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Power Grid Deluxe: Europe/North America» Forums » Reviews

Subject: [Roger's Reviews] Power Grid Deluxe - comparing the new to the old rss

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"L'état, c'est moi."
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Power Grid Deluxe: Europe/North America
A game for 2-6 players designed by Friedemann Friese.


“I'm buying/treating this as an expansion.”
― me


Introduction
I'm a big fan of the Power Grid series, and have all the expansions for the original, including the promos (even though I largely don't use them).

When the new deluxe edition was announced, I wasn't originally planning to get it, but when I found out it wasn't going to be a straight up reprint with nicer bits but rather a completely new set of maps, it went onto my shopping list.

If you've played standard Power Grid before and have used some of the expansion maps, you know the drill. The new maps usually come with some special rules that tweak things a little so you not only get a little variety with the location, but also with the game itself. Of the expansions to the original, I dare say the best ones were Power Grid: Northern Europe/United Kingdom & Ireland and especially Power Grid: Australia & Indian Subcontinent.

Power Grid Deluxe is thus not a new game per se, but the new components make it essentially incompatible with the old version. This isn't a huge problem, but if like me you are treating this new edition as fundamentally no different than one of the older expansions, then this is a relatively expensive one.

The Components

The artwork and graphics have been completely redone for the deluxe edition. The pieces have been replaced with different ones, garbage has been replaced by natural gas, and the money has been... well, updated is perhaps the mot juste.

Herewith, a set of images comparing the new to the old...

One of these things is not like the other.

Let us begin with the city markers. They have changed from house shaped marker to ones that look like all the world to me like the old Space Invaders aliens from video game days gone by. Gone is black from the tableau, replaced with grey.

The new graphics for the power plants use pastel hues that classify them by type. Let's start there.

Coal plants.

Oil plants. Note the tear drop shaped oil drops.

Garbage plants have been replaced by natural gas fired ones.

Wind energy. Still green. No blue fusion plant in the deluxe edition.

Nukes!

Mixed resource plants. In the new version, it's oil or natural gas, vs. coal or oil.

Love or hate the art of the original Power Grid, I feel the graphic design from a user interface point of view is better in the original. The new power plants have a uniformity of hue that causes the ordinal numbers of the plants to be moderately hard to read in various lighting conditions (and here perhaps I betray my age somewhat), but perhaps more importantly, the old plants suggest to me by their look and the iconography on the card what type it is, how many of the resources are required, and how many cities it powers.

I find the shape of the resource matching the card less visually useful than the colour/icon in the original, and the blended oil/gas plants for me are a much harder to read at a glance than the comparable oil/coal plants. The illustrations on the new plants also look a lot more cartoonish to me than the original, which means there is a moment of visual translation in my head. The nuke plant from the old set looks like a nuclear power plant, complete with smoke stack. The new one looks more like a barn in a farmer's field with a nod to the Japanese rising sun flag in the background.

In short, while I'm sure I'll get used to the new graphics as I continue to play on those boards, the old version is a better graphical design.

Then there are the player aid cards.



New cards front and back vs. old ones.

The one thing I miss on the player aid cards is the turn order. Despite having played Power Grid enough to know the sequence, I'm nonetheless surprised it didn't make it onto the player card because the cash distributions between the North American and European maps are the same, and so I'm somewhat surprised they simply made it with a different border. Perhaps this hints that future deluxe expansions to come will use different cash distributions.

Step 3.

The step 3 card is kinda cool in the new version, and links directly to the graphics on these cards:

The resource distribution by player is a card placed on the board.

In the deluxe edition, the resource replenishment rate is shown on the board by a card you place based on the number of players. This is a great idea that is simple and works really well in practice. No need to keep the rules handy when you have the card on the board!

The deluxe edition uses plastic coins for money.

Money, money, money...

The coins are disappointing, frankly. They use raised surfaces with the amount on them as well as different colours to distinguish them, but because they used raised surfaces, they don't stack very well and they're easy to send shooting off in all directions. I try to use poker chips in any event, but I'm not persuaded these plastic coins are an improvement over the paper money in the original.

Finally we have the map graphics.

Detail from the new North American map.

The new edition uses bright cheerful colours to distinguish the different sectors, and also uses size and colour to show the different connector costs. This works well on several levels, but again the organic curvy cartoony style works against the design principles being applied here. It feels garish.

