Its the end of the 20th century and the European electric grids are all powered by fossil fuels mainly coal and natural gas. You run one of the six regional power grids and it is your job to transition from fossil fuel to more green options all while providing your region with enough power to meet the demand. This is the world of Gigawatt designed by Milo van Holsteijn and Wouter Vink. This game is currently available for late pledge on Kickstarter.
There are 5 steps to each turn in Gigawatt. Each of the phases have plenty of interesting actions for each player. The game has a many different strategies that you can adopt as you play through the game and this makes the game all the more interesting.
The first step in the game is the technology cards. These are optional to use but add in some nice flavor to the game. Technology cards have a wide range of effects on the game and most don't cost a lot. There is however the Carbon Tax card in the mix and this will charge your company per fossil fuel power plant that you have and the rates get higher and higher throughout the 3 phases of the game. The Carbon Tax card is one of two ways your company can go bankrupt and lose the game.
The second step of the turn is simply building your new power plants, connections and storage. Each region on the board has certain specialties that offer discounts on certain items. Each region only has 13 spots to build on and as you fill them up it will cost you more to build. There are also spots dedicated to a specific power plant or storage. You aslo build in this step connections to adjacent markets. This allows you to trade GW cubes at a higher rate. Normally you may trade just one cube however if you build the connection up then you can trade 4. Be careful not to spend all your money you may need it later in the turn.
The Carbon Tax card is one of two ways your company can go bankrupt and lose the game.
The third step is when demand for your region is determined. You roll a 6 sided die and move your demand marker up that many spaces. When you enter phase two (above 25) then you roll 2 six sided dice and then three when you enter phase three(above 45). If you ever get to 90 then you have lost the game. If you produce wind or solar then you will roll the wind and or solar die to determine production for the turn. They will either add full or half capacity of their power. The way to mark this is to move the cute plug from the plug and socket marker and move it up the added value from your wind and solar. You then earn income based on where your demand pawn is. Then you determine supply. If you are producing more than the demand for your region then you get green GW cubes if you are in a deficit then you get red GW cubes equal to the difference.
The fourth step is the trade and penalty step. This step is when you may trade your GW cubes. You do not want to have any of the GW cubes at the end of this phase as you will pay 3 for each cube. So trade or sell them to other players that you are connected to or to the External Markets. Once all the trading is done then each player pays penalties. If you cannot afford the penalty then you lose the game and are out.
The player that closes all of their fossil fuel plants and has a surplus of power for their region is the winner.
Finally the last step of the turn is the Closing Auction in this phase player bid on the right to close your a coal or gas power plant. There are up to 3 closing permits auctioned off each turn depending on player count. Not every player will be able to close a plant each turn. The player that closes all of their fossil fuel plants and has a surplus of power for their region is the winner.
Gigawatt is a fun game that really hits its theme head on. The game really makes you feel urgency to build green energy and do it fast. It also helps illustrate how difficult it can be and the balance that power grids have to maintain. The game plays fast and each of the steps in the turn were intuitive. The amount of time to set up and get playing is minimal. The stepped turns allows all the players to be in on the action almost constantly throughout the game which is a challenge for games that have a player count of up to 6. There is a quick version variant of the game and a solo version of the game both of which still maintain the fun of the game without sacrificing. I recommend taking a look at the kickstarter that is still accepting late pledges.
Year Published: 2022
Recommended Ages: 12+
Time to Play: 60-120
A copy of Gigawatt was provided to Bert's Tabletop Games for review purposes.