What is good about "Power Grid"?
The following features of Power Grid are what made the game stand out against other modern board games that I have played in the past six years, that I think have made Power Grid a "dime" game for me.
Theme - The majority of modern boardgames or euro games tend to fall in to either a medieval or fantasy theme. Power Grid's theme of a power plant network and industry is unique when compared with the games of its time. The idea of controlling your own power company is a refreshing change from trying to earn prestige or victory points in a European or medieval city.
Supports up to 6 players - Another distinguishing feature of Power Grid is that it supports six players. Most of the best euro/strategy games that play in 2 hours or less tend to support four or five players. Power Grid is rare in that it supports six players, and that simple fact has brought it to the gaming table more often. In terms of making a single game purchase Power Grid is a versatile game, as it scales well from three players all the way up to six. My preference is to play with less than 6 players, but it still is a good game with six.
Tight Finances - Power Grid is a game where you usually wish you had a dollar or two more to build an extra connection or an extra resource. The game has been well designed in my opinion so that players are not all flush with cash or that cash is too hard to get. There is usually enough money that players can do what they need to do, but not always what they want to do.
Mix of Game Mechanics - Power Grid combines several game mechanics and systems. There is the auction of power plants, the network building and territorial planning of the map, supply and demand of the resource market, and the management of turn order. A player in Power Grid has to consider how all of these work together when taking their turn, and that makes the game challenging and fun at the same time.
I see Power Grid as a "step up" for people who already enjoy Settlers of Catan, Carcassonne, or Dominion. There is definitely a steeper learning curve in Power Grid than those games and your first few plays make take a long time, but it is worth it! Power Grid has a rare combination of a unique theme and challenging strategy while supporting up to six players. Add in that Power Grid can be played comfortably in a evening game night