Billabong Boardgamers

Billabong Boardgamers May 3rd, 1998

Present: Julian, Doug, Donna, Janet, Alan

Previous session report

Doug Adams writes:

Die Macher

After sitting in the game shelf for 3 weeks, Die Macher got its first run through. Richard Vickery of the list put me onto this one, a game I'd sort of disregarded as too big and complex. Richard raved about it, and I never need much tempting. I ordered one not knowing that David here was getting some in as well. A shame as I'd rather toss my money at David to support his great business.

Alan was first in the door so we warmed up with a hand of Hols der Geier, which I won. Julian called in saying he'd be 30 minutes late, so we decided to set up Fossil. As we were about to start, Donna arrived and we quickly converted the game into a four player game. Alan took the game easily, from Donna, Janet and me a distant last (in fact, I think I got lapped!).

Julian had arrived by the time we'd finished (about 40 minutes), so we moved over to the Die Macher table. After spending 30 minutes covering the objectives and sequence of play, we started playing. Janet had yellow (FDP), Donna black (CDU), Alan red (SPD), Julian green (Grune) of course, and myself had blue (PDS). I find the letters very hard to remember, so I'll describe by colour, where applicable.

The game was a bit of a blur to me, as it was 6 hours of very intense gaming, along with being the rules adjudicator at the same time. I'd semi resolved to losing this game as I tend to do badly when teaching others. We had a hiccup or two along the way, but nothing too serious.

  • Round 1: Bayern Alan and Janet formed a coalition in this one to secure it from Julian, who was threatening Alan. Their coalition snuck over the line by 55 votes to 50.
  • Round 2: Neidersachen Donna and Janet formed a coalition here to take it from me. Just into round 2, I had alarm bells clanging about the media markers (every spot had been taken and I couldn't work out how they were removed). I suddenly remembered that shadow cabinet members removed them, so we agreed to go back and restart the shadow cabinet round during round 2.
  • Round 3: Sachen Another coalition, this time between Donna and Alan. At this stage, Donna, Alan and Janet were looking powerful, and the ones to beat.
  • Round 4: Sachsen-Anhalt I'd been concentrating on this region, and Neidersachen above, since the start. Nobody formed a coalition here so I took the region very easily. At the end of this round, there were calls for the scores, so seats, media and party membership were tallied:

    Donna: 118, Janet: 114, Julian: 94, Alan: 143, Doug: 118

  • I was suprised, as I only had one media marker on the national board, and that only earned me 15 points. Still, it was encouraging that I was in touch.

  • Round 5: Hamburg This small 22 vote region (sorry to my friends in Germany! :) saw some tight play, with Julian taking the region by himself.
  • Round 6: Rheinhold-Pfalz I played this badly, as I was concentrating on this region as well. I forced a coalition with Julian which eventually was successful, but I realised too late I didn't have a media marker there and couldn't earn a media bonus on the national board if we'd won it. In the end we did win it, in the closest election of the game - Doug/Julian 86 votes, Donna/Alan 70 votes. I lost 12 points through no media marker.
  • Round 7: Thuringen A small region for the final election saw Janet take this easily. This gave her two swaps of the people's opinion cards on the national board, which didn't help Donna and Alan at all, and gave Janet some nice points. There was a bit of controversy at this point as when I explained the rules for 'secured' cards on the national board, Donna and Alan had misunderstood that a contradictory card will remove both secured cards - they thought it would just remove the 'securing' card. Julian thought I'd explained the rule correctly, and I thought I had as I'd read it directly from the rules. Removing the secured card denied Donna and Alan 25 points (yes, it was the leftmost one) which gave me 2nd place.

The results:

  1. Janet: 145 seats, 55 media, 54 party members, 67 program+5 bonus = 326
  2. Doug: 159 seats, 15 media, 57 party members+6 bonus, 57 program+5 bonus = 2>99
  3. Donna: 132 seats, 20 media, 77 members+10 bonus, 35 program = 274
  4. Julian: 134 seats, 27 media, 38 members, 60 program+5 bonus = 264
  5. Alan: 140 seats, 45 media, 37 members, zero program = 222

  6. Janet pulls off a win that was probably, given the flow of the game, unexpected. I would have put Donna in the lead with Alan and myself having half a chance at a win.

    Alan said that he wasn't sure if luck played a bit of a part here, in that only changing one program card per turn is difficult, and would like to play again to test this out. I'm not so sure, if you have a lousy hand, you can do things about it, via media, votes, program changes, and if desperate, through coalitions. I think this game is one of the best I've played. The intricate systems and how they interact with other systems is beautifully balanced and the game has been developed to perfection.

    I give it a 10, but down one to 9 because of it's length. The six hours the game took, however, seemed like 3 hours. It went very quickly. I'm already looking forwards to my next game! Thanks to Richard V. for putting me onto this gem.

    Julian Clarke writes:

    I would agree. I am definitely not a long-game person (nor a long game-person), but this game flew past, as the down time, which is considerable, can be used for calculating numbers of seats, if it is worth cashing in meeting blocks to seats, whether you could change the agenda in a region helpfully with what's available etc. So the time flew by. I would have said it seemed like 3 hours. We agreed that in future, it would be played as a 2 half (3 elections then 4) game with a break for food, next time. A clever game, which I was never in the hunt, but still enjoyed. I know that despite this I could have done things differently & improved my score, but don't know how I could have improved my position more than 1 place (10 pts).

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