TV Shows and Board Games

It can be safely said that television plays a very large role in culture today. It is extremely rare to find someone who doesn’t pay attention to the programming on the networks today. This attention starts to bleed out into other forms of entertainment available to the public and this includes the world of board games. Popular television shows are beginning to find some life in the gaming industry and this is a fact that is unlikely to change anytime soon. Fans are becoming more and more outspoken about exactly what they like and when options are available to them to continue to enjoy their interests, especially in the world of board games, they will take them.

A number of popular television shows have been given a platform with board games in the form of trivia. Grey’s Anatomy, Sex and the City, I Love Lucy, and Desperate Housewives are just a few of the shows which have been given this trivia game treatment. With these board games, players often compete with each other in questions about the show’s storyline, the actors in the show, and production behind it. Fans who know the most, usually with some lucky throws of the dice, find themselves as the winner of the game. These games feature a simple board that players race around, landing on different spaces that usually denote the type of question that needs to be answered to progress. Trivia games based on popular television shows are usually popular with the fans because not only does it allow them to prove their status as super fans, but to usually learn something new about the show that they did not realize before.

Trivia games aren’t the only representation that television shows have in the board game world, however. Different shows are adaptable to different types of games, such as reality television. Some of these reality game shows have been adapted into board games, with Survivor, Big Brother, and The Amazing Race being some of the most popular ones. With Survivor, players race around the board for Immunity by solving different puzzles or trivia questions about survival skills. The first player to reach the end of the board wins the round and Immunity for that turn. Players will then vote one member of the game out of the running and onto the jury. Players who have previously been voted out return at the end of the game to determine the winner between the final two players, much like the show. The Amazing Race board game utilizes a DVD which allows players to experience some of the different cultures of the world while racing through the board, giving it an edge that other board games usually do not provide.

Lost gives its fans a strategy board game that changes each time it is played. By laying different tiles across the playing field, the board is built randomly each game and “the island” is never quite the same twice. It allows players to have a variety of different characters from the show and the novelty of this can last quite a while. Television can be a very creative outlet for storytelling and adventure and when these quality cross over into the board games representing the shows, quality entertainment can be enjoyed by all.

Power Grid Board Game Review

In Power Grid, a new power market has opened up and everything is up for grabs. Compete against other power suppliers as you work your way towards becoming the biggest power supplier in the land. Build power plants and control the market for raw materials such as garbage, oil, coal and uranium. Connect cities to your power grid before others do and become the greatest power magnate!

Power Grid is a strategy board game designed by Friedemann Friese and is a remake of the German board game Funkenschlag. Each player represents a power supply company trying to connect as many cities as possible to its power grid. To do so, you will have to build power plants to supply enough electricity to power your cities; own enough resources to run the power plants; and earn enough funds to connect the cities and buy the power plants and resources.

Each game of Power Grid is played on a board featuring a map of a region hungry for power. The base game comes with 2 maps: the USA and Germany. Each map shows the cities that can be connected to your power grid and the connection fees between the cities. For example, it is cheaper to connect Washington with nearby Philadelphia than it is to connect San Francisco to Seattle. The board also contains a grid showing the raw materials (coal, oil, garbage and uranium), how much is available and how much they cost.

There are 4 actions each round in your quest to power the most cities (the game ends when a player connects a certain number of cities, determined by the number of players). Firstly, players take turns to bid for power plants. These plants can be powered by materials such as oil, coal, garbage, uranium and wind. Each power plant also has different efficiencies (being able to power a different number of cities), but you pay for that efficiency by spending more to buy the more efficient power plants.

There is an order to the bidding process. The player with the most connected cities each round get to bid for power plants first. However, this is balanced by the fact that they will be the last to buy raw materials and connect cities. Buying raw materials involves grabbing coal, oil, garbage or uranium from the board at their current price. There is a raw materials market that changes depending on supply and demand. The materials replenish at a fixed rate each turn, and are consumed by players using the related power plants. The more of each material is available, the cheaper it is.

Connecting cities involves paying connection fees and placing your tokens on the connected cities. There are clusters of cities on each board where the connection fees are pretty cheap, but building in those areas means competing against more players who also want to take advantage of the cheap connections. Power Grid also divides the game into 3 phases: starting, growing and matured phases. Progressing from one phase to the next changes the amount of raw materials that are replenished each round, and also increases the number of players who can connect to each city.

The last action in the round is to power your cities. You use up the required raw materials and earn cash depending on how many cities you powered. You can then use this cash to buy more power plants and resources, and connect more cities the next round.

Power Grid is mainly about efficiency and strategic planning. The goal is to power as many cities as you can, and the player who is the most efficient and can do it the fastest will win. Also, how much are you willing to bid for that attractive power plant? Should you spend your limited funds connecting choice cities first or overbidding for that new power plant? Is it worth it to spend a bit more to connect to distant cities in order to cut other players off from a city network? Should you target cities in cheap but congested networks or go for the isolated expensive ones? These are questions you need to always keep in mind, and the answers will change depending on how your opponents play as well.

