Power Grid

Power Grid

subject_name=Power Grid
image_caption=In "Power Grid", players compete to build up electrical networks from scratch and be the player to power the most cities at game end
players=2 to 6
designer=Friedemann Friese
publisher=Rio Grande Games
ages=12 and up
setup_time=approx. 20 minutes
playing_time=120+ minutes
skills=Auction, Resource Management
footnotes =

"Power Grid" is a multiplayer German-style board game designed by Friedemann Friese and published by Rio Grande Games. It is also well-known in its earlier version, "Funkenschlag", published in Germany by 2F-Spiele.

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.


*1 board (map, scoring track, resource market) on both sides (Germany and U.S.A.)
*132 wooden houses (22 each in green, yellow, red, blue, lilac, and natural)
*84 wooden tokens (24 coal (brown), 24 oil (black), 24 garbage (yellow), 12 uranium (red))
*money (in Elektro)
*5 summary cards: order of play/payments
*43 power plant cards (42 power plant cards and 1 "Step 3" card)


The game comes with a double-sided board with a map of the United States of America and Germany on either side. After a map is chosen and placed in the middle of the table, each player selects one area. There are six areas, each of a different color: red, green, brown, yellow, purple, and blue. The players collectively choose the areas, the only restriction being that the areas must be adjacent. (The players may begin building their networks on the first turn in "any" of the colored areas.)

The players each choose a color and take the wooden houses in that color. Each player places one on the Scoring Track (which relates to how many cities this player has connected) and one on the Playing Order track. The Resource Market is then prepared based on a grid found on the back of the booklet, adding the wooden tokens representative of four fuel sources: coal, oil, garbage, and uranium. The number of tokens placed on the Market depend on the number of players in the game. Players also receive $50 in Elektro (the game's currency) to start with.

The Power Plant Market is then laid out. Power Plants are depicted on 3"×3" cards and are numbered 03 to 50. Each Power Plant card indicates the initial cost, the type of fuel it needs to run, the amount of fuel it can store, and how many cities it can power. Eight cards (03 through 10) are laid out for the Power Plant Market in a two-by-four grid to start the game.

The game is then played over a number of rounds. In each round, five phases are followed:
# Determine the Player Order
# Auction Power Plants
# Buying Resources
# Building
# Bureaucracy

Phase 1: Determine the Player Order

The colored player tokens on the Playing Order track are rearranged based on the number of cities that player has connected. The player with the most connected cities is placed on the first spot, and the remaining player token are placed in descending order of connected cities. Ties are resolved by the player with the higher-numbered power plant going first. (On the first turn, the player order is random.)

Phase 2: Auction Power Plants

During the first turn, every player is required to buy a power plant. During other turns, purchasing a power plant is optional. However, each player is limited to owning a maximum of three power plants at any one time. If a player already owns three power plants and purchases another, one of the power plants must then be discarded. During the first round after power plants are purchased, the player order is redetermined according to the normal rules.

The leading player starts the auction phase, selecting a power plant for the auction and making the opening bid. The opening bid must be at least the number listed on the Power Plant card. In clockwise order, each player who hasn't bought a power plant this turn has an opportunity to bid or pass. If he elects to pass, he is out of the bidding for that Plant. Once the Plant is purchased (everyone else has passed), then the cost of the highest bid is paid to the bank, and the player places the Plant in front of him. The highest remaining player who hasn't bought a power plant this turn opens the bidding for the next plant, and so on, until everyone has purchased one plant or passed on buying this turn. If, when it is a player's turn to choose a power plant to bid on, he may pass but he is then not allowed to purchase a power plant during that turn.

As power plants are purchased, they are replaced from the draw pile. During Steps 1 and 2 of the game, only the lowest-numbered four power plants (of the eight displayed) are available for purchase. During Step 3 of the game, only six power plants are displayed but they are all available for purchase.

Phase 3: Buying Resources

Starting with the player in LAST place on the Playing Order track, and working backwards, players purchase the resources that their Power Plants can use or store. Players pay the cheapest going rate on the Resource Market. Because of the reverse player order in this round, players that are behind (have the fewest connected cities) pay less for resources. As the resources are purchased, players place them on their Power Plants. They can buy as many as the icons on the Power Plant card indicate, times two. That is, a Power Plant can store an extra set of resources.

