 3), I only add enough to win. This isn't a static number. I have a good idea what plants may become available and I pay attention to my opponents cash flow more closely toward the game end. I do enough for the win, any more is a waste of resources. This game is always a tough fight; my game group doesn't consist of sixth grades from the local grade school. They are gamers. I don't win all the time. laugh
 
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Riptcord wrote:
jsciv wrote:

I am very careful about purchases in phase 3 and sometimes don't need to make one,


This is exactly what I said, so why the disbelief?

Because you indicated that your ability to win without needing a purchase in step 3 (not phase 3, the difference is very important in Power Grid) is rather greater than just "sometimes".

Riptcord wrote:
Were all usually fairly close to one another; I am rarely leading in capacity. When I do add capacity at the end of phase 2 (rarely in phase 3), I only add enough to win.

At which point you will then be leading in capacity as the game goes into step 3.

Riptcord wrote:
This game is always a tough fight; my game group doesn't consist of sixth grades from the local grade school. They are gamers. I don't win all the time. laugh

Your claimed win rate of about 90% is not indicative of a series of tough fights. Close counts on the final numbers of cities powered combined with one player winning 90% of the games indicates that one player is considerably stronger than the rest but has the ability and wisdom to choose a secure apparently-close win over a chancy thrashing of his opponents.
 
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Wraith wrote:
Riptcord wrote:
jsciv wrote:

I am very careful about purchases in step 3 and sometimes don't need to make one,


This is exactly what I said, so why the disbelief?

Because you indicated that your ability to win without needing a purchase in step 3 (not phase 3, the difference is very important in Power Grid) is rather greater than just "sometimes".


Typo. Sometimes, rarely, it's symantics.

Wraith wrote:
Riptcord wrote:
Were all usually fairly close to one another; I am rarely leading in capacity. When I do add capacity at the end of step 2 (rarely in step 3), I only add enough to win.

At which point you will then be leading in capacity as the game goes into step 3.


No, I'm usually middle of the pack.

Wraith wrote:
Riptcord wrote:
This game is always a tough fight; my game group doesn't consist of sixth grades from the local grade school. They are gamers. I don't win all the time. laugh

Your claimed win rate of about 90% is not indicative of a series of tough fights.


If they weren't tough fights the point spread would be quite large and it's never the case.

Wraith wrote:
Close counts on the final numbers of cities powered combined with one player winning 90% of the games indicates that one player is considerably stronger than the rest but has the ability and wisdom to choose a secure apparently-close win over a chancy thrashing of his opponents.


Believe what you like, but why insult me? I don't coddle, or cuddle.




 
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Hey guys, I think there was a review in here somewhere.

I think it was pretty good. He gave some great pictures and description of the game.

But I just have one objection. I don't think you need to be a serious board gamer to enjoy it. I've taught it to my 60+ year old parents, and some of my 25ish post-college friends who own no board games, and they all like it. Two guys have even said, "it's like monopoly- you can just bust it out with any one and they'll like it. Only it's a lot more fun." I'm not sure if it's the brightly colored currency or what, but I've heard the "monopoly" analogy twice.

If there's anything heavy about the game, I think it's the game length that might turn some people away, yet the people who have typically played the fewest board games will have games like Monopoly and Risk to compare it to. Play tends to favor the more experienced players, or those who are good at the bidding stage of the game, but I've found that these aren't skills that are unique to Power Grid, but math and economic intuition that you might develop elsewhere.

So. "Power Grid is a must for all ... people." It's good.
 
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Jexik wrote:
Hey guys, I think there was a review in here somewhere.

I think it was pretty good. He gave some great pictures and description of the game.

But I just have one objection. I don't think you need to be a serious board gamer to enjoy it. I've taught it to my 60+ year old parents, and some of my 25ish post-college friends who own no board games, and they all like it. Two guys have even said, "it's like monopoly- you can just bust it out with any one and they'll like it. Only it's a lot more fun." I'm not sure if it's the brightly colored currency or what, but I've heard the "monopoly" analogy twice.

If there's anything heavy about the game, I think it's the game length that might turn some people away, yet the people who have typically played the fewest board games will have games like Monopoly and Risk to compare it to. Play tends to favor the more experienced players, or those who are good at the bidding stage of the game, but I've found that these aren't skills that are unique to Power Grid, but math and economic intuition that you might develop elsewhere.

So. "Power Grid is a must for all ... people." It's good.


Everyone I've introduced it too compares it too Monopoly as well. I try to discourage that comparison.
 
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