Billabong Boardgamers - "Die Macher Day" - February 28th, 1999
Present: Dey, Roger, Chris, Janet, Doug, Bernie, Greg, Alan, David
Doug Adams writes:
Our call to the polls returned 9 members willing to try Die Macher. Of the nine players, only Alan, Janet and myself had played before. We spent an hour explaining the various rules and systems to the newbies, then randomly drew seats for the two separate games.
Doug (PDS), Greg (FDP), Dey (CDU), Roger (Greens)
Due to the insidious way the myriad of systems in this game reduces my brain to fudge, this report is probably incomplete. However, I'll try and point out some highlights of what happened. We should have some photos to cover the inadequacies of the reporting :)
Election 1: Saarland (I think)
Election 2: Nordhren-Westfalen
Election 3: Thueringen
Election 4: Sachsen
Alarm bells were starting to clang - Greg was doing well...
Election 5: Rheinland-Pfalz
Due to the turn order, Greg and Dey finished on top of Roger and I and took the win. Greg was really scaring me at this point.
Election 6: Hamburg
Election 7: Berlin
The last two turns looked like I may have edged Greg out, the tallies came out as (seats/media/party members/party program):
Doug: 180 / 57 / 73+10 / 57+10 = 387
The margin of the win wasn't apparent until election 7 was being tallied up, and even then Dey could have perhaps toyed with the margin. I don't think the result could have been changed, the 28 seats on election 7 securing it, I suspect. Dey had a great second half of the game, doing well in several elections. I can't really see why Roger ended up so far behind us, but he said he'd like to play it again. It still remains one of my favorite games - nothing complex in the mechanics, but very involving and it seems to play so fast. Again the 4:30 hours seemed like 2 hours to me.
Now, I don't know how this happened, but the FIVE player game finished BEFORE our four player game. Here's the report from Janet....
Janet Ford writes:
Playing: Janet, David, Bernie, Chris, Alan
Janet and Alan had played this game twice before, with Bernie, David and Chris being new.
Election 1: Sachsen
Election 2: Rheinland-Pfalz
Election 3: Bayern
Election 4: Hamburg
It was at about this time that we realised that this game was at the same stage as the four player game next to us. We were promptly told "it's not a race" when this was pointed out! :) Doug writes: We were obviously playing Die Macher on a higher plane thus requirely more thought!.
Election 5: Thueringen
Election 6: Niedersachsen
Election 7: Sachsen-Anhalt
Janet's three wins in the first three elections helped her immensely, as did her lead on the party members track. Bernie was the obvious threat doing consistantly well in the winning of seats in the elections. Chris always scored well gaining party members after each election. Bernie was also scoring well here until David changed the national opinion after election 7.
Thanks to Roger and Doug for providing the games, and thanks to Doug for his commendable "how to play" speech at the beginning of the afternoon. An enjoyable day, especially for me!
Post game comments from the players
Greg Hallam writes:
I thought it was a very enjoyable afternoon, and I hope that we can do the occasional long game more often. My personal impressions of Die Macher: it's done a brilliant job of translating political elections into a game that works and is fun. My only criticism is that its a little "dry" for my taste - if I was choosing a long boardgame for a desert island I'd prefer something like Civilization - however, Die Macher is still a good game that I would be pleased to play again. And I'm pleased I scared Doug!
Doug Adams writes:
I thoroughly enjoyed the game at table 1, however I am racked with some guilt over the margin of my win (my first win at this game). Given the fact Janet won on her table as well, it leads me to believe that experience counts significantly in this game - particularly after hearing how she stole an election victory from David via a forced coalition with Chris. New players should have the rules explained to them at length, even to the extent of taking them through one turn to show each mechanism in play. I now feel that I should have emphasised the importance of money in the game during my pre-game babble.
It came as a nice suprise to see both games played out in 4.5 hours, as the other two games I'd played took an hour longer. This is one of my top 5 games, and I'm always eager to play again. I can't think of another game that is so finely balanced. For me it's the ultimate in resource management, with you having to juggle media, party meetings, trend, shadow cabinet, party platform, party donations and of course, cash - all to achieve the magic goal, votes! It's simply a marvellous piece of design, and Karl Heinz-Schmiel rates highly in my book. Doug's rating: 9 - it would be a 10 if only it were shorter.
