16 December 2015
A literal quest for the most power possible
Rio Grande Games | Strategy | 2-6 players | 120 minutes | www.riograndegames.com
If there’s ever a game that looks unnecessarily complicated then Power Grid could certainly be accused of that – the board appears to be a seemingly random selection of numbers and pipes stretching across a multi-coloured map, while little coloured tokens litter the bottom of the board. To the unitiated it must be overwhelming.
However, when you understand what you’re looking at, Power Grid actually couldn’t be simpler. In the game you’re actually the owner of a power company in a race against rival companies to supply power to cities across North America or Germany. Those grey pipes are the networks of potential powerlines that you’re trying to control, while the tokens are actually resources like coal or oil. Each turn you get to buy new power plants to help you supply the cities on the board through an auction. The player in the lead has to bid first while the player in last place goes last… this is a great mechanic to help level the playing field if you’re trailing. Depending upon the type of power plant, you’ll have to pay varying amounts – so coal plants are pretty cheap while nuclear ones cost more and wind farms cost a fortune because they don’t require any resources to power them.
Ah yes resources, as well as buying new plants you also need resources like coal or uranium to produce the energy in those plants. Coal is cheap but you need a hell of a lot of it, while uranium is more expensive. Another interesting mechanic is that the price of resources goes up as they’re depleted so even coal can become an expensive option – so you’ve got to plan ahead by buying wind farms or nuclear power plants. Then while you’re doing all this, you still need to build powerlines to supply the cities – let’s hope you’re good at multi-tasking!
Despite the potentially boring subject matter Power Grid is actually an electrifying experience that’s packed with strategy and planning.
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