|Publisher(s)||Rio Grande Games|
|Players||2 to 6|
|Setup time||10-15 minutes|
|Playing time||120+ minutes|
|Age range||12 and up|
|Skill(s) required||Auction, Resource Management|
Power Grid is the English-language edition of the multiplayer German-style board game Funkenschlag (in its second incarnation) designed by Friedemann Friese and first published in 2004. Power Grid is published by Rio Grande Games.
In the game, each player represents a company that owns power plants and tries to supply electricity to cities. Over the course of the game, the players will bid on power plants and buy resources to produce electricity to provide power to the growing number of cities in their expanding network.
Power Grid was developed from the original game Funkenschlag, which had players draw their networks using crayons instead of playing on a fixed map. This feature (along with other changes) was removed when Friedemann Friese reworked the game. The new game is also called Funkenschlag in the German market, but is sold under various names elsewhere.
The game comes with a double-sided board with a map of the United States of America on one side and Germany on the other. Each map consists of six regions featuring cities with connections of varying costs between them. The number of regions used is based on the number of players. Map design itself is a key feature in the strategy of game play as some areas of the map feature generally higher connection costs compared to other areas of the map.
The game is played in rounds, with each round consisting of 5 phases:
- Determining player order
- Auction power plants
- Buying resources
The game ends after one player builds a fixed number of cities. The winner is the player who can supply electricity to the most cities with his network. In the case of a tie, the player with the most money wins. If that results in a tie, the player with the most cities is the winner.
- Phase 1— Determining Turn Order
- Turn order is rearranged each round according to the number of cities each player has connected. The player with the most connections is placed first, then the player with the next highest number of connections, and so on, ending with the player with the fewest cities playing last. When players own the same number of cities, the player with the higher value plant is placed before the player with the lower value plant. (Exception: Turn order is determined randomly at the beginning of the game, and then rearranged after power plants are purchased per the normal rules).
- Phase 2— Auction Power Plants
- Turn order determines who begins the bidding on power plants. The first player begins and may choose to pass rather than bid on a plant, in which case they forfeit the chance to bid on any other power plants in a given round. An initial bid must be equal to or higher than the value of an available power plant. After the initial bid, players take turns bidding in clockwise order until every player has passed on a current bid. Once a plant is purchased, a new one is drawn from the deck to replace it, with the available power plants re-arranged in numerical order according to their value. The player with the highest priority turn order (which may still be the first player) then has the option to bid on an available plant. Phase 2 ends when every player has either purchased a plant or passed on their opportunity to bid on a plant. Most power plants require at least one coal, oil, garbage (see waste to energy), or uranium resource in order to supply electricity. Wind turbines and hydraulic plants do not require resources.
- Phase 3— Buying Resources
- Players buy resources for their plants in reverse turn order. Players may only purchase resources they can use, and each plant may only hold twice the number of resources it needs to run. Thus, a plant that uses two oil can hold up to a maximum four oil. As resources are purchased, they become more expensive, and thus the person who is last in turn order (the person with the fewest cities connected) can buy resources at the cheapest prices for that round.
- Phase 4— Building
- In reverse turn order, players may build into cities. In the first round, a player may choose to build into any city that is not already occupied. A player may continue to expand by paying the cost to build into the desired city slot plus the value of all connections to that city from an already occupied city. No player may build into more than one slot in a city. Slot one costs 10 'Elektros' and is the only slot available during Step 1. During Step 2, the second slot is available at a cost of 15 Elektros, and in Step 3, the final slot is available at a cost of 20 Elektros.
- Phase 5— Bureaucracy
- During this phase, players expend resources to power their cities and earn more income (Elektros) based on the number of cities they power. Resources available to be purchased are replenished at a rate based on the number of players in the game as well as the current Step. Finally, the highest value power plant is placed at the bottom of the draw deck (this changes in Step 3).
The game is further divided into 3 "steps". In Step One, 8 power plants are visible to players arranged into two rows of four based on their numerical value ranking from lowest to highest. The first row of the lowest numbered plants is available to be bid on by players. In step one, only the first slot of a city may be built into.
Step Two is triggered when any player builds a set number of cities determined by the number of players in the game. In Step Two, the lowest level plant from the plants in the market is removed from the game (this is only performed once, and in subsequent rounds when no power plant is bought at auction). In addition, the second city slot becomes available for players to build into. Finally, the resource replenishment rate is changed.
Step Three is triggered when the Step Three card comes up in the power plant deck. The Step Three card is initially placed at the bottom of the power plant deck. In Step 3, again, the lowest level plant from the plants in the market is removed from the game, and a new plant is not drawn to replace it. The available power plant pool now consists of 6 power plants that are all available to be bid on. The remaining power plant deck is shuffled to make a new draw deck.
