Toy Corner

Power Grid Review

Apr 10, 2024

power grid board game

Up next on my list of games to review is Power Grid, this does fall into the category of a strategy game. You and your friends will be competing to power the cities across the board, to win you will need to carefully plan and think of your next move to reap the rewards. Power Grid requires balancing several elements, which might not appeal to those who prefer less strategy in their games. So, if you're up for a challenge and a bit of a brain burn, then Power Grid might just be the game for you.

An Overview of Power Grid

This classic board game, Power Grid, has made its mark in the gaming universe with its unique approach to strategy, planning, and city-building. The game has garnered a lot of attention for its central theme, which is hardly electrifying but highly relatable, making it quite easy to understand and play. There's no doubt in my mind that its appeal stems from the perfect blend of strategy, planning, and the degree of relatability set up by Rio Grande Games. Now allow me to take you through the initial set-up and gameplay of Power Grid!

Initial Set-Up

In Power Grid, the board setup is quite straightforward and maintains a similar approach across all games. To start, you'd fill the fuel to a specified amount, and each player receives 50 Electros. Based on the number of players (up to 6 players can play), the initial market of power stations is set up with a deck of power station cards.

There are two parts to this market - the current market, and a futures market. The current market consists of power stations that can be bought immediately, while the futures market holds power stations that will likely become available at a later stage. Something particularly interesting about the initial setup is that it ensures all power stations within the futures market will become available later in the game.

Upon completing these steps, player order is then decided at random. Note however that this is the only instance where player order is random.

Game Play

Once all is set up, players plunge into the power-packed gameplay that's very much central to the success of Power Grid. The aim of the game is to build the most efficient power plants that are then used to supply to the cities, where you are looking to provide the largest amount of energy to these cities. The game is played in three different phases each of which has its own set of rules and each of which requires different strategies to win. The first phase consists of the auction phase where power grids are put at auction and the player with the highest bid wins. Something to keep in mind is that there are current markets and future markets, so when one auction is finished, more power grids become available to bid for. The next phase is called the Bureaucracy phase and it consists of using your resources to power these power plants, the more power means the more money they will be able to make. The final stage is buying the generators to power the cities.

Pros and Cons

As someone who's dabbled extensively in board games, I need to tell you that Power Grid, a popular game from Rio Grande Games, is certainly worth your attention. Let's delve into the Pros and Cons of this game that I've found.

One of the aspects I wholeheartedly enjoyed in Power Grid was the challenging, strategic decisions it packs within its gameplay. This need for strategic thinking comes from the mechanics of Power Grid, like the auction phase, as there are advantages to being last during the auction, especially with the futures market appearing which could give you better power plants at a cheaper price, this mechanic also makes the first bidder to maybe change strategy and decide not to win the first lots. 

power grid board game components

Another mechanic that I like is that the order of the players turn is changed during the game depending on who is winning and losing and there are certain advantages to being the last player, like the one I have mentioned above. This ensures that no player gets too far ahead and the game is competitive throughout.

Some of the pros that I have found while playing the game is that I have had some games where there are players that seem to take a long time to make a decision, with the ever-changing mechanics I have seen players freeze and not know what to do in their next move. This can be very noticeable when playing with the full 6 players. 

Lastly, there was one element of the game that didn't quite hit the mark for me—the money. Much like the classic Monopoly, I've noticed that the cash in Power Grid leaves a bit to be desired in terms of visual appeal. 

Final Thoughts

Power Grid's strategic depth is its shining star. It's a game that'll keep you on your toes, constantly balancing tool upgrades and resource management. Yet, it's not without its hurdles. The potential for stalling and the difficulty of wealth assessment can be stumbling blocks for some players. But let's not forget that these elements also bring a level of realism that's hard to find in other board games.