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Session Report - February 1

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  • Richard Pardoe
    Dave and I had been planning on 2 player games tonight. But as Dave arrived and was walking in the front door, we noticed a car pulling up and parking behind
    Message 1 of 75 , Feb 2, 2006
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      Dave and I had been planning on 2 player games tonight. But as Dave arrived
      and was walking in the front door, we noticed a car pulling up and parking
      behind Dave's. Whose car was it? Would we have 3 players tonight? Yes, we
      did as Sheryl joined us after battling work and illness over the past month
      or so. Looking over the games available, mutual consensus drifted to Power
      Grid.

      This game last made an appearance way back in June 2004. While not a
      complete game (only played the initial step of the game), it does have a
      rules overview if anyone wants to understand the game in a bit more detail.
      That was posted to the list as Message #568 -
      http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/trivalleygamers/message/568

      The short summary (from Mario Lanza's nice reorganization of the rules) -
      each player represents a company that pays for power plants it wins at
      auctions, pays for resources required to operate their plants, pays to
      connect cities to its growing grid, and earns income when operating plants
      to power the cities on its grid. The game ends at the end of the round in
      which any player grows his network to include at least 17 (in a 3 player
      game) cities. The winner is then the player who powers more cities than any
      other player.

      As we set up the game, Dave did a nice job explaining the rules for Sheryl.
      We started by deciding which 3 of the 6 regions we would select. Dave
      selected the northern (teal) region while Sheryl chose the adjoining red
      region. Rich after consulting Sabrina decided to add the blue region below
      the red region - so we were playing on the 3 North-Western regions of
      Germany. A random shuffle for player order and Rich started the game.

      The first plants purchased were the 5 (2 Hybrid > 1 City) by Rich followed
      by the 7 (3 Oil > 2 Cities) by Dave and the 8 (3 Coal > 2 Cities) for
      Sheryl. With plants (and supplies) purchased, it was time for our first
      connections. As Rich had the lowest plant, he dropped to last in player
      order, but that let him also develop first. Honouring the gamer's fair,
      Rich connected his grid to Essen - especially as Duisburg was next door for
      free. Dave decided to avoid a bit of congestion and settline in Weisbaden
      and Frankfurt-M. Rich's decision not to build a second unpowered connection
      allowed Sheryl to jump in with connections at Duisberg and Dusseldorf. From
      the start, it was obvious that Sheryl and Rich would be competing for the
      same connections (at least in Step 1) while Dave would be allowed to expand
      on his own.

      Sheryl added to her power plants adding the 9 (1 Oil > 1 City) while Rich
      added the 10 (2 Coal > 2 Cities). But Rich's fewer connections had kept him
      at the end of the player order, so he could buy up oil and coal for his
      plants leaving more expensive resources for Sheryl. Rich connected to
      Dortmund to connect to 2 cities (and building North from his starting
      cities) while Sheryl headed south to Koln. Was the conflict in territory
      between Sheryl and Rich to be avoided?

      The game continued to develop with all the players on an even keel -
      building about the same number of connections. Sheryl seemed to favour coal
      for her plants while Rich was capitalizing on wind. At the end of one
      auction round, Rich had the chance to pick up the 22 at cost, but deferred
      the purchase as better wind plants were in the futures market and picking up
      the 27 wind plant in the next auction. Eventually, we all had 4 cities and
      3 plants.

      But the nice even pacing was about to change. Sheryl had been building
      south away from Rich and Rich had been building north away from Sheryl.
      Rich had plans to power all his cities and could afford to build two more,
      but was first in the turn order and would build last. When Sheryl came to
      expand, she expanded through Rich's connections and settled in the 2 cities
      ( Bremen and Hamburg) that Rich had been eyeing. Rich could only afford to
      build to one city (Wilhelmshaven) for a total of 5 cities. The bright side
      was that Rich could use his 2 power plants to power all 5 without spending
      resources. But having built to 6 cities, Sheryl was now first in turn order
      and Rich would build before Sheryl. Returning the favour, Rich now built
      through Sheryl's connection at Bremen to connect to Hamburg, Kiel, Flensburg
      for a total of 8 connected (but not all powered) cities. Sheryl couldn't
      find any affordable connections as Step 2 wouldn't begin until the
      bureaucracy phase. Meanwhile, Dave had built to 6 cities, but was facing
      some expensive connections to cross into the Rich/Sheryl territory.

      So we entered Step 2 with Rich at 8 cities while Dave and Sheryl had 6
      cities each. With Step 2, players can now double up in cities, so the cheap
      connections that had been locked out in Step 1 were quickly connected. Rich
      went to 11 cites, Sheryl had 10, and Dave had 8 making contact with the
      other players via Kassel to Hannover into Bremen - but it was expensive as
      Kassel to Hannove costs 15 - one of the more expensive connections used in
      our game. As the first player, Rich could select plants to put up for
      auction. The only trouble was that none of the available plants looked
      appealing in that they didn't power substantially more cities than Rich's
      current plants. Furthermore, if forced to purchase the selected plant, Rich
      would be out of the bidding for plants in the futures market that were more
      appealing - the only solution was to slow down connections and let others
      become the leader so that there would be more options when purchasing power
      plants. Therefore Rich stayed at 11 while Sheryl built up to 12 and Dave up
      to 10.

