Friday 31 August 2007

mindset when playing

What should be the attitude, the mindset, when playing boardgames? Do you play mercilessly, trying to win at all costs? Do you play nice and just try to make sure everyone has fun? Do you go as far as cheating to try to win? Do you treat different players differently, being nicer to some (your spouse, your girlfriend, or someone you are trying to charm) but tougher on others (other players perceived as being stronger, or your spouse?!)?

When I play, I generally do my best to win. I do exploit mistakes or weaknesses of others. I work hard to win. I don't go soft on my opponents. I expect the same of my opponents. We should all do our best. In fact, This is a matter of respect to your opponents. It is when you do your best that you get the most enjoyment and excitement out of the game. It is the battle of wits that I enjoy in boardgames. Immersion into the theme of the game is nice, but it is the competition in a risk-free world that is fun.

That's the general rule for me. Here are the exceptions.

Sometimes I do play nice. E.g. when playing some games with my wife, like Ticket To Ride. We have an unwritten agreement on the playing style for this game. We prefer not to intentionally block each other, and only focus on connecting the cities we need to connect. Blocking others in this game is perfectly legal and is also a valid strategy, just that it is not "nice", especially when you are the victim. By playing nice, we do lose a bit of the tension of the game, but we are OK with that. But when we play Carcassonnne, we play pretty mercilessly.

Another situation where I play nice is when teaching new games to people. I don't intentionally try to lose. I don't intentionally make bad moves. But sometimes I don't think too much and don't try too hard to come up with the best move. I play a little more by gut feel and a little less by careful planning. I will also point out any obvious mistakes made by the new player, I allow him/her to take back his/her move, I give some strategy tips, but not too much. A new player should explore the game and enjoy the process of exploring the game.

One thing that I do when there is a rule dispute, or some rule ambiguity, or some detail rule that I cannot remember or cannot find quickly in the rulebook, is that I will decide on the interpretation that will disadvantage myself, or will advantage my opponent. I just want to get on with the game and I do not want to be stuck in a rule argument. I can always check back the rule later. No point allowing a minor rule to spoil the fun. But of course if it is a rule with huge implications then I will try to find it in the rulebook to get the right answer.

I seem to talk more about the exceptions than the norm. Seriously, I play to win. But as Reiner Knizia says (gosh, I'm sounding like a worshipper), “When playing a game the goal is to win, but it is the goal that is important, not the winning”.

Tuesday 28 August 2007

first geeklist

Geeklists are a feature of the BoardGameGeek website. Their original use was for users to create lists of games sharing some common feature, e.g. games suitable to be played with your wife/girlfriend (which is one of the most overdone type of geeklist), or games in which you can make an evil Bwahahaha laugh, or multiplayer games that work very well as 2-player games, and so on. I enjoy browsing geeklists. Some of them introduced me to games that I have not heard of, or games that I have earlier dismissed as something I wouldn't like. Some of them contained funny stories, or mini-reviews of games, or even interesting information not related to boardgames.

After being a BoardGameGeek member for about four years, I finally created my first geeklist. This is something that intrigued me, and hopefully it is interesting for other BoardGameGeek users too.

My first Geeklist: Alternative victory condition(s) with a twist

Sunday 26 August 2007

session 25 aug 2007

Chee Seng came for a 2-player session yesterday. We played On the Underground, Taluva (twice) and Battle Line (3 times). All were new to him. On the Underground was new to me, a recent purchase on my business trip ito Manila.

On the Underground is, of course, about building the London underground network. It was a could-not-resist-temptation-to-buy-and- company-is-giving-me-allowance-anyway semi-impulse buy. It turned out to be better than I imagined. However I find that the scoring mechanism is basically many many small scoring steps, which can become rather repetitive. Each turn seems to be quite tactical in nature, in that you are trying to build your tracks so that the passenger will take your lines. Well, maybe that's just because we are new and do not see the longer-term strategy yet. I do see a little long-term strategy aspect to it, in that you should build a good network and not just try to score quick points. But overall, at least from my first play of it, the game seems more tactical than strategic. Perhaps I need to play more before I make a conclusion. Our end score was really close - me: 184, Chee Seng: 181.

