Tonight Chris, Ian, Andrew and myself (Sam) converged at my house to delve deep into the mysterious game of Tesla vs Edison: War of Currents. This game re-imagines - or more accurately retells - the early days of electricity, with various dignitaries of the inventing and finance world competing to establish themselves, turn a quick buck, or more ideally, turn several slow ones.
You'll begin the game with one luminary and get a second before the real action begins. You can play a luminary on a turn for an action or, at a push, play both of them together for a more powerful action.
The board shows a bunch of stuff. On the top side is the USA circa 1880, with it's many cities of varying sizes just itching to be supplied with power. On the bottom side is a bunch of tracks showing the progress of the technology levels of the two currents (AC and DC) and the bulbs they power, plus a fame track for the currents themselves and a fame track for the player's companies (essentially functioning as turn order). Finally there's the stock value of the companies too: you can buy shares not only in your own company, but anyone elses. Doing so increases its value; selling stock decreases it.
So you've a bunch of choices too: start a project on the map, which will push your stock value up. Increase your technology level (doing so allows you to build in bigger, more rewarding cities) buy and sell shares, muck about with the various fame tracks or partake in some good old propaganda, which steers public perception away from one current and toward another.
Additionally, the luminary you choose to use also effects how your turn works; not only do certain luminaries give you advantages on certain actions, your starting luminary has a special power that is advanced to all of your luminaries (you buy more as the game progresses). At the end of the game the value of all your shares in the current market price decides the winner, with cash in hand the tie-breaker.
The basic concept is quite straightforward really and the game is rich in theme. It also looks lovely. Where it fell down - and this may be entirely due to our first-play status - was the finer points of how rewards were calculated on various actions: we realised near the end we'd conflated two different rules and were overly rewarding companies when buying their shares. A simple player aid could fix that though, and although Chris was not hugely enamoured of it, the rest of us were hopeful of playing again soon:
After that fairly hefty beast we needed something light, so we broke out another new game (to us) in About Time, which has fairly complicated rules and board we completely ignored in favour of just reading the cards out. Everyone guesses which year the events on the cards occurred in, and the closest guess wins. Chris surged into a lead and Andrew somehow pegged him back, while I managed a joint second place despite being by far the most historically inaccurate:
About Time only took about 25 minutes but after the epic debut of Tesla midnight was fast approaching, and we called it a night.