Number of Players: 2 to 6

Grade Levels: Junior High and Up

Length: 60 Minutes

Investment: Medium
Return: High

NYS Standards:

SS Standard 3: Students will use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of the geography of the interdependent world in which we live…
SS Standard 4: Students will use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of how the United States and other societies develop economic systems and associated institutions to allocate scarce resources, … and how an economy solves the scarcity problem through market and nonmarket mechanisms.
MST Standard 4: Students will understand and apply scientific concepts, principles, and theories pertaining to the physical setting and living environment and recognize the historical development of ideas in science.

AASL Standards:

1.1.2: Use prior/background knowledge as context for new learning
3.1.5: Connect learning to community issues
4.1.5 Connect ideas to own interests and previous knowledge and experience

Yumm… renewable and non-renewable energy supplies, smothered in geographically based resources, all with a creamy nougat center.

Science is always a hard curricular standard to find a good game to match, but Rio Grande’s Power Grid delivers. In Power Grid, players work to expand their network of cities, by bidding on power plants and purchasing resources.  The game employs a clever balancing mechanism, allowing the player in the lead first bid on power plants but then putting them up last for purchasing resources and expanding their network.

There are several energy options available for use in the game. Coal tends to be cheap and abundant early in the game, but is usually not efficient and becomes scarcer later in the game.  Oil’s efficiency is slight higher than coal, but so is its price tag.  Garbage is a pricey investment early in the game, but becomes more readily available as the game progresses.  Uranium never tends to come too far down in price, but can be remarkably efficient. And lastly, wind energy is… free.

The base game comes with a two sided board featuring the United States and Germany, but there are also several other game board available for purchase, including: Central Europe, Italy/France, and China/Korea.  Most boards come with slight alterations to the rules that reflect the energy consumption and resource availability of a particular area.

Power Grid fills a lot of curricular needs.  From geography, to investment, money management, and diminishing returns, to discussions of energy alternatives and why resources are replenished at different rates over the course of the game.  Power Grid delivers with a very low need for investment.  The game play is quick to pick up, with just a few simple stages to learn.  These can easily be solved by creating a reference sheet or downloading one from Board Game Geek.

What is most exciting is the research potential of this game.  The available maps provide an excellent model for students to begin researching and creating their own power grid map based on the geography and available resources of the area they are studying. Overall, a wonderfully accessible game and rewarding game.