Monday, January 2, 2012

Power Grid and a Healthy Dose of Irony

So our last game of 2012 was the highly rated Power Grid on the eve of New Year's Eve. It was also the first time we had played Power Grid, so I was looking forward to it. After the board was set up and everything was good to go, the real life power went out! We played by candle light for about the first forty five minutes or so.

In Power Grid, as the name suggests, the goal is to link up your many cities with power lines and be able to fuel those cities every turn. Of course for fuel you have to buy resources, which are limited, and of course everyone else is buying them as well.

You buy different power plants to fuel the cities and some are more efficient than others, from fossil fuels like coal and oil to green energy, uranium plants, and even garbage burning plants there are a tone of options and you can set your strategy up based on these. But the game is also dynamic, so as it moves forward towards the end, you've got to change as well. If you stick with coal burning plants the whole game you're going to be struggling in the end. Hmm, kind of like real life!

At first glance it looks like any number of "train games" out there, which are fun mind you, but with so many already out there why bother with this one? Well the resemblance is on the surface only, it plays quite differently. There are a few phase to each turn, and turn order for these phases changes player to player, if you're in the lead you're still not always going first. When power plants come available to purchase, players all take turns bidding on the them auction style. This mechanic was a lot of fun and got everyone involved. It's also a tricky one because if you spend all your money on an awesome power plant, you won't have any to buy resources with or build new cities and power lines to those cities.

At every turn a little bit more of how awesome this game is really is shows through. All of the little nuances and strategies are only going to be revealed with consistent play, so I don't know if I would relegate this one to the back shelf only to be played once every six months or so.

It was a lot of fun, and everyone not only enjoyed themselves but we picked up quite quickly, you'll know what you're supposed to be doing turn to turn in no time. Unlike some other great games I've played, Dominion comes to mind, you're also not playing "solo" with your buddies, what you do at the table is entwined with what everyone is doing.

It's pretty inexpensive, as low as thirty bucks depending where you buy and you get a lot of components packed within. One thing that really impressed was that the map was double-sided too. The side we played on was the United States with its cities, but on the backside was a full-size map of Germany to play on. Most companies wouldn't put both maps in the same box, but rather make you pay for a second European edition. All in all, good stuff, I can see why it's ranked fifth overall on Boardgamegeek, enjoy!


  1. Thanks for the review. I've been trying to get my gf more into "geek" stuff by introducing cool board games to her. Think I'm gonna try this one.

  2. Powergrid is a favorite here. I especially like the expansion maps that allow differing dynamics (specifically Korea) and encourage alternate strategies and thinking.

  3. @madtroll: If you're looking for a good 'conversion' game I'd say this is a good place to start!

    @Loqu: I just saw they had expansion maps today, they look pretty cool. If it catches on (hopefully it does) we'll pick some of those up.

  4. This seems rather cool, I love that you had to start it by candlelight - massive irony alert!

  5. I thought so too Chris, I submitted the first image to Boardgamegeek and it got rejected because it was "underexposed". Umm, yeah, the power was off! I guess those ironic nuances are lost on the BGG folks.