Power Grid: Factory Manager; a brief review

I’m guessing that the Queen doesn’t play Dominion much. She reigns over the British Empire (such as it is as we struggle to hold on to any kind of global, um, dominion, from our tiny and rather sad little island) and probably decides she’d rather play Race for the Galaxy instead. After all, she’s not spent as much time sending her subjects into space; it probably feels a little fresher, a little less like the everyday grind.

I can empathise with the Queen a little. As I lounge upon my chaise long being fed cherries by a tanned and lubed-up dude, I laugh at you all, just like she does. You filthy peasants.

***wakes up***

My empathy with her Queeness lies more in the fact that Powergrid: Factory Manager feels too much like work to me. Not hard-slog work, just the work I go to every day.

The game itself and the mechanics are sound. Players bid workers from their pool allowing them first dibs on new machinery and equipment as it becomes available from the general pool. This good stuff is paid for with money and installed in your factory with a worker and from then on it gives you bonuses or penalties to production, storage, automation and power efficiency (dependent on what you’ve installed). More automation frees up workers to bid and install more good stuff. More production and storage increases income. Greater energy efficiency ensures your profit margin remains high as energy costs escalate.

It’s a great little system requiring a delicate balancing act between energy consumption, workforce and production. The components are sturdy; wooden meeple workers and chunky equipment tiles. You can almost hear the ‘ker-ching!’ as you rip out that old inefficient boiler that required two fat old men in flat caps to continually shovel coal into, and replace it with the latest nuclear fusion device that will initiate a visit from the Esso Mafia should they find out about it.

You had better invest in some heavily armed bodyguards or you’ll get your knees blasted clean off and your head made into a spreadable cheese for the Esso chairman’s next fancy-dress ball.

I’m getting ahead of myself. The Esso Expansion will only be available in 2012.

I do like this game, but I wouldn’t want to play it often, simply because of the theme. Any other theme would do for this game to become a winner. For five days I slog at my crappy job and on Fridays we break out the games. Darren said “I have a new game; Factory Manager!!” and we all went: “Oooooh, aaaaaaah!!” 10 minutes into it however, I felt like I was back at work.


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