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FAQ for Power Grid: The Robots

For questions about basic Power Grid rules not related specifically to the Robots, see Power Grid FAQ.

Note that (at this time) the publisher has uncharacteristically not responded to many of the forum questions, so the answers in this FAQ are often unofficial and speculative... Hopefully we will get more clarity soon.

Info taken from FAQs in file area and various forum threads, consolidated into a Wiki page so that people can more easily find all the info in one place and update it.
List of game FAQs

"Last player, first player"

"Last player" means the human player who has the last (highest-numbered) position on the turn order track.
"First player" means the human player who has the first (lowest-numbered) position on the turn order track.

But when going through the players in a phase, all players (human and robot) do their actions in the usual standard rules order according to the turn order track (e.g. if the robot is last on the track, the robot will buy resources first).

Phase 1: First City

Early Choice for All

The German rules incorrectly give the wrong player order for selecting the candidate cities.

Bidding Choice

It is legal to bid 0. If no later bidder bids higher, then the first bidder wins, paying 0.

Deciding Choice

This means the human players successively mark all unchosen cities one by one until only one city is left unmarked, which the robot then purchases.

Phase 2: Auction Power Plants

In general, before each auction starts re-determine if the robot would bid on the current plant being auctioned. (As opposed to determining once at the start of the Auction phase.) Note that there are specific reasons not to bid which override robot puzzle tile rules; the robot absolutely won't bid on a plant if:
  • it has a lower number than his smallest power plant.
  • it would be a fourth power plant and it supplies fewer cities than each of his current three plants
  • it would reduce the efficiency of his powering (e.g. buying a 4th plant which powers 2 cities with 2 coal to replace a plant which powers 2 cities with 1 coal would be inefficient)
  • it costs more money than he has (duh).
  • the robot can already power 2 more cities than he currently owns.

Which plant to discard when a 4th plant is bought?

There is disagreement about how to interpret the rules if your lowest numbered plant powers more cities than some other plant and you buy a 4th plant:

Using Cheapest Resources

Many believe that "cheapest resources" means cheapest for purchasing a complete set to produce electricity for a turn, given the current market prices. (As opposed to cheapest to purchase a single unit of that resource.)

Buys the First Choice for Minimum Bid

"First choice" = "First offered power plant", i.e. the first plant put up for auction this turn.

It is legal to choose a plant which the robot can't/won't buy:

But if the robot can't/won't buy the first auction put up for bid (e.g. it's too expensive, or it has a lower number than his smallest power plant, etc), it's unclear if the robot will buy the next auction put up for bid.
It's also unclear if, in case the robot is first in turn order so is the first to start an auction, whether the "first human player" who chooses for the robot must choose a plant the robot would buy:

"Minimum bid" = number on the card

Many believe that "minimum bid" simply means the number printed on the power plant card.

"Second smallest"

It is unclear if this means "the second smallest which the robot would be willing to buy according to the General Robot Rules" or simply literally "the second smallest".

Ignore nuclear plants if the robot can't buy them

E.g. if the robot only has cities in Poland, then ignore nuclear plants when deciding which plant the robot will want to buy in the auction.

Phase 3: Buying Resources

What if a robot can't buy all the resources to power its cities this turn?

In case the robot can't buy enough resources to power all its cities, it buys resources according to these priorities:
1. Power the most cities possible with my current money/resources/plants
2. If there are more than 1 way to power the highest # of cities, buy the resources which are the cheapest
3. If the price for resources is the same, buy the ones with the lower refill rate
4. If still tied, buy coal first, then oil, uranium, and garbage last.

What if a robot can't buy all extra resources it's supposed to?

Various robots want to buy extra resources beyond those needed to do a turn's production, e.g. all resources costing "less than 5 elektro". If the robot does not have enough money to buy all the eligible additional resources, then presumably he purchases them one by one according to the last paragraph in "General Robot Rules: Phase 3", i.e.:
  • buy the cheapest
  • in case of tie, buy the one with lowest refill number
  • in case of tie, prefer coal, then oil, then uranium, then garbage.

"Least available resources"

Presumably "least available resources" excludes resources which have none available. E.g. if there are only 3 garbage and 0 uranium, the robot would buy some garbage, rather than buying zero uranium.

Odd turn, even turn

Presumably the first turn is numbered "1" and is therefore an odd turn. :)

Phase 4: Building

Cannot build "through" possible cities

This only means the robot cannot skip a "non-full" city (which it could build in) to instead build in some other farther city). It is still allowed to build through "full" cities (which it could not build in) to build in some other farther city if it has no available adjacent cities.

Never more than "first player"

Note than in turn 1, this does not prevent the robot from building a city. The rule on the robot's head applies for the first city built.
On later turns, remember that "first player" means the "first human player".

"Step 1": 1 city, "Step 2": 2 cities, "Step 3": 3 cities

Of course this means the robot will build at most 1 city per turn in step 1, not 1 city during the whole game during step 1, etc.

Phase 5: Bureaucracy

There is confusion about how the robot chooses which plants to fire. Does "earn the most money with his power plants" mean simply the income generated from firing, or is it the profit (income from generation minus cost of resources used), for example? Some discussion here:

Special Abilities

Always "Last in Player Order" versus Supply Contract

Presumably this robot's ability takes precedence over the Supply Contract, due to the "Golden Robot Rule".

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