Updated: Mar 1, 2022
Designed by Milo van Holsteijn and Wouter Vink, GigaWatt is an economic, risk-management game for 1-6 players based on power supply in Europe. It shares the theme and some features with Friedeman Friese's classic game Power Grid (Rio Grande), so what sets it apart? Well, this is all about managing the energy transition from fossil fuels to renewables. It's not about producing the most energy or making the most money; it's all about who can be the first to shut down their polluting power stations without plunging their populace into darkness.
The real-life problem is, of course, clean energy is not cheap, and so the game models the challenge of how to invest in sustainable energy without falling behind the constantly growing need for more electricity. Each round, you will roll dice to determine how much your demand increases by, and you will either have a surplus or a deficit depending on how much you can produce. If you have surplus, it can be traded with other players or external markets for extra income, and conversely you will need to buy energy to meet any deficits in order to avoid penalties. This stimulates player interaction, making the game best with perhaps four players.
Some gamers will look at the dice rolling element and be put off by it but actually the randomness here does create tension and excitement. The game is all about seeing whether you can mitigate the unpredictability and handle the swings: just like in real life, as several now-bankrupt energy companies have recently found to their cost in the UK! The team behind this game have set out to make people think about the importance of clean energy, but also to make a strategic, yet fun, and accessible gaming experience, and I believe they've succeeded on all counts.
GigaWatt is due to launch on Kickstarter on 1 March. Click here to check out the campaign.
(Review by Matt Young)