You have been tasked with building the sustainable energy network of the future. Your goal is to connect wind farms, hydro-energy plants and other green power sources to each other, as well as different cities. You have to decide which part of the network needs attention first and what can wait until later. Take care though and make sure you don’t spread your workforce too thinly, but also avoid putting all of your light bulbs into one circuit. You want to end up making the best use of each and every Powerline by Dirk Henn from Queen Games.
Let me say straight away that the theme of Powerline is even thinner than the veneer on my kitchen cupboards – and their cherry wood coating readily peels off with even the smallest splash of water. So whether you’re building powerlines and whether these powerlines are connecting sustainable power sources to each other and to cities is neither here nor there. It really doesn’t come through as you play. The only reason that you know that that’s what the game is about is because of the rulebook and the illustrations.
However, it would be unfair to say that Powerline isn’t a green game, because the physical game comes with green credentials. Queen Games say that they have always been an environmentally conscious company. Powerline is the first in their “Green Planet” series of games and is followed by Future Energy, on Kickstarter at the time of writing. Their new game series tries to strengthen Queen Games’ commitment to minimising the carbon footprint of the games they release. The publisher has been working with local manufacturers on component procurement to reduce the distance items need to be shipped. They have also been planting trees to try and make Powerline’s production carbon neutral.
It’s great to see another publisher trying to make our hobby a little bit greener and more sustainable. I think Queen Games should be congratulated here. Us hobby gamers should encourage this behaviour in more publishers. So even though the theme of green energy and environmental friendliness doesn’t really come through in the gameplay, the game itself certainly fits the setting.
So, Powerline is really more of an abstract roll-and-write and that’s fine. Mind you, there is no writing. Instead of filling in spaces on a notepad, you place little tiles onto your player board. Everyone starts with a different board, which is randomly dealt out but has the same scoring potential. Then, in every round six dice are rolled and each one has a different colour. The dice are placed in a specific colour order: red, yellow, blue, green, white and black. That order is important and creates two number sequences. You can either start with red and work your way to black or you start with black and work backwards to red.