Me and Chee Seng, playing On the Underground for the first time.

Underground map of London. Michelle used to live in Elephant & Castle (lower centre of the photo). That guy on the right with the big head, that's the passenger.

End of the game. Londoners may complain that this is totally inaccurate.

We were also very close in the next few games we played, both Taluva and Battle Line. That's good. That makes the games very exciting.

Chee Seng's first time playing Taluva.


Chee Seng enjoyed Battle Lines a lot. I home-made it using cheap playing cards and black and red permanent markers (to hand draw the 5th and 6th suits of cards - red circle and black square). Battle Line is a 2-player card game by Reiner Knizia. There are 9 stones representing the battle line, and players take turns to play cards on their side of the battle line, with a max of 3 cards that can be played on each side of one stone in the battle line. The strength of the set of cards played on each side of the stone is determined by something similar to poker - straight flush (同花顺) beats 3 of a kind (碰) beats same suit (同花) beats straight (蛇). To win the game, you either win 5 stones, or you win 3 adjacent stones. What makes Battle Line so much fun is the tension, bluffing and gambling element. There are tough decisions to make about which cards to play and where to play them, and also what type of set to try to make. Do you try to make 3 of a kind, or a straight flush. Sometimes you have two cards out of three which can form a straight flush, but do you want to play it, hoping to get the 3rd card later? If you don't get the 3rd card later, you may end up with just a same suit, or a straight, or maybe even nothing. There is some luck element in the game, but the fun and tension more than makes up for it.

Sometimes some people complain about games where when players with equally good skills play it, it is luck that determines the winner. I think this is an absurd complaint. When a game needs a lot of skills to play well, then that itself already makes the game fun, especially when you are playing with opponents who are also skillful like yourself. One should only complain if winning is determined only by luck, or when there is so much luck that skill doesn't matter much. Actually, if a game is great fun for you, then who cares whether the winning is due to luck or not. Look at all those silly drinking games.

No, I don't drink.

Thursday 23 August 2007


This month another friend from Taiwan visited. Rick has also played many boardgames with me when I was in Taipei, although not as often as the regular gang like Crystal, Jessy, Peter etc. It was good to catch up after more than 2.5 years, and of course it was great to play some games together again.

We played 3 games, all new to Rick, Blokus Duo (using my Blokus game), Blue Moon City, and Lord of the Rings. Of course, from simplest to most complex. Blokus (I use it interchangeably with Blokus Duo) takes maybe 1 minute to explain, and he even beat me in his first game, and I was not even trying to let him win. I think he played Blokus differently from other players who just started playing it. He played with a more cooperative approach and he tried to fully utilise the space on the board. First-time players tend to be more aggressive in blocking others and tend to be more wasteful of space.

Blue Moon City seemed to overwhelm him a little, especially the special powers of the cards. So it took a bit more time for the game to click. Last came Lord of the Rings. Rick's wife Carol is a big fan of the movies. So maybe he will introduce this game to her. Last year when Jessy visited, I also taught her Lord of the Rings and she found it very complex. I told Rick about Jessy's comment. He took a look at the game box and then said Jessy must be eleven years old, because the game is for 12 year olds and above. Rick is still as witty and humourous as I remember. I do think that Lord of the Rings is a complex game, well, at least it is complex to learn, especially when you are trying to learn it by yourself by reading the rules. There are quite many details to remember, definitely more than the average Eurogame. I made many rule mistakes in my first few games, and only corrected them when I reread the rules.

Since it was his first game, Rick wanted to play Sam and he let me be Frodo. Little did he know that the ring can change hands (I hadn't told him at that point in the game). He did better in Lord of the Rings than Blue Moon City. I guess it does help that I am familiar with the game and I took care of the intricacies / special cases, like you can wear the ring to become invisible, the person with the most ring tokens at the end of a scenario becomes the next ringbearer and receives 2 extra hobbit cards. I let him make his decisions, so that he could explore the game and the strategies by himself. It's like reading a book. You don't want to spoil it for new readers.

