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Power Grid: Factory Manager» Forums » General

Subject: Factory Manager -- Impressions rss

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Greg Schloesser
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Friendmann Friese can always be counted on to include some original mechanisms in his game designs. While I’m not a fan of all of his games, there are a few that I always enjoy playing. His most popular design is also my personal favorite: Power Grid. It remains one of my all-time favorite games.

While his latest design utilizes the same artistic motif and a theme of producing energy, Factory Manager actually has very little in common with his blockbuster hit. Players represent factor managers struggling to dominate other players in a highly competitive field. Workers must be hired and the factory outfitted with the proper equipment, while hoping to strike a profitable balance between production, storage and rising energy costs.

Each turn, numerous factory components will be available for purchase. Players bid for turn order, using valuable workers in the auction. Turn order can be critical, but bidding too many workers leaves less to man the machines. A few seasonal workers can be hired to help offset a shortfall, but they are in short supply and can be quite expensive.

Players must balance their production with storage capacity, earning income each turn based on the lowest value of these two categories. Have too little storage capacity, and goods are wasted. Too much storage capacity, and you are wasting valuable floor space. From this income is subtracted the cost of energy, which rises each turn. The player who is best able to balance all of these factors will dominate the market and win the game.

My one playing of Factory Manager left me short of lukewarm. The game works, and does require some careful planning, but it is dry -- VERY dry. The most exciting part is the auction for turn order, but each player only has a few workers to bid, so it doesn’t escalate much. This means the tension is kept to a minimum. After that, players make their own calculations and purchases without any interference from their opponents. Numbers are crunched and money is earned, and play proceeds. The game concludes after five rounds, with profits and expenses being doubled in the final round. The wealthiest player is victorious.

The game works just fine, and appears well balanced. What it lacked for me, however, is excitement. It seemed to be a numbers and calculations exercise, something which I rarely find enticing or thrilling. These calculations also slowed the game’s progress, but I’m more to blame for this than my opponents. While there is satisfaction on properly balancing the various factors and successfully crunching the numbers to obtain an optimally balanced factory, it just isn’t terribly exciting or exhilarating. For me, that is a game-killer. Mind you, that doesn’t mean Factory Manager is a poor game. It just isn’t my style.
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Kristof Bodric
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To each his own, I suppose. I personally find myself all aquiver when playing a game of FM. In fact the increased dynamics of the game is what makes me like it even more than (oh the blasphemy!) Power Grid. I reckon one has to be a certain type of geek to be excited by robots and machines, and I quite unashamedly classify myself as just such a geek. This said, I can understand how some people can remain quite unimpressed or even underwhelmed by this game simply because it does not offer them that certain magic ingredient that turns them on.
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David desJardins
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gschloesser wrote:
The most exciting part is the auction for turn order, but each player only has a few workers to bid, so it doesn’t escalate much. This means the tension is kept to a minimum. After that, players make their own calculations and purchases without any interference from their opponents.


Wow, this seems entirely wrong to me. Most of the game and most of the tension is in the "decide what to pull down into the market" stage, which you entirely skipped in your review. Once the other players decide what to pull down, and then decide what to buy, sure, there's no interference. But that's a massive amount of interference that happened before you ever got to buy anything---the other players might not cooperate in pulling down tiles that help you, and they might also buy up the tiles you want before your turn.

Are you sure you played with the correct rules? It almost sounds like you're letting everyone buy the tiles they pulled down into the market, rather than other players getting to buy them first. Or maybe that you're pulling down good tiles from the high levels of the tableau, rather than making the players early in turn order pull down low-value tiles that don't usually do them much good so they are at the mercy of later players who decide what better stuff will become available.
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Daniel Corban
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During my first game or three, the turn order auctions seemed hugely important. It seemed as though games were made or broken on your turn order. Now that I am experienced with the game, I see that turn order is actually a minor thing. You win the game based on your decisions irrespective of your turn order.

