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Flashback Friday - Power Grid - Love it or Hate It? Do you Still Play It?

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Power Grid

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There Will Be Games

Power Grid, designed by Friedemann Friese was published way back in 2004. It is still going strong with it's most recent expansion, Power Grid: Fabled Expansion, released in 2017. It's been called a crayon rail game without the crayons, an auction game, a train game without the trains.

Whatever you call it, do you love it or hate it? Do you still play it?

There Will Be Games

Shellie "ubarose" Rose  (She/Her)
Managing Editor & Web Admin

Plays boardgames. Drinks bourbon. Writes code.

Articles by Shellie

Shellie "ubarose" Rose
Managing Editor & Web Admin

Articles by Shellie

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BaronDonut's Avatar
BaronDonut replied the topic: #285793 09 Nov 2018 11:59
I played this game exactly once, years ago, and hated it. It reminded me of the math exercises my "cool" math teachers would come up with to disguise the fact that we were doing math. It was still math and still sucked.

Sometimes I think about replaying it and I look at that smarmy dude with a white coat holding a stupid clipboard and turning a dumb dial and I know in in his head he is fantasizing about math and the sick job it got him in the energy sector and how he'll have an amazing time retiring when he's fifty-five and he'll hike the alps and visit his grandchildren while I, a person who did not like math, will probably have a heart attack in front of a group of 18-year olds who will watch me fall down and sputter on the ground before going back to snapchat on their phones and I think no, perhaps this one isn't for me.
southernman's Avatar
southernman replied the topic: #285796 09 Nov 2018 12:16
Played the original 'crayon rail' version of the game when it came out, Funkenschlage, and bought the second edition (Power Grid) when it came out and still have my copy. It's probably the engineer in me (I started as an electrical engineer in my country's electricity production and reticulation industry) as I love building games, creating something, but it also has pretty good player interaction (lots of screwing with each other with bidding, building and buying resources) and the fairly simple but very clever market system just caps the game off. And the different maps obviously provides replayability. The only problem can be if you play with analysis paralysis prone people, for this reason you need to play with hidden money.
This one will never be sold.
Jackwraith's Avatar
Jackwraith replied the topic: #285799 09 Nov 2018 12:26
I'm... OK with it. As with a few other games I've played (Dominion being the one that's always come to mind), I've never played Power Grid without being in a group of very experienced players. So, I've always been playing catch up from the first draw and I've never really come close to winning. When my girlfriend and I first got together, she mentioned that this was one of her favorites, so I got her a copy of 2nd Edition (with the Europe map on the other side and the renewable energy) and I gritted my teeth and we played a couple times. Since then, it's sat on the shelf because I think she got the message that I really wasn't a fan. I like the market rules because they kind of remind me of Supremacy (Oh, man. That's a good topic for the next From the Depths...) but I don't like train games and Power Grid has just never intrinsically appealed. When I look at the Euros on our shelves, I'd gladly pick something like Samurai or Imhotep or Modern Art over this. Maybe I'll try again one day.
Jexik's Avatar
Jexik replied the topic: #285801 09 Nov 2018 12:29
Yeah, Power Grid is on the forever shelf for me too. I bought it on lark at a store doing a buy two, get one 40% off when I knew it was like #5 on BGG at the time. Never once regretted it. I was the type of kid that liked doing mental math and memorizing all the exponents in the back of the textbook, so adding two digit numbers together never struck me as too mathematical. I like it a lot more than the choice of "Should I do one of 6 3-point things, the 4-point thing or the 5-point thing," that most Euros fall into now. Many of my college and high school friends were engineers or [social] scientists too, so it and Roborally were my go-to's years ago for showing people games during the first 5 years after I graduated (2007-2012, also when I got back into board games because of Heroscape). I've played as recently as the last 6 months and will basically never turn it down. I'm usually the only one bringing it to rando game meetups that I see though.
Deleted's Avatar
Deleted replied the topic: #285802 09 Nov 2018 12:32
I never liked it, and would rather not play if asked.
southernman's Avatar
southernman replied the topic: #285807 09 Nov 2018 13:13

SuperflyTNT wrote: I never liked it, and would rather not play if asked.


