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Subject: First Playthrough of Power Struggle rss

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Matt Oehler
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My friends and I recently played our first game of Power Struggle in the night where we tested out some of the new games we bought for Christmas. The first game of the night was Dominion: Intrigue, fairly light and simple, and we all seemed to have a good handle on the strategy by our second quick playthrough.

Power Struggle was a little more complicated than that . We blundered through our first game with little real idea of what was going on, or how to win (save by grabbing points on the victory track and hoping for the best).

Two people got themselves as their nemesis, causing some confusion; we weren't sure if you needed to reach the gold bar (first one to max in certain VP track), or just be higher than everyone else. Honestly, I think this confusion cost one of my friends the game. I think he might have been able to take the game if he knew the exact conditions for the nemesis VP. Oh well.

Communications seemed to be the strongest department, although our fourth player let it get taken away, hoping the moron card would penalize the briber. But then the Director's Meeting happened, a new set of event cards to be distributed. A bribe to the Communications department near the end also allowed me to take the game during the 4th Director's Meeting.

Other players focused on getting control of useful departments, whereas I was content to stay with two terrible departments - Development and Human Resources.Well, HR was good, but I was only able to get the bonus hires once. Development only seemed good if bribed, since it tripled the effectiveness of it. Instead, I just bribed a whole bunch, favoring the Chairman one, allowing me to take the lead in the Influence even though I was never Chairman once. One of the most crucial bribes I managed was to bribe the Controlling title away from the player with the most departments. I have no idea why he accepted the bribe, considering he would have made a ton more money once the bonus payments rolled around. In fact, as the player who bribed the most (allowing me to win in Corruption as well), I was surprised by how often people accepted my first offer, generally only a measly 50k, or 100k in the late game.

I'm convinced we did the Board of Directors incorrectly, not shuffling them out according to the rules. Instead, the most recent board member was always kicked out, instead of shuffling every guy to the right. This made the Board of Directors a little too static for my tastes, but we were probably doing it wrong. Live and learn.

Main Departments seemed really good, allowing you to retain control of departments without worrying about those troubling cubicle drones and desk jockeys. Only one player ended up making any of his department heads into consultants; they didn't seem to offer any special benefit aside from the VPs, and were incredibly expensive to buy with cash as well.

Cashwise, well, one player ended up with a metric ton of it, because he owned so many departments and had twenty shares of the common stock; another player only ever had one (we were nemeses, and he wanted to beat me in that category). No one ever really did much with it until the late game, other than a few bribes of trivial amounts. Honestly, I think that with better cash management Mr. Moneybags with the mass shares/departments could have taken the game from me, especially if he had retained Controlling when the bonus payments came around. We all seemed to have enough money, although I expect we'll become more prolific spenders once we figure out what the heck we're doing.

At the end, I was waiting for the 4th board meeting to roll around, allowing me to get points from the bribed chairman ability, and then communications to allow me to buy the Main Department point I needed to win before the rest of the board meeting could be settled. The nemesis VP was also crucial.

Power Struggle was certainly an interesting game with a lot of evident strategic depth. However, I haven't yet managed to figure out the entire strategy, so I'm going to withhold a BGG rating until I get a better handle on all of the strategies. Certainly a fun game, but it took a little longer than we expected, possibly because we looked up the rules a couple of times while playing.
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Clement Tey
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Another mistake you made was that you pay out per block of shares, not per share.
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Martin G
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Power Struggle is a great game, but as you found, it's very hard to have any idea of what you're doing on the first play. Just wanted to check a couple of things you said to make sure you've got the rules down.

mroehler wrote:

Two people got themselves as their nemesis, causing some confusion


Yeah, this is confusing. In our first game we just redealt until no one had themself as arch-enemy.

Quote:
Communications seemed to be the strongest department, although our fourth player let it get taken away, hoping the moron card would penalize the briber.


I think you've got a slight mistake here. "Director of communications" (or any of the other directors) refers to the player with the manager in the department head space, not to the player holding the special power card. Effectively, you're bribing the director to help you out, you're not becoming the director yourself.

So even if the card has been bribed away, the moron card would still affect the original director. You can avoid being affected by it by resigning that directorship before the moron card comes up, but it's impossible for anyone else to be penalized by it.

Quote:
I just bribed a whole bunch, favoring the Chairman one, allowing me to take the lead in the Influence even though I was never Chairman once.


This sounds like a similar mistake to the one above. You don't get any influence from holding the Chairman card, you just get an extra action before the board meeting. The only ways to get influence are by having your managers on the board or in the Chairman's seat, or by firing employees.

Quote:
I'm convinced we did the Board of Directors incorrectly, not shuffling them out according to the rules. Instead, the most recent board member was always kicked out, instead of shuffling every guy to the right. This made the Board of Directors a little too static for my tastes, but we were probably doing it wrong.


Yeah, you should fill from the left until the five seats are full. Then the next guy in pushes out the oldest board member (the one on the left). This applies even during the initial placement round, meaning you have to be careful about going into the board first.

