The Power Grid board game was my latest addition to my ridiculously small boardgame collection (which so far is composed of Settlers of Catan and Carcassonne besides it) and I bought it on one hand because I found a Portuguese version for the ridiculously low price of 25€ (including shipping) and also because I’m trying to focus on acquiring different board game archetypes and this seemed to be a great resource management game with a virtually non-existent luck factor.
I actually played my first Power Grid match yesterday and found it to be an extremely enjoyable experience. While at first I was a bit daunted by all the subtle specific rules for the different numbers of players once you understand what part of the rulebook relates to the core rules and then simply add up the small differences for the starting setup, victory condition and restocking of resources the game is actually quite easy to play and to explain.
Since I’m mostly playing boardgames with my family members I was a bit concerned that Power Grid might actually be too complicated and too different from the casual games they are used to (although I had already introduced them to Settlers of Catan in the past and they picked it up quite effortlessly).
Surprisingly though after a very quick explanation and just a few rounds of gameplay everyone was already perfectly in sync with the turn sequence, planning the use of their currency stockpile and having a lot of fun with the game. I believe Power Grid is one of those games that almost explains itself and the turn sequence cards are a great helping hand to new players that will help you guide them through the game.
Despite what the rulebook advised I decided to let the game roll throughout all the three phases until the very end at 17 cities (we were 4 players) and was once again impressed to see that the final scores were really tight with first place getting to 17 cities powered, the second with 16 (me) and the other two players with 15 each.
Also I believe not a single rules related error was made throughout the game and even if part of it was due to me having made my homework in advance there were some rule clarifications that surfaced mid game that were quickly settled with fast references to the rulebook.
When you’re playing a game completely unfamiliar to all the players (I had to make sure I knew the rules so I looked into quite a couple of gameplay videos on YouTube but didn’t dwelve too deep into the winning strategies or scoring) and you end up with this kind of tight knit scores at the end I think that can only be due to great game design, add to that a perfect theme where every aspect of the game fits in and makes sense as a whole and I believe you have a winner right there.
Visually the game is gorgeous with an awesomely designed double sided board, a really nice gritty color scheme, great typeface, all of the great illustrations of the ominous looking power stations and finishing up with all the fun looking tokens. They even went through the trouble of creating some satirical illustrations to replace the usual player number and minimum play age images on the outside of the box.
All things considered the overall feeling of everyone involved in the gameplay session yesterday was that this is one hell of a fun game to play which will easily suit both hardcore gamers and family environment alike and is guaranteed to make everyone crave the next time they can sit around a table and light the Power Grid board up.