David Coutts writes:
In the first election I failed to take notice of the great deal that Janet got at the start, and I shouldn't have committed as much pre-game effort here. In the second election I was always negative, and didn't manage to pick cards to change that. In the third election, as Janet wrote:-
Janet forced a coalition on Chris, just toppling David off the winning post. Poor Chris didn't have a media marker, so Janet again capitalised on the media markers, placing a third on the national board in as many elections.
The fact is that I spent over 2 hours working towards this election, and pointed out to Chris that it wasn't in his interests to play a Koaltion marker (he had no media marker), and that if he did Janet would force a coalition on him (and she did have a Koalition marker). And Janet was already winning by a mile (and I was losing by a mile). All this was ignored, and Janet went further ahead with the first 3 elections won and the first 3 media markers.
To be honest, after that, I found the game dragged. I agree with Greg's comment that I would rather play a long game like Civilization (or Britannia, or History Of The World). I also didn't like the sheer randomness of the Opinion polls, which are bid for face-down. My first 3 were useless. All 3 were for the third election space, and only the third one was worth publshing. However, Janet & Chris won there anyway.
I'd heard that the end-game was the key, but reading both Doug & Janet's reports I'd say the early-game victories certainly help.
David's Rating :-6
Roger Smith writes:
Doug has already posted the report for the four player game and others have commented on the games. I thought I'd add a few of my observations as a first time player, concentrating on where I went wrong, and the learning curve.
I read first the rules a few weeks ago when my copy arrived from Joe. I had been expecting the rules to be unclear and/or the game to be difficult. To my surprise, neither was the case. The mechanics seemed clear, logical, and very intriguing. The area that seemed the most difficult to come to terms with was the number of items contributing to the victory points at the end of the game, and what would be the appropriate actions to take at different times. Prior to last Sunday's game, Dey, Greg and myself worked through a sample turn. This was an EXCELLENT idea - highly recommended for all new players. Doug's introduction to the game (for all nine players) was masterly. He started with the VPs then worked back, stressing the key points.
As my score indicates, I didn't do very well. This isn't a problem for me as I enjoyed the game at the time. Straight afterwards I was thinking "this is a game I would probably play twice a year". However, since then I have spent a lot of time thinking about the game in general, and where I went wrong in particular. To me, this is a sign of a really good game.
So where did I go wrong? Sometimes my mistakes were simply due to not knowing the game well enough. However, most of them are examples of poor play on my behalf :) I've written myself this reminder list of things to watch out for in the next game.
a) Fight to win the elections in the high scoring regions. We had the 80 point region come up for election second. I was the only player not to get points for this as I had written it off as unwinable.
b) Manage your money. I didn't have any money to bid on opinion polls in the first turn as I had spent it all without realising the polls were coming up.
c) Be selective about achieving media dominance. I achieved this about three or four times in regions where it was of no use to me. That is, there was a selection of cards in the Tauschpool that was of no use for swapping; I was already so badly off trend wise that I didn't need to be protected from going down further; I obviously wasn't going to win the election so I didn't need a marker present to move to the national board. I could have saved my money.
d) Remember that there are only TWO ways to affect trends: shadow cabinet and opinion polls. I don't want to make excuses, but I had shocking luck with the latter (the former I just played poorly, which may have increased my reliance on the latter).
e) Use coalitions. I haven't worked these out at all. I'm not into team games, and am naturally suspicious of such activities. We didn't have all that many opportunites for coalitions (due to only having four players)? Obviously they are very important and I need to work at getting a better understanding.
f) Constantly monitor platforms and opinions. I did particuarly badly matching against the national opinion at the end of the game. This was partly because I had underestimated its importance (I didn't know about the special scores for the end of game) so had not put enough effort into aligning. Trying to match with several regions AND the national board was probably the aspect of the game I found hardest. This has a very Knizian aspect to it. In a four player game you need to monitor up to four regions, four parties and your concealed hand, the national board and the Tauschpool. 11 items all comprised of 3+ cards...aaarrgghh.
g) Don't take donations. I played the donation cards totally wrong, taking money when I shouldn't have, and never getting the three bonus party member die rolls for not taking the highest donation.
h) Plan ahead and make starting player bids. My problem is that I never had a concrete enough plan for the round to feel confident making a bid (I ended up bidding 0 every turn). Doug used the starting bids well throughout the game.