      As we were removing the cheapest plant in the bureaucracy phase at this
      point, we entered into Step 3. So not only was Rich not the first player at
      the subsequent auction phase - but also all the plants would be available
      for bid giving Rich exactly the options he needed to purchase plants.
      Sheryl as first player was deciding between the 30 (3 Garbage > 6 Cities)
      and the 34 (1 Nuclear > 5 Cities) plant for auction. Rich had been eyeing
      the 30 plant as no one had a Garbage plant and garbage was cheap. In
      addition, powering 6 cities would replace a 2 city plant, giving Rich +4
      capacity with his plants. Sheryl opted for the 34 and purchased it with
      little bid resistance.

      Rich was prepared to auction off the 30 (his desired plant) when the 50 (No
      Resources > 6 cities) plant appeared to replace the 34. Looking at cash in
      hand, Rich was prepared to bid high for the 50 plant, but when Dave passed,
      Rich bought it for list price. The next plant revealed was the 44 (No
      resources > 5 cities) which Dave purchased. With powering capability and
      the ability to co-locate in all cities, we expanded greatly. Rich increased
      to 13 cities, Sheryl and Dave to 12 cities.

      By this point in the game, coal was expensive as everyone had focused on
      coal plants. Hybrids didn't seem that popular and none of the oil plants
      were in much use. As a result, the price of oil had dropped down to 1.
      Rich saw an opportunity with the 46 plant (3 Hybrid > 7 cities) as it would
      allow him to power 17 cities, so it was auctioned and purchased giving Rich
      the 24, the 46, and the 50 plants with a capacity of 17 cities if all
      utilized. Sheryl picked up the 38 plant to get into the garbage plants with
      Rich, but her total capacity was only 16. Dave also positioned himself to
      power 17 cities purchasing the 40 (2 Oil > 6 cities) to have the 44, 40, and
      31 plants.

      During resource purchasing, Sheryl bought all the garbage (6 units) she
      could to make it more expensive for Rich. Dave tried to buy the oil, but
      with only 4 storage capacity, couldn't buy that much. Rich purchased 2
      garbage and 3 oil to power his plants just for this turn.

      Sheryl built first, connecting to 4 cities for a total of 16 (all of which
      would be powered). Dave built second, connecting to 2 cities for a total of
      14 before running out of cash. Rich built last connecting into Frankfurt-M,
      Bremen, Aachen, and Koln for 17 cities - all of which would be powered.
      Reaching the end game condition (17 cities) - the player who powered the
      most was Rich who takes the victory in a very tight contest. (For the
      record, cash in hand was low for all players at this point as no income was
      generated. Rich had 28 Elektros remaing, Sheryl 10, and Dave 3)

      And a tense game it was. I felt I had the cash in hand to connect to 17
      cities on the last turn, but was worried that Dave would get there first.
      Sheryl was a threat throughout the game, but might have misplayed the power
      plant upgrades as she had a capacity of only 16 cities at the end and would
      need to purchase an additional plant to get up to 17 or beyond.

      The development was interesting as Sheryl and Rich started in adjacent
      cities and tripped over each other a few times in the game. Dave's strategy
      to develop without interference worked until he had to expand into more
      cities and was facing connections costing 20 or more to do so. He did
      manage to join in via a 15 connection - but still that was a bit expensive
      compared to the low teen connection costs others were paying. As Dave
      mentioned - his connection costs always seemed to be just a bit more
      expensive. Dave did admit that he had selected the northern region to play,
      but didn't think to start around Kiel with its' cluster of single digit
      connection costs. Post-game, Dave admitted that he needed to last one more
      round to power up and connect to 17 cities. He couldn't buy up resources so
      could only hope that Sheryl and Rich could not afford to finish their
      connections.

      A very nice, tightly played game. We managed to get a complete game in
      (with rules explanation) in two and a half hours. And it certainly didn't
      feel like a long time. There were always decisions to be made, money to
      balance (as one can purchase 3 items, but generate income only once), and
      also thought to be given about where to be in turn order and when to speed
      up development and when to slow it down to gain advantages in the next turn.
      I certainly enjoyed it and tonight's play continues to support why I give
      this game a hearty recommendation.

      - Rich
    • Sam A.
      I ll be there. -Sam Richard Pardoe wrote: Shall we gather for games? I am happy to host ..... Games: Wednesday Night, ~18:30 to ~21:00
      Message 75 of 75 , Apr 12, 2006
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        I'll be there.
         
        -Sam

        Richard Pardoe <RPardoe@...> wrote:
        Shall we gather for games?  I am happy to host .....

        Games:
        Wednesday Night, ~18:30 to ~21:00
        My house in San Ramon
        Contact me off-list if you need directions)

        Rich




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