|Game of Energy|
Designer: Nathan Wright
Publisher: Nimex Games
Over the past few months I've been watching a game grow and evolve on a few of the game design groups I'm a member of on Facebook. I even helped with input on the design of the game board and some other components. I watched the artwork go from good to great with a lot of input from myself and a number of other people. It was really a pretty cool experience. So when designer Nathan Wright asked if I would review Game of Energy before its Kickstarter campaign (which launches on
Game of Energy is a very thematic, medium weight tile laying, economic, Euro style game for 1-4 players ages 14+ (although I think 10+ could handle it fine) and plays in about 45-60 minutes. The game is $45, plus shipping. In addition to getting more information on the Kickstarter Page, you can actually try the game out on Tabletop Simulator!
When Game of Energy arrived for me to review the first thing that struck me was the quality and care that went into making this prototype. The components are far from top notch quality, but this is a prototype and for a prototype the quality is outstanding. I've received games without any packaging, games that have had hand cut components, home made game boards, etc. all before, and Game of Energy was no exception. But what set it apart was the incredible attention to detail and care that went into making this prototype. Aside from having incredible artwork and very nice, prototype components, everything was sorted and individually bagged and labeled. The whole game arrived packed in a big plastic scrapbooking storage case with more bubble wrap and packing peanuts keeping everything protected than what I often get from Amazon shipments. The game even included an awesome 3D printed card holder that allows you to slide cards to the bottom of the draw deck instead of just picking up the deck and placing your card at the bottom. This is a game that was made and crafted with love and pride and the amount of care that went into creating the prototype is a great indicator that the final product will likely be cared about just as much.
|Game of Energy is chock full of beautiful components.|
|The prototype is printed on corrugated plastic, |
but the final game will be an actual game board.
In Game of Energy each player represents an industrialist that is competing for a huge contract from the United Nations to provide energy to the world. They must balance the production of energy with environmental friendliness. Energy Credits are the currency used in the game (and are good playing card stock, not flimsy paper) and are spent to Permit (build) various types of power plants (solar, wind, hydroelectric, biofuel, fossil fuel, and nuclear) in one of four different territory types on the board; Flatlands, Mountains, Shoreline, and Tundra. Players earn more Energy Credits for permitting green energy industries, like wind and solar, but dirty energy industries, like fossil fuels and nuclear cost more, take up more space, and produce a lot more energy, measured in Terawatt Hours (TWh), which are the points in the game. So the game becomes a balancing act between earning enough Energy Credits to permit power plants and permitting power plants that provide more energy. And to top it all off, every time you build a power plant you need to place a tile onto the game board in one of the terrain types. Space is limited, and so is the number of each industry available, so eventually there isn't room to build those big fossil fuel plants and then players are also competing to get those smaller, greener plants built before space, and tiles run out.
|Every turn has interesting decisions to make as |
the game grows and evolves.
Once a player has drawn their Grid Card they then earn any Energy Credits they have coming. This value will be lower at the beginning of the game, but will increase as the game progresses and players have more power plants earning them credits, a nice engine building aspect of the game. It is possible to have debt that has to be repaid (because of calamities caused by the Grid Cards), but the rest can be used to Permit industries. But industries cannot be Permitted just anywhere. A custom die is rolled and it will indicate which of the four Territory types industries can be Permitted in this turn. Then the player spends credits and adds the appropriate tiles to one of the Territories that match the die. But there are four territory types and six sides to the die. The other two sides indicate an Investment, which is a small deck of 10 Investment cards, 6 good and 4 bad investments. If a player rolls an Investment they may choose any one of the Investment cards and then earn or pay the credits indicated. Then they may Permit industries in any Territory type of their choosing. So it's a gamble, but the payoff could be pretty good. Alternately, a player can choose to end their turn any time after rolling the die, but before Permitting any industries and take another Grid Card. Then the final step of a player's turn is to play Grid Cards so that they only have two left in their hand.
|As the game progresses, Territories fill |
up, making placement an interesting challenge
|In the end it's the player that produces the most TWh that wins.|
The four player game we played was great! There was a lot of player interaction, the decisions were important, and having four players on the board really tightened things up. So yes, I was very happy with how well the game played with four players. There were a few balance issues with some of the Grid Cards and Captains of Industry, but I've been in touch with the designer and all of that is being worked on still. They weren't huge issues and the ideas that Nathan is working on sound great. I also gave him a few suggestions for some adjustments to how different industries earn energy credits and those are also going to be tested out. Another big change between the game I played and the final version will be for games with fewer player counts. Rather than the entire board being used for all player counts, there will be a few areas that will have alternate borders to make the playable area smaller and tighter, creating more tension with the placement of power plants with fewer players. A much better solo variant is also being tested out and will hopefully make it into the final game rules, or possibly as a future expansion, but I feel confident that a solo variant is very doable with Game of Energy. Right now Game of Energy is a good game, but I think it'll be a GREAT game by the time it is ready for production.
Overall I am very happy with Game of Energy. Especially after hearing about the additional improvements to both gameplay and components that are still being worked on, I think Game of Energy will be a wonderful gateway game. The rules are easy and straightforward, the theme is very accessible, the artwork is absolutely gorgeous, has multiple layers of strategy and depth, is somewhat educational, and most of all it was a ton of fun to play! I can't wait for Game of Energy to hit Kickstarter and highly recommend it to anyone looking for a great, medium weight game that is good for families, casual gamers, and the occasional hard core gamer. This is a winner that should please just about everyone that has the opportunity to play!
Look for Game of Energy on Kickstarter starting
This review is of a prototype game. Components and rules are not final and are subject to change.