One of the wonderful things about the board gaming hobby is, that you discover new topics and interesting periods of human history by spending time at the tabletop. Most of us are aware of the legacy Tesla and Edison have in our daily lives. But the fact that there was a real war between the master and his apprentice was something, we personally, did not know until recently. That fascinates us quite a bite, not to be taught through dry college education or some boring teacher explaining the raw stuff, but experience by the way of social interaction, in our books, is a much more fruitful way to make teaching practical.
Tesla vs. Edison: Duel, is an Artana game published in 2017 and created by JR Honeycutt (he also worked on Feudum) and Dirk Knemeyer (he is known for the big Tesla vs. Edison board game from 2015). Add in the amazingly talented artist Heiko Günther and lights may go on for some people. Let us tell you why we think this is one of the best two player titles of recent years.
How do we get the energy flowing?
Both players will firstly make a choice whose team they are going to join, AC or DC? And no, that ain’t that punk rock band you were thinking of. While, they do have a lightning bolt as a logo, so it does comply.
We are talking about these two fine gentleman and their given choice of electricity protocol and their 4 inventors. (8 in total)
After you have made your choice which team to join, it is time to pick your quarterback for the game. He or she is better known as the inventor who will give you a set of personal goals to achieve and outsmart your rival before the end of the game after three rounds. If after those rounds nobody won on those, the one holding the most regions, win the game. The inventors are also tied to their company stocks and those become yours exclusively. These will give you access to the portfolio actions, which are an extra way to manipulate the game state to your advantage. More on those later.
So, now you have made you first important strategic choice of the game. The other stocks, which weren’t chosen, become the minor stocks of the game and will let you acquire influence in the different electricity companies and are accumulating point based on the count in their set region. Every stock is related to one of the three technologies (Bulbs, Transformers, Electric Meters) and can be placed in the given region (Out West, New England, New York).
The scene is set, now let’s g(l)o(w)
The flow of the game is as follows:
- Draft assistance
- Take actions
- Check Inventor Personal Goals
- Award Region bonuses.
Let’s start with 1, because why wouldn’t we right, and talk about those assistants who are needed to win you the game. Every one of the 24 cards is unique and are historical figures giving you access to one of the five possible actions in step 2. On the card, there are one or two symbols related to these actions. You can deal three random cards or you may want to do a draft with six cards. We liked the draft one a little more. Because you can make it better suit your personal goals instead of the luck of the draw. Now let’s get into two, then how can I play this game?
Electrify City this will let you bring electricity to the City! You select one of the 3 City Cards, 24 are in the game and will slot it in the related Region. That’s two points for your side there. When there is a “No Ac/Dc” chip there, you cannot do this action.
Acquire Stock each minor stock has a required Technology related to it. You need to own that chip (be the leader) if else you won’t be allowed to buy and put out stock. They will give you control in the related Region. (1-1p, 2-3p, 3-6p, etc.)
Wage Propaganda back in these days PR was also already a thing, yes readers, them who are most popular (bought or not) are winning the game. It wins you ties, earns Free Actions (wildcard for one of the 5 actions) or gains 2 points.
Advance Technology very simple, become the leader of one of the three technologies. But better said, steal the poker chip back!
Monopolize Power you can place one of the blocking chips out onto a Region and make sure your rival cannot play a City or Stock there. Official knows as not being able to electrifying and placing Cities. Another, screw you, other inventor!
In addition to these regular actions, you will have the possibility to do Portfolio actions. You will use one of your own stocks still in reserve or one of the stocks out in the regions on your side of the table. You can do two actions:
Place a Share of your own company in the associated region without holding the leader chip in the needed technology.
Sell a Share you can earn a free action here, by discarding one of your reserved stocks or one of the stocks already placed out in one of the regions.
- A lot of different combination possible with the different inventors going head to head with each other.
- Stellar production and phenomenal graphical design. Artana has it as a mission statement in their companies vision.
- Very short play time, but still a lot of game in those 25 – 40 minutes it takes to play.
- Teaches you some historical figures and fun facts from the War of the Currents.
- Clear rules and you will be playing within minutes.
- It can be quite mean and has a little take that, so if you ain’t keen on that, this can rub some people the wrong way
- You need to play the other player’s game also, we like that, but some may not.
- We do love to see MORE content! We hope this will get some expansion love.
The criteria on which we base most of our opinions, but isn’t the end all and be all.
Does it play well with 2?
FANTASTIC! It’s a two player only game of course, but one of our favorites!
Does it suit one of our game groups (D&D, Heavy games, thematic games, etc.) or can I bring non gamers in or take it to others? It is a thinky filler, but one which is very inviting to all sorts of players. It’s good with mom, my thematic brother liked it and we as omnigamers also found this a great option to play between heavier games or as social experience when gaming is secondary. A copy paste from last time, but it’s just true for Tesla vs. Edison too, it’s beauty lures you in and keep attention from a broad spectrum of people. It does take a little tactical insight, so for kids we would say 12 and up is possible.
Does it come with a solo variant? No, and can’t imagine it is any good.
How are theme and mechanics tied in together?
This is one of its biggest strengths, the theme and gameplay are superb.
Does my collection need this? What stands out?
(New mechanics? better integration of x? new theme? etc.) As we play 70% of our plays with two, we always have a use for two player games. The theme is unique and Artana stepped in on a great niche. We like our Schotten Totten, but a game like this appeals just more due to having more historic ground to it. It teaches it shows and it breaths passionate historic facts in a gamy kind of way.
And how is the rsp?
We received THE personal Kickstarter copy of the amazing Jess (boardgame_girl) (go check her Instagram!) as a gift after our epic punching party at Essen Spiel 2017! On The Geek the price depends a little on where you are based, but between 19 and 25 € seems like you can get a copy still. Which seems a very sharp price for the high-quality components and game you will receive.
In conclusion, we can say we loved our time playing Tesla vs. Edison. It’s such a well balanced two player experience and teaches you so much with just a few cards and a few components. And the artwork and all those buildings and Cities? We want tons more of those! This smaller box game has us very interested in what Artana has up their sleeves for the future and now we need to seek out the big board game version of this, Tesla vs. Edison War of Currents
Thanks for dropping by, sticking all the way to the end and we immensely love you for it!
~ Marlon & Erna ~