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[SR] MVGA Holliston 2007-01-25

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  • brosiuse
    MVGA meets Thursday nights at 7pm in the Masonic Hall in Holliston, on Route 16 just east of the center of town. Turn north on Church Place (which is more a
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 4, 2007
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      MVGA meets Thursday nights at 7pm in the
      Masonic Hall in Holliston, on Route 16 just
      east of the center of town. Turn north on
      Church Place (which is more a driveway than
      a street) to find parking.

      We welcome visitors. We'll even
      waive the $3.00 fee for your first visit.


      Roll call:
      Anton, Paul H., Eric, Rich, Walt, Dan


      POWER GRID [Eastern Europe]
      (Anton, Paul H., Eric, Rich, Walt, Dan)

      We had 5 players at the start of the
      evening. We were especially happy to
      see Paul, who hadn't been out for a
      while. We waited for a little while to
      see whether Dan would show up, but as he
      didn't, we set up Traumfabrik, a fine
      5-player game with a theme of producing
      movies. We had already handed out the
      starting sets of movies and were thinking
      about how to choose a starting player
      when Dan finally walked in. You can't
      play Traumfabrik with 6, so we left it
      set up on the table and set up Power Grid
      instead, using the new Eastern Europe map
      (at the end of the evening we had to put
      Traumfabrik away without playing it.)

      Each of the Power Grid expansion maps comes with a small set of
      new rules that add a little variety and introduce new challenges.
      In the original game, some of the power plants are much less
      attractive than others, and as a result are rarely used. With a
      few rule changes, however, a previously unloved plant can become
      one that everyone wants. This forces you to re-learn the plant
      deck all over again using the new rules, a fundamental change that
      is much more significant than the fact that you're using a new map.
      On the Eastern Europe map, the coal supply is much larger than in
      the original game (at least for the first two Phases.) This makes
      the larger coal plants a lot more attractive, since there's less
      risk that the coal will run out, creating the dreaded fuel crunch
      that can knock a coal plant owner right out of the running. There
      are also two geographically-based special rules: (1) Poland and
      Austria are anti-nuke, so you can't bid on a nuclear plant unless
      you've connected a city outside those countries, and (2) Wien has
      a robust recycling program, so you can buy trash for $1 less per
      unit if you've connected Wien (but never less than $1.)

      As we were setting up, we commented on the fact that Dan had won
      our only previous game on this map, making him the favorite. Dan
      protested that he had never won a game in which both Rich and Eric
      were among his opponents; he had beaten one or the other, but not
      both. We've been playing Power Grid for several years now, so we
      knew that Dan would be especially happy if he could win this one.

      We selected five of the six areas to play on, leaving out Western
      Poland (we played using Eastern Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Austria
      and the Czech Republic.) Rich was brightest bulb at the start,
      and he put the #04 coal plant up for auction. With more coal in
      the game, we reasoned that the #04 would be more valuable than in
      the regular game, and Eric paid $8 for it. Rich then put the #05
      up and bought it himself for $8, which is several electros more
      than we'd pay for it in the regular game. Dan was next, and he
      auctioned the little #03 oil plant, getting it for list price.
      The oil supply is weaker than usual in Eastern Europe, so we were
      even less interested in it than usual, and were a bit surprised
      to see Dan buy it. Anton then got the #08 coal plant for list
      price. Only two bidders were left in the auction, and Paul outbid
      Walt for the #10 coal plant, paying $15 for it. This left the #13
      windmill for Walt.

      Now it was time to build. Dan started off in Bratislava, which
      is in Slovakia, giving him the right to bid on nuclear plants
      while putting him right next to Wien for the potential trash
      discount. Eric looked at Dan's placement and built his own house
      in Wien, figuring that it would give him future opportunities in
      trash burning, though it was perhaps uncomfortably close to Dan.
      Rich distanced himself from Dan and Eric, building in Katowice up
      in Eastern Poland, in the middle of a nest of closely situated
      cities. Anton had capacity for 2 cities, and he built Presov and
      Kosice in eastern Slovakia. Paul also had capacity for 2 and he
      built Budapest and Gyor, down south in Hungary. Walt built one
      city, Ceske Budejovice (try spelling that without looking at the
      board!) After one turn, Rich and Eric had left themselves without
      the ability to bid on nuclear plants because their companies were
      established in anti-nuclear countries---choices that would be
      significant in Turn 2.

