But after Eli went to bed, the wife and I played a game of Power Grid.
Even though we always have fun playing with the default 2-player rules, I decided to give this 2-player variant a try.
The basic differences between the base rules and that variant are:
1) The market is split 3/5 instead of 4/4. Smaller current market, more futures.
2) Only 1 house per city, regardless of Step.
3) Only 2 regions in Step 1, adding 2 extra regions in Step 2 (which starts at 7 cities).
4) In Step 2, if you have 8 or more cities, you can power 3 fewer cities with your plants. In step 3, 6 fewer.
5) Game ends at 14 cities.
I actually enjoyed the tweaks it made; it adds some interesting situations, especially when Step 2 is beginning. I had 7 cities, and could power 10. But if I bought just one more city, I would only be able to power 7. And later in the game, you can't just sit on your power plants, you have to keep bidding.
She didn't like it, because it does add a bit of confusion for people who aren't "seasoned gamers"; the official rules of Power Grid with 2 players can be a very non-gamer-friendly casual game.
So maybe we won't play it again this way, but I might suggest it for a 2-player variant with another "gamer gamer".
On the other hand:
In the end, I did win, but it was still by a narrow margin. I'm not sure if the overhead added by the variant actually changes the situation very much except a little bit of twisting your perception. It might take a few more experimental games to formulate a full opinion.
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