FAQ – Funkenschlag (Power Grid)


Game Material
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Power Plant Distribution
Question: Is there no #48 power plant in the deck?

Answer: There are forty-two power plant cards numbered 03 to 40 (in sequential order for a total of thirty-eight cards) plus 42, 44, 46, and 50. There is no power plant card numbered 48, nor are there any odd-numbered power plant cards numbered in the 40's. And, of course, there is one (1) "Step 3" card. This adds up to forty-three (43) cards that are part of the power plant deck (that is, they all share the same card "backs").


Game Preparation
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Playing in only five areas when 6 players are playing
Question: It has always puzzled me why the game is always played with 'one area per player' except when there are six players. Although the board contains six areas the rules state that when six play one area should always be omitted.

Answer: For 6 players, the number of cities to trigger the game end is also reduced. If you use 6 regions and the reduced number of cites for the game end, the map is far more open than usual. If you use 6 regions and don't reduce the number of cities for the game end, it is very difficult to get enough power to supply all these cities.


General Course Of Play

- General Questions
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Hide the amount of money
Question: Are you supposed to hide the amount of money you have?

Answer: The rules are not explicit on this point. You should play with hidden money, to prevent AP in the last (couple of) turn(s).
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2 Player Games
Question: Is the 2 player version of Power Grid good enough to at least transmit a little sense of fun between players, or should I shelve it until we have more so-as to not give a bad impression initially?

Answer: Power Grid works fine with 2 players. The bidding is obviously a bit different with 2, but can be interesting if there is a plant you both really want - particularly if one player is forced to over pay. The smaller map and reduced power plants mean that the 2 player game is still pretty tight.


- Phase 1: Determine the Player Order
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Player Order
Question: In the first turn, player order is random until after the auction phase where the player order goes by power plant # (since everyone has 0 cities). Does this also happen in later turns? Lets say 2 players both have 4 cities. Player A has plant #10 and Player B has plant #11. If in the auction phase player A buys plant #12 (player B buys no plant) is player A now the leader, or is it still player B? The rules seem to indicate B is still the leader (the readjusting of player order only happens in the 1st turn), but I just want to clarify.

Answer: Yes, the turn order is only rearranged after the power plant auction in the first turn. In all other turns, follow the turn order in the rules (Player order is rearranged in phase 1). The special Turn 1 re-ordering is only done to minimize the length of time during which there is a turn order that was determined randomly.


- Phase 2: Auction Power Plants
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Winning the auction without having enough money to pay?
Question: Even if it is such a horrendous mismanagement of funds, what happens, if a player cannot pay for the power plant? Is there an official rule to cover this issue?

Answer: The rule is that you cannot bid more than you have. If somebody accidentally bids more money we simply repeat the auction but the "bad guy" is not being allowed to bid for this auction phase anymore, whatever auction is going on. Next game round he may again... If it is NOT accidental, well... then one plays with the wrong gamers...
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Power Plant Discards 1
Question: If someone has three power plants and buys another plant he must discard one. Must it be the lowest one or can it be any of his three plants?

Answer: As written in the rules on p. 3: “If a player buys a fourth plant, he has to discard one of his other power plants.” You can choose anyone of the three old power plants.
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Power Plant Discards 2
Question: What happens to the discarded power plants? Do they get put back to the bottom of the stack of plants or are they removed from the game completely? There are two cases: Firstly, you have more than 3 plants you need to discard one. Secondly, no one buys a plant, and the lowest one is discarded.

Answer: In both of those cases, the plant is removed from the game. The only plants placed on the bottom of the deck are the ones taken from the future market in bureaucracy.
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No Auction Round: When does the lowest Power Plant get tossed?
Question: In the rules it says that if no one bids on power plants then the lowest plant is discarded. However, it does not say exactly WHEN it is discarded. Is it discarded in the Auction Phase? Or is it discarded in the Bureaucracy Phase when the largest plant gets tossed under the stack?

