There were 13 of us this evening split over 4 tables playing Power Grid, Imperial Settlers, Castles of Burgundy, Russian Railroads, Biblios and a first time play for One Night Ultimate Werewolf. Actually Power Grid was a first play for the new deluxe version, but the play counts with Power Grid in the stats.
Four of us played Power Grid deluxe on the North American side of the board. The game is very much still Power Grid, but with changes in components and a few new rules, it is somewhat of a different experience although not, I think, as much as some of the expansion boards (particularly China/Korea and India/Australia).
The first and probably most noticeable change is in the design of the board which has a new graphical style and has 7 regions on each side compared with the 6 that appear on most of the other board, this meaning that even when played with 6 players there will still be 2 regions of the board that are not used which should provide more potential variety. I have to say that I prefer the style of the original maps but once involved in the game, this was forgotten so I wouldn't say that that's a serious problem. As the board is bigger there is also room on it for all the cards to sit.
The other major change is the new power plant deck and the corresponding new resource market.
There is no more garbage (it having been replaced by natural gas) and there is a variable number of each resource, rather than only uranium having a different number. There are 27 coal ranging in price from 1 to 9 (compared with 24 ranging from 1 to 8, there are 20 oil from 1 to 9 (24 from 1 to 8), 24 gas from 1 to 8 (24 trash from 1 to 8) and 12 uranium from 1 to 9 (12 from 1 to 16). The market also no longer retains the standard 3 resources in each price band with coal having 4 in the lower bands, reducing to 2 in the higher bands while Oil has 2 in each band except for the highest 9 value band which has 4. The hybrid plants have also changed from Oil/Coal to Oil/Gas combinations.
The rules for building on the board are unchanged from the original game, but there are differences in the way that the plant market is handled. The set up is not the fixed 3-10 plants in the market with 13 on the top of the deck, but the starting market is now a random selection of 8 from plants 3-15 (9 on the European side) with a further one of these lower plants on top of the deck on the North American side only. The low power plants have a different coloured back to the rest of the deck and there will be some shuffled into the remaining plants so it is possible that a low end plant will be visible on the top of the deck later in the game.
On the North American side only, the lowest plant in the market each round is marked with a discount marker indicating that it has a minimum bid of 1, regardless of its number. At the end of the auctions, if no one has bought the discounted plant, it is discarded. This actually makes for an interesting variation as if you are last to choose a plant it can be worth it to buy at the 1 electro cost, even if you would not have considered buying otherwise.
A few notes about our game which was played on the 4 western areas. I won it but I am not convinced that I played very well, for one thing I bought 7 plants during the game, although I only paid 1 each for 2 of them, including later in the game when I got plant 31 (green powers 4) to replace plant 27 (1 coal powers 4), in that case it was certainly a good deal as it was cheaper to buy a plant that cost less than the fuel for the replaced plant but powered the same number of cities. Perhaps the rule of thumb of trying not to buy more than 5 plants needs reassessment when you have the possibility of buying for 1.
All that said, I badly miscalculated the penultimate turn being convinced that it would be the last. I was sure that James had more money than he actually did and would have been able to end it so built to my capacity of 15 expecting that James would build out and win leaving me with yet another second place. I was truly surprised when this didn't happen and I was left sitting first in the order for the final round. In the final round I was able to increase capacity to 17 and was fortunate enough to avoid having all the coal bought out so was able to win by powering 17 cities.
The new changes do put an interesting new spin on the game but I'm not sure how much is due to the new plants and resource market compared with the existence of the discount mechanic. Perhaps playing on the Europe side, which does not have the discount mechanic will shed more light on this.
Other games played included Russian Railroads for the first time without Gordon, I see that this has been played 5 time with 5 different winners. Imperial Settlers had another run out with the correct rules, although the scores don't seem to be markedly reduced from the first game as I might have expected. Perhaps the number of players had an effect but I'm not sure why that would make much difference for this game. The Castles of Burgundy was the fourth play at the club, almost a year to the day since the last one.
The full results
|Russian Railroads - 90 Mins.|
|Biblios - 15 Mins.|
|Imperial Settlers - 150 Mins.|
|Power Grid deluxe - 150 Mins.|
|The Castles of Burgundy - 150 Mins.|
|One Night Ultimate Werewolf - 5 Mins.|
Full details for November 2014
Monthly list at BGG for November 2014