Tabletop Game Review: Power Failure

Power Failure by Genius Games
2 to 4
~45 minutes
Perfect for:
Groups and families who enjoy card management, tableau-building games with a hint of dexterity.

Power Failure is a game of electricity generation! Players must collect resources which can in turn be used to build power plants. Those plants then power cities, netting a player victory points. However, constructing plants and producing energy results in carbon emissions, represented by a tower of blocks that builds as the game goes on. Toppling the tower means consequences for all!

To begin Power Failure, two to four players collect a set of three cubes and a player mat. The mat indicates the actions a player can take on their turn: 1) procure a card from the supply, 2) play a card, or 3) activate one type of plant to power a city. The supply of cards contains a mix of power plants to build, fuel, and special actions. As an example, a special card might allow a player to pay less energy to power a city of their choosing that round. Players go through rounds building more plants and powering cities until no more remain. At that point, the player with the most victory points wins.

RELATED: Tabletop Game Review – Ecosystem

What works in Power Failure is the combination of mechanics resulting a game that has an appropriate amount of variation and complexity but is still simple enough to appeal to wide audience. There are a few solid options players can select from for their strategy. They could build green plants which will take longer to produce high amounts of energy, but they require fewer resources. By contrast, individuals can go for bigger plants, but their output means more blocks added to the tower. This means the carbon tower stacking element adds thrills as an equalizer. If the tower collapses during growth, that player ends their turn and all players lose a card.

Players who don’t enjoy games without direct competition may not enjoy Power Failure as much as others. In general, individuals make the best decision/play they can on their turn, given what is available to them. There’s no real mechanic to thwart or interfere with opponents. Furthermore, there is a minor element of luck. The green power plants produce energy equal to the value on the back of the next card to enter the supply. These range from 0 to 2. As such, players who have those plants may have stretches where they produce less than optimal amounts of power.

Power Failure is a game that’s bigger than its box at an incredible value. It’s very simple to learn but has enough depth to keep gamers of all types engaged and planning strategically.

Recommended if you like: Power Grid, Happy City

Final Grade: A

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Fox Troilo

Fox serves as an entertainment journalist in the Washington, D.C. When not covering cinematic news for LRM, he critiques films as a member of the Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association. Fox also has a Ph.D. in Higher Education and Strategy from Indiana University Bloomington.

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