Our game was quite smooth. We had some nasty tile draws on the early half of many of the scenarios, and we progressed about halfway down the event track (events are mostly bad). Thankfully we were lucky with our tile draws afterwards and we never progressed too far down any of the event tracks on any of the scenarios. However our resources were quite depleted when we reached Mordor. Eventually we managed to destroy the One Ring. Rick (Sam) was the ringbearer at the time and was 3 or 4 steps away from Sauron. I (Frodo) was only 1 step away from Sauron and could have died any time. We played at the easy level (Sauron starting at Step 15). Next time we can go for a bigger challenge.

One thing that I regret... I forgot to take a photo with Rick!

Photo taken on 19 Dec 2003 in Taipei. Back (left to right): Jessy, Yew Guan, Joao; Front: Stella, me, Rick (frontmost), Peter

Saturday 18 August 2007


Due to time and players constraint, I don’t get to play as often as I wished. So, looking out for games that can be played solitaire is often high on my list.


AMBUSH – Squad level WWII game. Player as the Allied forces, the Germans are preprogrammed for response and movement. Sadly, unplayed yet.

CHAINSAW WARRIOR – Old GWS game, a supermarine taking on hordes of zombies, monsters to save the world. Even came with a comic … basically a dicefest without a lot of real decision-making, fun if played occasionally.

LONDON’S BURNING – Player as RAF commander defending against waves of Luftwaffe. You only got 2 planes at any one-time and limited resources in the form of limited pilots and limited repair capability. Good game but take a bit long to play the full game.

SHERLOCK HOLMES’S CONSULTING DETECTIVE – Ten scenarios where players try to solve crime by going through clues/ leads. There are archives of old newspaper, a map of old London and paragraph-like storyline. Only played the first scenario so far.

CIVPOCKET – Print and Play games. Quite good. Difficult to survive in the initial turns. Drag a bit during end game.


ARKHAM HORROR – Good to play, great atmosphere and narrative. Difficult to survive using 1 character (one can play several characters simultaneously). Solo variant currently available for single character game. (Haven’t played in a while)

MAGIC REALM – Grand-daddy of adventure boardgame. Complex rule, haven’t tried the real thing yet. But can play via Realmspeak (a Java Programme); still not familiar with the Magic rule yet but unique experience and innovative designs (despite its age). Very thick rulebook!

RUNEBOUND – good to play solo with the Threat track variant (can play a game in an hour including setup). Excellent battle system designed by Martin Wallace. Indulge yourself as a hero in trying to defeat the Dragonlord.

TALISMAN – Another classic (still basically a Roll & Move game) but need more to enjoy but game can dragged on. Or try PROPHECY (a newer improved version)

Don’t bother trying: Ingenious, Castle Keep, Dungeon (these games has solitaire rules but they are not that interesting).


Most wargame with no hidden information can be played solo. But I am not really a grognard.

BRITANNIA – Played surprisingly well solo. You get the sweep of history and all that. Long game though.

MARVEL HEROES – Good solo-variant available or just set 2 side up to play against each other.

Still, these but scratch the itch till the next boardgaming sessions.

Sunday 12 August 2007

Reiner Knizia

Reiner Knizia is one of the most prolific and well-respected Eurogame designers. When I look at the games in my collection, there is a very wide range of designers. Among the games that I like a lot, I find that most of them are designed by different designers. Reiner Knizia is the only designer whose games I own, and like, at a disproportionate ratio, compared to games by other designers.

Knizia's design style pretty much encapsulates the Eurogame design philosophy - simple and streamlined rules, short playing time, clever mechanisms and meaningful decisions. Knizia does have his own unique style of game design. There are more intricacies that make his games different from those by other designers. So what makes me like so many of his games, compared to other designers?

