Power Grid

Rio Grande Games, 2004, 2-6 players, ages 12 and up. In Power Grid, players purchase power plants and raw materials in order to supply electricity to the largest number of cities. Each turn is divided into a number of phases. In the first phase, players bid on the available power plants in the "up for auction" area. Some are more desireable than others, depending on how much electricity they can produce using how many and what kind of raw materials. Each player is limited to three power plants, so you're continuously trying to upgrade your plants to keep up with your ever expanding network (and so is everyone else, making the auctioning process pretty interesting). Next, players purchase the raw materials they need to run some or all of their plants later on in the turn. Next, players spend money to expand (add cities to) their power grid. Next, players spend resources to run their plants and collect money based on the number of cities they were able to supply power to. Turn order within a particular phase is determined by who has the most (or fewest) cities. Once a player has expanded their grid to 17 cities the game ends and the player who can then supply power to the greatest number of cities wins. I have the newer edition that, I guess, cleaned up the rules some and added higher quality components.

The rules are short and easy to understand, the game plays fast and the game board and pieces are top notch. There's not a lot of inter-player conflict built into the game, but just enough to make things interesting. Any given city on the map is limited in how many players can set up shop there, and if you block a player out you can really screw up their attempts to expand their network. Also, every time a particular kind of raw materail (coal, oil, uranium or garbage) is purchased, the price for subsequent purchases goes up. So, you can force other players to spend more (or not be able to purchase at all) by stockpiling a particular resource and driving the market up. This is an entertaining game that we've been playing for years. Yes, it's a bit breezy on the strategy side of things (as compared to, say, Puerto Rico), but a fun play nonetheless.

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