Answer: It happens at the end of the Auction Phase.
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Auctioning Questions
Question: Let's suppose a 4-player game. In order of their place on the leader track: players A, B, C and D.
Scenario 1: Player A puts up a plant for auction but passes on it.
- Player B passes on this plant
- Player C passes on this plant
- Player D passes on this plant
1) Is this plant taken out of the market and is a new plant introduced?
2) Does B now get to pick a plant to put up for bidding or does the round end and does the lowest card get replaced immediately?

Scenario 2: Player A puts up a plant for auction but passes on it.
- Player B passes on this plant
- Player C passes on this plant
- Player D wants it
3) Does he pay base value or base value +1?

Answers:
Scenario 1: Neither. The player who is putting something up for auction is the first player to make a bid (usually the minimum bid printed on the card). In your case all players passes without putting anything up for auction. After player D has passed will the lowest card in the display be discarded and you continue with Phase 3: Buying Resources.

Scenario 2: Again, player A must bid for the plant he puts up for auction. If player A, B and C passes, then player D may buy ANY available plant for the price listed on the card.


- Phase 3: Buying Resources
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Buying Resources to throw away
Question: Is it possible to buy resources that you cannot store?

Answer: No. You only buy resources that your power plants can legitimately use and then only up to twice their capacity. The rules state on p. 4: "Each player can buy resources up to the maximum allowed in all his plants (twice as many as their production numbers)."
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Hybrid Power Plants
Question: Must a hybrid power plant burn only one type of fuel at a time, or can you mix fuel types? Additionally: I assume a plant can store any combo up to 2x the powering cost. Example: A hybrid power plant burns 2 units. It can store 4 coal, 4 oil, 2+2 coal/oil (2 of each) or 3+1 coal/oil (3 of one kind, 1 of another). Correct?

Answer: You can buy, store and fire both types of fuel as you wish.


- Phase 4: Building
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Establishing Networks in Power Grid
Question: Does the first player to build a connection to cities place all the houses he can afford all at once during the phase, then player 2 building all his houses or is it pay and place one house, go around to other players, pay and place 2nd house, go around, etc. until everyone is done building?

Answer: The first player places all houses at once. Then the next player goes, and so forth. This makes it a significant advantage to be "dimmest bulb."
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Building Networks and Removing Power Plants
Questions: 1) Can someone clarify the "leapfrog" rule for me? What caused problems for us was trying to understand if these cities were connected or not connected, and how to determine so.

2) Why is it that you remove the lowest power plant only once between Step 1 and 2? I am right in assuming that only happens once?

Answers: 1) Think of the numbers on the pipelines as kilometers or miles between the cities. Whenever you place a new house (after the first) you must pay 1 Electro for each kilometer/mile between the new city and the closest city you have a house in: So if you started by building in Flensburg you will need to pay 4 + 8 Electro in order to build in Hamburg (in addition to the cost for the actual space in the city (10, 15 or 20 Electro)).
All cities are connected by the network, you just have to pay the mileage to get there.

2) To provide some additional incentive to start Step 2: It gives some advantage (or less disadvantage, at least) to going first the first turn after Step 2 begins. It also tends to happen that a plant in the 11-16 (or so) range gets stuck in the market at or about this time in the game, and this gets rid of it.
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Connecting Costs for Cities 1
Question: It says in the rules that you can build on a city as long as you pay the connecting cost. Example: City 1 connects to City 2 (cost 5). City 2 connects to City 3 (cost 10). City 3 connects to City 4 (cost 15).
a) If I only have a house on City 1, and no one else is on Cities 2, 3 or 4 and I want to build on City 4. Then I have to pay the connecting cost from 1->2->3->4 (Cost is 5+10+15=30)?
b) If I only have a house on City 1, and someone has a house on City 2 and City 3. Then in order for me to build on City 4, do I just have to pay the connecting cost from City 3->City 4? (cost is 15)?