A little piece of India.

This segment of the India map is much more subdued, and I daresay bland in contrast to the new map. However, I find it easier to read. I love pretty artwork in my games as much as anyone, but while I'd be more disposed to put one of the Power Grid deluxe maps on my wall as art than anything from the original, the original is more functionally legible to me.

Game Play
If you've not played Power Grid before, then I'm not going to be of much help to you because I'm not going to talk about the basics of how to play the game. Instead I'm going to focus on some of the neat things I really like about this edition.

1. Varied starting plants. The deluxe version begins with a random set of plants drawn from a selection of starter plants rather than being strictly the 3-10 plants in the original. This makes it less predictable and forces players to think about their initial bidding a little more carefully.

2. The lowest plant starts at 1 auction rule. In the new North America/Europe maps the lowest value plant is assigned a minimum bid of 1 Elektro rather than its face value. This requires a bit more return on investment calculation on the part of the players, and my group is very likely going to try this as a house rule in the original base game. There are times in Power Grid where the lowest plant is attractive to nobody for a variety of reasons, but if you can get the 22 plant for only 5 Elektro, maybe suddenly it's not such a bad plant after all.

3. On board spaces for everything. The new maps have on board boxes for the market, a track to slide pieces back and forth to show who's finished bidding/buying/building.

4. Marker bars for showing the transition to step 2 and the number of cities required to trigger the end of the game. These are just little sticks and I'm going to steal a couple from my Transamerica game for my regular Power Grid set, but it's such a simple idea I'm surprised nobody in my gaming group (myself included) had thought of it before.

5. Huge maps. The deluxe maps are large and you will always be using a subset of them, even with the full complement of six players. Combined with the variable starting plants and you'll seldom have two games start the same. I think this is really nice and will work well in the long term.

6. The Trust. The deluxe edition has a better two-player experience (playing against "the Trust") than the original using the Robots expansion. However, I personally don't recommend playing Power Grid (new or deluxe) with only two. It's much better with more players.

Conclusions
I paid $64 from Funagain Games for my copy of Power Grid Deluxe as a pre-order for pickup at BGG Con this year. That's a pretty significant expense for what is for me another two map expansion to a game I already own.

Power Grid is one of my favourite games, and this set of maps will get regular rotation on the table. Were I a new entrant to the Power Grid experience, it would be easy to justify getting the original plus two or even three expansions over buying the deluxe edition for the same amount of money. I suspect that kind of decision will rest largely on how people feel about the art of the original series vs. the new.

If you're a Power Grid veteran, this set of maps is really fun to play and has some fun challenges. If you're new to the series, welcome aboard. It's a great game.


Thank you for reading this latest installment of Roger's Reviews. I've been an avid board gamer all my life and a wargamer for over thirty years. I have a strong preference for well designed games that allow players to focus on trying to make good decisions.

Among my favorites I include Twilight Struggle, the Combat Commander Series, the Musket & Pike Battle Series, Julius Caesar, Maria, EastFront, Here I Stand, Napoleon's Triumph and Unhappy King Charles!

You can subscribe to my reviews at this geeklist: [Roger's Reviews] The Complete Collection and I also encourage you to purchase this very stylish microbadge: mb
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Thanks for the review. It helped me make a purchase decision. Lots of the type of info that I was looking for. I passed, but I already have the old edition, and plenty of maps.
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Eric Dodd
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Yes, thanks Roger. This makes it easier for me to pass on this version, too.
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I love power grid, but I'll pass on this version.
Thanks for all the details, Roger! meeple
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Can you describe how the trust works?
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Daniel Drickman
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Perhaps an influence to all of your decisions, the game happens to be on sale at coolstuffinc today for $37.99
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Matthew Collier
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looks like I will be passing on deluxe, all the minor rule changes seem useable without any component changes and the artwork is really overbearing to me in the new edition
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DanKD wrote:
Perhaps an influence to all of your decisions, the game happens to be on sale at coolstuffinc today for $37.99


Providential timing on this comparison. My copy of the original is on its way already and I saw the sale price... thought I should get the new and resell the old... this helped me decide to be content with what I have.

