Gameday First Play – Power Grid

Posted on by Jesta

Was on my “want to play, maybe, kinda, one day perhaps” list.

Was it good?

The objective of Power Grid is to supply the most cities with power when someone’s network gains a predetermined size.

That’s an important bit of blurb. You auction for Power Stations, Buy Resources and Build Routes but all you need to do is Power as many as possible on the last turn… The whole game is building up having the resources to power as many as possible.

So how do you play? Well, your tiny little helper card shows you how.

Note: We played with 4 players which I’m sure will have some effect on how things work. But, as I’m not sure what they are remember numbers I quote are for 4 players so they may vary for different player numbers. The map has 6 sections and you pick one per player, we agreed to skip the two areas on the east coast.

Power Grid Turn Order

So step one is to determine turn order and as turn order is VERY important it would make or break the game if it wasn’t handled well.

Building buildings is an end game trigger so after the first round the player with the most buildings will go first and the rest will follow in decreasing order. This keeps the leader at the front of the queue… You don’t want to go first…

Step 2 is to auction Power Plants…

Power Grid Stations for Auction

The first player picks one of the top row to auction if they wish. If they do they bid the number in the top left and it goes clockwise until someone buys it. If they choose not to auction anything they skip the rest of this round, including future auctions.

This continues in turn order with the 4th player getting to buy a Power Plant unopposed, so they just pay face value. Nice 🙂

Step 3 – Buy Materials

Power Grid Resources Available

This is where you buy materials to power your Power Plants. There are 4 types of fuel and as they are bought from the track they go up in value… Guess what? This phase is done in reverse turn order so the leader of the game buys last and generally ends up paying more!

Power Grid My Stations

Resources are stored on the Power Plants so let’s look at my 3 in the pic above. We know top left is the base cost… The bottom is what material they use, how many materials it takes to Power them and how many buildings they power. (The Green one powers 3 buildings for free.)

Step 4 is where you build those all important buildings.

Power Grid Board

To build, it costs 10 money plus the cost of a connection so to go from St Louis to Memphis would be 10+7. At this stage of the game you can only have one building per city so it’s first come first served.

Step 5 comes the bureaucracy where you do a little upkeep. Firstly players gain money.

Power Grid Power Rate

This is where you spend resources to power your Plants to gain money. The back of the player aid card has that handy chart so you know how much to get. You always get 10 even if you don’t power anything… Powering 1 gives you an extra 12 cash, the next few 11 or 10 per extra building.

From 19 to 20 is only worth 2 extra cash…

In the first 2 phases of the game the highest value Power Plant available for auction is returned to the bottom of the deck and replaced with a new one from the deck.

Once a player has built so many buildings (in our case about 7) you move to phase 2… This means you can now build in a city where someone else is but it costs an extra 5 per city.

Power Grid Later Board

There is a Phase 3 but we didn’t make it that far. It involves replacing the lowest value Plant for auction too, plus other things.

Once someone has built a certain number of buildings the game ends and you see how many you can power.

Whoever can power the most wins…

So, you could build 15 buildings and power 6 and lose to someone who only built 7 and powers 7.

Power Grid Score Track

It’s really very good.

Money is quite tight and you VERY rarely get to Buy a Plant, Resources and Build in the same turn so you need to balance this each round.

The player that has built the most buildings,  and so is technically ‘ahead’, bids vs the most competition and does everything else last… It’s a very nice way of balancing things.

Thematic? Maybe not but it doesn’t matter.

I bought cheap coal one turn, not because I needed it that much, but because the current leader did… I paid 2 and 3 each for mine, he ended up paying 6 and 7.

I can’t really say much more than that. it’s a very nice game that works very well.

Multiple plays of basically doing the same thing may be dull though, I’m not sure.

I do want to play it again to find out though 🙂

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