If you can’t win, lose with style
Published: Sunday 2005-01-09.
More or less every Sunday I meet up with a couple of friends to play board games (and card games). I found this group after hearing a radio spot on board games, mentioning the wonderful Norwegian web site brettspill.no, a site dedicated to board games.
Today, one of the games we played is Power Grid, a game which is about buying power plants and supplying power to cities. It felt quite topical today considering the storm that passed by Scandinavia this weekend made several hundred thousand households lose their power. Anyway, the way to win it is to buy good power plants, build a good power grid and get cheap raw materials. I got a bit of a bad start, buying an expensive power plant and having to go last (the one that gets the worst power plant goes first and can select where to go), which meant that I had to start in a part of the map that wasn’t the best.
Well, I did get off fairly well, being in the lead for a while, but I never really managed to procure the power plants I really wanted and when I was certain that I would lose the game, I felt like I should at least lose with style. The game ends after the round when a player connects his 17th city to his power grid and at the time where it was clear that the game would soon end, I had eleven cities connected and power plants and raw materials enough to supply eleven cities with electricity. You can connect as many cities as you wish, but you only get paid for the number of cities you actually supply and since I had not bought a power plant that round due to not having found one that I could upgrade any of the three I had (three being the maximum) to supply more cities, and I knew that one way or another, this would be my last turn, I decided I would at least end the game with the most cities connected.
So, in the last round, I connected seven more cities, jumping from eleven cities to eighteen. No-one else built a lot that round, since it wouldn’t make much of a difference, so I did end up with the most cities. Of course, since I only could supply eleven of them, I completely lost the game. But at least I lost it in style.
Power Grid is a fun game, and is highly recommended. The English translation is a bit weird, though (the game is originally German, known as Neues Funkenschlag), since the game instructions has the terms backwards compared to the cards. But once you have figured that out, the rules aren’t too complicated.
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