Power Grid Review
“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power (grid).”
Power Grid is a classic game, one that rightfully deserves a place in any serious gamer’s collection. Something funny about board games, sometimes a really well realized theme can save a particularly clunky game. Other games have such fun mechanics and game play, that it really doesn’t matter if the theme is as dry and dull as can be (we’re looking at you Patchwork). Power Grid is just such a game. As a kid, did you dream of building and running an public utility BETTER THAN ANYONE ELSE? Funny… me either.
And yet Power Grid is consistently finds itself on the lists of “greatest board games of all time“. And with good reason, this is an incredibly fun game, despite the thematic dullness. It plays so incredibly well. There is a lot of player interaction, without direct conflict, as players bid against one another, driving prices higher and higher as better and more powerful power plants as the game progresses.
I know it might sound strange, but this really is one of the best games that has ever been designed. I’m pretty sure you can’t even properly call yourself a board game enthusiast if you haven’t played this game at least once. And one play will definitely not be enough.
Things I Loved About Power Grid
Because each game, one area of the map is blocked off, the game can be played over and over again, with enough variety to keep you coming back for more.
When a player jumps out into an early lead, instead of having a built in mechanic to penalize the leading player, the game cleverly has a “benefit the loser” mechanic that feels much more fair and fun. There’s nothing worse than feeling penalized for being good at a game, and Power Grid addresses power imbalance in a particularly great way.
The bidding process really makes the game come to life. It’s a whole lot of fun, and makes the game feel incredibly fast paced, with very little downtime.
The game scales incredibly well. If you have 3 or more players, you’re going to enjoy this game (although in my humble opinion, the more the merrier).
The supply and demand market system is incredibly well developed, and actually simulates a real market remarkably well.
The game is really intuitive, and easy to learn. That’s not to say it’s easy to master, but the basics of the game can be picked up quickly.
Things I Hated About Power Grid
The game requires a lot of math brain style thinking. Maybe you love those types of games, but it can be a bit exhausting by the end of the game, and often times a game is won or lost by a few dollars, and those dollars tend to go to those with the best math skills.
New players will often feel unable to compete with more experienced players. It requires practice and experience to understand how much to bid and when.
While I’m a fan of longer games, this one can feel a bit overlong, in particular because the theme is so dry. If you feel like you are doing really poorly, and your heart isn’t in it, the game can feel interminable.
While an incredibly clever mechanic, the “help the loser” system can encourage some players to play intentionally poorly. Which can be kind of lame.PURCHASE THE GAME