Thanks!
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This was great, thanks.
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Roger, you and I both rate Combat Commander and Power Grid right up there with the very best. They're both 10s in my ratings. I just simply do not like the new art direction (and plastic money? what is this, a Wallace game?) to even consider picking this up, though.
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Steven Steck
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Great Review, Roger.

Power Grid is my favorite game. However I'm still torn on whether to get this or not. I wish I'd have known you had it, or i would have asked you to play at BGG con .

I'm interested in the new boards and the new power plant deck. I'm saddened that the plastic coins aren't very usable.

Decisions Decisions.
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Are the rules online? I'd like to know which plants it uses for the starter mix, though the $1 minimum is easy to grab. Both of those might get me interested again as it just became so formulaic at some point. For less than six players we would use an unused color to mark off both the map and the goals on the score track, but actual markers are a nice touch.
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Roger's Reviews: check out my reviews page, right here on BGG!
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Throknor wrote:
Are the rules online? I'd like to know which plants it uses for the starter mix, though the $1 minimum is easy to grab. Both of those might get me interested again as it just became so formulaic at some point. For less than six players we would use an unused color to mark off both the map and the goals on the score track, but actual markers are a nice touch.


http://bit.ly/1rK0l5F
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I read that the deluxe version design is incompatible with some of the expansions due to the card backs being different. Can anyone explain further? Which expansions would not have this problem?
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bdefore wrote:
I read that the deluxe version design is incompatible with some of the expansions due to the card backs being different. Can anyone explain further? Which expansions would not have this problem?

The expansion maps don't generally add new cards. The issue (AFAIK) is with the individual promotional cards.
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Roger,

am interested to hear more about how playing against "the Trust" is a better 2 player experience than the original using the Robots expansion.
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Thanks for making me look up a turn of phrase (mot juste), and informing me of something I did not know existed, and then making me feel good that I did not in fact need the new thing, but rather making me feel good about the old thing.

Poker chips rule OK
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russ wrote:
bdefore wrote:
I read that the deluxe version design is incompatible with some of the expansions due to the card backs being different. Can anyone explain further? Which expansions would not have this problem?

The expansion maps don't generally add new cards. The issue (AFAIK) is with the individual promotional cards.

This. And the Power Grid: Northern Europe/United Kingdom & Ireland map has power plant cards specific to that expansion that won't work in the new edition because the backs are different.
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Wade Ashton
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Thanks for sharing your opinions - I like power grid but am apparently not enough of a fan to spend the additional money on this deluxe edition. You've saved me money and for that I'm grateful. Have some geekgold as a "tip."
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I am surprised to see no comment regarding the new resources used in the mixed resource plants.
Power gid deluxe seems to have garbage/oil vs coal/oil in the original.
Can you comment on how that changed the game/strategies in your experience?

Or is there a "role reversal" so that garbage in deluxe has the role (being expensive at the start) of coal in the original and vice versa?
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Non-cylindrical resources appears to be the only upgrade that actually appeals to me (ok, and the resource distribution helper cards).

I find the art to be a downgrade, both the cards and the map. And yeah, doesn't everyone already use poker chips? Plastic money chips isn't really helpful at all.

But nice review!
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Wow, I reallllly am not a fan of the new art style. Not only does it look less functional, but it also just looks unattractive to me.
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I use these:

http://www.artscow.com/gallery/playing-cards/power-grid-mone...

I actually like them better than poker chips for this game, as cards are so naturally comfortable for me and my magic the gathering veteran buddies. Also easier to hide how much money you have, because of the uniform backs.

I should also mention that I'm not a fan of the graphic design and art on the deluxe edition. I much prefer the original. The Original had a fairly bland look on the board, but I don't consider this edition to be an upgrade. It just looks tacky imo. Nothing like the recent Ticket to Ride 10th Anniversary Edition.
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curtc wrote:
Non-cylindrical resources appears to be the only upgrade that actually appeals to me (ok, and the resource distribution helper cards).

I find the art to be a downgrade, both the cards and the map. And yeah, doesn't everyone already use poker chips? Plastic money chips isn't really helpful at all.


Exactly.

Also, the new maps are more balanced than the old maps -- you don't generally see someone winning because of early territory advantages. In fact, several of my games have seen the least experienced player at the table win.

Not sure whether that's a good thing or not.
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Thanks for the review. The deluxe edition is off my radar. Doesn't seem like any point to it for me.
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