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Subject: Three parties is plenty rss

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W. Eric Martin
United States
Apex
North Carolina
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From my Unity Games XI report:

Die Macher was scheduled for noon, and Evan Tannheimer and Francois Neville joined me. I had the impression that people thought DM played best with five, so I tried to lure in another pair of politicos, but no one bit. The three of us decided to play anyway, and I was delighted to discover that DM plays great with three. (I feel the same about El Grande and don't understand the "only with five" crowd.)

I had learned from my mistakes in January when I played DM for the first time, but this simply means that it's time for new mistakes. I jumped into the lead in the first region, worth a juicy 50+ points, but neglected to place a media marker in the province after Francois booted me out. I had the largest mandate, but without that marker I threw away the 25 point bonus.

Francois won the next two regions, worth 54 and 46 points max, and netted nearly 90 points, far surpassing me and Evan. From that point on, it was a race for second as the remaining regions all had dinky VPs available. I concentrated on upping my party membership to make up for the lack of mandate points and by the end of the game, I passed 80 and started back at 1.

We had only one coalition, which came in the sixth round when Francois bid high to go last, then forced the coalition on Evan by matching three of Evan's party policies. When that coalition won -- big surprise -- we discovered the one rules error we made. After each election, we were moving only one of the region's opinion cards to the national board. Because of that error, I was probably able to boost my party membership far more than I would have otherwise; in addition, we had a lot of opinion cards available, so that whoever had media dominance could pretty much choose whichever cards they wanted. We moved two cards for that coalition, but reverted to one card for the final round to be somewhat consistent.

Francois had zeroed out in rounds 4 and 5, but his huge total in rounds 2 & 3, along with the media bonus and coalition points stolen on Evan's back, gave him the win with 270-something points. My total was within 25 of Francois, so if I had placed that media marker, I would have won -- assuming that placement wouldn't have lost me control later in the game, of course. (Not to mention the crazy effects of placing only one opinion card per region -- who knows what that might have changed.)

With only three players -- me with one previous playing and the other two who had watched Scott Nicholson's video and read the rules -- we finished in two hours. This is very encouraging for future plays, as I'd certainly be willing to teach someone the rules and play with only three. That would fit in a regular game night, so I'll be pushing DM a little harder from now on.
 
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Luke Morris
England
Faversham
Kent
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Excellence. I'm pleased to see more proof that Macher IS playable in a couple of hours depending on number of players and experience. I've always thought it would be. Nice report.
 
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John Weber
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Ellicott City
Maryland
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Cutting down the playing time is nice, but in my view the game really sings with 5 players and definitely you need to have at least four, otherwise you are going to miss out on the excitement of seeing two coalitions squaring off against each other, which in my view makes the game much more intense and exciting. The reason I say five is better than four is because the "odd man out" on the coalition in one election is frequently a more attractive partner the next time around, whereas with four it could get a bit boring with the same two sets of coalition partners battling it out election after election. The time to play the game has never bothered me, the four or five hours it usually takes seems to fly by, and I'd rather invest my time in a such a meatier game rather than two or three shorter, fluffier ones.
 
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Kevin Nesbitt
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Ajax
Ontario
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I'm interested to see people's average play time using the new 5-round variant. From the tests I've seen, you can play with the full complement of players, and have the game come in with a very reasonable playing time.

 
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John Weber
United States
Ellicott City
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I'm not a big fan of abbreviating games down from what the game designer intended unless people are really short of time. I played a 4 or 5 turn game of Die Macher once, and it really didn't have the full flavor you get from running all 7 regional elections. If you play five turns, it's the second turn of the game and you are already looking at the final region -- seems to lack the tension that is inherent in the longer game. Also, keep in mind since the last two regional elections are run simulataneously, the game really lasts six turns. I know the length of the game is a turn-off for some people, but I'd much rather play one really great long game (which Die Macher clearly is) than four or five really short crappy ones.
 
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