The game is currently available under various names for different markets, most featuring the same game play. A few editions, however, offer a slightly different play experience because they ship with non-standard maps.
The German and U.S. editions are virtually identical, and they feature the same Germany/USA maps. Any small differences are unintentional consequences of the translation from the original German into English, and most mistakes have been corrected by Rio Grande Games as new editions have been issued.
Funkenschlag: EnBW Edition
This edition was published in 2007 as a promotional tie-in with EnBW, a power company in the German state of Baden-Württemberg. The German map differs from the one in the original edition in that the city of Karlsruhe (the location of EnBW's headquarters) appears rather than the neighboring city of Mannheim. The second map included in the game is a new map not available elsewhere, featuring EnBW's home state of Baden-Württemberg. A rule difference between this edition and the original is that determining player order is done after the power plant auction. A difference in the included power plant deck: with 41 plants rather than 42 in the original game, the deck does not include plant #29.
The Czech/Slovak edition features the Central Europe map (from the Central Europe/Benelux expansion) and the Germany map.
The French edition features the France map (from the France/Italy expansion) and a new map not available elsewhere: Quebec. The Quebec map makes more use of the renewable power plants to represent the regional availability of hydro-electricity.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (August 2010)
The game is also available in Polish, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, and Japanese. While these editions feature the original maps of Germany/USA (and thus are more like translations of the 2F game than a new edition), each new deal with a local publisher has coincided with a release of an expansion featuring that publisher's home country.
10th Anniversary Deluxe Edition
Released in 2014 as a 10th Anniversary edition, this edition features re-designed wooden pieces and cards, and a double-sided board with Europe one side and North America on the other. The game also replaces garbage/trash with natural gas.
All expansions require the original game to play.
The France & Italy Expansion for Power Grid was published in 2005. The expansion provides a new double-sided map allowing play in France and Italy. Along with the maps are small rule changes to reflect the power culture in these two countries. France, a land that has embraced nuclear power, has an earlier start with atomic plants and more uranium available. Italy has fewer coal and oil resources, but more garbage.
#2: Benelux/Central Europe
The Benelux & Central Europe Expansion for Power Grid was published in 2006. This expansion provides a new double-sided map, this time for play in Benelux and Central Europe. Again, there are small rule changes to reflect the power culture in these two regions. Benelux (Economic union of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg) has more ecological power plants and more availability of oil. Central Europe (Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary) has rules changes in Steps 2 and 3, and limits on what type of power plant may be used to power cities in different regions (countries) of the map.
#3: Power Plant Deck 2
The Power Plant Deck 2 Expansion for Power Grid was published in 2007. The expansion provides a second set of power plant cards, offering variety in gameplay.
The China & Korea Expansion for Power Grid was published in 2008. Another map expansion, this time for play in China and Korea. Again, there are small rule changes to reflect the power culture in these two regions. On the Korean side, players are confronted with expensive connection costs. In addition, because of the political division between North and South, there are two resource markets; in each turn a player must choose only one market to buy resources from, with fewer resources and no uranium available in the North. On the Chinese side, the market is structured as a planned economy. In this version of the game, there are no surprises—the power plants on the power plant market are offered in ascending order during the two first steps of the game. If the game reaches its final stage, then the power plant market becomes more like that in the original game, to reflect the beginnings of economic reform in modern China. Additionally, the resource table is designed such that resources are likely to be in short supply as the game proceeds.
#5: Brazil/Spain & Portugal
The Brazil/Spain & Portugal Expansion (aka Brazil/Iberia) was published in 2009. Another map expansion, this time for play in Brazil and Spain/Portugal. Again, there are small rule changes to reflect the power culture in these two regions. On the Brazilian side, biogas takes the place of garbage, and resources are more scarce than in the original game. Brazil also includes special game preparation rules regarding biogas plants. On the Spain and Portugal side, Uranium is important, but not at the beginning of the game. Initially, uranium is not added to the market in Step 1, but it is rapidly added in Step 2. This side also has special preparation rules by which certain plants are set aside and re-added to the deck during Step 2. Additionally, special nuclear rules apply to Portugal, namely that players with networks only in Portugal are not allowed to own nuclear power plants. Both sides of the map also include their own resource resupply tables. This is the only map, so far, that comes with a box that you can use to store it and other expansion maps.