      Nuclear fuel is cheaper in this game; the price starts at $8
      rather than the $14 it costs in the usual game. Paul decided to
      bid on the #11 baby nuke plant, and he faced some opposition,
      spending $15 for it after some competitive bidding. Anton then
      paid $14 for the #12 hybrid. The #16 oil plant, which is a good
      plant for Turn 2, dropped into the current market, and Walt put
      it up for auction, eventually paying $22 for it. The less ample
      oil supply might make the #16 a little less valuable on this map,
      but Walt was still happy with his purchase. Now the #28 nuclear
      plant became available in the current market. This plant, with
      its 4-city capacity, would have been a great plant to buy in the
      normal game, but Rich couldn't bid on it. The #29 hybrid lurked
      menacingly at the end of the future market, and Rich passed
      rather than bidding on a smaller plant, deciding it was better
      to milk his #05 for another turn rather than give Dan an edge.
      Eric was less cautious. He put the #07 oil plant up for auction,
      reasoning that with Dan's #03 the only oil plant in operation, it
      might prove useful. Dan was happy to let him have it for list
      price and was rewarded when he was able to buy the #29. Rich
      gave Eric a funny look, wondering why he was willing to give Dan
      such a juicy opportunity. Dan was able to add just one city,
      given the cost of his plant, and he connected to Trnava (the
      cities on this board are really hard to spell for native English
      speakers!) Eric added two cities, Brno and Hradec Kralove (the
      only pair he could afford.) Rich built Ostrava, a city he
      couldn't power, knowing that he'd be dim bulb next time anyway.
      Now it was Walt's turn, and even though he had capacity for 4
      cities, he decided not to build (thus beating Rich out for dim
      bulb,) coasting along on his #13 windmill without using any fuel.
      Anton added one city, Miskolc, and Paul also passed, deciding to
      stick with his 2-city operation.

      In Turn 3, Anton started us off by auctioning the valuable #25
      coal plant. Bidding spiraled up and up until Eric finally let
      Rich buy it for $37. Rich asked Eric what he would have done if
      he had won it, but Eric would have been able to buy fuel and
      power his 3 cities to raise cash for future turns, as he started
      the turn with $50. Anton now bought the #28 that had frustrated
      Rich and Eric during the previous turn, and Eric put the smoky,
      smelly #20 coal plant up for auction. He was delighted to get
      it for list price, and Rich accused the players who let him get
      away with it of throwing the game to Eric. As we usually do in
      these situations, we told Eric we'd finish the game anyway, even
      if Eric had "already won" (Rich tends to hyperbole sometimes.)
      Dan passed, as he had all the plant he needed in the #29 and
      wanted to build cities, even though the #30 was now available in
      the current market, and Paul and Walt passed as well, wary of
      what we've been calling the "poison #30 plant." Building was
      again limited this turn. Walt built Linz and Praha, hemming
      Eric in from the west and staking out some ground in the
      southwest. Paul also added two cities, Kecskemet and Banska
      Bystrica, to reach four. Dan built to Graz in Austria, jumping
      over Eric's region to reach open territory in western Austria.
      Rich built Zilina, filling up the last open spot between himself
      and Paul. Now Eric tried to jump over Rich and add two cities,
      but Rich asked him to re-count his money, certain that Eric did
      not have the money to do it after paying for the #20 (even if he
      did get it for just $20.) Eric realized that he had forgotten
      to pay for the #20, and after he remedied this omission, he had
      just enough to connect Ustinad Labem on the German border.
      Anton was last to build, and he did not do so, having spent his
      funds on the #28.

      At the start of Turn 4, both the #30 trash plant and the #27
      windmill were available. The #30 was potentially valuable to
      Eric, who had access to cheap trash, but he decided to spend the
      turn building instead, feeling that he could buy it next time,
      so he passed. Paul took the #27 windmill as his opponents felt
      they could get one of the larger plants that were visible. Dan
      then put the #30 up for auction and got it for list price. This
      wasn't what Eric had expected, and it remained to be seen whether
      Dan could overcome the curse of the #30. He was right next to
      Wien, with its cheap trash, so he had a bit of a leg up. Anton
      and Rich passed, but Walt wanted more capacity, so he bought the
      #21 hybrid for list price. Walt connected Salzburg, trying to
      cut into Dan's expansion plans. Rich built Sosnowiec and Krakow,
      spending some of the money he had saved, and Anton built Poprad
      and Nyiregyhaza (pronounce that!) Dan built Klagenfurt, Paul
      Pecs and Eric Plzen, happy that Walt had left him a spot.