The first thing that attracts me to Knizia's game is the simple rules. It is not the simplicity itself that attracts me. When I first learn about a Knizia game, I read the rules or reviews and I can quickly understand how the game plays. Some of his games are quite clever. So once I obtained a quick understanding of how the game works, I am interested to give it a try. I have home-made quite a number of Knizia games. Because of the rule simplicity of many of his games, it is sometimes quite easy to home-make them. E.g. En Garde just needs a simple board, 2 player pieces, 2 scoring markers, and cards numbered 1 to 5. Simplicity brings me in, but simplicity itself cannot make me stay. There are many other elements of Knizia's designs that make me like his games.

Many of Knizia's games are very clever. There is often a unique game mechanism, something that makes you think, "This is ingenious!". En Garde is a very simple game about fencing. Yes through the simple rules and game play, you can really see how much it feels like fencing - the bluffing, the positioning of your pawn, guessing your opponent's hand of cards, taking a risk when moving into "attack range" of your opponent. Clever! When I read the rules of Medici vs Strozzi, a 2-player-only version of Medici (which is a 3-6 player game), I was very impressed with how Knizia managed to create this 2-player version of an auction game, which really does work, and yet has so many similarities to it's predecessor. Later when I played Medici vs Strozzi, I found that it felt different from Medici, and the strategies were different. I like Medici more. But still, I am very impressed with the design of Medici vs Strozzi.

Because of the simple rules, many of Knizia's games are easy to learn, and players can also quickly learn the strategies. It is fun to discover and explore a game, to try different tactics and see which ones work under which situations. Blue Moon City is a game like this. New players can quickly catch on, and sometimes even win the game. It happened to both Ricky and Jeanne in their first games, when they played with others who have played the game before. It is rewarding and satisfying to be able to understand a game quickly and be able to learn and apply the tricks quickly. Streamlined, clean and intuitive rules definitely help in this regard. Being easy to learn and to pick up strategies does not necessary mean a game is too simple and shallow. Sometimes a game simple on the surface can still offer some unexpected depth. It still offers players some nuances to be discovered through more plays. Modern Art, a game about auctioning pieces of art and then selling them, seems straight-forward enough. A player can quickly learn to calculate what are the possible values of a painting, even in his/her first game. However, as he/she plays a bit more, he/she will start to discover the importance of guessing which artists the other players are betting on, guaging the relative positions against other players, thinking about whether it is better to earn money up front when auctioning off own paintings or to earn money at the end of a round when selling all previously bought paintings.

Some Knizia games are very subtle. There is a lot of depth that is not immediately apparent. Sometimes the game can even seem boring at first try. However, if you give it a few more tries, you will gradually find out and appreciate the beauty of the design. Tower of Babel is one such game. On your turn, you only have two options - you draw a card, or you attempt to build part of one of the wonders of the world, and other players may offer to help you. The reward for successfully building part of a wonder is either you collect a token, or you place your influence on the wonder. Players score points by 3 main ways (there are others): (a) when a wonder is completed, (b) when your kind offer to help build a wonder gets rejected, and (c) at game end depending on the tokens you have collected. Although the basic game turn is so simple (so simple that in fact it can feel repetitive), there is a lot of subtlety in where you want to focus, how to maximise your score, and how to hinder your opponents.

Most of Knizia's games have some form of luck. In most of them, despite the luck element, there are many ways for you to mitigate the luck. So you feel that your luck does not determine whether you win or lose, but it is how well you manage your luck and how well you manage your risks that determines whether you win or lose. At one end of the spectrum there are games like

Pickomino, a simple dice game, where I would say there is a lot of luck, you still have meaningful decisions to make, so you still feel you are partly responsible for your win or loss. At the other end of the spectrum, you have games like Lord of the Rings, where there is still a lot of luck element (what kind of event tiles you draw, what die rolls you make - but you don't roll very frequently, what cards you draw etc), but there are so many things that you can do to maximise your chance of winning and to reduce your risk. You are making the decisions about what risks to take, considering the potential rewards as well as the potential penalties. Of course, if you have really really bad luck, you probably will still lose the game. In such games, the luck element creates replayability. You'll face different challenges and experience different stories when you play the game.

