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Power Grid is the English-language edition of the multiplayer German-style board game Funkenschlag (in its second incarnation) designed by Friedemann Friese. 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.

Game play

The game comes with a double-sided board with a map of the United States of America and Germany on either side. 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: 1. Determining Player Order. 2. Auction Power Plants. 3. Buying Resources 4. Building and 5. Bureaucracy.

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. Tie breakers first look at who has the most money, then the most cities.

Phase 1: Determining Turn Order
Turn order is rearranged according to two criteria. The first is the number of cities a player has connections to. A player with more connections is placed before a player with fewer connections. The second criteria is the highest number plant a player owns. When players own the same number of cities a player with a higher number plant is placed before a player with a lower number plant. (Exception: To begin the game turn order is determined randomly to bid on auction power plants, and then rearranged after power plants are purchased per the normal rules).

Phase 2: Auction Power Plants
Turn order determines who begins the bid on a power plant. A player may choose to pass rather than bid on a plant in which case they forfeit the chance to bid on any power plants this round. A player must begin with a bid of a value equal to or higher than the number on an available power plant. After an initial bid players in clockwise order have the chance to either bid a higher value or pass. This continues until every player has passed on the current bid. Once a plant is purchased the next player in turn order (which may still be the first player) again has the option to bid on an available plant. The phase ends when every player has either purchased a plant or passed their opportunity to bid on a plant. When any plant is purchased a new one is drawn from the deck to replace it, however the available power plants are always re-arranged in number order. Thus a newly drawn plant may push a plant into the lower row making it no longer to be bid upon or vice/versa.

Phase 3: Buying Resources
In reverse turn order players have the opportunity to buy resources for their plants. The player in last place of turn order. Players may only purchases 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, may hold up to four oil. As resources are purchased they become more expensive thus the person in last of the turn order has the opportunity to buy resources at the cheapest prices for the round.

Phase 4: Building
Again 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 ‘Elektro’ and is the only slot available in Step 1. Step 2 makes the second slot available at a cost of 15 Elektro, and Step 3 makes the final slot available at a cost of 20 Elektro.

Phase 5: Bureaucracy
During this phase players expend resources to power their cities and earn more income (Elektro) 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 ranking from lowest to highest. The first row of the lowest numbered plants are 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 is removed (this is only performed once). 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 is removed 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.

Funkenschlag

The original game of Funkenschlag 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.

Editions

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.

Funkenschlag/Power Grid

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 head-quarters) 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.

Vysoké napětí

The Czech/Slovak edition features the Central Europe map (from the Central Europe/Benelux expansion) and the Germany map.

Mégawatts

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.

Other editions

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.

Expansions

All expansions require the original game to play.

#1: France/Italy

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 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.

It was released at Spiel (the annual game fair in Essen) in 2007.

#4: China/Korea

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.

#6: Russia/Japan

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, the players can start two separate networks in Japan. The first connections are restricted to certain cities.

#7: The Robots

This will be released in November 2011. The Robots expansion adds 30 tiles to create variations of AI players designed to be used when playing with 2 players.

Promo Expansions

These items are small, single or multiple card promotional items that can be added to supplement the base game.

Flux Generator

The Flux Generator is a power plant that can fire any 3 resources to power 6 cities.

Theme Park

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.

Transformer Station

The Transformer Station is a technology card that can be connected to a power plant to supply an additional city.

Warehouse

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.

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.

Spin-off Games

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 at 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.

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