Quote:
Only one player ended up making any of his department heads into consultants; they didn't seem to offer any special benefit aside from the VPs, and were incredibly expensive to buy with cash as well.


Correct, but you only need three of them for a VP and you can get them without even spending an action by having your department heads replaced at a board meeting.

Quote:
Cashwise, well, one player ended up with a metric ton of it, because he owned so many departments and had twenty shares of the common stock


Someone else mentioned this below, but you only pay a bonus per block of shares. "8 shares" pays out exactly the same as "1 share". Odd but true!

Quote:
I expect we'll become more prolific spenders once we figure out what the heck we're doing.


Definitely, but the interesting thing is that depending on your strategy you might not need much money. If you're going for shares, you definitely do though.

Quote:
At the end, I was waiting for the 4th board meeting to roll around, allowing me to get points from the bribed chairman ability


As I mentioned above, I think you got this part wrong. The influence, points go to the newly elected Chairman, not the holder of the card.

Hope you continue to enjoy it, I found my second and third plays much more fun than my first.
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Mike Oehler
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Quote:


Someone else mentioned this below, but you only pay a bonus per block of shares. "8 shares" pays out exactly the same as "1 share". Odd but true!


I definitely remembered "Per block of shares" from reading about the game in advance, but I couldn't find it when I was looking payout up at the table. Oops.

Quote:


As I mentioned above, I think you got this part wrong. The influence, points go to the newly elected Chairman, not the holder of the card.


IIRC, we played that one right. His point from getting the extra main department via the chairman power, not from influence.

Similarly, the player trying to get rid of communications wasn't just letting it be bribed away, he also closed all of his departments in the division. His thought was that there'd be the board meeting, replacing the division head, then the moron card would hit the next person. Even if his plan would have worked, I think I'd certainly rather have 3 departments in communications even if it meant paying out 300k. Having no stuff on the board just seemed like an awful position.

I'm eager to play this one again too. Besides the rules mistakes, we were just sort of stumbling around a lot of the game. It's hard to intelligently battle for position or bribe when we haven't seen how the powers and such work. People were accepting bribes on the Chairman power for paltry sums like 100k, when the closest equivalent seems like buying a Main Department for 1.5 mil. That made it pretty easy for some people to score on the main department track.
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Martin G
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I just thought of one more thing.

Quote:
At the end, I was waiting for the 4th board meeting to roll around, allowing me to get points from the bribed chairman ability, and then communications to allow me to buy the Main Department point I needed to win before the rest of the board meeting could be settled. The nemesis VP was also crucial.


I'm pretty sure you can only declare that you've satisfied the victory conditions on one of your action turns, not during the directors meeting. Then you keep playing until a full round of actions has been completed, so it's possible for another player to also satisfy the victory conditions in the mean time.
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Martin G
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VictimEN wrote:

I definitely remembered "Per block of shares" from reading about the game in advance, but I couldn't find it when I was looking payout up at the table. Oops.


Yeah, this rule is really badly written and isn't clear at all on the reference cards. It seems to be one of the most common mistakes made.

Quote:

IIRC, we played that one right. His point from getting the extra main department via the chairman power, not from influence.


OK cool. It was the bit about "allowing me to take the lead in the Influence even though I was never Chairman once" that I was confused by.

Quote:

Similarly, the player trying to get rid of communications wasn't just letting it be bribed away, he also closed all of his departments in the division. His thought was that there'd be the board meeting, replacing the division head, then the moron card would hit the next person.


Yeah, but the new person can then choose to bury the moron card underneath the directors meeting event.

Quote:
I think I'd certainly rather have 3 departments in communications even if it meant paying out 300k. Having no stuff on the board just seemed like an awful position.


On the other hand, you get a bunch of people on the board which turn into influence and money.

Quote:

People were accepting bribes on the Chairman power for paltry sums like 100k, when the closest equivalent seems like buying a Main Department for 1.5 mil. That made it pretty easy for some people to score on the main department track.


Yeah, the bribed chairman is really powerful. It's worth looking out for a time you can exploit the chairman by offering him a paltry bribe when he really can't afford to have an employee fired.
 
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Sean
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qwertymartin wrote:
I just thought of one more thing.

Quote:
At the end, I was waiting for the 4th board meeting to roll around, allowing me to get points from the bribed chairman ability, and then communications to allow me to buy the Main Department point I needed to win before the rest of the board meeting could be settled. The nemesis VP was also crucial.


I'm pretty sure you can only declare that you've satisfied the victory conditions on one of your action turns, not during the directors meeting. Then you keep playing until a full round of actions has been completed, so it's possible for another player to also satisfy the victory conditions in the mean time.


You are correct about this. Which makes declaring victory much more complicated - so I've discovered.

To the OP: don't be discouraged from popping this game out again soon. It is well worth the effort. I have only played a couple of times, and each time I realized some minor rule-errors we made (e.g. failing to reshuffle the Event Deck each round). But the strategies become clearer every time.
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Matt Oehler
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Re: First Playthrough of Power Struggle, and my Second Playthrough
Discouraged? Heck no. The worst games are the ones that are "solved" quickly. And I must have gotten the Legal Department and Chairman powers mixed up, but I frequently bribed both of them away.