I find Knizia games are very well refined - well polished, well balanced. I have never come across any Knizia game that I felt could have been improved further, even for some of the games that I do not fancy. There are no rough edges or glaring issues. Knizia's works emanate professionalism. They are very well crafted. Everything is there for a reason. I have heard of a phrase which is applied to physics / science, which goes something like, "A theory should be expressed in the simplest form, and no more simpler". I see this in Knizia's design. This, is elegance. Amun-Re is one of Knizia's more complex games, about pyramid building, farming and worshipping along the Nile. It has a number of distinct elements, like auctions to buy provinces, and blind bidding when worshipping the sun god Amun-Re (where you can even decide to steal money from Amun-Re's temple). However everything is crafted very well and comes together as a game that really works.


One of the great things in Knizia's games is the tension, the angst, the frustration. All these fantastic keywords related to one important element - decisions. You have a choice. You make the decisions. You decide how big a risk to take, considering the potential rewards / penalties. Making meaningful decisions is, to me, one of the most important elements of a good boardgame. Knizia's games not only has that, but also often put in a lot of excitement into this decision-making. In a game as simple as Lost Cities, you can sometimes find yourself so torn between whether to bite the bullet and start an expedition, because your three handshake (investment) cards may mean a highly successful expedition, but you may also be heading for doom if your opponent is actually secretly holding many high value cards of that suit. In Taj Mahal and Beowulf: The Legend you spend your cards hoping to be the player with the most number of certain symbols and thus being able to win the rewards you have been eyeing. However, each card played is spent and cannot be taken back, even if you eventually lose to an opponent, who just so happened to have 1 more symbol than your 12 symbols. Ooooh... that is just painful. I have more than once played Lord of the Rings (a game I really really like) where winning or losing came down to that one last event tile draw. Sometimes you can feel your heart beating and your nerves twitching as your hand approach that fateful tile. Ra has a push-your-luck / gambling element. There are moments when you are about to win a decent set of 5 or 6 tiles, and yet you are so tempted to pull yet another tile from the bag, hoping to get a very valuable tile, but you are also so scared of pulling a Ra tile, which would end the round and make you lose those 5 or 6 tiles.

Many people feel that Knizia's games have a very thin theme, "the theme is pasted on", or the theme doesn't really tie with the game mechanics. I do not really agree with this. I think people have this feeling because he tends to try to simplify and streamline his rules as much as possible, thus many concepts / thematic elements become quite abstracted. To me, a solid game mechanic is more important than an interesting theme. Right now I'd say the importance is 70% vs 30%.

Here's a list of games by Reiner Knizia that I own.

  1. Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation (and the Deluxe version, which contains a variant game designed by other people, which, unfortunately, I didn't quite like)
  2. Lord of the Rings
  3. Lord of the Rings - Friends & Foes expansion
  4. Lord of the Rings - Sauron expansion
  5. Lord of the Rings - Battlefields expansion
  6. Traumfabrik (Hollywood Blockbuster) - self made
  7. Through the Desert - self made but later bought anyway
  8. Amun-Re
  9. Lost Cities
  10. Blue Moon City
  11. Euphrat & Tigris
  12. Modern Art - self made but later bought anyway
  13. Ra - self made (a LOT of work!) but later bought anyway
  14. Medici
  15. Ingenious
  16. Samurai - self made
  17. Battle Line - self made
  18. Tower of Babel
  19. Loco - don't really own this, but I play it using Sticheln cards
  20. Pickomino
  21. Medici & Strozzi - self made
  22. En Garde - self made
  23. Poison - self made
  24. Kingdoms - self made
  25. Taj Mahal
  26. Beowulf: The Legend

Through the Desert

There's one quote of Reiner Knizia that I quite like, and I made it part of my blog. Scroll to the bottom.