Answer: You must pay all intervening connection costs between the city you have already built on and the one you intend to build on. If you have built on City 1 and want to build on City 4 without building on Cities 2 or 3 you will have to pay all 30 (5+10+15=30!), regardless of whether another player has built on the two skipped cities.
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Connecting Costs for Cities 2
Question: So if you can actually build on City 4 without building on City 2 and 3 or have someone there to connect to, what is the reason for joining your network with other players? In other words: There is no difference between building on City 4 with
a) City 2 and City 3 are empty (not joined)
b) City 2 and City 3 are occupied by others (so you are joined in one big network)

Answer: As long as you do not break the rule about only one player in a city in Phase 1, only two players in Phase 2, etc. you can go to ANY available city on the board (that you are not already in). In addition to the $10/15/20 placement cost, you must pay connection costs. (Only your very first city has no connection cost.) To calculate the connection cost, choose any city you are already in, then add up connections (along any route you like) from that city to the new city. One can choose any city in which one already has his house (even built in the same turn).
The connections of other players are irrelevant. You do not "join your network with other players".
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Paying Connecting Costs
Question: Imagine that for some reason you connect from Nürnberg to Passau through Regensburg (not building there). That would be 12+12+10. Is the connection from Nürnberg to Regensburg (12) supposed to be already paid in a later turn when you decide to build in Regensburg? Or do you have to pay it again?

Answer: Pay it again. Every time you connect from one place to another, you pay the full cost. That's the primary motivation into connecting neighboring cities and not 'leapfrogging' unless you absolutely have to. If you decide to leapfrog, you're probably going to pay a connection fee twice.
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Connecting Question
Question: On the US map there isn't a connection cost between Cheyenne and Denver. Does this mean they can be connected with no cost or that they must be connected through an indirect route?

Answer: They are connected at no cost. Just to clarify - you still have to pay to build in those cities. So if you had a house in Denver already built in Step 1 you would have to pay ten electro to build a new one in Cheyenne. Same deal with NY - Philadelphia, and Savannah -Jacksonville on the US map. There are a few on the German side as well.
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Building in Step 2 / Step 3
Question: If I own the house on the spot 10 in a city - am I allowed to build in the spot 15 or 20 of the same city in subsequent rounds? Or am I banned from buying those up in later rounds?

Answer: You cannot buy these other spots. Only one house per city for you: "Players may never purchase more than a single spot in any city no matter what the Step is."
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Building from Boise to Cheyenne
Question: The connection cost directly from Boise to Cheyenne is 24 Elektros. The connection costs from Boise to Billings is just 12 Elektros, and from Billings to Cheyenne is just 9 Elektros. All three cities are in the Northwest play area (purple). Are there any conditions or setup that would force one to pay the Boise-Cheyenne connection costs, or would one always be able to choose the Boise-Billings-Cheyenne connection and pay the lower price?

Answer: Indeed, this is a fairly well-known board error. Of course, you can build any way you want to. There is another mistake on the first edition German side of the board (Stuttgart - Mannheim - Saarbrücken).
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Step 2 starts in current Build Phase?
Question: Once a player connects his 7th city, can he and subsequent players immediately start connecting to cities already occupied by one other player in that same building phase, or must they wait until the next turn?

Answer: No, all players must wait until next turn.


- Phase 5: Bureaucracy
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Burning twice as many Resources in a Power Plant
Question: A power plant can store twice as many resources as indicated on the card. For example card # 14 holds 2 trash to power 2 houses. My question is when it is time to burn and power 2 houses, but a player has 4 trash on the plant and has no other trash plants to shuffle resources, do ALL 4 trash have to get burnt to power the 2 houses or can he only burn 2 to power the 2 houses and save the other 2?

