Weekend Gaming: First Sparks

Joe, Kevin, Ryan and Louis joined us for games on Saturday night.  I had just received my copy of Power Grid: The First Sparks, so I was excited to try it out.  We took a little while to go over the rules, but then we got into it.  Power Grid is one of my favorite games, and First Sparks captures a lot of the same feel, though in a simpler and shorter format.  The auction portion of the game is simplified and the math required at the end is a lot easier.  There isn’t as much micromanaging as the original, which I kind of miss, but the random layout of the board means that the setup will be different each time.

I ended up getting the lowest starting card, so I was first to place my starting settler, so I started off in the center of the board where a bunch of mammoth hunting grounds were located.  Also, I was then last to get a new technology, so I was able to grab a spear to hunt them.  This ended up being a big bonus, as I was able to hunt a bunch of mammoths and keep myself fairly well stocked for the entire game.  No one else was hunting them, so all the resources came my way.  Later in the game I was also able to get the Speech knowledge, which ended up winning me the game.  I was mostly situated in the middle of the board, so I figured having the discount on shared spaces would help in general.  On the last turn, though, because of that discount, I had just enough food to expand my clan to size 13 to end the game and since no one else had managed to get there, I ended up with the win.

Since that game hadn’t taken too long, we decided to break out Railways of the Western US for the next game.  Ryan sat out, so it was only the five of us playing.

Both of my Baron options were focused on the Northwest, so I knew I was going to be playing there.  The one I ended up taking required that I connect Billings to Tacoma.  Then when the starting cards were revealed, there were four service bounties, including one for Billings and another for Spokane.  I was hoping to get the Spokane one, but I wasn’t willing to go all out for the first turn.  Joe ended up winning that, and took the Spokane route.  I did get the Billings one, though.  For the rest of the game, Joe and I were fighting for the same routes in the Northwest, while Louis was left mostly uninhibited in the lower Midwest.  Gina was in the Denver area, while Kevin was mostly on the West coast.

There were some oddities in the game, though, because of Joe and I.  Every route but one into Tacoma was blocked by Joe and I, so Kevin was dissuaded from completing the LA to Tacoma route, and then I grabbed the Portland to Ogden route, while Joe connected to Salt Lake City.  This ended up making it very difficult for Kevin to get through Promentory, and put him off trying the Promentory to Omaha route.

All this time, I was behind, as I wasn’t shipping much.  Eventually I managed to get a good shipping route from the Billings area with some longer shipments, but it was too little too late.  Louis had upgraded his train quickly and took advantage of a lot of goods near Oaklahoma City and the his hotel there, to launch himself into a sizable lead.  In the end, he and I were the only ones to complete our Barons, but it didn’t matter.   Louis had first place and Joe was in second, followed by Kevin, myself and Gina.

It was a nice night of entertaining games.  First Sparks is fun and it’s nice to have another 6 player game to add to our catalog, especially since it is a shorter game.

Until next time, happy gaming!

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