Saturday 4 August 2007

recording games played

I obsessively record every single game that I play. I have a stack of rough paper stapled together for me to conveniently record games played, dates, player names and scores of each player. I transfer the information recorded into an Excel spreadsheet, according to which I have played 1804 games since March 2004. That's about 45 games per month, which is more than one game a day. I also record my games played on Boardgamegeek. Because of this, I can use an interesting feature of Boardgamegeek to display my most recently played games on the side bar of my blog.

My gamelog

When recording games played, I sometimes also write some comments if that particular game was interesting, e.g. something funny happened, or it was an unusually exciting / fun game.

I have even written an Excel macro that generates a report of games played between certain dates, how many times they were played, how many times I've won etc. This is handy for generating five & dime lists. "Five & dimes" is a term used in the boardgame hobby to mean a list of games being played 5 times or more, and 10 times or more, within a certain year.

I also have an Excel spreadsheet that I use for recording information about my wishlist. It includes games that I'm interested in and I rank them with my own ranking system, e.g. 10 means I'm sure I want to buy it (i.e. on my "buylist"), anything 4 to 6 means I'm interested but am not sure yet whether I really want to buy it. 1 to 3 means I've decided not to buy it, but sometimes I do review them and may decide to "upgrade" them to a higher rank. I think I am rather obsessive about being systematic. Games in my wishlist will "graduate" to my ownlist if and when I buy them. I also keep an ownlist.

Keeping a gamelog is fun, and keeping a wishlist is useful. I sometimes enjoy doing some statistical analysis on my games played. Yeah, I'm a weirdo. I do find it fun when looking back at some games played and reading through the comments I have written. The wishlist is, of course, useful for planning my game purchases. I have a big collection now and really should be playing more instead of buying more. So, it's good to have a consolidated view of games I'm interested in, to compare them and to narrow down my buylist (but not to eliminate it, ahah!).

Well... things that a boardgame hobbyist does... I wonder how many other hobbyists are like me.

Friday 3 August 2007

long or complex games 2

Another long game that I have played and enjoyed is Pacific Victory. This is a game about World War II in Asia, similar to Axis & Allies Pacific, which I own. Pacific Victory is a wargame. World War II in the Pacific theatre is quite asymmetric. Japan is economically weaker than America, but is well prepared and well poised to attack. It is geographically nearer to the theatre of war, whereas America is far away. The Americans are rich and strong, but are far away from the action. The British forces are spread thinly, and logistics, and how to allocate resources are both difficulties for them. In this game, victory is determined by how well the Japanese does within a fixed number of years. To look at it in another way, victory is determined by how well the Allies can defend against Japan and how well they can fight back.

I played the Allies in this game. It was fun to have so much resources at my disposal. Being the rich guy is nice. However I think I was overly conservative and was not aggressive enough in counter attacking Japan. The game ended in victory for Japan. I never managed to reclaim much lost ground.

I had some very lucky die rolls for my Indian defenders, who defeated wave after wave of Japanese soldiers. In games where a lot of dice are rolled, sometimes it's just funny how some die rolls can just be crazy. I treat it as something amusing, rather than something frustrating. Over a long game where many dice are rolled, the good luck and the bad luck evens out more or less, so strategy and good decisions win the game, not luck. Anyway, who says there is no luck in real war.

I made one bad mistake in not maintaining my supply line. Some of my troops were cut off by the Japanese and suffered bad losses. Now that was a strategic mistake. No luck in it at all.

I enjoyed my one and only play of Pacific Victory, although it is not something I'd play very often. If I play it again I'll need to read through the rules again. It is definitely one of the most complex games that I have played. One thing that surprised me is how similar the game feels like Axis & Allies Pacific. Axis & Allies Pacific is much simpler. The rules are simpler, there are fewer exceptions / special cases to remember, there is no supply line concept. But there is the same tension in that the Japanese try to expand quickly and then hold on to what they can conquer, while the Allies try to contain the Japanese quickly. So, in my opinion both games capture the essence of World War II in the Pacific theater well.

