Dave and Sterling joined Rich for a couple of games tonight.
The first game of the evening was 2F Spiele/Rio Grande's new version
of Funkenschlag which is called Funkenschlag (in Germany) or Power
Grid if you buy the version with the English rules.
The game in it's original version was a crayon rail game with people
drawing connections between power plants and cities in an attempt to
supply electricity to the cities for income. The income generated
would be used to purchase new power plants and resources to fuel the
power plants. The new version has replaced the crayon drawn
connections with fixed cost connections between the various cities.
Higher costs for more "difficult" to connect cities. The gameboard
depicts multiple cities in Germany (one side of the board) or the
United States (other side of the board). For our game, we chose the
German side of the map. With 3 players, the game is played on only 3
of the available 6 regions and we ended up trying to energize the
north-east portion of Germany.
The game is played in multiple stages. During the first stage, only 1
player may connect to each city. In the second stage, up to 2 players
may connect to each city. In the third stage, up to 3 players may
connect to each city. As the game has tight resource management, the
rules do recommend that the initial play of the game be only through
Stage 1 which ends when 1 player has connected 7 cities.
During a single turn, the player order for the turn is determined.
The player connected to the most cities is the first player with
others following. If players should be tied for connected cities, the
one with the bigger (higher number) power plant. The first player
then selects one of the 4 available power plants available on the
market and puts it up for auction. The number of the power plant is
also the minimum purchase price for the plant. As the numbers
increase, the power plants get more efficient at powering cities
requiring less resources per city. Above the 4 available market are 4
"future" market plants. Once a plant is sold, the next plant in the
draw pile is turned over and the plants arranged numerically so that
the four lowest numbers represent the "current" market and the four
highest numbers represent the "future" market. In this way, one can
see what plants might come onto the market and use that information to
decide whether or not to bid on the current plant up for bid.
After all the players have had a chance to purchase power plants, the
next item to be purchased is resources (coal, oil, garbage, uranium)
to allow the plants to power cities. A few plants don't need any
resources to power cities. And a few plants are hybrid burning either
coal or oil to power cities. For this portion of the turn, the player
order is reversed such that the lead player is the last player to buy
resources. As the resources have layered pricing, the subsequent
purchasers in a round end up paying more for the resources. The next
phase is to purchase connections between cities and expand one's
network on the board. This is again done in reverse player order so
that the leader is the last to expand.
Finally, the plants consume their resources to power a number of
cities to provide income to the players for the next round. In
addition, the resources are restocked at a fixed rate. In this way,
if the demand for a resource is higher than the resupply, the price
for that resource increases. Conversely, if the demand for a resource
is lower than the resupply, the price for that resource decreases.
Play then continues through the 3 stages until games end. However, as
there is a lot going on and it was the first time for all 3 of us to
play, we decided to play the recommended Stage 1 only version.
The game started a bit tentatively as none of us knew the values of
any of the plants. Sterling bought the 4 plant (2 coal -> 1 city),
Rich the 5 Plant (2 hybrid -> 1 city) and Dave the 7 plant (3 oil -> 2
cities). After buying resources, each player developed into 2 cities.
Sterling connected Halle and Leipzig while Rich had a choice between
trying to start to block Sterling or develop in the low cost northern
border. Rich opted to play close to Sterling, connecting Magdebrug
and Berlin; while Dave built in the low cost north (Hamburg and
Schwerin). While we all had 2 cities, Dave was the only person who
could power both and get more money as a result.
The next turn saw Dave pick up the 8 plant (3 coal -> 2 cities) at a
cost of 10, Sterling pick up the 10 plant (2 coal --> 2 cities) at a
cost of 13, and Rich pick up the 9 plant (1 Oil -> 1 city) at a cost
of 9. After getting resources, only Sterling developed his network
connecting to Erfurt. This time, Dave and Rich could power both their
cities, but Sterling could power his 3rd city for additional income.
The third turn saw the big plants (mid-20's) in the market and each of
the players picked up an expensive plant with little bidding.
Sterling goth the 24 plant (2 garbage -> 4 cities), Dave the 22 plant
(wind (no resources) -> 2 cities), and Rich the 20 plant (3 coal -> 5
cities). However, all the players had depleted their cash, so no one
built any new connections this turn.
The fourth turn saw all 3 players with 3 plants - so no new plants
were purchased as everyone looked ahead to expansion of their
connections. Rich started with an expansion to Frankfurt-O. Dave
connected Rostock and Lubeck. Sterling connected Dresden.
