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In a two player version of Power Grid we normally get to a point in the game where 2-3 of the Active Auctions have little to no value to add to our grid. Either they power too few cities than what I currently power or cost more resources to power the same number of cities. This creates an issue where only 1 power plant in the active auctions has the possibility of helping a player but if no one buys it then we will never get a new plant in the auction. Sometimes even that 4th plant is not in the long term plan of either player so the auctions get stuck.

Our normal way of handling this is to agree on a certain number of plants to discard from the game (2 or 3), yanking them from the bottom of the active auctions, then pulling the next 2-3 cards off the top of the draw deck and place them in their proper order int he auction. Usually this will push 2 possibly helpful plants into the active auction and get the purchasing part of the game going again. Do other players do this or have run into this issue with a stalled auction especially in Step 2? Is it possible to buy a power plant you do not want and immediately discard it as your extra plant? What other ways could we handle this situation?

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2 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

I haven't played a great number of 2 player games of Power Grid, but I haven't seen the problem you are noting. Perhaps you are missing out a few of the key rules?

Rule changes with 2 players

Check the table on page 7 of the rule book on how to change things up for different numbers of players. When playing with 2 players:

  • Each player may keep 4 power plants
  • Remove 8 power plants from the deck after preparing the market.

If nothing is sold

From page 3:

If, in later rounds, no power plant is sold in a round, the players remove the lowest numbered power plant from the market, placing it back in the box, and replace it by
drawing a power plant from the draw stack. They then rearrange the market according to the rules

Remove small plants

From page 5:

If, at any time during the game, there is a power plant in the actual market with a number equal to or lower than the number of cities any player has, players immediately remove it from the game and replace it with a new card from the draw stack. This rule does not affect power plants owned by players.

This should increase the turnover of the smallest, most worthless plants.

At the start of Step 2

To start step 2, remove ONCE the lowest numbered power plant from the game and replace it with a new one from the draw stack, rearranging the market as always.

If you are using all these rules, please let me know by comment and I'll see if I can adjust my answer.

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On page 3 of the Power Grid Rulebook:

If, in later rounds, no power plant is sold in a round, the players remove the lowest numbered power plant from the market, placing it back in the box, and replace it by drawing a power plant from the draw stack. They then rearrange the market according to the rules.

This ensures that new power plants are added to the auction if there are no useful ones in play. Also remember, after the "Step 3" tile has been drawn, see rules on page 6:

In phase 5 in following rounds of step 3: remove the smallest numbered power plant from the game and draw a replacement from the draw stack. During the last rounds of the game, it is possible that the draw stack becomes exhausted. The game continues and in each phase 5, the players remove the smallest numbered power plant. It is possible to run out of power plants if this goes on for several rounds.

So in the last stage of the game, the Power Plant market turns over more quickly. If you follow these two rules correctly you won't get the market stagnation you describe.

By the way, according to rules you must discard one of the three Power Plants you already have (not the one you just bought) if you buy one while you have three in play.

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The limit is four power plants, not three, in a two-player game. –  Jefromi Oct 17 '12 at 20:44
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