I agree that you are missing something if you think the game is just multiplayer solitaire once turn order is set. Maybe this was written after just a single play. Maybe there was some bias against the game from the start. Maybe complete disinterest during the game led to mechanical play with no incentive to see what is really going on.
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Greg Schloesser
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DaviddesJ wrote:
gschloesser wrote:
The most exciting part is the auction for turn order, but each player only has a few workers to bid, so it doesn’t escalate much. This means the tension is kept to a minimum. After that, players make their own calculations and purchases without any interference from their opponents.


Wow, this seems entirely wrong to me. Most of the game and most of the tension is in the "decide what to pull down into the market" stage, which you entirely skipped in your review. Once the other players decide what to pull down, and then decide what to buy, sure, there's no interference. But that's a massive amount of interference that happened before you ever got to buy anything---the other players might not cooperate in pulling down tiles that help you, and they might also buy up the tiles you want before your turn.


First, this is NOT a review. It is only my impressions. I would need to play the game several more times before writing a full review. I don't think that will happen, though, as it just isn't my style of game.

DaviddesJ wrote:
Are you sure you played with the correct rules? It almost sounds like you're letting everyone buy the tiles they pulled down into the market, rather than other players getting to buy them first. Or maybe that you're pulling down good tiles from the high levels of the tableau, rather than making the players early in turn order pull down low-value tiles that don't usually do them much good so they are at the mercy of later players who decide what better stuff will become available.


No, in terms of what you are stating, we played it correctly. In turn order, each player pulled three tiles into the display, with the last person being able to pull down an additional three if he so desired. Then, each player made their purchases.

Perhaps with more experience or different players this aspect of the game would be more aggressive, but what occurred didn't seem to bother our (I played as a team) plans very much.
 
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Greg Schloesser
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dcorban wrote:

I agree that you are missing something if you think the game is just multiplayer solitaire once turn order is set. Maybe this was written after just a single play. Maybe there was some bias against the game from the start. Maybe complete disinterest during the game led to mechanical play with no incentive to see what is really going on.


Oh, it is quite possible I'm missing something. As mentioned, this is simply my impressions, which (a) could be wrong, or (b) are simply my opinion. I certainly don't have a bias against the game, as I'm a big fan of Power Grid and enjoy many of the designer's games.

In today's environment when so many games are being released and competing for table time, a game usually must make a very positive impression on me if it is to see further table time. While I may well play it again, Factory Manager just didn't grab me.
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Joe Huber

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Greg,

When I see you later this month, I'm sure I'll teach the game at least once. I'll try to grab you to see if you had any rules issues, with or without dragging you into the game as you'd prefer, if you'd like...
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David desJardins
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gschloesser wrote:
No, in terms of what you are stating, we played it correctly. In turn order, each player pulled three tiles into the display, with the last person being able to pull down an additional three if he so desired. Then, each player made their purchases.


That is not the correct rule. The number of tiles you pull down depends on your available workers, which depends on what you have built in your factory, how many seasonal workers you hired, and what you bid for turn order. So that sounds like part of your problem, although by itself it wouldn't explain everything you said.

But I can believe that it is entirely possible for a group to play the game without thinking about the strategy of what tiles to pull down, just picking something that looks useful and choosing that. And if everyone did that then the game would be pretty dumb. Most of the strategy in the game comes in figuring out what you can pull down that will give you a relative advantage over the other players.
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Greg Schloesser
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DaviddesJ wrote:
gschloesser wrote:
No, in terms of what you are stating, we played it correctly. In turn order, each player pulled three tiles into the display, with the last person being able to pull down an additional three if he so desired. Then, each player made their purchases.


That is not the correct rule. The number of tiles you pull down depends on your available workers, which depends on what you have built in your factory, how many seasonal workers you hired, and what you bid for turn order. So that sounds like part of your problem, although by itself it wouldn't explain everything you said.


You're right ... I just explained it incorrectly. We played just as you described.

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