Monday, July 4, 2011
Megawatts- More Cerebral Eurofun
I got lucky and ended up settling near Triple Play Games in New Hampshire. Each week Triple Play hosts a board game night and I've been able to play oodles of new games. The plus side of this is getting to play weird but fun games like Chaos in the Old World. The downside is noticing a trend in some games towards clever rules that are increasingly disconnected from actual visceral fun.
Megawatts is part of the Power Grid line of games. In these games the players compete improve and enlarge their power plants and to provide power to more and more cities. Megawatts is set in Eastern Canada and allows you to serve Quebec, Montreal, and nearby areas. Other versions of the game cover other regions of the world, in a fashion similar to the Ticket to Ride line.
Play in Megawatts has several phases. Players bid on a random selection of power plants. Next the players buy resources which activate the plants and then claim areas of the board to serve. Each area that is successfully powered earns you money with which to buy better power plants, more resources, and serve more regions. The game combines a bidding mechanic which is fun enough with some basic math as you try and make sure you have enough money to purchase resources and expand your services.
Megawatts is fun. It's fun to bid well and plan your power empire. But I'm not sure it's any More fun than successfully saving and paying your real life taxes, or more fun than budgeting for your week and successfully having money left over for more games. So yes, there is the thrill of successfully completing a task, but is that task really entertaining per se? The success of the Power Grid line suggests that enough people find it plenty fun indeed but I'm feeling a certain failure in visceral enjoyment.
I think Megawatts is probably a great group game for people who enjoy an intellectual challenge. It is well designed and seems balanced. But creating the best power delivery structure seems to me to be even less thrilling than Airlines:Europe. In summary- a great system design but for me- lacking in narrative strength.