Replay: Factory Manager

Posted by James (admin) on November 16th, 2009

Power Grid Factory ManagerI enjoyed Factory Manager a lot when I played it (initial review here).  A second play (again with experienced gamers) was just as enjoyable and a chance to try my gained knowledge to improve my efficiency.

Like my initial play, I found there were lots of decisions to make which is not common to find in a relatively short game.  So, it held my interest as before and kept my brain very busy.  I still really like how the turn order is balanced by the later players getting discounts on all their purchases.  It’s a really nice game mechanic as it means that turn order doesn’t over-dominate the game, which means players who have more workers available because they’ve gone the manpower efficiency route don’t automatically get to dominate the game.  I can’t tell yet if it’s almost too balanced as few players have bid for these tiles in my games and no-one’s ever bid more than one worker, but it’s a nice system.

I’ve not seen the seasonal workers used very much at all so have yet to fully appreciate if there’re further strategies to be found within them.  Also, I haven’t seen anyone use the tactic where you can bid more workers than you need to to win a turn order tile.  The rules suggest you can do this so that, when the time comes, you don’t have to draw down as many tiles into the market.  Doing this would restrict the choices of machines to buy because there would be fewer available.  I can see that, if you have a lot of unused workers and play first or second in a round, then this could be a very interesting tactic to use because you’d get first or second choice of the tiles and the remaining players may then have little to choose from.  However, I don’t think I’ve seen this overbidding for a turn order tile yet because tiles get drawn down into the market in their cost order; this means that if you only get to draw down one or two tiles, you probably won’t be able to guarantee you’ll get to purchase the higher value machine(s) that you want because you only got to draw down the lower value machines.  I like the idea of the tactic but I will be interested to see if anyone uses it.

My only slight concern about Factory Manager is that there isn’t much variety between each game so that may impact on its longevity.  There will be differences between each game because the machines that are available for purchase each round will vary which will affect which routes to efficiency are available, plus purchases/decisions by other player’s will also need to be factored in.  So, I’m not certain the difference between each play will be very great.  This makes Factory Manager a very solid and enjoyable game (especially if you like some thinking involved) but may be a game you won’t play over-and-over in short succession.  However, this is a relatively minor issue given how enjoyable the game is.

Overall, I’m starting to think I may buy the game now because I rarely get to play Power Grid due to its length and relative complexity (which rules it out of being played by one of my gaming groups).

All 3 other players I played with, who were all experienced gamers and only one had played Power Grid before, really liked the game.  It took them a turn or two to fully get into the process.  One player managed to end with an income of 150 (which was amazing as the maximum is 160) and no workers required to run the factory – incredible efficiency.


[Played with 4 players]

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