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A different take on a railway game, where you try to connect tracks. Here you try to connect POWER! Players string together power lines by using oil, coal, or uranium. 2F's games always use some interesting new mechanisms and this game is no exception.
I have played 6 games so far, and this remains one of my favorite games. The components are really pretty poor (the map and score track are too large to fit in the box and get bent, and the yellow crayon can't be seen on the map), but I like it well enough I have redone my own boards that fit in the box. The only places luck enter into the game are the initial draw which only affects the initial power plant auction, and the order power plants appear -- the first doesn't really make an impact and the second provides enough variability that blindly sticking to a strategy will fail. The resource market works well, and being in the lead is punished enough by buying resources at higher rates (or potentially not being available) and building last that you have to decide at which point it is valuable to be in the lead (which typically means you are getting more income). Highly recommended.
This is an excellent, slightly meatier, economic game. Players are competing to build power lines to cities (sort of a la Eurorails), purchase power plants to generate the power, and buy resources on the open market to fuel the plants.
The supply side of the game is quite well-done. There are 4 different kinds of fuel (coal, oil, trash, and uranium) which are available for different prices and have different rates of supply (which change as the game goes on). Plants are then sold by action, with value of a plant being affected not only by whether or not its capacity matches your current needs, but also the state of the market for the requisite fuel (and some plants can run on either coal and/or oil, or do not require fuel). This is always the stuff of good auction games, when the commodities can have complex and very different values to different players based on their current and future situations.
A lot to like here, as the game has simple rules but is hard to master. The game is not a typical Euro as it presents tough choices and similarly tough penalties for getting them wrong. Still, the game is not too long (should be about 2-3 hours, although number of players and playing style can make a big difference - 4 players is probably ideal, as more seems to lengthen the game quite a bit). One of the best games from Essen '01, a very unique and interesting design and so far Herr Friese's best, in my opinion.
Funkenschlag is a resource management game of building power plants and transmission lines.
The game is played in several phases:
The goal is to have the most cities connected to and supplied with power.
What makes this game work is all of the decisions are finely balanced--you have to be careful on how to divide your limited cash resources. You need early revenue that a cheap power plant can provide, good lines built to nearby cities and still have enough to buy the fuel you need. Rarely can you get all three.
As the game progresses, you have to worry about upgrading plants and finishing lines to more distant cities and getting fuel supplies. Do you risk pouring money into an expensive new plant or getting the cheapest route to a different part of the map or buying up fuel while it is relatively cheap? You really can't sit on your laurels in this game.
The game is a bit on the long side (the 6 player game I played took about 3 hours--but I expect that to drop with fewer players and more experience), but the game was fun all of the way through.
We had a good time playing this game; so good we played it twice in one day. The mechanisms for supply and demand and the effect on prices is simple and clever, and the power plant/resource mechanism is pretty well balanced.
One caveat: the components are dreadful. You'll almost certainly want to make photocopies of the map to draw on rather than use the one provided and expect to be able to erase the crayons.
Another caveat: Both times we played the 'short' version which took only about an hour. Both times the player who acquired a large windmill (takes no resources) ran away with the game. There are a variety of reasons for this, but suffice it to say that the short game could be quite fun if you remove the windmills. Otherwise you'll just have to play the long game, which I imagine would be quite satisfying since the windmills don't supply enough power to connect a large grid.
A cautious recommendation for those who are not big business-game fans, but a hearty one for fans of 1830 and its ilk. We had fun!
Cards illustrate a power plant (priced from $1 to $60), its fuel (garbage, coal, oil, or nuclear energy), and the quantity needed to supply a number of cities. Phases start with auctions, where everyone can acquire an available plant for at least its minimum value. Pay to draw power lines (in your color) connecting cities on the map; rivers and mountains are expensive obstacles. Purchase fuel to stock the plants. Each fuel's cost increases the more it is bought or stocked. At the end of each round, players add up income earned for the cities they supply by spending fuel. Whoever supplies the most cities, when one player has 20 connected cities, prevails. Keenly balance your tight budget between plants (especially the most efficient but expensive ones that come into play late in the game) and fuel in a volatile market. Minor flaws mar this electrifying gaming experience: Be sure to invest in dry-erase markers and some Plexiglas to flatten the board.
The most recent addition from Essen's man with green hair (Friedemann Friese) is a serious business game, containing elements of the Mayfair crayon games, limited resources and a variety of ways of getting to the winning conditions.
The aim of the game is to supply a number of cities with power (electricity). The cities are evenly distributed on a board, which contains rivers, hills and sea coves. Players build a network of power lines over which power stations supply electricity. The power stations are purchased via an auction that is the first action in each game round.
There are a variety of types of power station. Each power station card contains the same information:
After this, players start to draw the network of power lines across the map. At the beginning of the game, networks are very small. It takes several turns to join up to the next cities and during the first phase each city may only be connected to the power grid of one player. The networks are marked on the map using crayons and this prompts my first gripe about the presentation of the game. The crayon marks are difficult to remove from the mapboard. Fortunately, Herr Friese has recognized this and now supplies a cloth to remove them. (Obtainable from him by email email@example.com)
My second concern is the way that the board fits into the box. It appears that the box size is one that 2F-Spiele have used before and the board has been bent to fit. It does not spoil the game as it can be flattened out, but it is disappointing that this was not dealt with -- perhaps by cutting the board or re-shaping it in some way.
Players supply their power stations with resources, which are purchased from a stock market containing the raw materials. So coal, the cheapest resource, is used to supply coal power stations; oil for oil power stations etc. As a percentage of starting capital, the cost of these resources is considerable and so at the beginning you have to be careful how much you bid for power stations, as you will also need to buy resources and to allow enough money for expansion of your network of power lines. Later in the game, the cost of resources is only a fraction of the cost of the power stations and money flows in more readily.
Phase two is started when one player connects 8 cities. This allows each city to be connected to 2 player's networks. Phase 3 begins when a card in the power station card deck is revealed and this allows each city to be connected to 3 networks belonging to 3 players.
I have found that the pricing of resources does not inhibit growth and so far the games I have played have allowed plenty of resources. Perhaps this is because the wind powered plants do not require any resources. As these power stations supply several cities, those players probably will not need to buy resources from the market, so the availability of resources is better for the other players.
In Essen, the games played at the 2F-spiele stand ran out of resources, so they had the opposite kind of problem. Maybe this arose because the wind powered power stations did not get purchased? Either way it suggests some kind of balancing is required.
My final concern is that it may not prove possible to catch the leaders. My experience so far is that once someone establishes a lead early on, they can, by playing sensibly, maintain that lead through expanding at the same or better rates than their rivals. As the money received for supplying more cities increases (although the incremental income is smaller for each city), it is possible for the leaders to maintain their leads. Some gaming groups may like this aspect of course, but there could have been some tax on larger routes that made the race to win closer than it appears to be at present.
So is this game a recommended purchase? Despite my reservations, I did enjoy playing it. Networks do expand and the auction for power stations works well, since, as better ones become available, the fact that you are limited to three power stations means that you do scrap old ones in favour of more efficient plants. The drawing of networks on maps is also a good aspect of the game (Mayfair could not have sold their Empire Builder series if were not.). My overall opinion is that the game is enjoyable but may have some rough edges. The designer has some neat ideas in the game, but they require more testing before I feel able to form a definite recommendation. I look forward to seeing more commentary on the game.