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A friend of mine (a bit of a board game geek) says that this following rule is wrong, imbalanced, and is changed in one of the expansions:

(Auction phase) 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.

He says that if the first player (the one leading) passes, then right after his pass we should get rid of the lowest power plant and get a new one, before the rest of the players would start their auctions.

He claims this makes the game more balanced, as otherwise the leader could "freeze" a bad board, and get even more advantage.

The way I see it though, the leader is heavily penalized in this game, and putting even more burden is just too much. We had games this way where everyone tried to stay behind, and basically the game was an endless tier one with a quick burst of 9-10 buildings /player in one round.

My questions are: anyone else heard of this modification? Is it really part of an official expansion? Do you think the leader needs more penalty?

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    Each expansion map changes one or two rules from the base game to provide a slightly different experience. Those rule changes are designed for those particular maps, and aren't meant to be applied to other maps. Your friend is pointing out a rule change for the Russia map. – Pedro Dec 22 '16 at 21:24
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    Also, for the Russia map, it's not the first person in turn order that passes, but the first time anyone chooses not to put a plant up for auction. boardgamegeek.com/article/5820708#5820708 – Pedro Dec 22 '16 at 21:26
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    I'm confused as to how a leader could "freeze" a bad board... If the board is bad enough that no one wants a plant, then the market is changed by the regular rule and next round will have a different market. – GendoIkari Feb 7 '17 at 16:38
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No, this is no part of the original ruleset; the base-game rule has never changed and remains as you quoted: if nobody buys a Power Plant, then at the end of Phase 2 you discard the lowest Power Plant and draw a replacement. Source: it simply doesn't exist.

On the contrary, your friend's house rule is imbalanced; discard the lowest one only if the first player passes? This really tilts the balance in favor of the other players. Not to mention that it completely breaks 2-player games by disincentivizing players from getting the pole position.


edit: Please note that this is the base game rule: all players have to pass to remove the lowest power plant. The Russia map from Power Grid: Russia & Japan (2010) amends this base-game rule (source, p. 2)

Starting in game turn 2: when the first player in a game turn does not offer a new power plant for auction and instead passes, remove the smallest power plant in the actual market and replace it with a new power plant from the stack. This rule replaces the base game rule, so that players DO NOT remove the smallest power plant from the market when all players pass and nobody buys a new power plant.

Emphasizing: please note that this is an amended rule on a specific expansion map (Russia). Otherwise, the rule is as stated: all players have to pass.

  • Good catch on where the rule's from; I think this should be emphasised at the beginning of the answer. I'm not sure it's totally unbalancing; on occasion it could be used tactically to deny other players access to certain plants, or resource types. But it is yet another disadvantage for the starting player. – Samthere Feb 10 '17 at 15:26

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