The population is expanding and it’s up to you and your competitors to provide everyone with the second most basic utility, electricity. Fight for the most effective power plants. Expand quickly. Be the first to bring power to new cities. Most importantly, find out if this game is something that you should put on your table via this Art of Boardgaming Power Grid review.
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Power Grid is the very definition of a resource management game. Every round starts with a power plant auction. Various power plants have different capabilities and are available for all to see and bid from but the next power plants in line that will become available are also visible. This amps up the strategy (electrical pun) by adding a little bit of game theory to the mix.
Then it’s on to the resource market where this game is a dream scenario for teaching supply and demand… that is if your brain is, um, wired… like an economist. As coal, oil, garbage and uranium are purchased their price goes up. Friendships can quickly be questioned and sparks may fly as the market fluctuates throughout the game. This can potentially leave you with a power plant with nothing to fuel it. Of course your green energy power plants are fueled for free because, well, that’s exactly how green energy works in real life too, right?
Players then start getting contracts with cities to supply power. The resource management continues as players need to be aware that expanding too quickly can get expensive. Not only does it cost money to start contracting with cities, but whoever has the most city contracts at the end of the turn, will be buying supplies LAST in the next round.
And so it goes. Buy Power Plants. Buy Resources. Expand your utility empire. Power cities. Get money.
As soon as a player is in 17 or more cities, whoever POWERS the most cities on that turn is the winner.
Price Range: $30-35 (You can buy it HERE)
Players: 2-6 Players (I personally don’t play it with fewer than 4)
Style: Epitome of a Resource Management game with a side of Auction and a smaller side of Take That
Estimated Game time: The box says 2 hours. I say 2-3 depending on number of players and how many in your group take their time to analyze every conceivable option.
Expansions: The Stock Companies | Australia & Indian Subcontinent | Northern Europe, United Kingdom & Ireland | Power Grid The Robots | Power Plant Expansion Deck | China & Korea | Russia and Japan | Brazil, Spain & Portugal | France & Italy | Benelux & Central Europe | Quebec & Baden-Wurttemberg |
Geek Level: Intermediate – When I first was working on the geek level I was going to put advanced. The more I thought about it the more I changed my tune. You see, once someone learns that game it’s really not too difficult to understand and there aren’t really hundreds of decisions.
However, learning it can be a bit of a load just because there are so many moving parts between turns. If you are leading the game you have to remember that the resource market gets stocked and the power plant auction has some squirrely rules around it.
Fun Factor: In my opinion there is only one thing that can turn down the fun factor on this game: Rarely – it is possible for everyone at the table to know who is going to win a turn or two before it’s over. I have only seen this happen once or twice. There was a third time when we thought that was going to happen and another player came out of nowhere and won the game. That was awesome.
Other than that – this game is a really good brain workout without causing too much danger of analysis paralysis.
Teachability: Power Grid can be hard to teach and I really recommend taking a look at my post on “How to Teach Board Games Like A Boss” before you jump into it (Shameless self-promotion…I know). The last time I taught Power Grid one of the players at the table didn’t know how the game ended till about half way through. Whoops.
It’s easy to skip this detail because it feels like it is difficult to explain it off the top, but you still need to explain it. Don’t be scared off though, just make sure you put some energy (yikes) into knowing all the rules and I’m sure you conduit (I really should stop).
Replayability: The board is broken up into sections and you can use different sections every time you play to ratchet up some of the financial difficulty throughout the game. If you have the 2-3 hours to spend playing a single game, there is no reason this one can’t be on your table repeatedly.
Theme: It may shock you (ohm my…. DOUBLE PUN!) to find out that a game about running a power company can be very fun! This game feels fantastic with the theme. When I play it I feel like I really am buying oil, coal, uranium, and trash. It’s as if I’m really expanding a powerful network, and I get juiced up (yep… another one) when I deliver my imaginary electricity to my make-believe customers. The mechanics and theme really work together perfectly.
What Friends of AoB Think:
Official AoB Power Grid Review:
Power Grid was the first game I had ever purchased that I hadn’t already been taught by someone else. It was a steep dive into gaming as I learned the rules on my own for the first time, and then attempted to teach others. But it quickly became a favorite of my local gaming friends.
When I moved to Florida where it stayed on my shelf for 3 years. It was a long, dark time. A few Florida friends saw it recently and wanted to give it a go (as documented in several Twitter photos). I lost, which is typical, but it was an absolutely great time complete with a surprise ending.
This cardboard is not just a game that is currently (oy vey) in my collection but one that will be there forever. It won’t get played as often as it should but that is simply because it takes 2-3 hours to play.
Just One More Thing:
A chemist, a biologist and an electrical engineer had all been sentenced to death and were on death row waiting to go to the electric chair.
Finally, the day had arrived. The chemist was due to go first.
As he strapped him in, the executioner asked him, “Do you have anything you want to say?”
The chemist replied, “No,” so the executioner flicked the switch but nothing happened. According to this State’s law, if an execution attempt fails, the prisoner has to be released. So the chemist was unstrapped and allowed to walk free.
It was the biologist’s turn next.
As he was being strapped in, the executioner asked him, “Do you have anything you want to say?”
The biologist replied, “No, just get on with it” so the executioner flicked the switch, but once again nothing happened. So, just like the chemist, the biologist was released.
Then the electrical engineer was brought forward.
The executioner asked him, “Do you have anything you want to say?”
The engineer replied, “Yes. If you swap the red and the blue wires over, you might just make this thing work.”