There’s a loose genre of games known as economic games, based on the idea of using money to make money. A famous one most people would recognize is Monopoly. This week, I want to discuss a game in this category in which you take control of an energy empire against up to five of your friends.
Power Grid. With limited funds, you buy power plants and build infrastructure in various cities around the country. By powering cities, you gain money to reinvest into your network. The game ends when one player reaches a certain number of cities (Based on number of players), at which point whichever player can power the most cities wins!
A neat thing about this game is that the game board, in the case of this photo, the United States, is broken up into six section, and when the game is begun each player picks a district that will be considered ‘in play’ for that game. This opens up each game to a wide variety of potential game states, since playing with three players using the Eastern sea board and the Great Lakes plays much different from using the entire Southern United States.
If that’s not enough unique game play opportunities, the base game comes with a double sided board, the United States on one side, and Germany on the opposite!
You’ll notice the power plant cards in the picture. Each power plant has a unique number on it, that number is the ‘original price’ of the plant. When a person makes a move to buy any plant, they actually are casting an ‘opening bid’ in an auction for the plant, which then cycles the table until only one person is willing to pay a higher price. This auctioning is actually one of the more tense points of game play, because resources to power these plants is limited, and their price goes up the fewer of them are available!
Another place that forces interaction between players is the cities themselves. Each city has three places for players to build, but they open up based on the phase of the game. In the first phase only one player can be in each city, forcing people to pick different sections of the board. When phase two begins after any player reaches seven cities then each city can handle two connections each, but the second connections costs more. In the final phase of the game, which begins after a specific card in the power plant deck is revealed, all three spaces may be utilized, but the third slot costs even more than the second one.
The game often comes down to final turns where multiple players push all of their resources into a final grab for land, hoping to out build their opponents and initiate the end game while they can power more cities.
If you like playing with fake money, and don’t mind some stiff competition, definitely check out Power Grid!
Pictures obtained from Board Game Beast.