Dede Kurnia Kardiman
Soon after a couple sessions, Power Grid has become one of my favorite games. Not only because I like the theme (as I’m an Electrical Engineer), but because in this game you really need to concentrate in balancing your power network, your power supply, and your power fuels. The best player in balancing these 3 factors will be the winner. Of course, a little luck comes into play, but with proper planning and mind reading (foresee what will be your opponents’ next move...), a player should be able to minimize the impact of the bad luck, and gain profit of good luck.
The physical layout of the board is the same as in the basic game, a sturdy double-sided board, with France map on one side, and Italy on the other. The France’s artwork is the same as in USA/Germany, but Italy’s is different. The cable connection drawing is slimmer, looks much modern.
The Italy/France expansion map not only brings new maps to the game, but also new feeling to the basic great game with its little twist on the initial setup. I must say that I love this expansion. As the map changes and the initial setup being twisted, you need to adjust your strategy, adapt to the new conditions.
The France Map
In France, the focus is more on the nuclear plant as uranium fuels are already cheap since the beginning:
- At the start of the game, uranium fuel available from space 5 to 16.
- Clean Plant #13 is removed from the game, but Nuclear Plant #11 is available immediately as the top card on the plant draw deck.
These little twisted on the setup will make us to re-consider using Nuclear Plant as early as possible as the uranium fuel is cheap.
Another twist in France map is the city of Paris, which is represented as a triple city with no connection cost that makes it an interesting initial city target. The city of Paris is located in the middle area, while the other 5 areas are surrounding the Paris area. Controlling Paris at the early round could save your connection cost, but will hit you in fuel cost as you’ll be the last to buy for at least the next 2 rounds.
Playing using France map with Paris area as one of the selected area is somewhat similar like playing on Germany. It’s just that you need to consider using Nuclear Plant as soon as it’s available. However, playing without using Paris area will yield a greater challenge as you’ll need to think harder and pay more to expand your network in Step 2 and Step 3 of the game.
The Italy Map
In Italy, the fuels are rare:
- At the start of the game, the coal fuel is filled from space 3 to 8, oil from space 4 to 8, trash from space 5 to 8, and uranium from space 14 to 16.
When looking on Italy map, we can see a dense region with cheap connection cost at the north, and a quite separated city with high connection cost at the south. This makes playing in North Italy only will be somewhat easier that playing in South Italy due to the connection cost. However, you’ll still often find yourself short in cash. This is not only due to the high connection cost in South Italy, but also due to shorted on coal and oil fuels in all Italy.
I once played Italy map, and finally end the game after two and a half hours of hard thinking, with all power plant cards had been opened (draw deck exhausted), and no more trash fuel on the market (only left 1 oil, 2 coal, and 2 uranium fuels). As a side note, all players had to downgrade power plant during the game in order to supply their cities using the available fuels... wow I really love this map!!
As Master Yoda would say: Great game, it is ... Buy expansion, you must!!
Personal Difficulty Rating: (out of 10)
- France Map with middle ‘Paris’ area = 7
- France Map without middle ‘Paris’ area = 8
- Italy Map – north area only = 7
- Italy Map – north & south = 8 (not recommended for newbie)