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Spark is a board game by Friedemann Friese, published by Verlag frieze 2F games. The current edition (2004 ) is a complex economic simulation for two to six players twelve years with a playing time of about two hours at four players. The first edition of 2001 was a bit more complex, more difficult to handle ( line networks with washable pens on a generic game plan) and lasted longer ( about three hours with four players ).
Sparks in 2005 was on the recommended list price of the critics " Game of the Year ". In October 2009, it was one of the four games that was played on the European board game championship.
Subject and equipment
Each player leads a power company. The aim of the game is, as soon as possible to provide a certain number of cities with electricity. These power plants are operated and purchased fuels. All actions cost money and the competition among themselves drives up the prices. At fuels are coal, oil, uranium, waste, wind power and a fusion power plant available.
The game board shows on one side a map of Germany, on the other of the U.S. with cities and the interconnecting routes for power lines.
Wooden house in the colors of the players mark the grid connected cities, also by wooden figures the energy sources are presented. The power plants are symbolized by square cards, the currency in the world this is electric sparks.
Each round has five phases:
Determining the order
For the gameplay a handicap is crucial that no player reaches too far ahead, so he gets the respective leading players by the order of the tournament schedule assigned. For the order of the higher plant is the number of connected cities, tied score significantly.
Bid for power plants
In this phase, the first place winner selects a power plant from the offer and gives it a bid. This is followed by the runner-up, etc. Anyone wishing to bid for any power plant, leaves the stage and can not acquire this round power plant. The last- placed player can fit the longest and therefore has the advantage that he has the chance of a better ( larger or more effective ) power plant at a minimum price, because after each auctioned power plant a new, often better, comes from the stack in the display.
Purchase of fuels
Here, the last placed player starts and thus has the advantage that it can acquire the cheapest fuels. The other more expensive to buy. Each power plant can store a maximum of twice the fuel consumption, so that not only the price but also the storage capacity limits the possibilities.
Expansion of the network
And again, the players have to invest: this time in the high-voltage lines between cities and connecting the cities themselves in the first "step" can be powered by one player each city, in the second ( after reaching a certain cities number ) is a second connection possible and end of the game, after uncovering a " level 3 " card, a third player can connect the same city. Here again begins the last placed player.
Rating ( in the game: " bureaucracy " )
At the end of each round, check out the players if they have enough fuel for their power plants and power plants sufficient capacity for the connected cities. The operation of the power plants is voluntary. Only for the fact they power cities collect the player and so generate the funds for the next round.
The game ends when a player has connected the minimum number of cities. The round is played to the end. It wins, who can supply the most cities with power actually, tied score decides the money.
Target group and Review
Spark is a complex board game for avid game lovers. The complexity and the balanced set of rules have the game gives a loyal fan base. In particular, the Handicap control works excellent as it
- The leading players in the Phase 2 makes it harder to bid for a better power plant;
- The last player can buy in phase 3, the cheaper raw materials and
- The last player in the phase 4 is preferred when connecting the cities
In comparable economic games, there is often the problem is that a player who could by luck or skill in the initial phase gain a small advantage, the rest of the game can be limited to manage this advantage and to increase so that it virtually automatically wins. Sparks has an effective mechanism einbremst the leaders.
The game requires you to keep several key elements in mind:
- The power plants are cheap to begin with, but not very efficient (ie, they consume a lot of resources and provide a few cities). The efficiency of the power plants is always better for their price higher and higher. When the choice is to pay attention to the availability of raw materials save on cost and efficiency - when all other players already have a lot of oil-fired power plants in operation, it is perhaps not the best idea to buy the next oil power plant, even if it is cheap and efficient ( for the back of a player it can be an effective but dangerous tactic to take a power plant in operation, which consumes a scarce resource - by the other players are put under pressure).
- In the construction of the supply is the number of players who may join a city limits. In addition, second or Dirttanschlüsse are more expensive than cases initial. Therefore, it may in certain situations be important strategically to connect cities, even if it is short-term yields less profit or worsened the position in the turn order. Another important aspect is the phase change that is triggered when a certain number of cities is connected - it may be important under certain circumstances, to accelerate this or delay.
- The own position in the turn order must be always taken into account in particular the network expansion.
Extensions and licensing issues
End of 2005 Extension appeared with an extra game board and for modified rules. On the one hand, a plan of France (here earlier comes into play, nuclear energy and uranium is cheaper, eco- and waste-fired power plants are less attractive) and Italy ( with more garbage, but less oil and coal).
Also for game in 2006 there was a new board for spark. Topics are Benelux and Central Europe. Benelux is characterized by rapid technological advances and cheap oil; thereby reducing the playing time. In Central Europe, there are countries where no nuclear power plants are used, and there is about the city of Vienna subsidies for waste incineration.
To match 2007 Extension appeared with new power plants that provide an extended version of the game.
End of 2007, sponsored by EnBW version of the full game was released with a map of Baden- Württemberg, where there are "external", only in stage 2 can be connected cities. On the back there is again a map of Germany, which is compared with the standard game somewhat modified.
2008, a further alternative game plan appeared with China ( a planned economy, the power plant cards are almost completely sorted ) and Korea ( separate markets in North and South). At the 2008 competition, there was also an additional power plant card "Flux Generator", an additional hybrid power plant.
For the game was published in 2009 a fifth enlargement with another game plan " Spain / Portugal " and " Brazil ", again with modified raw material supply and a collection box for the additional game plans that did not fit in the original box. As a bonus, there was one more additional card " substation", which will be auctioned separately, a power plant is permanently allocated and increases the capacity of this power plant permanently to a city.
Was released in 2010 on the same occasion, another new game plan with "Russia" and "Japan". In the former, the power plant market is limited in Japan shares the topography of the country into two parts, between which only in certain places connections are possible. Again, as a bonus, there was an additional card " Rohstofflager " and two cards that are easy to modify with their Pulling the supply of raw materials once by adding or removing resources.
In the journal " spielbox " a template for a storage power station has been released. It should be available twice per player and can be purchased at any of 10 electric. Been produced in a round power for more cities than has in its network, you can allow water to be pumped into a reservoir, from where it can generate electricity for an additional city again in an upcoming round of turbines. Thereafter, the memory can be re-charged at a later round.
2011 appeared an extension of "Robots", to give the two-player game by adding an " AI " player more stimulus.
To play again in 2012 appeared a new plan with "UK & Ireland " ( separate markets ) and " Northern Europe " ( modified energy range with new power plant cards). Ireland, Norway and Denmark are nuclear- free. In addition, there was a promo card " industrial espionage " by which a player gains insight into the hidden power plant stack.
2013 appeared another plan with " Australia ", which also has separate networks and exporter of uranium, rather than implement it in power plants, as well as " Indian Subcontinent ", on which resources are scarce and rapid spread is problematic. A new promo card " tax collector " is the player with a unique tax of 20% on their cash assets.
There are licensed editions in English, Czech, Russian, Polish, Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian, Korean, Chinese, Japanese and Dutch. Furthermore, there is a multilingual Finnish license issue (Scandinavian and Baltic languages ).