      With so many good plants already out, we were bound to run into
      a dry spell, and the plants on offer for Turn 5 weren't too
      appetizing. Anton and Paul passed, happy to stay in Stage 1,
      but Rich bought the #15 coal plant and Eric the #19 trash plant,
      both for list price. This brought the highly desirable #26 oil
      plant into the market, and only Dan and Walt were left to bid on
      it. Dan put it up for Auction, and Walt bid just twice before
      letting him have it for $30. Now we accused Walt of throwing
      the game to Dan, laughing because there were now two players who
      were "sure to win." Dan was sitting on the #29, #26 and #30,
      three plants with a combined capacity of 15 cities, and he was
      finished buying plants for the rest of the game. Walt explained
      that he didn't have the funds to compete any more energetically
      for the #30, and proved it by building only one city, Innsbruck.
      Dan built Villach, filling the last Austrian city. Eric needed
      to bring us to Stage 2, because he was spending a lot more on
      fuel than the others, and he jumped over Rich to grab Lublin and
      Czestochowa. Rich and Dan had been disagreeing over whether
      Eric would initiate Stage 2, and Rich had the right side of that
      argument. Now that Stage 2 was sure to start, Rich passed his
      building opportunity, as did Anton, preferring to get cheaper
      builds next time, but Paul took Szeged, making him the second
      brightest bulb.

      The big plants came out for Turn 6, and it was clear that this
      game would finish sooner than the 9 or 10 rounds we often take.
      Rich paid a whopping $51 for the #32 oil plant and Eric paid $46
      for the #31 coal plant. Paul then took a second windmill, the
      #33, for list price, cutting his fuel cost to almost nothing but
      leaving him with a capacity of only 9 cities. Dan passed, of
      course, having no need for another plant, but Anton bought yet
      another nuclear plant, the #34. Walt passed again, as the new
      plant was of no interest and the best one still on offer was the
      #23 nuclear plant, which is really too small for Turn 6. As
      expected, there was a city building frenzy now that a second slot
      was available in each city. Walt was well supplied with money,
      though he could power only 8 cities, and he took Wien, Bratislava
      and Trnava to reach his 8 city capacity. This had the effect of
      keeping Dan out of Wien, with its cheap trash that could have
      been so useful with his #30 trash plant. Rich built into Anton's
      area, taking Poprad, Kosice and Presov (three cities with names
      that are short, if still not easy to pronounce,) giving him 8
      cities as well, though it was far short of the 14 he had the
      capacity to power. Everyone seemed to be building three new
      cities: Anton took Krakow, Sosnowiec and Katowice in Rich's
      area of the map, giving him 8 cities with a capacity of 11. Dan
      couldn't enter Wien, but he did build into Gyor, Budapest and
      Kekskemet in Hungary, bringing his total to 8 with a capacity
      of 15. Paul was fifth to build, given his 6 cities, and he
      built into Miskolc, Nyiregyhaza and Zilina, giving him a total
      of 9. Eric was last to build, and he decided not to build,
      thinking that the opportunity to buy fuel first in Turn 7 was
      worth more than the revenue from extra cities, given the fact
      that he needed a lot of coal for his #20 and #31 plants.

      The plants were still lousy for Turn 7. This wasn't a problem
      for Rich, Eric and Dan, who already had the capacity to power 14
      cities (15 for Dan,) but it was a problem for Walt, Paul and
      Anton, who had capacity for 8, 9 and 11 cities, respectively.
      Walt was the only player to bid on a plant, taking the #23 nuclear
      plant (the one he had spurned in Turn 6) for list price. The new
      plant chosen to replace it was even worse; we now had four
      capacity-2 plants on offer in the current market, and none of
      them would add a single city to anyone's capacity. It was now a
      race to the finish, with three players handicapped by inadequate
      capacity. Eric added Ostrava, Linz and Salzburg to reach 10, Walt
      took Banska Bystrica and Hradec Kralove for 10, Dan took Szeged
      and Brno for 10, Rich took Czestochowa for 9, Anton took Lublin
      for 9 and Paul built into Graz, Villach and Klagenfurt to reach
      a total of 12 connected cities (though he still had power for
      only 9.)

