Geekly Essentials: Power Grid

By Steve McCue on

About Steve McCue

Steve played a ton of video games on the SNES and PS1, a bunch of D&D when 2.0 was all the rage, and Magic: The Gathering around the turn of the century, but has been out of the loop for a while due to "responsibilities" and "parenthood". Geekly has helped him feel like he's got a gaming group of his own once again.

 

Geekly Essential means that something is so good that it deserves to be discussed long after it was released. It may be 10 years old, but it is still worth your time.

This game sure looks exciting…lab coats and power generation, yippee!

This game sure looks exciting…lab coats and power generation, yippee!

The Basics:

Bid for the best power plants, pay for, and manage the resources necessary to fuel them, earn money by providing power to new cities, and win the game by powering the largest network at game’s end.

The Complex:

Power Grid is the English version of Funkenschlag, a German (obviously) game designed by Friedman Friesse and published by Rio Grande Games.  The game contains both Auction and Resource management components, as well as the need to strategically grow your power network.

The objective is to deliver power to the most cities at endgame, so it’s vitally important to grow your power network.  You start by bidding on the power plants that will fuel your fledgling electrical cooperative.  In the early game the technology available to you is cheap, but inefficient, and uses plentiful, but dirty fuel.  Coal and Oil-fueled plants eventually give way to Biomass and Nuclear-powered plants.  These are huge steps up in power production and efficiency, but initial costs and fuel costs are also increased.  Green-energy-producing power plants arrive near endgame and can eliminate your fuel costs altogether.  Developing and implementing a strategy for building and improving your stable of power plants is important, and comes into play in the next step of the game.

This game board represents early-middle gameplay progression.  The board will soon get much more congested and strategy will be involved with further expansion.  Note the 2x4 layout of power plants, these are the plants that will be up for auction during the next auction phase.

This game board represents early-middle gameplay progression. The board will soon get much more congested and strategy will be involved with further expansion. Note the 2×4 layout of power plants, these are the plants that will be up for auction during the next auction phase.

Once you’ve got a power plant in place, it’s time to spend some money to purchase the resources you’ll need to actually provide some power.  Here, your choice of power plan becomes important.  Coal is plentiful in the resource market, but it can run out if everyone is buying it to provide cheap power. Uranium is rare and expensive, so less-used.  Do I go nuclear to drastically increase the power I can provide, but run the risk of going bankrupt?

Power Plant cards-  top left number is the minimum opening bid allowed during the auction phase, bottom left shows the type and number of resources used, and the house on bottom right shows how many cities this plant can supply with power.

Power Plant cards- top left number is the minimum opening bid allowed during the auction phase, bottom left shows the type and number of resources used, and the house on bottom right shows how many cities this plant can supply with power.

With resources in hand, players then pay to connect new cities to their power grid and receive cash at the end of each turn based on the number of cities they’ve supplied with power.  More cities = More money = More power plants and resources to fuel them.  

Repeat until a player connects a specified amount of cities to his or her network (based on the number of players) which triggers endgame.  At that point, players see who can provide power to the most cities at the end of the round.  The player with the largest network is not always the one with the resources to power the most cities.  Resource management in the endgame is very important!

The Wrap-Up:

I enjoyed my play through of Power Grid, though, as you’ll likely find out, I tend to enjoy just about any game I play.  We used poker chips instead of the supplied paper money to keep track of our finances, and that definitely made things easier.  The game can run long as each round walks through 5 different phases, each of which can take some time, and I found that I was constantly altering my strategy based on the actions of other players.  That kept me happily frustrated, as my master plans were always in flux.  However, I was definitely engaged in the game, and was kept thinking on my feet.  Variation abounds in Power Grid, and each new game can be vastly different from the last.  Replay value is high.  I played with a large group of people, and while it added to the length of the game, it made the experience very dynamic and interesting.  I would suggest playing with a larger group if you have the chance.  Overall, Power Grid is a fun and engaging game, best played with others like a long-haul, dynamic, strategy session.

Find and buy Power Grid on Amazon  along with numerous expansions and different boards that represent many countries across the globe.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *