Thanksgiving is right around the corner and it’s during this time that my mind goes to friends, family, food, and board games. While traditionally my family has only really played games like Scrabble or Monopoly, recently we have introduced a more complex (and in many ways more fun) game called Powergrid. Powergrid is simple to learn, hard to master (I have never won a game yet). It involves 4 phases, where you buy power plants (-$), buy resources for the power plants (-$), build power plant stations in different cities (-$), and then get paid (+$). The strategy comes into play in exactly HOW you do each of these steps. The game punishes you for winning and has many subtle complexities that you might not pick up on at first and don’t really need to in order to play and have a good time.
Below is a picture of the game already in progress with 3 players (the red, green, and black pieces represent powering stations in several different cities). The numbers on the pipe-looking things are the connection costs that must be paid before you can build in that city (the powering stations must form a connected network between cities). So building costs money to A) make a powering station and B) the cost to connect to the city you want to build in.
In addition to building powering stations (the build phase) you need to buy resources to power the plants (resource phase) as well as buy the power plants (plant auction phase) themselves. These phases (mentioned before) involve auctions between the other players. The power plant market is just a randomly drawn set of power plants that people bid on, whereas the resource market (shown below) is composed of a finite set of resources that get replenished (but only by a set amount, meaning that there can be shortage, which means that prices can skyrocket). So who gets to buy resources or power plants first? The player in last place! So the more you’re winning, the more disadvantaged you are for buying stuff. This aspect of the game and many others are what make it fun, there’s usually a chance for you to come back and win after being down. Looking forward to playing (win or lose) soon!