Friday, 9 May 2008

Power Grid Plant Deck 2, En Garde

En Garde is a very short and simple game (called a filler in the boardgame hobby), which I home-made. It is a purely 2-player game about fencing. You have a hand of 5 cards, and you use the cards to (a) move, (b) attack, and (c) defend if attacked. There are only 25 cards in the deck, 5 cards each for numbers 1 to 5, so it is easy to cardcount. The numbers tell you many steps you can move. If your opponent is at a certain distance away from you, you can play one or more of that numbered card to attack. To defend, your opponent will need to play the same number of cards of that number. So that means if you can attack with three cards, you will surely win, because there are only 5 cards of each number in the game.

My home-made En Garde board. I use cheap Go (围棋) pieces as player and score markers.

I find the game quite clever and fun, despite being so simple. I think it can be a little shorter. In a game there are multiple fights, and the first to win 5 fights wins the overall game. Instead of 5 fights, maybe play to 3 or 4 fights. Otherwise things may start to feel a little repetitive. I wouldn't play En Garde twice in a row. However there has been quite a few times, including our most recent game, when I had come-from-behind wins, catching up from 4:1 or 4:0. So if we had played to less than 5 fights won I would have lost those games.

Overall I think fillers don't get much respect among hardcore gamers. That sounds a bit sad, but I guess that's just a fact. Hardcore gamers don't plan game sessions around fillers. Fillers are just that - fillers, short games that you play when waiting for others to arrive, or in between two long games so that your brain can take a break, or as the first or last game of the day to warm-up / warm-down. So, fillers will probably always be "supporting cast" or Pedestrian A (路人甲).

Power Grid is one of my favourite games and I own both the map expansions, France/Italy and Benelux/Central Europe. I had to take out the box insert to be able to fit everything into the same box. And now that Power Grid box is rather heavy. Naturally, when I heard about the power plant deck expansion, I decided to buy it.

Power Grid Plant Deck 2 is a small package. It's basically just a deck of cards. At first I had thought you just swap the old deck with the new one and play, but it turns out that this is just one of the ways to play using the new deck. There are a few other variants, like mixing the decks, or just using some of the big plants from the new deck. So far I have only played this once, and only using the basic variant.

The original Power Grid box, compared to the Power Grid Plant Deck 2 expansion box. Of course now I put the expansion in the original box too.

The new power plants have a dark green edge.

My power plants. On the bottom left, the old and new payout cards, and on the right the box for the expansion.

The big plants. They are not used in the basic variant.

Michelle the energy tycoon. She beat me in this game too! She almost used up her money to connect to 21 cities to force a quicker end to the game. Although I had better plant capacity than her, I didn't have enough money to connect to enough cities. Her capacity was 19. My capacity was 20, but I could only afford to connect to 18 cities. Ouch.

And what do I think of it? Well, the plants are a bit more efficient than the older ones. However it doesn't change the game a lot. Power Grid is still Power Grid. So I think this expansion is something suitable for the fans who want more variety. And actully I feel the same about the other two map expansions. They have some minor rule changes, but nothing dramatic. So, not really necessary for those who don't plan to play a lot of Power Grid.

But.

I'm a fan. So that justifies buying all of them.

2 comments:

Aik Yong said...

I find the benelux map faster than the orginal US map and the Italy map to be a world of pain (high connection prices). Certainly these two maps were different enough for me from the base game.

Hiew Chok Sien said...

actually i haven't really played the expansion maps much. probably only once or twice for each map. and i often just play 2-player games with my wife. so i guess my power grid experience is pretty limited. wish i could play more of it, and with more players.