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Power Grid: Factory Manager» Forums » Sessions

Subject: 2-player session and notes rss

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Stephen Rochelle
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I notice that there's very little commentary on 2- and 3-player Factory Manager, and my experience is that the game behaves quite differently. With more actions relative to the table, each player has more room to affect his opponent(s).

I'm attaching below a session log from a 2-player PBEM game, along with my thoughts on lessons to be learned. Technically it's not a full session: we've been sitting at the start of Turn 5 for three weeks now due to AP, but the game is effectively over -- certainly all the interesting bits can be discussed.

Quote:
Initial turn draw:
Red: 2
Blue: 10

X Tile Draw:
M1, Y6, C12

TURN 1

Turn 1 tiles:
4 (-1), 8 (-3)

Blue bids 0 for 4
Red passes
Red bids 0 for 8

Blue pulls R7 R9 Y10
Red pulls R9 S6 S10

Blue buys R9(8) Y10(9) $1 left
Red buys R9(6) R7(4) S10(7) $1 left

Blue deactivates 1xMstart, Y10; Factory 3/3/4 (2 men)
Red Factory 5/5/7 (4 men)

Power tile +1, power cost 1 (2nd column)

Blue income 30 - 4 power, $27 total
Red income 50 - 7 power, $44 total
A note on terminology: "Factory 3/3/4 (2 men)" represents 3 production, 3 storage, 4 power, and 2 workers in the canteen.

This is the second game, and first 2-player game, for each of us. I’ve poked around with solitaire two-player games to get a handle on the rules, but I’m not sure how instructive that is for strategy purposes.

Blue set his heart on a yellow robot to ease manpower constraints and didn’t examine the board well enough. He’s not running the yellow because he’s not running a paired machine. The storage probably would have been a better buy.

Red goes for max income, hoping that power won’t sink him.

Quote:
TURN 2

Turn 2 tiles:
1 (0), 6 (-2)

Red bids 0 for 1
Blue passes
Blue bids 0 for 6

Red pulls R10 Y6 Y13
Blue pulls S6 S14 S18 O17 O22

Red buys R10(10), Y13(13), S18(18), $3 left : DNI Y13
Blue buys S14(12), O17(15), $0 left

Red deactivates R7; Factory 7/9/9 (4 men)
Blue Factory 5/6/6 (2 men)

Power tile +2, power cost 3

Blue income 50 - 18 power, $32 total
Red income 70 - 27 power, $46 total
A terminology note: "DNI" is "did not install"; the tile is left outside the factory.

Red matches Blue’s yellow robot envy error of the previous round, buying a machine he can’t run. The pull was defensible, hoping that Blue would provide available machines, but the buy wasn’t. Otherwise Red continues to hope he can outproduce power costs, but the +2 tile draw is ominous.

Blue’s first major mistake is here, taking the 17 Optimize. I think this is a terrible first Opt buy in a 2-player (particularly without the X-tile Opt) as it sticks the buyer with the worst Optimizer while giving the opponent an easy shot (only 3 tiles in) at the best.

Quote:
TURN 3

Turn 3 tiles:
4 (-1), 8 (-3)

Blue bids 0 for 8
Red bids 1
Blue bids 2
Red passes
Red bids 0 for 4

Red pulls O22 O30 O39
Blue pulls R13 S6 S22

Red buys O39(38), demolishes R7, $8 left : DNI Y13
Blue buys R13(10), S22(19), $3 left

Red Factory 9/9/6 (3 men)
Blue deactivates Y10; Factory 7/11/6 (4 men)

Power tile +1, power cost 4

Blue income 70 - 24 power, $49 total
Red income 90 - 24 power, $74 total
The only interesting bidding of the game. Red bluffs and bids up Blue.

Red capitalizes on Blue’s Optimize error above, pulling and buying the Optimize 39. Particularly in the two-player, where this is the only Optimize tile that improves your worker position, I don’t think the value of this tile can be overstated. With Blue having just bought an Optimize, there’s also basically no risk to Red in pulling the 22 and 30 along the way. Note that Red effectively recovers $38 on the first turn alone ($20 extra from boxes, $12 saved from power, and a $6 seasonal worker) -- no other Optimizer recovers its cost this quickly.

Blue builds up his storage while not losing further ground in production.

Quote:
TURN 4

Turn 4 tiles:
6 (-2), 10 (-4)

Blue bids 1 for 10
Red passes
Red bids 0 for 6

Red pulls C12 C17 C21 C25
Blue pulls O22 O30

Red buys C25(23), $51 left : DNI Y13
Blue buys C21 (17), 2x Seasonal Workers (6), $26 left

Red Factory 9/9/2 (2 men)
Blue deactivates Y10; Factory 7/11/3 (3 men)

Power tile +2, power cost 6

Blue income 70 - 18 power, $78 total
Red income 90 - 12 power, $129 total
Blue’s second major mistake (and the nail in the coffin) is bidding for the discount. This is the only game of FM I’ve played where no machines have come into the market, and Blue desperately needs machines to leapfrog Red’s production. However, as machines are the cheapest tiles, they’re also the easiest for the lead player to buy as a blocking tactic. Blue absolutely needed to go first here. I don’t know how far Red would have bid him up, but this ended things.

Red pulls control tiles knowing that they’ll improve his position without allowing Blue to gain ground. Blue realizes that machine pulls won’t help from his position, and so effectively punts.

At this point in the game, Blue is trailing by $51. He needs, then, to get his base income at least $30 above Red (prior to doubling): 12 for the best case, assuming Red doesn’t alter his factory. Unfortunately, neither his production nor his shipping tracks are at 12, so he’ll have to improve both, and that still doesn’t account for recouping the costs of the tiles themselves. As far as I can tell, it’s a no-win position even before Red plays spoiler.

Based on this, here are my thoughts on the two-player game in particular:
* The first player would do well to grab a machine, even #3, in Turn 1. Machines are a must for expansion and their cheap costs leave them vulnerable to blocking tactics.
* Yellow robots are a lousy first-turn purchase. It’s a double whammy of crippling your income to boost a resource (manpower) that you don’t have the money to use. If you want turn 2 manpower, just shut down a machine (assuming you can at least stay at 2 production).
* Buying the first Optimizer leaves the #39 dangling for your opponent. If you’ve got to get one, do better than the #17.
* An early Control buy looks attractive, though we didn’t try it here. You don’t give your opponent an opportunity as with the Optimizer, you get an extra worker without removing a red robot slot, and you’ve at least got the extra worker on hand if you have to remove and replace. I think the X-tile in particular (#12) could be a reasonable early gambit.
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