It came as a surprise to me that I would be willing to let go of my copy of Power Grid. After all, it is the no. 3 game on BGG and before the phenom that is Agricola, Power Grid was firmly etched in its no. 2 behind Puerto Rico. Power Grid was also part of my first bulk boardgame purchase which represented my commitment to seriously get into the copy. Lastly, this is one of the heavier games that Van actually enjoys and she is some Power Grid player if I may add.
I was tempted to keep it but the diminished plays it saw amidst the new kids on the block led me to finally pull the trigger. As awesome a game Power Grid is, it does come across somewhat fiddly. Some find the mechanics elegant but I'm part of the opposition who find that the game tries too hard to avoid player elimination. The mechanics are geared towards giving the trailing players an edge to enable catch-up. The effects are pronounced in multiple phases, providing an advantage in plant auctions, resource purchase and city connections, such that it pays to lag behind. This unintuitive approach coupled with the mathematically laden endgame meant that I would rather play Princes of Florence or El Grande with 4 or 5. While one of Power Grid's advantages is that it plays 2-6 and scales decently, it takes too long with 6 and loses some of its luster in the auction phase with 2 or 3.
Red November confirmed for me that cooperative games without a traitor element are simply not my cup of tea. While it had less of a puzzle-like element than Pandemic, it felt terribly repetitive and uninteresting with the lack of differentiation amongst players. Pandemic tackles this well with the different roles with special abilities. The use of the dice to determine if repair efforts are successful diminishes potential strategic/tactical play. While I can imagine some enjoying it as it is, it is clearly not for me. And when Van declared that she would rather play Race to the Galaxy than Red November, her dislike was similarly apparent.