The fifth turn saw Dave pick up the 15 plant (2 coal -> 3 cities) to
replace his 7 plant and bringing him up to 7 city potential supply.
This was also the turn of Rich's glaring error. Looking ahead at
desired connections, Rich realized he could buy only 1 resource.
However, he overlooked the fact that his 20 plant was 1 coal short of
powering 5 cities. Instead, focusing on the cheapest resource, Rich
picked up 1 oil when the coal would have cost only 1 electro more, but
provided much more income later on. During the building phase, Rich
did connect to Hannover and Bremmen while Dave connectd to Kiel and
Sterling connected to Fulda and Wurzburg.
The sixth and final turn saw D connect Flensburg and Guxhaven while
Sterling connected to Nurnberg to give each their 7th city. Both had
the resources to power all 7, so the final tie-break was money in hand
where Sterling won by a slim 13 electro margin over Dave. A nice and
tidy introduction to the game wrapped up in about 90 minutes including
rules explanation. Given the tentativeness of the start, I expect
playing times to be reduced if we play again.
My personal thoughts: This is an auction game as one does need to
decide how much to pay for the power plants. However, there is plenty
of other aspects to the game as well. Resource management and where
to expand are all meaningful decisions in the game. Playing just to 7
cities, I could just begin to sense how the game accelerates as it
moves towards its conclusion. Personally, I should have started in
the North (where Dave started) as the game was just to short (Stage 1
only) to allow for effective blocking tactics. We all expressed an
interest in seeing how the game would play out with the additional
stages and the ability to jointly connect to cities. Having gotten
the overview of the mechanics and some knowledge of what to expect, I
look forward to bringing this to the game table again in the future.
For the second game, we brought out Kathai, Adlung-Spiele's little
card game about trading that has been described as "all the trading of
Settlers of Catan but none of that development stuff".
There are 5 cards representing the market prices of the 5 commodities
(tea, spice, salt, gold, silk). The cheapest good can't be sold while
the most expensive good can bring a nice reward if sold. The balance
of the cards are trading cards (representing camels) carrying up to 3
of any mix of the commodities. For example, 1 card might be 3 silk,
another card might be 1 gold, and another card might be 2 salt and 1
tea. Players start with 3 cards. On their turn, the player draws one
card and then can do 1 action:
Trade cards with any of the other players. This is very much like the
trading in Settlers - players indicate their wants and offers and hope
to finalize deals.
Sell goods - Provided the player has enough of a good, the cards
containing the good can be sold (any additional goods are ignored at
this time). Points are scored as number of cards played plus a bonus
based on market price. Higher bonus for the more expensive goods.
Now that the market is saturated in that good, it is moved to the
"unsellable" market price and all the goods cheaper than it move up in
price. As a player can only do one action on a turn, one is hoping
the market price hasn't moved greatly while getting ready to sell. In
addition, at the completion of the sale, the player gets a "profit
card" which enable the following two action:
"Bribe" the market to switch the market price of two adjacent goods.
(This can also be done using a card from the hand)
"Draw another card" from the draw pile.
Only 1 of these actions (or no action) can be accomplished each turn.
As with many Adlung-Spiele games, the game ends when the draw pile is
exhausted and the players have had their last turns. (The Adlung
English has some confusion about this in the game, but fortunately a
translation from Adlung English into English is provided on the Geek.)
The winner is the trader who has acquired the most points during the
With the rules explanation out of the way, the game started with
Sterling drawing and selling tea for 3 points. Rich and Dave drew
cards but couldn't do much. Rich managed a lucky draw of 3 silk when
silk was the most expensive to manage a 9 point sale. Dave quickly
followed with a 5 point gold sale.
There was some light trading going on, but not much bribing of the
market. After the next round of sales, the scores were fairly close
ranging from 11 to 15. Trading and selling continued for a couple
more rounds and were ranging frm 21 to 24 just as the last card was
drawn. Dave could only sell gold for 3 points to finish at 27 points.
Sterling had a large tea shipment that sold at 10 points to finish at
34 point. Rich had horded salt for a few rounds and watched salts
price increase. However, the 7 points from the final sale were enough
to get 28 points and edge past Dave, but not enough to catch Sterling.
Another quick game that finished in about 30-40 minutes - probably
perfect for a lunch time gaming session.
My personal thoughts: The game plays 3-5 people. With only three
people, there are only 2 trading partners each turn. This does limit
the amount of trading available. With more players, there will
probably be more opportunity for trading, but the market will also
become a bit more chaotic as more sales might get done also. Would
like to play again with more than 3 people to see how the dynamic