Power Grid is a 'B' tournament, which means beginners are welcome to play if you have played before, read the rules, or attended a demo. I have tried to maintain as close to the successful format of the past several years as possible while making a few alterations that I hope will be well-received. I welcome feedback on the scheduling and the format to consider for future years. I love Power Grid and I want it to be both enjoyable and competitive at WBC.
The objective of Power Grid is to supply the most cities with power when someone's network gains a predetermined size. There are four phases each turn:
- Players bid against each other to purchase the power plants that they use to power their cities.
- Players purchase the resources they need to fuel their power plants.
- Players build new cities to expand their network.
- Players receive cash based on the number of cities they power.
There are a number of strategic issues to keep in mind. For example, as plants are purchased, newer, more efficient plants become available. By merely purchasing a plant, you're potentially allowing others access to superior equipment. Also, the turn order adjusts each turn based on the number of cities each player owns. There are advantages to going last (i.e. having the fewest cities), as you actually go first for purchasing resources and building cities. If you fall too far behind, though, it could be difficult to catch up, as your cash depends on the number of cities you power.
In addition to paying for power plant upgrades, players must spend cash on the raw materials (coal, oil, garbage, and uranium) needed to power plants (except for the 'renewable' wind farm/ solar plants, which require no fuel), and on the cities themselves. "One dollar short" is a constant refrain heard as players find they are not quite able to fund every project they would like.
This game hits the sweet spot for me, as a former electrical and nuclear engineer who is now a high school math teacher. The math is not taxing, but it does help to count to make sure you don't end up "one dollar short."
This year I am borrowing an idea for round 1 from another favorite game of mine, Empire Builder.
In each of the three Round 1 heats, players may choose to play any map available if their choice is shared by four other players, as the objective is to have as many five-player games as possible. Four-player or six-player games may not start until cleared by the GM, as the total numbers in each heat will determine the number of four-player games (or six-player games if desired). If there are fewer than five players at a particular map and more cannot be recruited (assuming there are players still unassigned), then that map will have to be abandoned. The default map for all round 1 heats in the event players cannot agree will be USA.
The 18 maps include: Germany and USA (from the base game), France, Italy, Benelux, Central Europe, China, Korea, Brazil, Spain and Portugal, Russia, Japan, Quebec, Baden-Wurttemberg, Northern Europe, UK and Ireland, Australia, and the Indian subcontinent.
We will not be using the alternate power plant deck unless all players at a table agree to do so. Note that the power plant cards accompanying the Northern Europe map are part of that game and so will be used on that map.
If you would like to play a particular map, it is strongly recommended that you bring your own copy and appear early to set it up and recruit players.
For the semifinal, we will continue to use Benelux. The final will use the Germany map.
If fewer than 25 winners are present and there are enough alternates to bring the total to 25, then the semifinal will consist of 5 five-player games. If there are not enough alternates to bring the total to 25, then 5 four-player games will be played. In both cases, the five winners will advance to the final. If more than 25 winners are present, then the top 25 winners will play in the semifinal. In all cases, the 6th place overall finisher will be the semifinal player with the closest second place, or highest margin of defeat (see below).
The game winner is responsible for turning in the summary sheet at the end of each game in the heats and the semifinal.
Tiebreakers and order for semifinal seeding, are as follows:
- Win in first Heat entered
- Most Wins (e.g., total in all heats entered)
- Win in second Heat entered
- Win in third Heat entered
- Largest margin of victory (see below)
- Average finish in all heats entered (e.g., a 2nd and two 3rds = 2.67 and beats two 2nds and a 5th = 3)
- High dice roll.
Largest margin of victory:
For double or triple winners, the margin of victory for the first win is what counts in breaking ties for semifinal seeding if necessary.
For an outright victory, the margin is the ratio of cities powered to the number of cities powered by the second place player (e.g. if the winner powered 14 and the second place finisher powered 12, the margin would be 14/12 or 1.167). If two winners are still tied, the second best game score (or second win) is used to break ties. In that case, a single heat winner will rank after all other players who won their first heat and played in two or more heats. Further ties will be broken by ratio of cash between first player and second place player.
For a tiebreaker victory, the margin of victory is calculated by taking the difference of the winner's final cash and the second place finisher's final cash and dividing by 1000 (e.g. if the winner had $27 and the second place finisher had $11, the margin would be 0.016).
When calculating margin of defeat, use the heat that gives you the highest number. Note that it is possible for a third place finisher to have a higher margin of defeat than a second place finisher at another table. In determining alternates, order of finish is not as important as how close the finish was to the winner.
For all margin of victory (or defeat) calculations that are tied after applying all of the above tiebreakers, a final tiebreaker will be number of players in the game, with the higher number ranking higher.
It should be clear that playing in multiple heats gives no disadvantage in terms of qualifying for the semifinal, unless it comes down to the sixth tiebreaker (which is extremely unlikely).
I will post a list of winners and alternates (with the margins so you can check my math) after each heat on the kiosk. If you win a heat and know that you will not be attending the semifinal, I would appreciate knowing that ahead of time.
Money should be hidden, but must be kept on table!
Seat position will be predetermined randomly as follows: The map owner will be designated seat 1. Four cards will be drawn (for a five-player game) with seat numbers written on them, clockwise from seat 1. In the event extra unmarked cards are needed, seat 2 (to the left of the map owner) will be the club, seat 3 (continuing clockwise) will be the diamond, seat 4 will be the heart, and seat 5 will be the spade. This seat order is only important for the bidding, as the bidding order is clockwise from the starting bidder (rather than turn order). This is a commonly used house rule that will be required for tournament play in order to save time.
The actual starting turn order will be determined randomly by the players at the start of the game.
5-player games use five of the six (for most maps) board regions and 4-player games use four of the six; these regions are selected by each player in starting turn order as follows: each player in turn order selects a region they want to be "in play"; you may select any region with the caveat that all regions must be contiguous when the last player selects. For maps with only five regions (e.g. Benelux or Japan), 5-player games use all five regions.
Example: 5-player game on the Italy board: P1 chooses the brown boot section and P2 selects the green northern region. This means that P3/P4/P5 must choose yellow, red, and purple. This will help speed setup for some boards.
Winner: Supply electricity to the most cities in the final round.
- Most money
- Most cities
- Highest power plant number (added by GM)
Adjudication: Time should not be an issue, but if a player needs to leave at the three-hour mark and the game is not going to finish in time, ask the GM for an adjudication. It is more likely that games will be ending closer to the two-hour mark, but leaving at the two-hour mark while a game is still in progress is not permitted. An experienced table should be able to finish in under two hours on some maps, particularly USA and Benelux. It is recommended that if you desire to finish in less than two hours that you seek out a table that is like-minded and experienced enough to do so. Asking before committing is certainly permitted, but no table can be forced into a two-hour game without the agreement of all involved.
Event Sheet: In order for a game to count, a summary sheet must be accurately completed recording ALL pertinent info and submitted promptly to the GM. Winners are responsible for seeing that this is accomplished. Summary sheets will be handed out by the GM before play begins.