Played a 4-player game of Tammany Hall recently. Yellow (myself) was the only one who had previously played the game. The other three players were board gamers, though. It took approximately 15 minutes to explain the rules and start playing.
This was my third game and the first one where there were no overt alliances (even temporarily) or backstabbing taking place. No one player was singled out and pounded on, but it was still an intense game with some close elections and sneaky moves.
German flooded the board in the first four years. Yellow took the lead at the end of the first election, claiming the mayoral spot and jumping ahead in points. Purple, Red, and Natural were left around five points behind.
Red began muscling into several wards next election cycle and made judicious use of their Precinct Chairman power to lock down a few key wards. Red took the mayoral seat, but there were several ties for immigrant influence. Three players each nabbed three influence chips for several of the immigrant groups. Red's win propelled them a few points ahead of Yellow, with Purple and Natural now lagging quite some distance. Yellow had blown all their influence at this point and spent a slander token that ended up being negated by some good moves from the other players.
Purple, acting Chief of Police, dominated the next election cycle. I wasn't paying attention to just how much until the election was over. There was a fierce battle for ward boss dominance at Tammany Hall. Yellow slandered Red on the last turn of the cycle to knock them out, and sat back and relaxed, thinking they had the Hall (and the sizable immigrant population) locked down. Purple had the next, and last, turn, however, and placed a ward boss in Tammany Hall and then spent a slander chip to knock Yellow completely out of the ward - sealing a ward victory and the two points of Tammany Hall. Purple won five or six wards and took the mayor's office. Purple rocketed to first place, leaving Red slightly behind, Yellow a little further, and Wood in a distant fourth.
The final election cycle was the most nerve racking as everyone tried to jockey into the best positions possible to eke out points while denying them to the other players. Natural was pretty much out of the game at this point, but it was really anyone's game between the other three players.
Yellow had the Precinct Chairman for this cycle and used it to lock down a high German ward where they had one ward boss and Natural had one ward boss and to lock down a high Italian ward where there was only one Yellow ward boss.
Two highly populated wards were tossed out due to ties, which helped Yellow take the mayoral seat and to earn three influence chips from the Italians and Germans. Red took three chips from the English, Natural three from the Italians, and Purple three from the Irish.
Yellow had spent all their slander tokens, Red none, and Purple one. Once all the extra points for unused slander and most immigrant favor were totaled, Purple and Yellow were tied with Red two or three points behind and Natural a distant fourth. Tied, we went to the tiebreaker of most influence chips. Purple had four with the three Irish they had just won, and Yellow had six with the three Italian and three German they had just taken. So, Yellow took first by two influence chips.
I like this game the more I play it. It is still a nerve-wracking, rage-inducing game, but that's part of the reason I enjoy it. (Although there were no threats of divorce this game... but probably only because there were no married couples playing ) I thought I had Tammany Hall locked down in the third election cycle and then, bam, Purple took it from me. Oh man, I was so ticked off. Loved it.
I think Precinct Chairman is the most powerful political office. The two players who had that office were both able to sway the environment enough to snag mayoral wins.
I like how ridiculously simple the rules are to explain and understand. And that everything is printed on the board. About halfway through, I realized that I had forgotten one rule - about wiping the immigrant waiting area clean and repopulating after an election. And I realized that because it was printed on the board. You really don't need to reference the rulebook much at all.
Despite the simple rules, there are still a lot of painstaking choices to make. Do I double up my ward bosses to bolster my votes in this ward or do I bring in an Italian to this other ward so I can use my influence to be competitive? Do I spend my slander or keep it. Yeah, it's only worth one victory point, but we saw in this game that that can be a deciding factor... plus you might want to hold onto that influence. The bidding itself is tense since you expend influence regardless of whether you win or lose.
It took around two hours to play, which I feel is pretty reasonable considering there were three people who had never played before and that several players (myself included) took a bit of time with some of their turns.