Power Plants

Power Plants

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Every wizard knows that the best ingredients for spells and potions are grown fresh! Power Plants is a strategic tile-laying game for 1-5 wizards. Each turn, add one magical plant to the garden and decide which dynamic powers to unleash. As the garden grows, your sprites will battle for control of valuable fields. The more territory you can control, the more gems you earn.
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Category Tags , SKU ZBG-KTG8003 Availability 3+ in stock
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Awards

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • Easy to learn and teach
  • Gameplay has a lot of depth to discover
  • Very quick set up
  • Game has a lot of charm and personality
  • Adapts well to different ages and skill levels

Might Not Like

  • Player aids only have 8 out of 10 plants on them
  • Box cover doesn’t reflect the charm inside
  • Mini expansions not as high component quality as the base
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Description

Every wizard knows that the best ingredients for spells and potions are grown fresh! Power Plants is a strategic tile-laying game for 1-5 wizards. Each turn, add one magical plant to the garden and decide which dynamic powers to unleash. As the garden grows, your sprites will battle for control of valuable fields. The more territory you can control, the more gems you earn.

I know what you are thinking. Flora has become an overly saturated theme in the board gaming world. You know it, I know it, your uncle Joe’s stepsister’s pet parrot knows it. I think you can see (hopefully) by the pics that this isn’t just another weed in the field though. Power Plants doesn’t fall prey to the generic nature theme as it twists its vines into a hint of fantasy. This for me is plenty enough to stand out against the other nature games in my collection.

But let’s prune that back a little and dissect whether or not Power Plants is distinct enough to find root in your collection, or whether it should be thrown into the compost.

Small disclosure: the edition I have is the Kickstarter edition, but I will break down what you get in the core box, the deluxe edition, and the Kickstarter edition as I go and make it obvious what you get in each. Well, I will try, it confused me quite a lot to be honest. Also to keep in mind is that the final ratings at the bottom will be reflective of the Kickstarter edition.

Don’t Judge Each Day By The Harvest Your Reap

Power Plants is at its core an area control/tile placement game. You are a wizard who needs to share the only viable patch of soil in the area in order to grow your components. You need to employ the use of your sprites in order to push out the sprites of your opponents and wrestle the control of the patches away from them for end of game scoring. Along the way you will be adding gems to the patches that reward extra points if you manage to claim that patch at the end. I am not sure what adding gems to growing plants is supposed to mean thematically, but hey, let’s just chalk it up to ‘fantasy shenanigans’ and move on.

So, what is the hook here you may be asking. So far this game just sounds like a reskinned Carcassonne. The interesting thing about Power Plants is that the tiles you are placing are plants, and each type of plant interacts with the space differently. Each one will allow you to place sprites, move sprites, gain gems, add gems, capture enemy sprites etc.

The line here is that unlike a lot of tile placement games, you will have access to several tiles at any given time. And on top of that, tiles are face up in front of you at all times which means you can see your opponents’ tiles. If you pull a tile at the end of the turn that is the same as the one you have, you get the option to trade it with one of the three tiles in the market area. These design decisions give you more information to work with when it comes to choosing what plant to place, and where to place it.

And then the sinker for Power Plants is the mechanic that honestly gets juicer the further into the game you get. On your turn you have to place a tile. But when you place the tile you choose whether to sprout the plant or to grow the plant. Sprouting the plant will trigger an effect from the tile itself, sprouting will have you triggering the sprouting abilities of all the tiles that you are touching instead. The growing and sprouting abilities are similar for each plant but deciding to use the strong ability of the one you placed, or triggering multiple smaller abilities instead can be the clincher. For example: Emberwood’s sprout power has you adding one sprite and five gems to a patch next to your wizard. Your wizard is always on the patch you place. And then its grow power will see you adding two gems to a patch next to the Emberwood itself.

You’re A Wizard Harry!

There is a lot about this game that makes me smile. Starting with the front page of the instructions saying “You are a Wizard” and I thought my Hogwarts acceptance letter had finally come through. I love a good word pun (as you may notice throughout this review) and so the name Power Plants itself makes me smile. Kudos to the designer on that one. Power Plants has clearly been built in a way that can accommodate gamers of any age and skill level. This is evident through the way the game can easily be scaled. There is a recommended set of plants to use for your first few games, and the game even suggests that you play with only the sprouting powers if needing an ease of entry. This is coupled with the small detail that you use 5 plants per game and you can use the cards of 2 not in play to cover the sprouting powers of those in play. There is also the reverse of this too. If you are a seasoned gamer or you have become familiar with the game over time, you can switch any or all of the plants out with their more advanced versions. These all have more complicated versions of their base powers and add extra difficulty to the game when needed.

There are enough player aids for each player (but more on them later) and the rule book is actually really well written. You would think that details like that would be commonplace but sadly, we all know that isn’t the case. Each plant comes with a large card for each of its variants that are well designed, easy to read and provides clear explanations of the powers. They even have little diagrams. These three things together meant that I never needed to open the rule book to check anything other than scoring at the end of the game.

There is also a solo mode included. I never really dabble in solo games myself but I know it is an important feature for a lot of gamers.

