Power Grid

Power Grid

If you’ve ever dreamed of owning a electric power company, here’s your chance.

Power Grid might be over 11 years old, but that hasn’t stopped the game design from being brilliant and fun. In this game, you are given control over a power company. You, as the player, are tasked with buying power plants, fuel, and cities that you pump the electricity to. Your aim is to power the most number of cities by the time the game ends.

The game is interesting in that every power plant is unique; some use coal, others oil, nuclear power and garbage burning plants are also included. However, each power plant also has other unique features: how much fuel it uses, and how much energy is produced. Also, there are power plants that don’t need fuel at all: wind and hydroelectric plants. While they do not give as much energy, they help to keep you out of the messy resource market.

That’s my next point. I have yet to see a game that illustrates supply and demand so well. As one resource, like coal, is being bought out, the price will begin to rise. This is done by having a set number of coal blocks being placed in a box with a price. When those are sold out, then you can only buy coal from the next box. However, each subsequent box has a price higher than the one before it. As the coal is bought up, the price will begin to rise. At the end of each round, a certain number of coal pieces are returned to the market, which illustrates its limited supply at any one time well.

To power your grid, players have to building cities and power lines across the country in order to supply electricity to their own buildings. This represents actual distances across countries, and sometimes takes quite a bit of cash to build power lines across the vast distances.

In all, the game is fun, and its other design components are helpful in allowing the losing players to catch up, with most of the players almost winning the game when it finally ends.

However, personally, I have a problem with it.

In order to create accurate distances in the maps, some maps are quite imbalanced. In the American map, the east coast is densely populated, and connection costs to build power lines are cheap. However, as you get to the Midwest and to states like Idaho, Montana and Nevada, the costs skyrocket. Due to the fact that all of your cities have to be connected, and that each player has to start in a different region of the map at the start of the game, this results in some players have a sizeable advantage, and others with a disadvantage. While I respect the game designer’s decision to represent the maps properly, I myself find it difficult to succeed when thrown out in the Wild West. Or maybe it’s just my terrible strategy that causes me to lose.

That aside, Power Grid by Friedemann Friese is a game that I would recommend you to play.

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