Friday, 17 July 2009

Forced to play Friese

I know John was new to power grid and was going to face a torrid time as Jack and Ben where pretty experienced in one of the best efficiency euro games there is. I have played few games more than this Friedemann Friese classic (I think this was my fith power grid session and the second time I had played Germany) and Matt is an old master. Given the number who attended and the selection available power grid was the only feasible choice. Bondy had limited maps in his bag so the classic Germany board was used, a rules session was given for John who grasped the concepts and we begun.

With sensible bidding, interesting fuel buying and tactical city building the game was edgy and it was difficult to mark progress. Ben and I committed to larger power stations early and became sluggish as our funds dried up and Matt went into an early lead based on board position and cash flow (not turn order lead). Solid play from John and Jack saw them tick over and over time the board got extremely congested. Eventually I declined to expand and finished on 5 cities as others grew to six. Having been in an unfavourable position for much of the game I spent four rounds gathering in money waiting to leap. The group could not advance past 6 stations into phase 2 without someone paying way over the odds, whilst every turn I was amassing more money and sitting pretty being able to power the most cities. My danger was that eventually strong enough power stations would emerge to challenge my authority. Thankfully this was not the case and when phase 2 begun I was able to spring and expand from 5 all the way to 14. Unfortunately I had thought that the game would last two rounds and had bought sufficient fuel for this. Had I not I would have been able to grow to 15 and end the game without it taking a further round. I couldn’t be bothered to do the maths as I had thought it unlikely I was wrong. Jack could have got second at that stage and had he been able to expand properly he may of got second regardless. Because there was an additional round, powerful power stations came out and phase three began which allowed the game to appear closer than it was. Bondy I believe finished second though it may have been third followed by John and Ben was last, losing a tie breaker as he had over bid for his final power station, a station he had needed to compete. Unfortunately in bidding he was unable to expand enough to challenge.

Power grid as a euro is obviously about efficiency but more than most games it is about timing. You have to sprint for the line at the correct time, go to early and you will be crippled for the later rounds, to late and the race will already be lost. A classic game that will get played at NBG year on year on year.

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