Power Grid got its first play of the year and also its first play using one of the latest 2 expansion maps, in this case Australia, the other side is the Indian Subcontinent, which we must get to soon. Both maps seem to offer greater differences to the basic system than most of the others available.
In the case of Australia, there are 3 main differences of note, the most significant being the use of Uranium. While on the other maps it is one of the fuels used to run Power Stations, in Australia there are no Uranium plants and the cards for these in the deck represent uranium mines, so if you have the number 11 (one uranium -> 2 cities), this produces 2 uranium which is sold on the international market, rather than using 1 uranium to power 2 cities, the uranium is sold in the Bureaucracy phase and provides an additional source of income in addition to supplying power. As uranium is sold the wooden pieces are added to the display causing a reduction in price and when the other resources are restocked, uranium is removed from the display causing an increase in price for the following round. As uranium cards no longer represent power plants they no longer count toward a player's limit of 3(4), but they are still auctioned in the same way so if you buy a uranium mine, you will not be able to buy a plant in the same round (or vice versa).
The other 2 changes are the layout of the board where not all cities are linked together, when choosing regions to play it is not necessary for them to be adjacent as you are allowed to link from one city to any other on the board for a maximum connection cost of 20, regardless of whether a continuous line of cities can be traced. Finally in step 3 there is a rise in resource prices (the government imposes green taxes), so that they run from 3 to 10, rather than 1 to 8.
In the game we played resource prices were very high for most of the game, perhaps some people were buying more than they really needed, but I think that this may be more common on this board as there are actually fewer plants available with Nuclear not available meaning that each of the other resources are in greater demand. At the end of the game all the resources were costing 9-10 after step 3 started and the prices went up.
Dave won this one, coming from behind, he was the one who had the bulk of the uranium mines and this extra money gave him the advantage in the tie break. It will be interesting to see if this tends to repeat in other games, although it should be noted that James who was the only other one producing uranium did not seem to benefit, finishing last. I felt that I made a couple of serious mistakes starting step 2 building up to 10 cities which, at that time I couldn't power. I then got involved in an auction for the 34 uranium plant (5 uranium produced), but dropped out expecting the 35 oil plant would drop. In fact the 24 trash plant was drawn and I compounded the error by buying it, when I think in retrospect it would probably have been better to wait a turn.
All games played listed below, including World Without End for the first time in a while.
|Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia - 60 Mins.|
|Viticulture - 60 Mins.|
|World Without End - 110 Mins.|
|Katzenjammer Blues - 20 Mins.|
|Animal Olympics - 10 Mins.|
|Mansions of Madness - 105 Mins.|
|Power Grid - 160 Mins.|
|Animal Olympics - 10 Mins.|