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Die Macher FAQ

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Doug Adams writes:

This is a translation of the Die Macher FAQ that appears in German on the Han Im Glueck website. Please report any errors to me. Doug.


After being nominated for SdJ 1998 the author, Karl-Heinz Schmiel, analysed suggestions and criticism he received.

Basically DIE MACHER is a simulation game on the topic of elections. We strove to transfer the major items of an election campaign into game mechanics. The game is not supposed to be an accurate simulation reality, it does not want to be. Therefore certain terms in the game [e.g. Seats (Mandate) or Votes (Stimmen)] do not have the same meaning as in reality. Also, different items in the play sequence (e.g. the determination of the election winner, and in particular, coalitions) have little to do with reality, and contradict the human understanding.

Our goal was to make an exciting game and the mechanics of the game has always been the priority, rather than simulating reality.

We thank you for the numerous letters, which we received, for praise and also for criticism. Only with these can weak points be eliminated. The following clarifications apply to the structure of the rules. Questions that we received again and again are answered, and basic rules are addressed, which will contribute to a better understanding of the game.

4.2 Setting up the Game

The flat rectangle pieces of wood are display markers. Each colour has 9 pieces. Thus the game status of a party on the Region Boards and on the National Board plan is recorded. On each Region Board, 1 marker is placed on the zero space of the vote scale, and 1 marker is placed on the zero space of the trend scale. Thus 8 markers are used up of each colour. The last marker is placed on the '5' space of the party membership track on the National Board.

Question: Can it occur that spaces remain empty in the Exchange Pool after the set-up ?
Response: Yes. It can become free if opinion cards revealed are doubles or opposites, then spaces will remain free.

5.1 Start Round

Example: If a player in column 1 marks the second choice, then trend marker in the noted Region is moved one space upward, the vote marker is moved onto the 6 space of the vote scale - and it receives 6 party meeting markers in the noted region, so that there are now 7 party meetings markers.

In column 2 a player marks the third choice. It receives a media marker (in the noted region), and its party membership marker moves to the 13 space (8 members from the start round and 5 members from the initial position).

5.2.2 Modifying the Party Program

Question: May one replace a program card with its opposite program card ?
Response: Yes.

Question: May one complete fill their hand to 3 cards after modifying the party program with cards from their hand ?
Response: No. The hand is refreshed only during the next turn. The player discards any unwanted program cards and then refills the hand to 3 cards.

Question: May one choose the cards freely from the program deck ?
Response: No. The cards are drawn from a face down deck.

Question: May a player have two identical program cards in their party program ?
Response: No. Also the opposite program cards are not permitted.

5.2.3 Shadow Cabinet

Question: Does one have to play a shadow cabinet card ?
Response: No.

Question: Does the start player have to play all his shadow cabinet cards he wants to play at once, or does he only play one then play proceeds to the next player around the table, and so on ?
Response: The start player must immediately play all cards which they want to play. The other players proceed likewise in sequence. The same applies when playing the cards and resolving the effects, i.e. first all the actions from the start player are resolved, and so on.

Question: Must a player play a "Telephone" Coalition counter on the Region Board if they played a shadow cabinet member with a telephone symbol - or is it an option ?
Response: A Coalition counter must be played..

Question: Do the Coalition counters remain on the Region Boards or are they removed after the current round ?
Response: The Coalition counters remain on the Boards, because coalitions can only be formed if a Region is the actual current Region.

5.2.4 Forming Coalitions

Question: Can the start player force a coalition, even though none of the two involved parties belongs to him ?
Response: No. A coalition may only be forced by a player who owns a Coaliton counter. It can force only one party which does not already belong to a coalition in this Region.

5.2.5 Purchasing Media Markers

Question: May one replace an opinion card with media marker influence with the opposite opinion card ?
Response: Yes. The appropriate opinion card may only be in the exchange pool.

Question: May one exchange a face down opinion card with media marker influence ?
Response: No.

5.2.7 Opinion Poll Cards

Question: What occurs, if the Opinion Poll deck is used up ?
Response: The old Opinion Poll cards are shuffled. This always occurs, because only 20 Opinion Poll cards are in the game, but more are needed for the auctions.

Question: May one bid only once on the Opinion Poll or does bidding continue until only one bidder remains ?
Response: The auction continues until only one bidder remains.

5.2.8 Converting Party Meetings into Votes

Question: Is converting of party meeting markers into votes at all possible in the first round - if one must have 5 meeting markers in the Region to be able to do this and only four may be placed per Region per turn ?
Response: Yes. During the game set-up each party in each region begins with 1 meeting marker. Thus with the additional four possible, it can become 5 meeting markers. However is no longer necessary with the last 3 Regions, because with the structure of these Regions the free election meetings in the rule is not intended. (Doug: I have no idea what this last sentence is saying - any ideas ?)

Question: Are party meeting markers first converted in all regions, apart from the current region, then the opinion cards are changed ? Or do you swap the opinion cards as soon as votes are determined within a region ?
Response: Opinion cards are changed immediately after converting party meeting markers into votes (naturally only if an absolute majority occurs).

Question: May opinion cards with a doubler card be removed with the exchange by a majority of votes?
Response: No.

5.3.1 Determining Seats (Mandates)

Question: May a player, who has the absolute majority of votes in the current election region after the conversion of the meeting markers (or after the use of shadow cabinet cards), exchange an opinion card ?
Response: No. In the current election country the opinion cards can be modified only by media marker control.

Question: Why is it possible that several players can receive the maximum number of seats ? Wouldn't the seats have to be divided ?
Response: Seats may not seem realistic here. Seats are actually victory points.

5.3.2 Election Winners

We received most of our questions about this aspect of the game. It is difficult to understand because it contradicts healthy human understand. The following examples should give assistance here.

