Recommend
46 
 Thumb up
 Hide
25 Posts

Power Grid» Forums » Reviews

Subject: German Jokes Must Be Really Sad rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Matt Drake
United States
Arlington
Texas
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmb
My primary goal as a writer is to entertain. Specifically, I like to make people laugh. I'm no Maddox (for one thing, I stick to naughty words you could hear on Saturday Night Live), and I will never be Dave Barry, but I give it my best shot. Unfortunately, tonight's review is for Power Grid, and I'm horribly afraid that there is absolutely nothing funny about this game.

Let's start with the theme. In Power Grid, you're all power moguls building power plants and trying to supply cities with juice. This is completely not funny. I mean, what kind of joke do you make about something this horridly mundane? Do I just fall back on Seinfeld and say, 'who is the marketing genius behind this game!'? No, I don't, because even that lame bit is not the least bit amusing when applied to a game where you dive head-first into the big business of selling electricity. Hell, you don't even get to electrocute anyone. I could at least exploit that for some dark humor, but no, nobody gets so much as a static shock when they grab the car door.

So how about the game play? Can I mock the game play? Sadly, no. The game is incredibly well-designed, and I personally found the rules and game play to be nearly flawless. It's so balanced, with virtually no luck, that there is no opportunity to compare it to anything even remotely amusing. I can't even pull out a tired chimps-flinging-poop joke, which is sad, because chimps flinging poop are almost always funny (unless they are flinging poop at you, in which case I find it terrifically hilarious, but you probably are not as amused. Especially if they're accurate).

Every turn, you'll get a chance to bid on power plants. The person who is winning the game has to bid first, which actually gives a huge advantage to the person who bids last. This fantastic balancing mechanic carries through the whole game - at any given time, the person who is sucking the most has the best chance to get ahead. It really controls the runaway leader factor, which is excellent game design (but not very funny).

Power plants can be fueled by resources, which you will have to buy to keep your cities lit up. Some of these are very cheap at the beginning of the game (like coal), and some are a bit pricey (like uranium). If you can get a wind farm, these are great, because they require no resources, but they can be really expensive. A nuclear plant is expensive at the beginning of the game, but will be a great investment when you're buying cheap uranium and everyone else is fighting cage matches to get the last few bits of coal.

Once you have resources, you build connections to new cities. All the cities are in Germany, so there's some humor value there, I suppose. Frankfurt is a funny name for a city, as is Dusseldorf. In fact, I like the way you can combine both of those to make some fairly juvenile double entendre - 'I would like to Frankfurt your Dusseldorf' - but all things considered, that's not that funny. In fact, you can flip the board over, and then all the cities are in the United States. Good luck using Chicago and Miami to make a good sex joke - 'I have a huge Chicago, and would like to put in your Miami'. See? That's not funny. That's stupid.

Making connections between cities can be really expensive, especially if they're a long ways apart. You have to lay a lot of pipe between distant cities (now we might have something we could work with - 'I'm going to lay pipe from my Frankfurt to your Dusseldorf' sounds pretty dirty), and you have to pay a lot of money to connect those cities. There's a lot of strategy in picking your connections, too, because early on, you get to monopolize any city you grab, and can pretty easily block your opponents from getting any good land.

As the game progress, your coal and oil plants will start to get pretty costly, and you may even wind up with no resources to power them. At this point, if you've thought ahead, you'll have some nuclear plants and wind farms, which are actually cheaper to power by the end of the game, when the coal and oil are running short. These will also power more cities, so that you can expand more and earn more money (and win, which is another nice benefit).

Now, in all this, there is one funny thing - garbage. See, some power plants run on garbage, and what's even more fun is that the garbage is more expensive than coal or oil. I have to wonder what kind of natural resources Germany produces that its garbage is more expensive than oil. Apparently German garbage is much nicer than the spoiled vegetables and beer-soaked paper towels that I throw away. Apparently German garbage is full of processed plutonium. That might be why German people have so much trouble being funny - they are morose because their garbage is making their hair fall out.

But the garbage is just one brief moment of humor, and the game itself is completely devoid of mockable hijinks. It's easy to pick up the rules, but it's a real bastard to try to keep track of all the details. It's like a college-level economics lesson. If you like micro-managing resources and carefully planning for future shortages, you'll probably love Power Grid - but you're not likely to laugh. If you prefer games with pratfalls and unlucky dice rolls, Power Grid is going to make you sleepier than a Xanax and a bottle of Wild Turkey.

