Review: Power Grid Recharged – elektricity needs our help
The voltage is still very high. In the coming years, however, our power grids will shake from charging up all those upcoming electric vehicles. So its a matter of repeating the basics of building them and training a little for a not very bright energetic future.
Favorite board game designer Friedemann Friese has prepared a new version of the popular (and perhaps his best) strategy game Power Grid. Now the annual edition of Power Grid Recharged is on the market for the occasion of 15 years of publishing the first edition! This is already the second revision, the first was given the name Deluxe and came out five years ago, in the moment of the previous anniversary. Published by 2F Spiele, distributed by Esdevium Games.
How does the whole Power Grid game work? Everything takes place on a world map and in cities interconnected by a network of energy tunnels. But the game is mainly about getting and spending raw materials needed to generate electricity. Players get them from a common supply and the price rises with demand. At the auction, however, players also cleverly acquire power plants, that they play in front of themself. Above all, it is about interconnecting cities, that have to be paid for. The first house in the city is cheap, but as it grows, the costs are rising again. At the end of the round, players are given the money to buy additional power plants, whose efficiency is gradually improving. All this runs for several rounds until one player builds the required number of houses.
On the lid, there is the same picture as always and the box is distinguished only by the label pointing to the Recharged edition. You will not notice the first difference even when looking at the map, because here are again cities from Germany and the USA. This is quite a traditional line-up. Although in the Czech localized version, for example, there were maps of Germany and Central Europe. The original 2004 version contained a map of the United States in combination with Germany, the same pair.
But look again. In the lower left corner of the US map, you will find two new spaces, the larger one for coal. Every piece of coal consumed does not return to the bank, but instead it is set aside here, after the power plant consumes it. When the supply of cheap black stones from the bank runs out, players must turn to this space for fuel. But here, the individual pieces cost eight coins, which is a huge amount.
The second space does not directly affect the game, but these are only supplementary rules, that players will use at the beginning of every era. With them, not only a new set of power plants comes into play, but above all the distribution of raw materials changes (which is nothing new). It also depends on the number of players in the game. Previously, it was necessary to look for these numbers on the back of the rules, now there are cards for it, which makes the gameflow more pleasant.
Germany side will cease uranium production, if someone succeeds in building a nuclear power plant. This reflects the current state of the local energy market, but it is really only a minor change related to the map. Germany in general is significantly more classic in terms of gameplay, than the progressive US.
The new maps each add its special rules, which make it at least slightly different from the original version. However, this does not mean, that the owners of the original boxes cannot apply these rules and play with their boxes without acquiring the Recharged edition.
The new rules common to both maps are partially taken from the already mentioned Deluxe version. The first is a random supply of power plants for the initial auction. This makes the beginning of the game much more variable and interesting. Then there are mandatory starting cities for advanced players, who each place city on the map before starting the game and then have to use these places for their first building. In doing so, they are not obliged to use exactly that space, they have chosen, but may steal one from their rival.
But there are also cosmetic changes. First of all, it is an order indicator, that has two rows, so players can move the house down a row after their turn to indicate, that they have finished. The main change is two tokens – a discount and an auction hammer. The latter only serves to indicate the currently auctioned power plant, that players are fighting for. Discount token has more interesting rules. The cheapest power plant is marked with it and has a starting price reduced to one electro (currency of this game).
A very important novelty, however, is a variant for two called Against the Trust. It brings the third power into the game and it will give players a true challenge. Its simple rules mean, that it always chooses the most advantageous purchases, builds buildings in cities and thus generally complicates player’s task with competition. This makes the duel much more competitive. If we should mention one novelty, that makes it worthwhile to buy Recharged edition, then this is the one (but consider, that you can find rules for it online).
We admit, that we fell in love with the original version of Power Grid and we are happy to return to it today. That’s why we were really curious, what the new edition will bring. And we were pleasantly surprised. Although the news is scarce, they are definitely a step for the better and make a great game even better by a thread. It’s not much. Power Grid is great game even in the base box. It is a clever strategic treat, that every lover of economic games should try. And in its Recharged version, it has the brightest shine it has ever offered.