Phase 4: Building

During this phase, a player seeks to expand his power network. This phase is also played in reverse player order, thus, players that are behind have better choices for purchasing connections to cities. Each city is divided into three sections and labeled "10", "15", or "20". At the beginning of the game, players will place their wooden buildings on the "10" section of a given city. This costs 10 Elektros. The player can branch out into another city, paying the connection cost (the number on the pipe connecting the two cities) plus the 10 Elektros for setting up in that city. Later in the game, the sections marked "15" and "20" can be used as part of a player's network (Steps 2 & 3 respectively), but in the initial Step 1, only one player may occupy any given city.

If at any time, a player has equal or more cities than the lowest-numbered power plant displayed (available for purchase), then the lowest-numbered power plant is removed from those available for purchase and is placed in the discard pile. The power plant is replaced with the card from the top of the draw pile, then the available power plants are sorted from lowest to highest.

Phase 5: Bureaucracy

Every player "fires" their power plants, consuming the resources that were purchased and earning the player money. The player's plants produce the electricity for the number of cities that it can support, assuming the player has that many connected cities in his network. For example, the #10 Power Plant card can power two cities with two coal. The resources used are removed, and the player is paid in Elektros based on a provided scale. The more connected cities that are powered, the more money the player earns.

During Steps 1 and 2, the highest-numbered power plant is removed from those displayed and placed at the bottom of the draw pile. During Step 3, the lower-numbered power plant is removed from those displayed and is put in the discard pile. The removed power plant is replaced from the top of the draw pile and the power plants available are resorted, lowest to highest.

Game steps

These phases are repeated until certain "steps" are reached. These are as follows:

* Step 1: Play as detailed above, only one player can occupy a given city.
* Step 2: After a player has connected his 7th city during the Building Phase, Step 2 begins. The lowest Power Plant in the market is removed from the game and replaced by a new one from the draw pile. Players can build in to the "15" spaces in cities.
* Step 3: When the "Step 3" card appears in the Power Plant draw pile, Step 3 begins and the game enters the final stretch. Players can build in to "20" spaces in cities, and new rules governing the selection and availability of Power Plants are enacted.

End game

The game ends after the bureaucracy phase once one player connects a minimum of:
*21 cities for a 2-player game
*17 cities for a 3 or 4-player game
*15 cities for a 5-player game
*14 cities for a 6-player game

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 cities, then the most money.

Differences in editions

The "29" plant in the 1st edition was printed with a capacity to power 3 cities. Friedemann Friese has made it clear that he intended this plant to have a capacity to power 4 cities. 2nd edition copies of Power Grid have this correction incorporated. If you play with a 1st edition copy, you should agree before play whether you will play the "29" plant as printed, or with the corrected capacity.


The "France & Italy Expansion" for "Power Grid" was published in 2005. The expansion requires the original game to play. As with the original, the board has a different map on each side: 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 (called "waste" in the expansion rules), making Plant 06 a viable first plant.

Benelux/Central Europe

The "Benelux & Central Europe Expansion" for "Power Grid" was published in 2006. The expansion requires the original game to play. As with the original, the board has a different map on each side: Benelux and Central Europe. Along with the maps 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.

Power Plant Deck 2

The "Power Plant Deck 2 Expansion" for "Power Grid" was published in 2007. It was released at Spiel (the annual game fair in Essen) in 2007 and will be available for purchase in the United States around October 2007.


"China & Korea Expansion" for "Power Grid" was published in 2008. The expansion requires the original game to play. As with the original, the board has a different map on each side: China and Korea. Along with the maps are small rule changes to reflect the power culture in these two regions. On the Korean side, players are confronted first with richly varying geographical challenges, making building expensive. In addition, because of the political division between North and South, players must buy their resources from a divided market. 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. Additionally, the resource table is designed such that resources are likely to be in short supply as the game proceeds. Players must plan their resource needs very carefully or find their grid dark and their incomes reduced.


* "Games Magazine" Games 100
* Spiel des Jahres Recommended

* International Gamers Awards Best Strategy Game Nominee
* Meeples Choice Awards Top 3 of 2004

External links

* Rio Grande Games' [http://www.riograndegames.com/games.html?id=5 "Power Grid" webpage]
* 2F-Spiele's [http://www.2f-spiele.de/spiele/funken.htm "Funkenschlag" webpage] de icon
* [http://www.brettspielwelt.de/Spiele/Funkenschlag/ "Funkenschlag" online ] at BrettspielWelt
* [http://www.thegamesjournal.com/reviews/PowerGrid.shtml "PowerGrid" review] at "The Games Journal"

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