At last got to play this latest game from Friedemann Friese. His past record is a bit hit-and-miss, but I've seen plenty of good reports about this one, so I had high hopes. Players are trying to build an electricity supply network to a pre-determined number of cities. We played the introductory game in which the target is 8 cities. Each game turn is played over a number of phases. Firstly, power plants are auctioned off, followed by the purchase of resources used by your plants. Then you develop your network on the game map and finally you supply the cities you have connected to generate income. These phases work together pretty well and as the order of play differs from phase to phase, being the lead player in one phase turns out to mean you are also the last player in another phase. Also, money is very tight in the game and you never have enough to do exactly what you want to, so you need to plan ahead on what your spending strategy is going to be until you can generate more income. The game seems to work very well and I can only see the longer version adding more interesting decisions, as cities become opened up to more than one player.
It may suffer a bit from the rich-getting-richer syndrome, but I guess that makes the leader a target and, providing other players keep in reasonable touch, it ought not to become too processional. In our game, however, John definitely suffered from poverty. He tarried outside the cities a bit long and found someone else marching in before him. Sorry, John, yes I know it was me. That left him with less income than others in the middle game and hampered his ability to develop his network quickly. Mark K managed a coup in being able to buy a wind plant very cheaply. It suddenly appeared in the active market at a time when only he and Mark G were left in the auctions and only Mark K had the money to pay the minimum price. He took good advantage of that, not needing to buy resources as urgently as the rest of us and so being able to concentrate on his network. Nige saw the danger Mark posed and marched across the map pinching his nearest cities, but Mr Moneybags was still able to pay to get to far-away places. At the end there was nothing we could do to stop him connecting to his 7th and 8th cities and claim the win, with three of us left together on 6 cities.
I liked Funkenschlag a lot and so did the two Marks. Nige, however, felt it a bit repetitive and that downtime was a problem. I hardly noticed any significant downtime (the others might say that may have been because I was the cause of it) and the only real time when you were not involved was when others were drawing their networks on the board - which didn't take long anyway. The big disappointment for me was the board, but you get that with some smaller publishers. Now if Queen or Hans Im Gluck decided to republish it, that would, I'm sure, be phenomenal.