And most importantly, the game itself is simply fun. You can knock out a game within 30 minutes and it never outstays its welcome. The game is simple enough to teach quickly and sets up almost straight from the box. The tiles fit together perfectly with its their interesting shapes, which satisfies my OCD brain. It also has more depth to it than you first presume and by the end of the game it has you scratching your head and rubbing your chinny chin chin trying to optimise your turn. Do you place a tile next to the same colour to increase area scoring at the end of the game, or do you place it somewhere random to trigger a combo of powers from other plants to try and nestle into opponents’ territory? This simple decision ends up being not so simple, and I love it!

You’re A Deluxe Wizard Harry!

So, it is worth noting that you are not missing anything in terms of extra gameplay when it comes to Power Plants deluxe edition. The upgrades you do get however are the plant tiles being replaced with chunky wooden tiles and the cuboid sprites are replaced with shaped ones. Now, you may not be missing anything in terms of gameplay if you just get the base version, but I do feel like this is an upgrade. The wooden tiles are a nice tactile addition but the real bonus is in the sprites. Each player colour comes with individually unique shaped sprites (as seen in the pictures) and adds a lot more personality and charm to the game than simply coloured cubes (in the base version). But of course, neither of these things are essential. But I do really love them.

You’re A Kickstarter Deluxe Wizard Harry!

So opposed to the deluxe edition, Power Plants Kickstarter deluxe version does however have extra gameplay bits in it. It was also a head scratcher trying to differentiate the editions. I am not confident in saying that the edition received from Kickstarter backing is the same as Kickstarter deluxe retail editions. I aim to make this review informative no matter what edition you want to pick up, which has turned into quite the task. But in this section I will break down all the extra bits in my box and let you know how essential I think they are.

Ponds micro-expansion adds two pond tiles to your set up. It adds a little extra tension to controlling what will become the centre of the play area as it offers extra scoring conditions for end of game. It is a simple addition that is by no means essential, but it is a nice addition.

Wizards micro-expansion adds a wizard meeple for every player instead of using a shared one. You will leave your wizard on the played tile instead of removing it, which leaves the tile immune to the other players powers. This has a greater impact on games with larger player counts but is totally not essential, especially at 2 or 3 players.

Spades micro-expansion adds a spade token for each player. This allows you to spend your token to replace any tile you draw with one from the nursery. This is usually only allowed if you draw a tile of the same colour that you already have. You can also pay sprites to reclaim your spade to be used again. It is a simple addition that I never felt like I needed to use as figuring out the puzzle with what you have is part of the fun. I would say this is great for those looking to mitigate the ‘thinkiness’ or luck-based aspects of the game, but by no means essential.

Stewards micro-expansion adds variable play powers and is arguably the most game changing of the expansions included. Thankfully, the player powers aren’t game breaking and only ever offer you simple little perks that you draft at the start of the game. Again, I think this works better with higher player counts than smaller ones. It does pair nicely with the wizards expansion too. Having a tile immune to powers is helpful when everyone has player powers on top of standard ones.

On top of these expansions the Kickstarter deluxe version also comes with chunky wooden gem tokens, a silk screen bag and a custom box insert. I think. These I am not 100% sure on what versions of the game they come with in all honesty. But I do really appreciate these additions as it gives the production quality a lovely green thumbs up for me. I tried really hard to find a space for a green thumb joke, just let me have this one.

All in all, none of these are essential, but they do all add a little something here and there to the game.

An Overgrown Garden Can Be A Lot To Handle

Every garden has unwanted guests and weeds. And Power Plants is no different. There are a few things that irk me. And honestly, you can rest assured that my issues are mainly what I have already touched on – the game in of itself is actually really well designed.

Some of the trivial things that I don’t like about this game is exclusive to the Kickstarter edition. The pool and the spade expansions come in standard carboard when everything else is in wood. This is only a small thing but it might bother some people.

There are 10 plants in the game. This is fantastic as you will only use half of them in any given game. This makes replay value super high. But there are only 8 of the plants on the player aids. I understand that 2 plants were unlocked as extra stretch goals, but not updating the player aids with these extra plants is strange. This makes me unsure whether or not these extra 2 plants are even in the base version of the game or not. But the addition of extra player aids for these plants would have been helpful given they are the most complicated plants, and they are not mentioned in the rules at all.

This also ties into solo mode. As there are rules in place for what the AI will do with certain plants. But these 2 extra plants just are not featured in the solo mode rules. This leaves a very confusing feeling about the extra plants and leaves the solo mode potentially lacking.

I also need to mention how much I dislike the box art for this game. The in-game components and artwork are all excellent and charming. The graphic design is really well put together. The iconography is easy to understand. But the box art just falls flat for me and doesn’t do the incredible game inside justice.

That’s it! Honestly, I only have small grumblings about Power Plants.

Reaping The Harvest

So, all in all I hope I have expressed my enjoyment of Power Plants. It is actually a really fun game. It accommodates well for any gamers of any age and skill level and has a lot of hidden depth. It is reminiscent of other more popular games but is different enough in both theme and mechanics to stand on its own legs. Or roots.

I think Power Plants easily finds a home in most people’s collections. It has a charm and character that came as a pleasant surprise to me. My only issues with the game come from some small issues that can be easily overlooked. Power Plants is definitely worth a try if you are in the market for a new game. Check it out!

 

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Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • Easy to learn and teach
  • Gameplay has a lot of depth to discover
  • Very quick set up
  • Game has a lot of charm and personality
  • Adapts well to different ages and skill levels

Might not like

  • Player aids only have 8 out of 10 plants on them
  • Box cover doesnt reflect the charm inside
  • Mini expansions not as high component quality as the base