Answer: Just to clarify - the player's ONLY option is to burn 2 trash to power up to two cities. The player does not have the option to burn 4 trash to power 4 cities. You could burn 2 to power 0, though. Or burn 2 to power 1, (which is a lot more likely).
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Burning Issues about Fuel
Questions: 1) How is phase 5 ordered? We had a case where a player wished to burn her garbage only if another player did not. We checked the rules and found no mention of ordering. Since the game does not otherwise have simultaneous action, and the rules try to punish the big guy, we ruled that the leader must go first.
2) In phase 5, may you burn more fuel than necessary? Scenario: The player has a wind power plant for 4 cities, a coal power plant for 3 cities and an oil power plant for 3 cities and a network with six cities. The player asked if he could not run the wind plant, so that he burns both the oil and the coal. We ruled that a player may burn fuel at all three plants, even if two or one could power all his cities.
3) May a player dump fuel that could be moved? A player was buying an oil plant, and discarding a coal plant along with its fuel. He didn't want to move fuel to his hybrid plant because he was going to corner the market in oil. Corollary: He could have transferred coal from the hybrid to the coal plant just to dump it.

Answers: 1) The rules say so: Houses are powered starting with the leader.
2) You may power as many power plants as you would like.
3) Yes. You are not obliged to move them.
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Bureaucracy Clarification
Question: I know people are allowed to power less houses than they conceivably could. I presume this to be done to conserve fuel for later turns, so it probably is not a strategy that would come into play until nearing games end. However, does it work like this: Player A has a plant which burns 2 coal to power 2 homes. Player A can burn 2 coal and power 1 (or none) but can not elect to burn 1 coal to power only 1 house. Right?
So, in a nutshell, if a plant is "online" then you must burn the amount indicated on the card to get any amount of power out of it, right? You can never burn more or less than what is indicated, right?

Answer: Correct. If it takes 2 coal to run it, you pay two coal. It doesn't matter if you only want to power one city or two. People power less by say having 2 plants (both 2 coal, 1 powers 2 cities, the other 3 cities in this example) and lines to 5 cities. The player then only uses 1 plant to power 3 cities and doesn't run the other plant even though they could.
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Market Twiddle Question
Question: I wanted to try and get clear on one aspect of "market twiddle": is the highest plant removed from the current market or from the whole market, current and future?

Answer: The highest numbered plant of the eight is removed and placed at the bottom of the draw stack. A new plant is drawn and placed in its number order within the eight. This could be current or future market.
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Hitting Step 3 before Step 2!
Question: While playing Power Grid with 2 players we hit the situation of turning up the Step 3 card before the Step 2 condition (10 cities) was reached. This was because one player was blocking of part of the board and the other player was also holding out (reluctant to pay the high connection cost). What happens?

Answer: Go straight to Step 3. Generally, one of the players will see that the "stall" is not in his or her favor and take steps to end it. In your game, either both players felt the stall favored them, and one was wrong, or you weren't thinking about when it might make sense to end it.


End of the Game
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Can the game end during Step 2?
Question: Played my first game of this yesterday. 4 people so the game ended when someone built 17 cities during phase 4 (at the end of that phase). It was still Step 2 when this happened and this meant that the other players couldn't build any more cities, because all city slots now contained two players' markers.
Once we'd packed away I noticed that the rule about the game ending when someone builds 17 cities is in the 'Step 3' section. Does this mean it can only end in Step 3, so that if someone reaches the target number in phase 2 you keep playing until Step 3, when everyone gets 1 round of building?

Answer: Yes, the game can end in Step 2. (I guess it could theoretically end in Step 1 if one player builds from 6 to 17 cities in a single turn, though technically you might say it would move to Step 2 just at the very end. This would be extremely unusual.)
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Who wins the game?
Question: When someone gets to 17 cities, is the winner the person with the most capacity AND the resources at that time or just the total of their power plants' capacity or the most someone has supplied on an earlier turn.
For example, Player A has capacity to power 14 cities (and has 14 cities), but does have only resources for 8 cities when the game ends. Player B has capacity to power 14 cities (but only has 13 cities) and has bought the resources to power them at the time the game ends. Player C has capacity to power 15 cities and did so on the previous turn but now does not have the resources to power all 15. Who wins?

