With six players, we discussed the various options, and settled on Friedemann Friese’s Power Grid. I was happy to play it again, as it has been a LONG time since my last playing. Since several folks were new to the game, we stuck with the original German map.
In Power Grid, players establish networks of power grids throughout the country, with the objective of supplying power to their cities. In furtherance of this objective, power plants must be acquired in often heated auctions, and the resources purchased to generate the necessary power. The game is quite challenging, as players must carefully manage their money and take advantage of market opportunities. It is far beyond many dull and dry economic games. Indeed, it is one of the best management and economic games on the market.
Following is a brief description from my April 2004 report, which compares the game to its predecessor, Funkenschlag:
In addition to the upgraded components, the main difference in the new version is that players no longer draw their routes directly onto the board. Rather, the routes are pre-printed and have a fixed cost, depending upon the route. While crayon rail game fans may bemoan this change, there is no denying that this significantly quickens the pace of the game, chopping 1 – 2 hours off its former duration. Further, at least for me, this doesn’t detract one bit from the strategy offered or fun derived. That’s a plus.
There are some other changes, including a more generous ‘payout’ chart. This results in money being more plentiful, which also contributes to a shorter game. Some folks have expressed their preference for the original payout chart, and I’m happy to report that the game plays equally as well when using either chart. Money is a bit tighter with the old chart, which does add a bit more time to the length of the game, but not too much. I’ll happily play using either chart.
I also like the ability to “hop over” occupied cities, but with the hefty cost of having to play for both of the routes “before” and “after” the city. This does help prevent folks from being completely cut-off, but doesn’t give them a free ride either.
The end result is a more streamlined game that maintains most of the strategy and tension of the original, but with better components and a shorter play time. This should give the game wider appeal, and help expose more folks to the joys and challenges of constructing power grids.
Jim, Byron, Jared, Chris, Robert and I competed to supply power to Deutschland. While Jim and Byron opted to start in the crowded Ruhr and Rhine valleys, Jared and Chris established their base in the north. I began in a more central location – Frankfurt – while Robert was lured by the boisterous beer halls of Bavaria.
While Robert and Byron competed for the short, inexpensive routes in their region, my progress was relatively unfettered. I was able to secure high-producing factories quickly, and it allowed me to maintain a front-runner position with Byron for the entire game. A big benefit was that I managed to purchase only four factories throughout the game, so was able to save quite a bit of money to pay for the more expensive routes which surrounded my base.
The game ended with Byron and I each powering 15 cities. After a dramatic counting of the money, I captured the victory with $120 compared to Byron’s $113.
Finals: Greg 15 ($120), Byron 15 ($113), Chris 12 ($104, plant value 50), Jim 12 ($104, plant value 30), Jared 12 ($102), Robert 11
Ratings: Byron 9.5, Jared 9, Greg 8.5, Chris 8, Jim 8, Robert 6