I guess the only really funny thing about Power Grid is that it gives me a fantastic opportunity to mock German games in general. I have joked before that Americans and the French make games with body counts, and German games have such exciting themes as farming and delivering mail. Power Grid further shows us that German people must be very boring people. That's probably why they like David Hasselhoff so much - that guy only quits smiling when he's laying drunk on the floor and eating fried chicken while he cusses at his offpsring. Quick quiz - what do Benny Hill, George Carlin and George Burns have in common? I mean, besides being funny (and dead). The answer? Not German.

So in the end, Power Grid is a really good game, if you like games that play like a twelfth-grade economics exercise. But it is unfortunately not really very funny.

Summary

Pros:
Really deep, especially considering the fairly straight-forward rules
Very attractive, with very nice components
Requires lots of planning, flexibility and strategy

Cons:
Very much an economics game, which may turn off many players
Not funny
31 
 Thumb up
0.05
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jess Newman
United States
Colorado
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Is it incredibly sad being the great clown Pagliacci?
11 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eric Kuha
United States
Minnesota
flag msg tools
badge
I can tell we are going to be mortal enemies.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
VixenTorGames wrote:
I'm no Maddox (for one thing, I stick to naughty words you could hear on Saturday Night Live)


I don't like Maddox very much. I used to. But after a while, I really started to see his stuff as incredibly juvenile.

I think his work is a little mis-directed, petty, and, while it all has excellent grammar, it isn't particularly insightful. He doesn't use his power for good, is what I'm saying. He's also devastatingly misogynistic.

While he is, from time to time, funny, I find it strange that you put him as an example of a good writer.

Anyhoo, I like power grid quite a bit. And, honestly, I thought your review was pretty funny. Dry. But funny.

Cheers!
2 
 Thumb up
0.05
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jeroen Harkes
Netherlands
Voorburg
Zuid Holland
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
VixenTorGames wrote:
Now, in all this, there is one funny thing - garbage. See, some power plants run on garbage, and what's even more fun is that the garbage is more expensive than coal or oil. I have to wonder what kind of natural resources Germany produces that its garbage is more expensive than oil. Apparently German garbage is much nicer than the spoiled vegetables and beer-soaked paper towels that I throw away. Apparently German garbage is full of processed plutonium. That might be why German people have so much trouble being funny - they are morose because their garbage is making their hair fall out.


What's even more fun is that Germany imports a lot of garbage from Italy.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
John Bandettini
United Kingdom
London
flag msg tools
That one not so much
badge
Ohh that tickles
Avatar
mbmbmb
Here are a few jokes for Power Grid

The foolish gardener planted a light bulb and thought he would get a power plant.

Wind power is very popular because it has a lot of fans.

What would you call a power failure?
(Answer) A current event.

A wise man knows what's watt.

What would a barefooted man get if he steps on an electric wire?
(Answer) A pair of shocks.

Have you heard about the nuclear physicist who went fission (fishing)?

What did the light bulb say to the generator? "I really get a charge out of you!"

How do you pick out a dead battery from a pile of good ones? It's got no spark!

A man with a hearing problem walked into a power plant for a tour. He arrived late and had to join the rest of the group already on the tour. The man was reviewing what he had just told the group. He told the group that they wouldn't move on until they answered this one question: What is the unit of power equal to one joule per second called?" The man with the hearing problem hadn't heard the question very well, so he raised his hand and asked "What?"

Why do transformers hum? They don't know the words.

What did the baby light bulb say to the mommy light bulb? "I love you watts and watts!"

What did Godzilla say when he ate the nuclear power plant? "Shocking!"

Why did the lights go out? Because they liked each other!

Two atoms were walking down the street one day, when one of them exclaimed, "Oh, no I've lost an electron!" "Are you sure?" the other one asked. "Yes," replied the first one, "I'm positive."
48 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jim McMahon
United States
West Springfield
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
badge
Lookee what he can do! He wants a job!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
JohnBandettini wrote:
A wise man knows what's watt.

But a wiser man knows watt's what.

Jim
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bill Eldard
United States
Burke
Virginia
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
VixenTorGames wrote:
My primary goal as a writer is to entertain. Specifically, I like to make people laugh. . . .


Don't give up your day job, Matt.

18 
 Thumb up
0.05
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
James Bentley
United States
Cleburne
Texas
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
JohnBandettini wrote:
Here are a few jokes for Power Grid

The foolish gardener planted a light bulb and thought he would get a power plant.