Answer: To win at Power Grid, you need to have the most cities powered at the end of the game. To have the most cities powered, you need to have: (A) cities, (B) the capacity to power your cities, and (C) the resources to generate power for your cities.
If a player falls critically short in any of these three criteria, then they most likely will not win the game.
In the above example it may be easier to think of it as the lowest of the following 3 numbers:
Player A - 14 Cities. Capacity 14. Fuel 8 => can power 8
Player B - 13 Cities. Capacity 14. Fuel 14 => can power 13. Wins the game!!!
Player C - 15 Cities. Capacity 15. Fuel 12 => can power 12
This is equal to the number of cities each player would "earn money for" if the game reached the bureaucracy phase.
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When does the game end?
Question: When exactly does the game end? It is going to end after any player connects the required number of cities (that much is clear). My question is when does it then end? At the end of Phase 4 or Phase 5? Do players get paid for supplying their cities with power or no? I'm guessing no because then they'll use up important resources that they might need to determine who can supply the most cities with power. So as far as I can tell, the game ends at the end of Phase 4 (meaning players that have yet to connect many cities have a chance to do so IF they get to play after the player who connected the game-ending number of cities. This is what the original rules tend to suggest.

Answer: You play through the entire round. Players give up their resources and power the cities that they can. Whoever powered the most cities is the winner.
Technically you get paid for this round of powering, but it is a pointless exercise. Money only matters if there is a tie for cities powered. So if Player A has 7 Electros left and player B has 12 Electros left and they both power 18 cities. It doesn't really change anything if you give both of them their 145 Electros for the turn. Player B still beats player A by 5 Electros.


Common Hints for the Game
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Common Mistakes and Overlooked Rules
Bidding:
- The first player has the option to start bidding. If he declines then he is not allowed to take part in any bids started by other players that turn.
- The next player now has the option to initiate bidding. Similarly if he declines he is out of the bidding for that turn.
- If a player wins the bid they initiated then the next player has the option to initiate bidding on another plant.
- If a player looses the bid they initiated then they have the option to initiate bidding on another plant.
- Once a player wins a plant they are no longer able to bid that turn.
- The overall effect is that, provided they do not decline the option to initiate bidding, every player can gain one plant on each bidding phase.
- Everyone must buy a power plant on the first turn, and you immediately refigure turn order for the first turn only.
- Don't forget to discard lowest plant when hitting step 2!
- If no Power Plant is auctioned during a round, then remove the lowest power plant from the market

Building:
- You can leapfrog over other players cities when building to place a city "behind" them. You can leapfrog multiple cities in one go if you wish. To do this you pay (sum of all connection charges) + (cost of the city you are actually building).
- No plant with a number lower than or equal to the number of cities connected by the player in 1st stays in the market. If 11 cities are connected by the player in first place, for example, then Power Plant 11 and all lower numbered plants must be removed from the market if they are there, or drawn in a subsequent turn. This ONLY applies to the market. Player's plants are unaffected.

Bureaucracy:
- While you usually remember to take the highest plant out of the Market and place it under the pile (in Step 1 & 2) it is easy to forget to remove plants from the Market once any player has built a number of cities equal to (or greater than) its value.
- The Stage 3 fuel replenishment is different from Stage 2. If Stage 3 gets triggered in the build phase the correct fuel replenishment becomes the Stage 3 fuels.

End of the Game:
- Another mistake is to think someone must power a number of cities equal to the ending condition (14, 15, 17 or 21) to end the game. You don't need to power cities to end the game. Simply connecting them (even if not powered) will do the trick. You only need to power cities to win the game (you need more than anyone else, but it could be fewer than 14.)