If I ever make it over the pond for gaming I will have this under my wing and will try and get a snap of you looking very uncomfortable (although with your strategy and math skills you'd probably whip my ass).
Black Barney's Avatar
Black Barney replied the topic: #285808 09 Nov 2018 13:48
I burned out on this game after getting a bunch of expansions. I liked it a ton for a while and found myself really married to getting certain power plants (and overbidding for them), but eventually got bored of all the math. I don't miss it.

btw, i still have trouble believing this was the actual box art chosen for this game (even though I owned the game for years). I don't want to be in the boardroom where the guy pitches this idea. "labcoat... dials... need i say more?"
Legomancer's Avatar
Legomancer replied the topic: #285811 09 Nov 2018 14:58
I like PG a lot but it got ruined in my group by a savant player who memorized the power plant deck and thus would comment on the worthiness of each power plant as it came up. So much of the game is calculable, and people kind of soured on it. I think if you play from your gut and don't sit there and math everything out, it's fun, but it'a hard sell these days.
Shellhead's Avatar
Shellhead replied the topic: #285812 09 Nov 2018 15:48
I played Power Grid once, maybe in 2005. I didn't like it because the theme and the gameplay made it seem like an unpaid job.
southernman's Avatar
southernman replied the topic: #285813 09 Nov 2018 15:56

Shellhead wrote: I played Power Grid once, maybe in 2005. I didn't like it because the theme and the gameplay made it seem like an unpaid job.


Ha ha - I was waiting for your post, I seem to remember reading your comment in previous discussions on PG. A spreadsheet game for you ;-)
ChristopherMD's Avatar
ChristopherMD replied the topic: #285814 09 Nov 2018 16:05
It's an okay game. Would never request it but would play without complaint.
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Michael Barnes replied the topic: #285827 09 Nov 2018 17:27
It’s up there with El Grande and other top Eurogame titles. In fact, it is on my shelf between El grande and Winner’s Circle as we speak.

I think it had an immensely satisfying feedback loop. You buy a thing that turns on the lights in X cited when you put resources on it that you buy from a wonderful Supremacy-style market. But you have to buy the cities too and pay more in competitive markets. The more lights you turn on, the more money you get to try to buy more things to light up more cities.

It’s genius. You have the raw material, the processor, and the output in a very clear relationship to profitability. I HATE math and I’ve never found its numbers to be anything less than easy to grasp and use to make a good decision.

But I didn’t always love it- I used to hate the last turn power up victory measure. But now it makes perfect sense, you are building up to that bar which is fluid based on the success of other players.

It’s one of the best economic games. I find it has a lot in common with the heavier train games but without the length and greater complexity.

As far as the box goes, I love it. I love how purposefully,
Teutonically stoic it is and I love he green. I greatly prefer the chunky stylized art to the more recent edition.
san il defanso's Avatar
san il defanso replied the topic: #285837 09 Nov 2018 18:28
My copy of Power Grid was a wedding present from my wife. Lots of sentimental value.

It is also the game that has had the most universal appeal across all of the places I've lived. Between Kansas, Texas, Michigan, and the Philippines, I've never had trouble finding a game of Power Grid.
Space Ghost's Avatar
Space Ghost replied the topic: #285838 09 Nov 2018 18:29

Shellhead wrote: I played Power Grid once, maybe in 2005. I didn't like it because the theme and the gameplay made it seem like an unpaid job.


Just set up a Patreon link people can click on when you play
Erik Twice's Avatar
Erik Twice replied the topic: #285843 09 Nov 2018 19:29
I haven't played it much but I used to be dimissive of it because I judged it as a game with a terrible catch-up mechanism. Now I'm starting to see it as a game about maniupalating turn order and that might be a more fruitful angle.

Michael Barnes wrote: It’s one of the best economic games. I find it has a lot in common with the heavier train games but without the length and greater complexity.

It does. It used to be a crayon game and the power plant deck might be inspired by the 18XX series. They are a clear, but oblique influence.

Michael Barnes wrote: As far as the box goes, I love it. I love how purposefully,
Teutonically stoic it is and I love he green. I greatly prefer the chunky stylized art to the more recent edition.

The new art is terrible.

Legomancer wrote: I like PG a lot but it got ruined in my group by a savant player who memorized the power plant deck and thus would comment on the worthiness of each power plant as it came up. So much of the game is calculable, and people kind of soured on it. I think if you play from your gut and don't sit there and math everything out, it's fun, but it'a hard sell these days.

I can see that. Ultimately the game revolves around turn order and turn order mostly revolves around the power plant deck so when you have a good grasp on how much each plant is worth, the game might hit a wall.
cdennett's Avatar
cdennett replied the topic: #285865 10 Nov 2018 13:34
There are very few games that I actively hate, and this is one of them (probably at the top). I will not play this game with you unless I owe you a big favor, or if I want you to owe me one...
WadeMonnig's Avatar
WadeMonnig replied the topic: #285960 11 Nov 2018 17:40
Re: The cover. Imagine the guy was totally bald and named riff raff "Step up the reactor power three...more...triangles"
CranBerries's Avatar
CranBerries replied the topic: #286317 17 Nov 2018 13:51
This is a game I'm willing to play with people at my skill level who aren't programmers.
Shellhead's Avatar
Shellhead replied the topic: #286320 17 Nov 2018 14:03
I might have liked Power Grid a little more if they had stuck with the German name.