      Though three players badly wanted bigger plants, none were to be
      had, so we all passed during the Turn 8 auction phase. When no
      one purchases a plant, you discard the smallest plant in the
      current market, and the replacement was the Stage 3 card. This
      opened up a third building spot in each market and guaranteed that
      the game would end. Rich started off by connecting Trnava, Wien,
      Bratislava, Praha and Ceske Budejovice, giving him the 14 cities
      he had the capacity to power. Anton could power only 11, but he
      didn't need money for the tie-breaker and decided to build anyway,
      taking Warszawa, Bialystok, Ostrawa, Zilina and Czestochowa for 14
      cities of his own. Walt had power for only 10 cities, and he had
      already connected 10, but he didn't need money for a tie-breaker,
      so he built into Poprad, Krakow Sosnowiec and Katowice to reach 14.
      Now it was Dan's turn to build. He had power for 15 cities, and
      he looked for a way to connect 15, but the extra building by Walt
      and Anton made it tough. In the end he took Miskolc, Nyiregyhaza,
      Kosice and Presov to bring his total to 14, with a big stack of
      money left (he still thinks he could have found a way to get to
      15, but to save time he stopped looking.) Eric knew he could win
      if he could connect 14 cities and have more money left than Rich
      or Dan, but building was already getting expensive and he barely
      made it to 14, taking Warszawa, Praha, Gyor and Budapest. Paul
      had more cities than he could power, and he couldn't make life
      any more difficult for others, so he declined to build.

      Final scores:

      Dan__ 14 cities + $24
      Rich_ 14 cities + $2
      Eric_ 14 cities + $1
      Anton 11 cities
      Walt_ 10 cities
      Paul_ 9 cities

      Dan's victory was quite impressive; not only did he finish with
      a lot more money, but he had unused capacity as well. One might
      have expected Dan to celebrate loudly, having beaten Rich and
      Eric in a single game of Power Grid, but he followed the advice
      often given NFL running backs and acted like he had been there
      before, though it was obviously a long-awaited accomplishment.
      Dan's key move was his purchase of the #30 trash plant in Turn 4;
      this guaranteed him solid capacity and relatively cheap fuel for
      the rest of the game (though he never did make it into Wien.)

      Eric's rating: 9. Many games have expansions, but the Power
      Grid expansions are particularly intriguing. They make what look
      like minimal changes to the game, but the results are significant
      and in some ways playing with an expansion is like playing a
      brand-new game if you feel as though you've gotten into a rut.


      PUERTO RICO
      (Paul H., Walt, Dan)

      It was extremely cold in the Masonic Hall this week, as we just
      didn't seem to be able to get the heat running. When Power Grid
      finished up we decided to move upstairs to the smaller room at
      the back of the building, since we were pretty sure we could get
      the heat going up there. As it turned out, the heat came on well
      and in fact when we went back downstairs later, it was finally
      warm down there as well.

      We brought a stack of good 3-player games up from the MVGA game
      locker and discussed how to split into two groups. Three of us
      decided to play Puerto Rico, a favorite game that we haven't
      managed to play as often recently. Paul was first governor, and
      he set out on a Quarry strategy, buying several early on to help
      him in the purchasing race. Paul build up his indigo production
      and bought the Fortress early in the game. Walt was second, but
      he got corn early and pursued a diversified approach. Dan moved
      into tobacco as soon as he could and soon had the dreaded Factory
      and Harbor combination going. Conventional wisdom suggests Dan
      should have won by a mile, but there was a lot of shipping and a
      lot of "dirty tricks" in the shipping part of the game. No one
      other than Paul managed to buy a large building, and it was a
      close finish that Dan won by a narrow margin.

      Final scores:

      Dan_ 49 = 17 building + 32 shipping
      Paul 47 = 16 building + 26 shipping + 5 Fortress
      Walt 39 = 17 building + 22 shipping

      Eric's rating: 10. I still enjoy Puerto Rico and am happy to
      play when someone suggests it.


      THURN UND TAXIS
      (Anton, Eric, Rich)

      The second group of 3 played Thurn und Taxis, the route-building
      game that came out early in 2006. Eric started off, grabbing the
      Lodz-Pilsen-Nurnberg route on his first try as Anton and Rich
      built in the west instead. It was neck-and-neck for a while, but
      Eric and Anton both ran into trouble as they were working on their
      length-5 routes (if you can't get that card you want, it can put
      a monkey wrench into your plans!) Rich plowed ahead, built just
      the routes he wanted and jetted ahead to a huge win, outscoring
      both of his opponents together.

      Final scores:

      Rich_ 28 = 10 carriage + 20 bonus - 3 houses + 1 laurel
      Eric_ 16 = 7 carriage + 12 bonus - 3 houses
      Anton 10 = 7 carriage + 7 bonus - 4 houses

      Eric's rating: 7. I rated Thurn und Taxis '8' for a while, but
      I've adjusted my rating down to '7'. The game works well, but it
      seems a bit repetitive now that I've played it a few dozen times.


      Eric Brosius
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