Games in a Pub - 8th July 2012

Another crack at Power Grid: The First Sparks plus the paranoia of Panic Station

We gathered on Sunday evening having had some discussion before hand on Facebook about alternative games. The possibilities come down to Eketop, Power Grid: The First Sparks and a late entrant Panic Station.

As we sat down to play the decision went to giving Power Grid: The First Sparks another chance, our previous effort recorded here. Setting up the game was exponentially quicker than last time, although still required us to delve into the sepia like rules to clarify a number of points. Not an easy thing with the rules written in a six point font and the pubs dim lighting. However once we got going the game, with six of us, sped along at a reasonable pace and saw Simon’s clansmen sadly wander from hunting ground to hunting ground in an effort to find FOOD (the currency of the game), an unhappy time for the tribe.
Power Grid: The First Sparks - The game board and clansmen
The rest of us were broadly more successful gathering berries and hunting bears and mammoths to the point that within the hour my woad clan were poised to demonstrate their manifest superiority over Martin’s little red clan men (Martin having responded to my previous post stating that he didn’t think it possible that I would win the next game – a clear challenge to the manhood of the woad tribe). As it turned out I had forgotten about the perfidious Oliver and his black tribe. This meant that as my tribe headed to their traditional berry bushes (which in the previous season had yielded a rich harvest for them) they discovered that locusts had descended and the bushes were bare. This rich harvest that was rightfully mine (or so I would like to have seen it) had been stolen by Oliver’s black clad locust tribe and to add insult to injury the few berries he left had been taken by Martin’s veracious red clan!

This lack of food meant the planned and potentially winning population growth was stopped dead in its tracks. Sadly this misfortune did not befall either Martin or, as it turned out, the winning efforts of Stéphane who managed to not only get the winning number of clansmen onto the board (as did Martin) but also to have a little more food left over, thereby sealing his victory.
Power Grid: The First Sparks - The game board, cards and clansmen
The game provoked mixed feelings amongst the group with Simon having a pretty naff game in much the same way as Oliver had last time. A number thought they preferred the original game Power Grid, even with its overtly industrial grey imagery. One of the issues the group had was that in ‘The First Sparks’ the currency in this game is food, of which there are 6 different types each with a different value, and that whilst this fact is noted on a player card is not obvious from the wooden tokens. Personally I think after 2/3 games most people would understand the food exchange rates but I agree it makes it harder to teach and pick up in the first place and quiet obviously for some would discourage subsequent attempts to master this game.
Power Grid: The First Sparks - The players
Ultimately based on the group’s experience Power Grid: The First Sparks should be seen as a gamers’ game rather than a social gamers’ game and whilst faster that the original is not a simpler game. For myself I much prefer the stone-age theme to the industrial power supply theme of the original and again enjoyed loosing enough to want to have further goes at this particular game.

Having completed our first game we moved onto Panic Station. This is another game where, although we had played it before there are lots of rules and it was necessary for Martin to both refresh us on a number of them as well as explain them to Stéphane, who had not played the game before.
Panic Station - The rooms with our player tokens
With the game underway and the level of mistrust and paranoia rising I made it as far as the scanner room, where I duly scanned the group. As it turned out Martin was once again the host. (How did he know he would be? He had started his protestations of innocence on Facebook earlier that afternoon!!!) However, at this point of the game he had infected nobody although the scan showed that 2 people where infected – tiredness or alcohol being possible factors in one of us mistakenly putting the wrong card down. At this point it was decided to abandon the game and reconvene in two weeks’ time.

Discussions then ensued about the games for the next meeting and it seems likely they will be Ekertop and Panic Station, with Dominion: Intrigue and RoboRally being other possibilities. Stéphane also indicated that he was in the process of painting the figures for Mansions of Madness and hoped to have them ready for the meeting in a months time, an indication of the quality of his painting can be seen here.

More photo's of the evening can be seen here.

Our next event at the Blue Anchor, Crowborough is in two weeks time on Sunday 22nd July starting at 7.00pm - £1 per head. More details can be seen on our Facebook Page Social Gamers - Crowborough

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