Wind power is very popular because it has a lot of fans.

What would you call a power failure?
(Answer) A current event.

A wise man knows what's watt.

What would a barefooted man get if he steps on an electric wire?
(Answer) A pair of shocks.

Have you heard about the nuclear physicist who went fission (fishing)?

What did the light bulb say to the generator? "I really get a charge out of you!"

How do you pick out a dead battery from a pile of good ones? It's got no spark!

A man with a hearing problem walked into a power plant for a tour. He arrived late and had to join the rest of the group already on the tour. The man was reviewing what he had just told the group. He told the group that they wouldn't move on until they answered this one question: What is the unit of power equal to one joule per second called?" The man with the hearing problem hadn't heard the question very well, so he raised his hand and asked "What?"

Why do transformers hum? They don't know the words.

What did the baby light bulb say to the mommy light bulb? "I love you watts and watts!"

What did Godzilla say when he ate the nuclear power plant? "Shocking!"

Why did the lights go out? Because they liked each other!

Two atoms were walking down the street one day, when one of them exclaimed, "Oh, no I've lost an electron!" "Are you sure?" the other one asked. "Yes," replied the first one, "I'm positive."


Nice, but I think you've used your pun quota for the year.



Thanks,
jrbentley
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kevin Salch
United States
Bristol
Connecticut
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
minordemon wrote:
VixenTorGames wrote:
Now, in all this, there is one funny thing - garbage. See, some power plants run on garbage, and what's even more fun is that the garbage is more expensive than coal or oil. I have to wonder what kind of natural resources Germany produces that its garbage is more expensive than oil. Apparently German garbage is much nicer than the spoiled vegetables and beer-soaked paper towels that I throw away. Apparently German garbage is full of processed plutonium. That might be why German people have so much trouble being funny - they are morose because their garbage is making their hair fall out.


What's even more fun is that Germany imports a lot of garbage from Italy.


Yes - one of my co-workers (German) told me that they are so good at recycling in his town that they had to import garbage to use in the trash to energy plant. I always ondered if it might be cheaper to recycle less and not have to import garbage or if there was a net cost/benefit from this practice. I susspect it really comes down to a commitment to be greener by the Germans.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Tokelau
Alaska
msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
costguy wrote:
minordemon wrote:
VixenTorGames wrote:
Now, in all this, there is one funny thing - garbage. See, some power plants run on garbage, and what's even more fun is that the garbage is more expensive than coal or oil. I have to wonder what kind of natural resources Germany produces that its garbage is more expensive than oil. Apparently German garbage is much nicer than the spoiled vegetables and beer-soaked paper towels that I throw away. Apparently German garbage is full of processed plutonium. That might be why German people have so much trouble being funny - they are morose because their garbage is making their hair fall out.


What's even more fun is that Germany imports a lot of garbage from Italy.


Yes - one of my co-workers (German) told me that they are so good at recycling in his town that they had to import garbage to use in the trash to energy plant. I always ondered if it might be cheaper to recycle less and not have to import garbage or if there was a net cost/benefit from this practice. I susspect it really comes down to a commitment to be greener by the Germans.



Japan is pretty good about recycling too. There is a truck with a loudspeaker that drives around town. You can bring them your newspapers and in exchange they give you rolls of toilet paper....They really like loudspeakers on their vehicles too especially 8am on a saturday morning...
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Schenck
United States
Dayton
Ohio
flag msg tools
GO BUCKS!
badge
Stop touching me!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
VixenTorGames wrote:
This fantastic balancing mechanic carries through the whole game - at any given time, the person who is sucking the most has the best chance to get ahead. It really controls the runaway leader factor, which is excellent game design


I like Power Grid (I've rated it an 8), but this is my biggest complaint about it.

Yes, from a game design perspective it really balances the play and controls the runaway leader. It just feels kind of forced. There's no thematic foundation for the "catch-up" rules, and I often find myself simply telling new players, "these rules exist to keep the leader in check."

It also leads to gamey tactics where everyone kind of holds back throughout the game, and tries to spring ahead with last-minute "gotcha" moves right at the end. Again, it generates interesting gameplay, but feels somewhat contrived and unjustified.