We played again, this time with only three people. I had a much better idea of what was going on, although I failed to win this one.

At the start, once again, there was a small battle over the Comms department, even though one of the players had never played before and didn't understand why it was good. It's not even like Communications is a real division in a company anyway, but I digress. I decided to let the other two fight over it though, while I tried to retain control of Controlling.

We started placing a lot more Departments early, but the guy with Development kept stealing employees and closing them out as they were placed. When I bribed that ability away and used it to do the same thing to both players at once, the player resorted to incredibly low bribes to kill employees off when a player had a vulnerable department. It also raised his Corruption score.

This guy was actually really annoying with his bribes; I don't think he wanted many of them to be accepted. He at least offered 200k for the Chairman, but I turned it down because I really wanted a department.

Sadly, my employee stealing strategy was put to an end once the department got shut down, but I still had an employee lead over the other players, and leveraged that into creating more departments by restructuring my current ones. Still couldn't take communications though, but I was able to keep all of my starting divisions and start taking some others. A few more bribes let me raise my corruption score above the newer player, my nemesis.

Sadly, I was never able to put many people into the board; most of my guys became consultants instead, probably writing up incredibly simple concepts and adding some kind of chart or diagram to them. Unfortunately,

The third player, probably incredibly annoyed by two people always taking employees, created a lot of main departments. I don't recall too many other actions of note from this player, but it was his first game.

In the end, the other experienced player one, who was lucky enough to receive his own Nemesis card, took the game. I was still a few turns from victory, needing the MD from my bribed Chairman card and some more shares for a victory.

The other experienced player and I seemed pretty good about keeping our cash low as well, and making better use of bribes, both offensively and the stolen abilities. A little experience goes a long way.
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Mike Oehler
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It was weird that in the first few rounds of the game, the board of directors was mostly empty. IIRC, I became chairman initially by winning 1 - 1 on the positioning tie breaker, and there was usually at least 1 empty spot.

Of course, that worked out well for me; my goal card had Influence, Corruption, and Shares (as previously mentioned, I drew myself as arch-nemesis again). I planned to get Influence via the board of directors, make numerous bribes (generally of pathetic value, since I wanted to gain in relative corruption), and I'd invest in some shares early to see if I could retain a lead there. Later on, That would give me the option to finish up there for the last VP, or get main departments. The bribes I wanted to actually go through were for Chairman (which was rejected), and Communications.


Things I probably should have done: it took more than a whole round to remember I could resign as Development head to deny Matt the use its power; he really hammered away at us with it. Between my overall strategy and worker attacks from development/bribes, I didn't establish a strong board presence quickly and my cash flow was thus somewhat poor. I was getting money from the board positions most of the time, but our friend controlling Communications left a number of cards forcing the board to pay back some money in the events. If I had bought more blocks of shares instead of bigger blocks, I could have made more money. It would have taken more actions to do it like that, but I think that having the money would have saved me at least that many. Plus, I could have bought more shares for the same money - at the end of the game, I was just a few shares short of being able to buy into VP with 1 action. Also, I ended up going after Influence a little too aggressively. By the end of the game, I had actually earned more than enough to reach the end of the victory track.

Our friend had been buying a lot of shares too, IIRC. You two seemed to be fighting for control over accounting.
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Martin G
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VictimEN wrote:
It was weird that in the first few rounds of the game, the board of directors was mostly empty. IIRC, I became chairman initially by winning 1 - 1 on the positioning tie breaker, and there was usually at least 1 empty spot.


That is weird. Once the board is full, it will always be full (as it's one-in-one-out). In our games, it has filled up within the initial placement round.

Quote:
If I had bought more blocks of shares instead of bigger blocks, I could have made more money. It would have taken more actions to do it like that, but I think that having the money would have saved me at least that many.


I've found the small blocks of shares to be rather a poor way of making money. I think you're much better off buying the biggest one you can afford (if you're going for the shares VP), as actions are so limited in this game.
 
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Mike Oehler
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qwertymartin wrote:
VictimEN wrote:
It was weird that in the first few rounds of the game, the board of directors was mostly empty. IIRC, I became chairman initially by winning 1 - 1 on the positioning tie breaker, and there was usually at least 1 empty spot.


That is weird. Once the board is full, it will always be full (as it's one-in-one-out). In our games, it has filled up within the initial placement round.


Our friend used all 3 initial placements for departments. My one guy was enough to become chairman. It filled up eventually; but most of the starting moves went to the departments (possibly since you get extra employees from the initial departments).

Yeah, shares don't exactly seem great, but creating departments seemed hard this time because any department with only 1 guy in it tended to get attacked. Since it took more actions to create safe departments, other action intensive strategies look slightly less problematic in comparison.
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Martin G
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Ah yeah, I missed that you were playing with only three, that probably changes things quite a bit. I've only played with 5.
 
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