The bottom line is that I'd like to play again soon.
Bernie Meyer writes:
...while I admit to feeling just a tad victimized at that point, it didn't really bother me all _that_ much. IIRC, this was in the 4th round, with me sitting on 48 in the 4th election before the start of the round (yes, I _do_ like Hamburg. Heck, I like it enough to have voted in the last State election, one day before I officially gave up any residence there, and about 18 months after moving away. Helped too keep out the far right by a whisker, too ;-). The 5th election was completely gone for me, anyway, while in the 6th election, I already had a fair number of votes on the board, and had the trend swing from +3 to neutral --- which wasn't much of a problem, as I had a close to perfect match between my party program and what the public cared about, and still could cash in my chips at the end of the round at a reasonable price. The 7th election (where I was moved from neutral to -3) looked grim at the point, but a slight adjustment of my party line (mainly to follow a media-changed opinion in election 6) gave me a not-too-bad score for program matching, and I was full of confidence that the 15 votes I had added earlier using my shadow cabinet, in conjunction with my chancellor card (which I used to push my trend from -3 to +3) would allow me to win that election and thus the game. But alas, Janet would not have it, and pushed the trend back to +2 with an opinion poll (which I was willing to bid all my money for, but which was waaaay out of my financial reach at that point), and thus I fell short at 45 votes of doing the "nigh impossible", i.e. winning three of 4 visible elections.
So, to sum it up --- yes, I wasn't too happy about having trends 5,6 and 7 moved against me in the same move, but it didn't really hurt me much, either. What hurt me much more was my fickle party base, who would leave me in droves every time I actually took a donation (I managed to loose 13 members on 5 dice for my first 2 donations. Considering that, IIRC, Chris managed to get a total of 2 out of 6 dice at one point [much to everyone else's chagrin --- he was adding members ;-], that seems quite impressive).
I found the game thoroughly enjoyable, and would love to play again in the near future, at a time when I can still remember all the mistakes I made. A few that come to mind right now are:
By and large, I have to agree with Doug --- there are so many mistakes to be made in this game that avoiding all of them seems a Herculean task.
Alan Stewart writes:
After investing over 18 hours in 3 games of Die Macher, and coming last or second last each time, it's not my favorite long game.
In our game on Sunday, I'd learnt from experience, and concentrated on the end game to try and influence the national Board. In the end I never influenced the National Board once!
My target was the 6th election, but having won none before that I had little money to finance it. However, I had kept my Chancellor to play in that election, hoping for a coalition. Bernie was ahead in the votes there, and when he bought the right to go last, a coalition was my only chance. Chris was the other player interested in that election, and he chose not to play a Shadow Cabinet card there, and in fact ended up with an unused card which could have been used for a Coalition with me!
Bernie won the election, and changed 2 cards on the National board.
I agree with David that the opinion polls are too luck based. Sure you can buy them to keep them out of other people's hands, if you can afford it. But what you are really looking for is usually an improvement for your own side. I bought 2 opinion polls in the course of the game, and published one to knock a couple of votes off an opposing player. They didn't help my position at all.
What you get in your party platform is also too luck based. In our game a `positive hospital' went on the national board and stayed there for the whole game. I never saw a `positive hospital' card in the whole game despite discarding 2 or 3 cards each time I had the option to replace my ahnd. The other 4 players got them and kept them in their party platforms fpor the whole game. That's a lot of party members gained purely through the luck of the draw. This was also the only National Board card not to be replaced at all - hardly surprising as I never had the option to, and a `negative hospital' card was never in a completed election anyway.
It's also a game where the actions of other players can totally screw you over, despite what you say. Janet moved my trend down through an opinion poll just because she could, despite the fact that I was last. Why didn't Chris form a coalition with me in Round 6? I don't know. Once Bernie was going last, it was the only way Chris was going to get anything out of the election, but he didn't play a card to enable a coalition.
It's also a game which rewards the wearly winners. They have money, they can do things and outbid anyone else. They have control of the National Board and get more party members.
Who won the first three elections in our game - Janet.
Who won the first elections in the other game - Doug.
Janet got a very good match between her party platform and the first election on the deal - luck again.
I may play it again, but would rather paly other longer games, like Advanced Civilisation or Brittania.
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