This was released October 2010. Russia: The market for power plants is restricted in Russia. Additionally, the standard rules for exchanging out-of-date power plants are changed. Japan: Based on the crowded geographical surroundings and the fact Japan has two wide area synchronous grids which run at different mains frequency, the players can start two separate networks in Japan. The first connections are restricted to certain cities.
#7: The Robots
This was released November 2011. The Robots expansion adds 30 tiles to create variations of AI players designed to be used when playing with 2 players.
The Quebec/Baden-Württemberg Expansion for Power Grid was published in 2012. The two maps were previously released in two separate Power Grid base games: Québec is part of Mégawatts, the French edition of the game released by Filosofia, while Baden-Württemberg was included in Funkenschlag: EnBW, a German edition of the game from EnBW. Again, there are small rule changes to reflect the power culture in these two regions. Québec places great emphasis on energy production via ecological plants. In Baden-Württemberg, turn order is changed: first, you buy power plants, then you rearrange the player order. There are also several transregional locations that only may be connected to in Step Two and Step Three.
#9: Northern Europe/United Kingdom & Ireland
The Northern Europe/United Kingdom & Ireland Expansion for Power Grid was released at Essen 2012. Another map expansion, it also includes twelve new power plant cards exclusive for Northern Europe. Again, there are small rule changes to reflect the power culture in these two regions. On the Northern Europe side, the seven countries use very different energy sources for their electricity production, and the set of power plants you play with is dependent upon which regions are chosen. On the United Kingdom and Ireland side, players can operate two different networks on these two isles. But, starting the second network is expensive since there is no direct connection between Ireland and Great Britain. Additionally, Step Three starts earlier on this map because this region changed from a resource exporter to an importer in a very short time.
#10: Australia/The Indian sub-continent
This expansion was released at Essen 2013. It contains maps for the Australian and Indian sub-continents. The main differences between the Australian map and other maps is that there are three networks, and the maximum cost of connecting any two cities is 20 Elektros, reducing the overall cost if a player is blocked in. Also, Uranium power plants are actually turned into Uranium mines, reflecting the resource production in Australia, where the cost of running the mines is turned upside down and instead creates income in the Bureaucracy Phase for the owner. In the Indian map, power-outs can occur and seriously reduce the incomes of fast-expanding networks. Also, the resource markets are severely reduced.
These items are small, single or multiple card promotional items that can be added to supplement the base game.
The Flux Generator is a power plant that can fire any 3 resources to power 6 cities.
The card is auctioned to the players immediately after it has been drawn. It counts as an additional city for its owner and not as a power plant.
The Transformer Station is a technology card that can be connected to a power plant to supply an additional city.
Warehouse is a limited edition 3 card set.
You can store up to three resources of any type in the Warehouse for future use in your own power plants. Stored resources cannot be dumped and must be used in the power plants.
Shortage/Surplus of Resources
The two "event cards" either remove three tokens of the cheapest resource or add three tokens of the most expensive resource from or to the resource market (only one token, if this is uranium). If there is a tie for cheapest or most expensive, resolve in the order coal, oil, garbage, uranium.
Allows the player to place his house in the player order one space back in every round, allowing the player to bid resources earlier.
Thanks to the Industrial Espionage, a single player (the last player in every round) gets information about the topmost card in the power plant draw stack.
Forces the players to pay taxes for the cash assets once during the game.
These titles are stand-alone games in the Power Grid family of games.
Power Grid: Factory Manager
In Power Grid: Factory Manager, players own factories and try to earn the most money during the game. To be successful, each player must use his workers to buy the best machines and robots on the market and to run the machines most effectively in his factory. Because of increasing energy prices, the players must be careful to check the energy consumption of their factories and to avoid using only energy-consuming machines.
Power Grid: The First Sparks
The First Sparks transports the Power Grid mechanisms into the Stone Age. The order of phases during a game round, the player order, the technology cards are all similar to the original game.
The First Sparks is much faster and far more direct. You are immediately part of the action. Each turn, each decision is important. As a clan leader, you decide on the well-being of your clan during the Stone Age. You need to develop new hunting technologies and get new knowledge - to successfully hunt food or to learn to control fire. With the help of these skills, you will harvest enough food to feed your clan and spread it far enough to reach new hunting areas.
Martin Wallace comments: "I cannot say the game is definitively a classic. What I do know is that it still gets played regularly around the U.K. games scene. The vast majority of board games get dragged out once or twice and are then chucked to one side to collect dust until either auctioned or hidden in the loft by the better half. Power Grid has hung around because it has that certain something about it that makes you happy to sit down and play a game".
- International Gamers Awards Best Strategy Game Nominee
- Meeples' Choice Award Top 3 of 2004