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Subject: Session Report: 2p Power Grid with variant rules rss

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Richard Martin
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Overland Park
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My first session report:

I had a 2 player game of Power Grid yesterday where we decided to try out a couple new rules I had read in one of the BGG forums. This is the link to that post:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/390779/new-power-grid-ru...

We played with the following additional rules:
1. In each round, if you have more houses on the board than you actually power, you lose 10 elektros per houses that was not powered.

Example: if you have 10 houses on the board and you power only 7 (either because you do not have the power plant capacity, or because you do not have resources), you will get $30 elektros less in beurocracy.

2. If you have the capacity to power more houses than you are actually pwering, you lose 5 elektros per additional house

Example: If you have 4 power plants that can power a total of 15 houses, but you only power 10 (either because you only have 10 houses or you only have that many resources), you will get $25 elektros less in beurocracy.

What resulted was an extremely cut-throat game with a lot more opportunities for screwage. In the first few rounds that we were trying this, neither of us wanted to lose ANY money because of the penalities. So we were building just enough houses to maintain power plant efficiency.

More importantly, we were never buying high capacity power plants as soon as they came up (again to avoid the penalty). This caused a few changes in the flow of the game:

1. We were neck-and-neck in terms of houses and power plant capacity for almost all the rounds. Player order kept shifting back and forth

2. We had similar power plants, with similar capacities. so the competition for resources (especially coal and oil) was tremendous

3. Towards the middle of the game, when we did decide to go for the higher capacity plants, the auctions were a lot more competitive

We kept getting coal/oil plants for at least the first half of the game, so that didnt help with the resource conflicts either. Plus, we later found out that 3 garbage and 2 ecological plants were discarded in the intial 8.

We ran out of coal twice (not enough for both of us) before phase 3. It so happened that both of us had a 3-coal power plant and a 2-coal power plant each, so coal was not getting refilled fast enough.

More than once, I had the opportunity (which I took!), to buy extra resources only to prevent my opponent from having enough to power her plants. This resulted in less cities powered PLUS the penalty for not powering efficiently. In one such round, instead of receiving $44 elektros, she received only $9 elektros because of the penalty.

So all-in-all, it was definitely an interesting session. We need to play around with the penalties to figure out the optimal numbers, but this was a great way to change the gameplay. I think it would be even better (in terms of player conflict), in a game with more players.

We will probably play this variant again to see if we have a similar experience again or whether the luck of the power plant market this game was the main cause of the resource conflict.

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Stephen Rochelle
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Huntsville
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Having more cities than you can power, particularly given how little blocking can occur in a 2p game, is already a detriment. I'm curious how this has changed gameplay for you versus "vanilla" sessions. What sort of effect is this intended to address?

For the other change, I suppose I can see some sort of tradeoff -- running an inefficient plant for a net loss versus not running the plant and losing some cash might be an interesting decision. Otherwise, though, it seems to be more piling on -- you can't buy supplies, and you lose even more money, or you've bought a high-numbered plant, hurt your turn order, and lose more money. What effect from vanilla games is this intended to address?

Generally, I wonder if adding negative reinforcement really makes the game more cut-throat or just limits your options. I can well believe that it adds pressure to the resource market, but couldn't the same be accomplished similarly by just reducing resupply rates, increasing competition and plant turnover, without directly sabotaging a player's options as with a $9 payout?
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Richard Martin
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Both rule changes we used were not intended to 'fix' any aspect of the original game. We enjoy the base game without any changes immensely.

The only reason we tried it out was to see if there would be any change in gameplay/strategy. The rule changes I described seemed to be really simple to implement (no additional bookkeeping - except one simple calculation when receiving money).

I must admit, I did not really think about/analyze the implications of these changes and other alternate ways of changing the game. Plus, I'm pretty sure one cannot decide if these or any other changes are 'good' changes without many more plays. I just found the results of these changes in this particular game rather interesting.

You are right about having more cities than you can power being a detriment. We did not run into this in any round, except when there were not enough resources to power all plants which basically gave rise to that condition.

 
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Stephen Rochelle
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mechanikhil wrote:
Both rule changes we used were not intended to 'fix' any aspect of the original game. We enjoy the base game without any changes immensely.


In that event, full speed ahead! The $9 thing in particular just struck me as something that would be weeded out in playtesting, as it's basically forfeiture of a turn (plus loss of resources) in the midgame.
 
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