After years of waiting Power Grid has finally reached Britain (barring unofficial versions) and this was our first go with the new board (Thanks to Paul from Gameslore, who brought it back from Essen for me). To celebrate this momentous occasion, I thought I’d jot down a few notes regarding both the UK map and the played game (note that the other side of the board is Northern Europe, but this report will not cover that side as we haven’t played it yet).
The board covers both of the main British Isles and has a total of 40 cities, 12 in Ireland divided into 2 regions (Northern and Southern) and 28 in Great Britain in 4 regions (Wales, Scotland, Northern and Southern England) Southern Ireland is the single nuclear free region, so if you only have cities there you can’t bid on nuclear plants. It's interesting to see the selection of cities on the map, when you know a bit more about the place than I do for the other maps, noting things like the absence of Coventry, a large city, presumably because of its proximity to Birmingham which is present and the presence of small towns such as Haverfordwest, in this case I would guess due to the need for a location at that position in Wales. I suppose, if I were a native of some of the areas covered by other maps, similar things would be apparent there too.
Game wise there are 2 unusual features of this map when compared to any other so far released. There is no connection between Great Britain and Ireland, meaning that each player must establish 2 networks, one on each side of the Irish Sea, if he wants to build on both sides (assuming regions on both sides are in play). A second network can be started at any time by building in any available city in the island not yet built on and paying a one off 20 electro charge. The other unusual feature is that the numbers of cities in the regions is not uniform. Here they vary in size with Northern Ireland only having 5 compared with 8 for Southern England, Wales has 6 cities and the other regions (Northern England, Scotland, Republic of Ireland) have the normal 7 each. This means that the total available cities will vary depending on the regions chosen which could increase or decrease competition on the map. If regions with low numbers are chosen, then it is possible that a situation could arise, with no one able to reach the step 2 threshold, so step 2 can now begin when all available cities have been taken in step 1.
This board has an earlier Step 3 due to the fact that when setting up, the card is placed 2 cards up from the bottom of the deck, rather than on the bottom, the two cards that start below it will then be shuffled in to the deck for step 3 and this could of course mean that very low plants could then turn up in this step as they will not all be those high plants that have been placed underneath the deck in phase 5. Combined with this and the potentially longer step 3, there is the fact that 3 of the 4 resources suffer a reduction in supply in step 3 (the exception being trash, which remains the same).
The played game
Some brief notes from memory. We played a 4 player game with 2 regions on either side being Northern and Southern Ireland for 12 cities and Northern and Southern England for 15 cities, a total of 27.
Mike & I started in Northern Ireland with him essentially staying there while I expanded into the South, my single Northern city (Newry) ensuring my ability to participate in nuclear auctions, although I never actually did throughout the game. Dave F & Donald started in England, Donald taking the double city London and expanding in the south, while Dave F went with the Northern region. Just prior to step 2 we were each just about confined to single regions, although I had grabbed Liverpool on the other side of the sea.
It turned out that the plant deck seemed to have got into an order more appropriate to the Chinese board and the low value plants all came up early leading to an early stall, plant 25 did make it, briefly, into the current market at the end of an auction round, but by the next turn it had been pushed back and did not reappear for a couple of rounds. When it did I think this may have been where I lost the game by not bidding it up further, letting it go at 70. I was left with a market where the highest capacity was 2 cities.
Toward the end of the game, Coal, Oil and Trash were all in danger of running out, in fact coal did on a couple of rounds and I was never able to catch up in the capacity stakes having fallen behind, the high plants in the market both being coal burners which I couldn’t buy (along with others) due to the guarantee that I’d never get the fuel for them, the best that could be done was to build up to 16 capacity as the game ended with Mike and Donald on 16 (Mike winning by a couple of electros) and Dave F with me on 16, he beat me by 79 to 78.
Looking at the removed plants afterwards, revealed the 2 high nuclear plants were out together with a couple of oil plants.