We played Age of Steam last night, opting for the Korea map, which was a first for all playing. It was a 4-player game, and it seems that this is the ideal number for this map--room to expand at first before we start wrecking into each other. The thing I love about the Age of Steam maps is that each one isn't just different geographically--though they obviously are--but each one introduces a new twist that makes each map feel like playing a whole new game. The Korean twist is that instead of cities being a predetermined and unchanging color, each city takes on the color of the cubes contained within it. This makes long connections much harder since you're more likely to run into a city containing the color you're trying to ship. If that happens you stop and score from that city. I was able to make a couple of 5-point runs midgame, but on the last turn the best I could manage was a couple of 3-pointers since the cities were clogged with all kinds of colors. I eked out a 2-point victory...and for some reason winning at Age of Steam feels like a real accomplishment since things are so tight and it's so brutal. I love this game, and every time I play it crawls higher in my Top 10 list of games.
The AoS victory was needed because just before that we'd played Power Grid for the second week in a row, and I'd experienced a downward spiral like I'd never experienced before. In last week's game, Skippen had gotten behind early and was never able to catch up. Since it was my first time playing I wasn't prepared to say that it was the game's fault, but after experiencing the exact same thing I am rapidly losing confidence in Power Grid. So on my turn I'm pretty broke, which means I can buy a better power plant OR buy resources for my crappy power plants OR expand my network. We were playing a full 6-player game, so the power plants were being blazed through, and before I knew it I was having to pay 30+ for a decent one. Can't afford that so I buy lots of resources to power my obsolete plants just to power my pitiful 4-house network. It's a spiral I can't escape because every turn I'm making a piddly 40 bucks. If I buy a better plant I can't buy resources or get income. I'm just baffled; because this game is so adored on the Geek I was prepared to say that I'm just missing something--and that may still be true--but I fear it will be a long time before I'm prepared to give this game another go. Sitting there for 90 minutes, knowing from the 3rd turn that I would never catch up and couldn't affect the game in the slightest, was just no fun. And I game to have fun.