The game also has expansion boards and power plant sets. New boards include France, Central Europe, China and Korea, and each introduces interesting aspects to the game. For example, the order in which power plants are revealed in the China game reflect’s the country’s planned economy. Similarly, there are 2 resource markets in Korea to reflect the separate North and South economies, and the North Korea resource market doesn’t have uranium (right…).

Overall, Power Grid isn’t too challenging a game to learn. The mechanics are pretty straightforward and easily grasped, though it might take time to master the efficiency and fund-allocation required to be really good at it. The game takes just over 2 hours, and is one of few games that can play up to 6 players without losing its appeal or taking too long.

Complexity: 3.5/5.0

Playing Time: 2.0 to 2.5 hours

Number of Players: 2 to 6 players

Ticket To Ride Board Game Review

The industrial age is upon us and the time is ripe to show the world who is the greatest railroad baron in Ticket To Ride, the rail-building strategy board game. Use your resources and locomotives to connect the many cities on the map and build the greatest railway empire in the country. Build extensive and exclusive networks and fulfil city connection contracts before the other players. Strive to become the top dog in the industry and defeat the competition!

Ticket to Ride is a strategy board game by designer Alan R. Moon and is based on the railway theme. It was published in 2004 and won the Spiel des Jahres and Origins awards the same year. The game has an engaging theme and game play, and has an elegant simplicity. This has made it very popular and easy for players to pick up. It is considered one of the best ‘gateway’ games to introduce new players to the world of strategy board games, introducing key strategy concepts while keeping the game play and rules very simple.

The premise of Ticket to Ride is pretty straightforward: a bunch of railroad barons are racing to connect the many cities in the country by rail, and the winner is the player who creates the greatest rail network. How well you do is measured in victory points, which you earn by building individual city-to-city rail lines, by completing specific cross-country connections, and by fulfilling other goals (depending on which version and/or expansion of the game you are playing).

In the game, each city on the map is connected to at least one other city via one or more potential rail lines. These lines represent where you can build your railway, and range from a short 1-track to a long 6-track line. These lines also have a color code, which determine which specific types of rail can be built on it. There are 8 line colors representing 8 different rail types, and gray lines which allow any rail type to be built on it. Once a player builds a railway on a line, no other player can do so.

So how do you build your railway tracks? The tracks are represented by colored cards that you play from hand. Cards are taken from the deck, of which a handful of them are visible for you to choose. During your turn, you can take cards from either the visible ones or randomly from the top of the deck, or you can use the cards to build a rail connection. Building a connection is essentially a color-matching exercise. You will need to match the color and length of a rail line with cards in your hand in order to build on that line. For example, the Atlanta-Miami line is blue and 5 tracks long. This means you will need to discard 5 blue cards from your hand in order to build it. There are also powerful wild card cards that can be used to represent any color.

Building tracks will earn you victory points in 2 ways. The moment you place a new railway linking 2 cities, you earn points based on the length of the line. Longer lines are rewarded more: you earn 2 points for a 2-track line, 7 points for a 4-track line, and a whopping 15 points for a 6-track line. This system encourages you to collect large sets of cards of the same color in order to build longer and more rewarding tracks.

The second way of earning points is via fulfilling city connections on destination cards. At the start of the game, you get to choose destination cards from a handful that are randomly drawn from the deck. These destination cards represent city connections that you need to fulfil, and can range from short connections like the Denver-Chicago line, or long ones like the Seattle-Houston line. Successfully connecting the cities on a destination card using only your own tracks will award you bonus points at the end of the game. A short line might net you an extra 5 points, while a transcontinental line could give you 15 or more points. At any time during the game, you can use an action to draw more destination cards.

There is a drawback to these destination cards though: if you fail to connect the cities on your card, you lose the card’s bonus points instead of gaining it! Since every player will be trying to fulfil their destination card routes and will be crisscrossing the map with their tracks, it is very easy to have someone else block your connection and prevent you from fulfilling your destination card. The game therefore boils down to a race to connect the more popular central lines, while figuring out what connections your opponents are trying to make, and hopefully block them. Once the game ends (which happens when any player nearly runs out of train car tokens), destination cards (both fulfilled and unfulfilled) are revealed and victory points are tallied.

While the base Ticket to Ride is a great game in its own right, it has been improved by the various versions and expansions. The Europe, Marklin and Nordic Countries versions have extra boards featuring the maps of Europe, Germany and Scandinavia respectively. They also introduce new game play mechanics. The Europe game introduces ‘train stations’ that allow you to use other players’ tracks, while the Marklin game introduces the mechanic of transporting passengers across the map to gain victory points. The USA 1910 expansion introduces 3 new ways to play the game and includes a new method of gaining bonus points. There are other expansions, including a Dice expansion that replaces the card-drawing with dice-rolling.

Ticket to Ride is a simple and fun game that is easily taught and can be finished in under an hour. As mentioned previously, it is a great gateway game that introduces new players to the concept of the German-style strategy board game. It is also an exciting and competitive game as players race to connect cities and block their opponents. Ticket To Ride is ideal for you if you are new to strategy board games or prefer games that are fun yet do not require too much strategizing or planning.

Complexity: 2.0/5.0
Playing Time: ~ 45 minutes
Number of Players: 2 to 5 players