1. A region without a coalition is won by the player with the most votes. i.e. their vote marker has advance the highest. In the case of ties, the player who arrived last wins - their vote marker should be sitting on top and this is victory by a 'nose'. This frequently occurs at 50 votes, but it can occur on any other space as well.

2. A region with a coalition totals the votes by both parties together. A coalition can score a total of higher than 50 votes. If a coalition has more than 50 votes then the coalition is the election winners, because a single party cannot score higher than 50 votes. It gets more difficult when there is a tie between a single party, and a coalition, so in addition here are two extra examples.

  • A: CDU has 50 votes SPD has 30 votes. SPD is in a coalition with Grune, which has 20 votes. Both (CDU and the coalition) have 50 votes. CDU wins the election because it's vote marker is higher but it's victory by a nose. The effects: CDU may put 1 opinion card on the National board, and also places a media marker there as well. SPD and Grune may also place one media marker on the National board (providing they have media markers on the Regional boards).

  • B: CDU has 50 votes SPD has 50 votes while in a coalition with Grune who is on 0 votes. The vote marker of the SPD sits on the vote marker of the CDU. Both (CDU and the coalition) have 50 votes. The coalition wins the election because the SPD marker is on top of the 50 field. The effect: SPD and Grune may place a media marker on the National board and each may place an opinion card there also. CDU places one media marker on the National board (by a nose victory). If the vote marker of CDU sat on top of SPD, then CDU would have won.

All remaining cases of ties should have been answered with the help of those two examples. Important: The votes of the coalition are totalled together only for the purpose of determining the winner of the election. During the scoring of seats, each party scores seats based on their votes only.

3. A Region with 2 coalitions have both coalitions total their votes. The coalition with the higher number of votes wins. Naturally a single party can still win, if they have more votes than either coalition. Here are some more examples of ties:

  • A: Coalition 1 (SPD 30 votes, Grune 20 votes), coalition 2 (CDU 40 votes, FDP 10 votes), PDS 45 votes.

    Both coalitions achieve 50 votes and PDS only 45 votes. The CDU/FDP party wins the election becuase the CDU marker (40) is higher than either the SPD or Grune markers. Effect: CDU and FDP may place one media marker each on the National board, and may each place one opinion card on the National board. The PDS does not figure in this election victory, because the votes do not match those of the coalitions, even though the vote marker is highest on the track. If PDS scored 50 votes, then it would be the election winner (higher than CDU on 40).

  • B: Coalition 1 (SPD 50 votes, Grune 0 votes), coalition 2 (CDU 50 votes, FDP 0 votes), PDS 45 votes. Of the vote markers, SPD sits on top.

  • Both coalitions achieve 50 votes, PDS only 45 votes. The SPD/Grune coalition wins the election because SPD reached 50 votes last. Effect: As in the example A only that this time SPD and Grune may place opinion cards and media markers. PDS again has too few votes in this example. If PDS scored 50 votes, it would depend on which vote marker reached 50 votes last. If it was PDS, then they would win the election.

5.3.3 Effects of Election Victory

First we would like to deal with placing or exchanging cards on the National board. We received several inquiries about this. The rule describes one way of handling it, however we would like to adopt a suggestion of Dirk Geilenkeuser and André Maack, and play according to this rule. This rule is explained in the following, and below further questions are answered.

The suggestion of Dirk and André was that National Board opinions are filled from the left. If free spaces still exist on the board, then these must first be occupied. If an Regional opinion card is moved to the National board where an opposite card exists (Ja/Nein, etc), then an exchange of the National opinion cards will occur. The exchange of a National opinion card takes place, if all spaces on the National board are occupied or if an opposite opinion card is placed there. First the old National opinion card is removed (it is removed from the game, not into the exchange pool). Then all opinion cards are shifted to the left to fill up any spaces left by the removed card. This will result in a free space on the right of the National board, and this is where the new opinion card is placed. If there are several spaces free on the right hand end of the National board, then the first free space (the more valuable) is occupied.

This new rule ensures that new National opinions do not swing the victory points to much, importantly in the last two elections,

Question: Why are there security cards, if one can eliminate secured opinions with a contrary opinion ?
Response: Security cards are meaningful, because this opinion can be removed only by the contrary opinion from the National board, and not by any other different opinions. Besides security cards award an extra 5 victory points.

Question: If a secured opinion is removed by an opposing opinion card on the National board, does just the 'securing' card go, or do both cards go ?
Response: All cards are removed.

5.4 End of the Turn

Question: What happens to the the opinion cards on the current Region Board, which are not transferred by the election winner to the National Board ?
Response: These cards are placed in the Exchange Pool (Tauschpool) as available cards in the future election campaigns (ie. turns).

Question: How do new cards get added to the Exchange Pool ? Response: New cards are added to the Exchange Pool:

  • if opinion cards in a region are uncovered, which are already present or are the opposite of cards already present on the region board, then these cards go to the Exchange Pool.
  • when clearing the Region Board after the current election, opinion cards that do not go to the National Board are placed in the Exchange Pool.

Question: During turn 6 are both opinion cards revealed on the turn 7 Region Board, or only one ?
Response: After turn 5 all opinion cards are turned face up, both on the turn 6 and turn 7 Region Boards.

5.4.4 Party Donations

Question: Are the donation cards played at the same time?
Response: No. The donation cards are played one at a time, beginning with the start player. Players who accept a donation lay their card face up. Players who do not want to accept the donation lay their card face down. Face down cards are revealed once all players have played their donation cards.

Question: Do you have to play a donation card each round ?
Response: Yes.

Question: Do you get the played donation card back ?
Response: No, they are removed from the game.

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