Power Barons - A Challenging Game of International Rivalry

Power Barons

A Challenging Game of International Rivalry

Milton Bradley - 1986
3 - 4 Players; Ages 10 - Adult


Power Barons is a game of international economics and investment. The players are "Power Barons", leaders of world economy and investments. Each controls a "territory" (the Americas, Europe, Africa or Asia). The goal of the game is to gain "Power Bases" in the territories of the other players.

There are four types of Power Base; Transportation, Communication, Finance and Energy. Each turn, the players move around the board, gaining Power Cards. There are power cards corresponding to each of the four Power Bases as well as "Political Influence" cards.

The heart of the game centers around "Challenges". A player places one of their Power Base markers in another player's territory and starts the challenge. They play a Power Card from one of the four Power Bases. The opponent must then either surrender the challenge or play a Power Card from the same Power Base (if possible). The challenger then plays a Power Card from a second Power Base. Play continues until all Power Cards from all four Power Bases have been played or one of the players surrenders the challenge.

There are two types of challenge; limited and full. If a limited challenge is underway the player with the highest total on their Power Cards wins. (The Power Card from the Power Base corresponding to the Power Base being placed counts double.) If this is a full challenge play continues by playing Political Influence cards until one player surrenders. If the challenger wins their Power Base stays where they placed it. In addition, the winner of the challenge gets all of the played Power Cards and adds them to their hand.

Play continues until one player has three Power Bases in all of their opponents territories. That player is the winner.


Power Barons is interesting in many ways. The components are very nice, with plastic models of all of the Power Bases and nice "busts" of the Power Barons themselves. There are six Power Barons (no more than four are used in any one game) each with their own background which adds a slight role-playing aspect to the game.

Unfortunately the game doesn't hold up as well. The fact that the winner in a challenge gets all of the played cards means that a player who gets lucky early on can easily dominate the entire game. It is also very difficult for a player who gets behind to ever catch up again. This does make the players ruthless, which is perhaps the defining quality of a true "Power Baron", but it doesn't make for a satisfying game.

7 comments on Power Barons:

Game Collector at September 3, 2011 18:45 said:
I just bought this game brand new still in the wrapper for $4.00 at a second hand thrift shop.
february 28, 2010 at February 28, 2010 14:13 said:
this game is the best, you conqurer the world and have fun doing it i strongly recommend you buy this game
soberman at January 22, 2010 21:42 said:
maddog, just go to boardgamegeek.com and search for "power barons". In the entry, you will find a geekfiles section with a link to the scan of the rulebook.
Need Instructions for Power Barons at January 9, 2010 17:33 said:
I have owned this game for many years and just found it in my garage but the instructions to the game are missing. Does anyone have them so they can sahre with me. maddog200007@yahoo.com
j at August 31, 2009 22:40 said:
where can i get this game?
slinky at June 13, 2009 15:31 said:
actually, when you win a challenge, the cards that the other person played go into your bank, not into your hand.
and most people play that you have to get all four power bases into each of your opponents' territories.

and i disagree with the last paragraph here. the game is long enough that an early challenge win doesn't mean you'll dominate the whole game. and there are strategies for catching up if you fall behind.

this is probably the best game of its kind. not too simple but not too complex. a great game! milton bradley should definitely re-issue this.
Kerrie at April 26, 2008 11:08 said:
do you know of a Milton Bradley John Sands australia game called " The game of powers" possibly made in the 1950's or 1960's. It's about the bank, stock exchange and having to sail all around the world to control the various countries and rule the world. Please email me at kezzam_4@hotmail.com

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