You’d think Tesla vs. Edison: War of Currents would be right in my wheelhouse. History? Bitter feuds? Stolen patents? I am intimately acquainted with all of these things in my genuine everyday life, so why not in a game? Tragically, Tesla vs. Edison was an excellent game marred by a single major issue, which is almost worse than simply being a bad game. As I wrote in last week’s review, because everybody loves it when a man quotes himself:
Rather than being a game about the War of Currents that happens to have a hand in the stock market, Tesla vs. Edison is a game about the stock market that happens to have a hand in the War of Currents. Its priorities are all mixed up.
To my credit, I didn’t place that quote over an image of a snow-drifted prairie. And to Tesla vs. Edison’s credit, the expansion Powering Up! entirely erases my complaints about its tedious stock jockeying.
Call Dirk Knemeyer what you will (“flubby,” “the red peanut,” whatever you want really), but the creator of the sublime Tomorrow and a string of not-quite-as-sublime titles must be granted at least one major concession: he has designed the only game — the only game — where you can have Mark Twain write a smear campaign against Sir Hiram Maxim. “The Maxim machine gun? Compensating much?” Twain says, receiving a packed auditorium’s thunderous applause and stamped feet. Hiram Maxim exits out the back, manfully hiding his tears behind a stenciled kerchief. Twain’s sponsor and Maxim’s chief competitor, Elihu Thomson, observes this scene via opera glasses, cracking his first smile in seventeen years.
Yes, it’s Tesla vs. Edison: War of Currents, one of the most brutal contests in modern science put to cardboard. And it’s grand. Mostly.