It's still a great game. I just wish the runaway leader checks were more cleanly integrated into the theme. As it stands, it feels like the rules were added on when playtesting revealed a problem with runaway leaders.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dan Schaeffer
United States
Unspecified
Illinois
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
cbs42 wrote:
VixenTorGames wrote:
This fantastic balancing mechanic carries through the whole game - at any given time, the person who is sucking the most has the best chance to get ahead. It really controls the runaway leader factor, which is excellent game design


I like Power Grid (I've rated it an 8), but this is my biggest complaint about it.

Yes, from a game design perspective it really balances the play and controls the runaway leader. It just feels kind of forced. There's no thematic foundation for the "catch-up" rules, and I often find myself simply telling new players, "these rules exist to keep the leader in check."

It also leads to gamey tactics where everyone kind of holds back throughout the game, and tries to spring ahead with last-minute "gotcha" moves right at the end. Again, it generates interesting gameplay, but feels somewhat contrived and unjustified.

It's still a great game. I just wish the runaway leader checks were more cleanly integrated into the theme. As it stands, it feels like the rules were added on when playtesting revealed a problem with runaway leaders.


Are you saying it would have been better to release a game with a runaway leader problem because it would be more thematic? And that a mechanic that generates interesting gameplay is a bad thing if it's not thematic?

I love theme in games, but I'm willing to cut designers some slack if they have to bend the theme a bit to release a game that would otherwise be broken and/or boring. And if I ever do get picky about theme, I remind myself of this mantra: IT'S A GAME, NOT A SIMULATION.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
R. N. Dominick
United States
Cincinnati
Ohio
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
cbs42 wrote:
Yes, from a game design perspective it really balances the play and controls the runaway leader. It just feels kind of forced. There's no thematic foundation for the "catch-up" rules, and I often find myself simply telling new players, "these rules exist to keep the leader in check."

Those rules clearly simulate anti-trust legislation. It's the same reason you can't warehouse goods you've manufactured or ship goods you've warehoused in Container.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bjoern Kleibrink
Germany
Essen
NRW
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Quote:
Yes - one of my co-workers (German) told me that they are so good at recycling in his town that they had to import garbage to use in the trash to energy plant. I always ondered if it might be cheaper to recycle less and not have to import garbage or if there was a net cost/benefit from this practice. I susspect it really comes down to a commitment to be greener by the Germans.

You are missing the point, italy pays for exporting their garbage, not germany for importing
So from economic point of view everything is fine. If this is still environmentaly positive, driving up all the waste is the other question.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kevin Salch
United States
Bristol
Connecticut
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Actually my information had nothing to do with Italy.
My source said that the town had to pay to import garbage from another German town. It was another poster that mentioned Italy.

 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
John Clark
United States
Clay
New York
flag msg tools
mbmb
JohnBandettini wrote:
Two atoms were walking down the street one day, when one of them exclaimed, "Oh, no I've lost an electron!" "Are you sure?" the other one asked. "Yes," replied the first one, "I'm positive."


I love this joke!!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Schenck
United States
Dayton
Ohio
flag msg tools
GO BUCKS!
badge
Stop touching me!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Golux13 wrote:
Are you saying it would have been better to release a game with a runaway leader problem because it would be more thematic?

No.


Golux13 wrote:
And that a mechanic that generates interesting gameplay is a bad thing if it's not thematic?

Also, no.


Golux13 wrote:
I love theme in games, but I'm willing to cut designers some slack if they have to bend the theme a bit to release a game that would otherwise be broken and/or boring. And if I ever do get picky about theme, I remind myself of this mantra: IT'S A GAME, NOT A SIMULATION.

Agreed.
This is why I rate Power Grid 8/10. But I would have preferred that the game incorporate the runaway leader solution into the theme of the game, rather than seemingly tack it on at the end.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Schenck
United States
Dayton
Ohio
flag msg tools
GO BUCKS!
badge
Stop touching me!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
atholbrose wrote:
cbs42 wrote:
Yes, from a game design perspective it really balances the play and controls the runaway leader. It just feels kind of forced. There's no thematic foundation for the "catch-up" rules, and I often find myself simply telling new players, "these rules exist to keep the leader in check."

Those rules clearly simulate anti-trust legislation. It's the same reason you can't warehouse goods you've manufactured or ship goods you've warehoused in Container.



You know, I initially did try to explain it this way to new players ... how the government enacted certain laws to enforce continuous competition. It almost makes sense too, but after a few funny looks while trying to justify the balance rules, I found it easier just to say, "look, the game designer made these rules to reel in runaway leaders."

Either way, it's fun. Like I said before, it's a small quibble of mine about an otherwise outstanding game.


