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Author Topic: "That Plant" (draft)  (Read 2062 times)

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AdamH

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"That Plant" (draft)
« on: April 05, 2013, 04:37:36 pm »
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What's the most you've ever seen a power plant sell for? OK, now what's the most you've ever seen someone pay for a power plant and then win the game? Those are probably two different numbers, since the point of the auction mechanic is to balance the relative strength of the two power plants.

My answer to the first question is $175. To be fair, it was two first-time players bidding on the 50 Plant (nothing -> 6 Cities) in $25 increments when the 39 Plant (1 Nuke -> 6 Cities) was right there.

My answer to the second question is a little bit interesting, though. It's $133. It was clear this was the last turn of the game, and the 38 Plant was up for bid (3 Garbage -> 7 Cities). If I got this plant, I'd be able to power one more than anyone else could that turn, no matter what. I was in last so I could budget perfectly. When this plant got around to me, I figured out what I'd need and I immediately bid the rest ($133) on "That Plant;" it was a fight for second place from that point.

Here's another interesting answer, though. It's easy to inflate the values of plants at the end of the game if everybody has huge cash reserves and power plants are what's holding you back. Early game dollars are more important than late game, obviously, so what if I told you I paid $80+ for the 26 Plant (2 Oil -> 5 Cities) in Step 1 and that purchase was what decided the game in my favor? Of course I was certain at that point that it would be the only worthwhile plant to come up for several turns, so it was easy for me to pay as much as I needed to for it. People called me crazy for bidding it up so much, but they quickly realized when they saw what the Plant Market looked like shortly after that getting that plant for all of my money (minus the resources to power my stuff that turn) would have been a steal.

These are extreme cases, yes, but before you pass on a power plant that you want, you should make sure you're OK with the risk of not being able to get another plant like this for quite a while. Maybe the plant you're bidding on is "That Plant."

We've all been in this situation before, where three of the bottom four plants in the market are just terrible. There's no question that anyone that buys one would be making a mistake, all the ingredients for a bidding war on that one good plant are there, and it's starting to get pricy. You're already wondering who in their right mind would pay this much for a power plant.

The first thing to look for is the next plant in the market to drop. If it's not that attractive to you (or anyone else) then think about how many plants can come up after this that wouldn't make you swear. If you're bidding on the 26 Plant and the next one to drop is the 27 Plant (nothing -> 3 Cities) then maybe only thing you could possibly hope for is the 25 Plant (2 Coal -> 5 Cities) and that's a big power plant deck. If you pass, you could be stuck where you are for a long time.

If the next one is the one you want, then try to think of how many plants can come up after this than would make you swear. "We still haven't seen the 14, 15, 16, 22, 23, or 24 yet;" this is more of a calculated risk, because the chance of losing out isn't astronomical, but it's still a risk. Passing here could be an aggressive play that plays off, but if the 11 Plant comes up, make sure your mom isn't around to hear the expletives.

Weigh the consequences carefully. Usually when the plant market gums with terrible plants and there's not much light at the end of the tunnel, it turns into the dual of a Step 2 Stall, only this time the limiting factor is power plants and not cities; this can last for several turns until the market clears up. People can be spending wildly different amounts on resources, getting paid wildly different amounts for powering their cities, and worst of all, there's nothing anybody can do to get out of this funk if the plant deck doesn't cooperate.

If the game stagnates enough, and this is an extreme case but, you can find someone in a position to build enough cities to end the game, even though then can only power 10 or 11 of them, but still win because they won the bid on "That Plant." Everybody else at the table throws down their giant stack of money and curses the plant deck. They should have planned ahead. Don't be one of those people.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2013, 05:32:00 pm by AdamH »
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theory

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Re: "That Plant" (draft)
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2013, 11:19:27 am »
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What in your mind are the super key early plants?  26?
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AdamH

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Re: "That Plant" (draft)
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2013, 11:24:22 am »
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The example I used was the 26 Plant; it's usually a plant that can power 4 or more cities. The point is to identify when this plant could be your last chance to buy a good plant for a while, and in most situations a "good" plant increases your ability to power cities significantly -- or another way to look at it is that if you don't get this plant, you could be powering significantly less than your opponents for a few rounds.

It appears I'm struggling to explain this concept clearly...
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theory

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Re: "That Plant" (draft)
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2013, 11:28:49 am »
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No, I think it was clear.  I was just curious about the relationship between these "good" plants and "endgame" plants, and which of the early plants you should keep in mind as "likely worth a lot".
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AdamH

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Re: "That Plant" (draft)
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2013, 11:34:58 am »
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Ah, then in that case I would say it's usually endgame plants, with a couple of exceptions for nice efficient plants in the early game such as the 21 (2 Hybrid -> 4 Cities), the 29 (1 Hybrid -> 4 Cities) where you can position yourself well the for a S2S and maybe hold onto the plant until the end (more likely in a 5-6 player game).

Depending on the map, the 28 (1 Nuke -> 4 Cities) could be included here, but only if Nukes are cheap early (like $5 or so, and hopefully decreasing in price).

This touches on concepts I was going to include in the "Valuing Efficiency vs. Throughput" article I plan to write as well...
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Shiroiken

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Re: "That Plant" (draft)
« Reply #5 on: April 24, 2013, 05:02:47 pm »
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IMO, the good Plants during Step 1, is anything that allows you to efficiently power 5 or 6 Cities (usually with a Green Plant or a 1 Recourse Plant). This helps power you in case of a Step 2 Stall.

During Step 2, as Step3 draws closer, you want to make sure you have 2 Endgame Plants if at all possible. The reason for this, is that once Step 3 Starts, you have no more than 2 Turns. If you need to buy 2 Power Plants once Step 3 starts, you lose. The only way this ever wins, is if you have TONS of cash and currently have more Maximum Capacity than anyone else, then buy to the endgame powering way less than required to build. Even then, it's chancy if you miscount.
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AdamH

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Re: "That Plant" (draft)
« Reply #6 on: April 24, 2013, 05:06:17 pm »
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Even then, it's chancy if you miscount.

Hey, counting is hard.
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DG

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Re: "That Plant" (draft)
« Reply #7 on: April 24, 2013, 06:13:28 pm »
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My friends and I almost invariably got some rules or preparation wrong when playing Powergrid. This is probably because the set up rules are printed in an exceptionally silly place near the back of the rulebook. Unfortunately Powergrid is very temperamental when it comes to the set up so this created some crazy games where we ran into mid game bottlenecks and hoarded money. This led to the power plants being sold for ridiculous amounts of money, over $200, when stage 3 arrived.
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Watno

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Re: "That Plant" (draft)
« Reply #8 on: April 24, 2013, 06:16:05 pm »
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Yeah, the rules are really bad there. Listing setup and endgame conditions just for 4 players I think in the beginning, and then the changes for each other number of players in the end.
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AdamH

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Re: "That Plant" (draft)
« Reply #9 on: April 25, 2013, 09:34:23 am »
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Getting a few turns into a game of Power Grid and realizing the setup was incorrect is extremely frustrating. I've never seen a situation where you can continue with the game and say it was legit.

Having a rule sheet with all the information on it is extremely helpful here -- I know I mentioned the one I use in another article, but the one I linked there doesn't contain all the information you're talking about here.

The cheat sheets I use have a lot of handwriting on them, but I still think it might be useful if I scan them and upload them, since all of the information you'd want is on there. If I had any talent in the visual arts I'd try to pretty it up, but maybe there's a volunteer out there that could do a better job?

...Either way, I'll see what I can do about getting a pdf of the sheets I have as they are and I'll start a new thread with that.
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