Another longer game that I have played and enjoyed is Crusader Rex. This game, of course, is about the crusades in the middle east during the middle ages. The Franks (I call them the Christians) and the Saracens (I call them the Muslims) fight over the key cities in the holy land. At the start of the game, the Muslims are more numerous. The Muslim soldiers are generally weaker but more nimble. They can travel faster, and they can run away during battles. The Christian soldiers are generally stronger but slower. They can conduct powerful cavalry charges, although at the risk of injuring themselves. So, again, there is an interesting asymmetry. Also, although the Christians are inferior in numbers at the beginning, as the game progresses, crusaders will start coming from Europe to help fight the Muslims. These crusaders are powerful. So, there is a certain story arch, and a gradual change of who has more advantage.

Crusader Rex

Close-up of Crusader Rex

I have played this game twice and have written about my 2nd game here (scroll down to Nov-Dec 2006 section). I'm happy to say that playing this game does evoke the feeling of being in that time and place and making those decisions that the generals at the time had to make. The effort to learn the more complex rules is very much worth the enjoyment and experience obtained from the game. Crusader Rex is simpler than Pacific Victory. It is probably too complex for a normal person, but it is considered very simple for veteran wargamers (which I am not one).

These two games above are war / conflict oriented. There are also peaceful games that can be long and complex, like Power Grid. This is an example of a longer and more complex Eurogame. Power Grid is about managing your own power company - buying power plants, buying resources (coal, oil, garbage and uranium) to power your plants, developing your grid of power lines, and eventually supplying power to cities and earning money from it.

I would say Power Grid is not an elegant design, because there are quite a number of special rules you need to remember and special situations to handle. But I think they are manageable. The overall sequence of a turn is actually quite straight-forward if distilled down to basics - buy power plants, buy resources, extend your grid to connect to more cities, and then supply power to earn money.

Power Grid

I quite like Power Grid. There are quite a number of things to manage - the auctioning of power plants, the positioning of turn order, ensuring you are able to buy the resources you need, managing your money, and also the spatial element of connecting cities and blocking your opponents' expansion. You must not ignore any of these aspects, as one blunder in one area can cost you the game. You need to look ahead a few steps, especially when approaching the end game. Many times when I lose a game, I can trace back a few turns and find out exactly what I did wrong. Sometimes I spent too much to win a good power plant during the auction. Sometimes I managed the upgrading of my power plants poorly, to either depend too much on one type of resource, or to be too slow to increase my total capacity. So I often get a feeling of I can do better in the next game.

Power Grid is an incremental game. From the start you strive to optimise your moves, to spend least on resources and to reap the most rewards. The little savings / earnings from each turn gradually add up. Some people find this boring, but I don't mind it. One interesting aspect of the game is the positioning game (also something that some people like and some don't). Over the course of the game, the turn order is determined by who is leading in terms of number of cities connected. More cities connected means you can supply power to more cities and can earn more money, however you may not always have the power plant capacity or the resources to do so. So people usually expand their grid carefully. Turn order is determined such that the "leader" is always at a disadvantage, e.g. first to choose a power plant to auction (because better power plants may turn up later), but last to buy resources (cheaper resources would be bought by others, and some resources may even be sold out!). So, in this game sometimes players try NOT to be in the lead. But sometimes being in the lead also means earning more money, which is also an advantage, if the other disadvantages are not hindernig you too much. I find this jostling of position is an interesting part of the game.

Games of Power Grid actually do not always go too long. Sometimes when playing with Michelle and Han it only takes us about an hour or slightly more. I only remember one 2.5 or 3 hour game when I played it with 5 players, who mostly were new to the game, and were not hardcore boardgame hobbyists like myself. But I do consider this game to be on the higher complexity side among Eurogames.

The good things about longer and more complex games include the satisfying intellectual challenge, the immersion in the atmosphere, and the development of a story. The bad thing is it is sometimes hard to get people to play, or to get enough people to play (like A Game of Thrones). For long games like Axies & Allies, Samurai Swords and History of the World, you'd really have to plan ahead, like allocating one full day for it, and maybe even keeping the evening free just in case.

I hope one day I will have enough boardgame kaki's to regularly (maybe once a month or once very two months) plan a long game.