 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Clay Blankenship
United States
Owens Cross Roads
AL
flag msg tools
designer
badge
That's a moray!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
tibbs2 wrote:

Japan is pretty good about recycling too. There is a truck with a loudspeaker that drives around town. You can bring them your newspapers and in exchange they give you rolls of toilet paper.


Wow, that's fast recycling!

Now in the USSR (when I visited in 89), they saved a step and just used the newspaper.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Er heisst
Germany
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
VixenTorGames wrote:
My primary goal as a writer is to entertain. Specifically, I like to make people laugh.


And I, being a German, guess that you are quite good at being funny, because I don't get it! shake
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
alan beaumont
United Kingdom
LONDON
Unspecified
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Some bright spark
JohnBandettini wrote:
Here are a few jokes for Power Grid

If I were you I'd stay Ohm from now on.
Damn, now I've caught it.
Powergrid jokes; Resistance is futile.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Scott Agius
United Kingdom
Brentford
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
cbs42 wrote:
atholbrose wrote:
cbs42 wrote:
Yes, from a game design perspective it really balances the play and controls the runaway leader. It just feels kind of forced. There's no thematic foundation for the "catch-up" rules, and I often find myself simply telling new players, "these rules exist to keep the leader in check."

Those rules clearly simulate anti-trust legislation. It's the same reason you can't warehouse goods you've manufactured or ship goods you've warehoused in Container.

:D

You know, I initially did try to explain it this way to new players ... how the government enacted certain laws to enforce continuous competition. It almost makes sense too, but after a few funny looks while trying to justify the balance rules, I found it easier just to say, "look, the game designer made these rules to reel in runaway leaders."

Either way, it's fun. Like I said before, it's a small quibble of mine about an otherwise outstanding game.




After all of the discussion on this, why has no one picked up on the fact that the rule is not there to reel in runaway leaders, the number of houses or the highest number power plant one owns has little to do with determining their position in the game unless its the last round, it's simply to balance those who earn more money from powering cities/buying up cheaper plots, to be last buying materials and get them at a higher price.

Thematically yes, you could argue that the company that needed the fuel to power the most houses would most likely be the favourite customer and get discounts but they may also have overtraded their position and not be able to put in their money quick enough to get that discount.

I think it fits perfectly in to the theme of Power Grid but then i don't compare it to a real life situation as it's a game that has great mechanics and strategy, like another poster said, if i wanted to pretend i owned a real power company, i would play a simulation not a board game.

Also, how else would you do it? Every one plays in order, would that be more thematic?

Lastly, why do people need to know why rules are in place, i don't question rules when i start playing a game until i've played it and am in a better position to understand why the designer put it there, or question it if it makes no sense. If you're constantly asking why a mechanic is in a game that wouldn't be there in the real world then thats a very strange predicament.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Martijn Vos
Netherlands
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
cbs42 wrote:

Yes, from a game design perspective it really balances the play and controls the runaway leader. It just feels kind of forced. There's no thematic foundation for the "catch-up" rules, and I often find myself simply telling new players, "these rules exist to keep the leader in check."

Really? I tell new players: "This rule can be gamed. In fact, while the game looks like it's about money and power plants, secretly it's all about jockeying for position."

Golux13 wrote:
Are you saying it would have been better to release a game with a runaway leader problem because it would be more thematic? And that a mechanic that generates interesting gameplay is a bad thing if it's not thematic?

I think that's exactly the difference between the Anglo-Saxon approach and the Eurogame approach. Do you sacrifice gameplay for theme, or do you sacrifice theme for gameplay? Runaway leaders may be realistic (look at large corporation in the real world), but they don't give a very exciting game if the runaway happens early in the game.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ted Groth
United States
Appleton
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
agius1520 wrote:
Lastly, why do people need to know why rules are in place, i don't question rules when i start playing a game until i've played it and am in a better position to understand why the designer put it there, or question it if it makes no sense. If you're constantly asking why a mechanic is in a game that wouldn't be there in the real world then thats a very strange predicament.


Why do people need to know why?

- If a rule does tie into the theme it is easier to remember.

- Rules that tie into the theme are more satisfying.

- Maybe people don't really need to know why a rule is in place, but they often ask, so when explaining a game it is helpful to be able to answer.

I always try to see if there is a connection between theme and mechanic, because it can make a game more enjoyable. The connection doesn't have to exist for me to enjoy a good game, but if I don't see a connection I will ask. Not a predicament, just healthy curiousity!
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.