- David McMillanUnited States
If you thought that politics in the real world was a nasty and cut throat thing, then you’ve never experienced politics in the seedy underbelly of the underworld. Here dragons and witches vie for power with angels and demons. But it’s not really about politics. Lofty ideals and grandiose dreams aren’t immutable. With the right amount of money, anyone’s opinions can be changed.
In the game of The Majority 2, players will place cards onto the table in an attempt to form political factions and, hopefully, to earn the most coin before the game comes to an end. It isn’t going to be easy, though. The players will share a communal hand of cards and any card that is given away just might be the card the other player really needs.
Now, before I delve too much further into this review, I would like to take a moment to thank Dan over at Ninja Star Games for sending me the review copy of this game that I am basing this review upon. His generosity, though, has not had any impact on my overall opinion of this game. Rest assured that if this game is terrible, I will tell you so. If you like what you read here and think this game might make a nice addition to your game collection, then I encourage you to go check out the Kickstarter campaign and consider showing your financial support. You can find the Kickstarter page here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/636070410/the-majority-...
I would like to take a moment to remind you that this review is based upon a pre-release review copy of this game. As such, it does not necessarily reflect the quality of the final product. It also does not reflect any stretch goals that may be unlocked during the course of the Kickstarter campaign. Heck, even the rules could change. That being said…
The Majority 2 came to me in a medium sized, plastic zip top bag. Inside of this bag is a deck of cards, several different colored wooden discs, a single glass bead, and a little baggie filled with coin tokens. There’s nothing really special about the wooden discs or the coin tokens. There are a total of five discs and they are each different colors (of which there are a total of five – pink, green, blue, red, and black). They are not very big either. Each disc is slightly larger than the diameter of an average pencil eraser but less than the diameter of a dime. The cardboard coin tokens are solid black on one side and feature the silhouette of a witch on the other on top of a gold colored background. The silhouette is framed inside of a circle and both the silhouettes and the circle are brown in color.
What stands out in this game are the cards themselves. Printed on a very thin card stock, each card represents a member of one of the five political parties. Within each party, there is a hierarchy. At the top of the card is the name of the party along with this party member’s position within the hierarchy. This is total supposition, by the way. The cards that I have received are all in Japanese with a pasted on English translation along the bottom. However, based upon what I am able to see of the original card, the positioning seems logical. To the right of the member’s position is a number printed in a white circle. This number represents the card’s cost.
Directly beneath this and taking up most of the card is an illustration of the ‘board member’ in question. (As you can already tell, the story behind the game makes very little sense.) These illustrations are done in a classic anime style. The creepy things look appropriately creepy and the cutesy things are appropriately cutesy. As you move up the hierarchy of the various parties, each board member becomes more and more detailed than its predecessors and every illustration is set atop a backdrop of a single color which represents the pertinent party. Dragon’s Party board members sit atop a red background, Witches’ Party members sit atop a background of blue, Angels are pink, Reapers are black, and Demons are green.
At the bottom of each of these cards is a text box that contains information about what this card’s particular special abilities are when it is played at the right time. Each board member has a unique ability. Some are pretty ho-hum. Some are much better than others. However, in my playthroughs, I have used all of the abilities at one point in time or another. Beneath this text box, on some of the cards, appears some further text that dictates some other special qualities of the card and to the right of this, on every card, is a cluster of stars that describes the card’s victory point value at the end of the game.
The only other thing worthy of note is the rules sheet. While the sheet gives a pretty decent overview of the rules, it is not incredibly well written. Some of the finer aspects of the game seem to have gotten lost in translation and it took me a few plays to suss out these game play aspects to get everything right. While this isn’t the worst rules sheet that I have ever seen, it’s definitely in the ballpark. I certainly hope that the rule book included in the final game is better written and I also think that the rules could definitely benefit from some helpful illustrations and game play examples.
The set up for this game is pretty quick. First, all of the coins and wooden discs are set aside within easy reach of each player. Each player receives three coins each which they will place in front of the face down. Then the cards are shuffled together and placed face down on the table slightly off center so that there is a playing area for the cards that are going to be played later. Then each player is dealt four cards apiece which they will keep face down in front of them. These cards make up that player’s ‘reserve’.
Finally, the richest player (I am not making this up. The rules actually say this!) takes the starting player marker (the glass bead) and draws six cards from the deck to form their hand. Now, you are ready to begin.
The playing area is divided up into three columns and each player will have the opportunity to play cards into their half of the column. Once a column has reached a total of five or more cards, then that player’s half of the column forms a faction. If at least three of the members of that faction are of the same party, then the player who controls the column earns a number of free coins depending upon the number of same party members within the faction and then they can choose a member of that faction to act as their ‘faction representative’. This will typically be the card with the highest victory point value. It is entirely possible to form a faction that is consisted of, say, four demons and an angel. In this case, the faction representative must be a demon since that party has the majority of representatives within the faction. Cards chosen in this way are set aside and will be where the victory points come from at the end of the game. When factions representatives are chosen, you will earn additional coins depending on how large the party’s representation within the faction was.
At the beginning of your turn, you will flip your coins over to their illustrated side. At the end of your opponent’s turn, you will have received whichever cards were left over in your opponent’s hand at the end of their turn. After flipping your coins, you must make a choice. Do you want to play out your turn with the cards that have been handed to you or would you rather play out your turn with the cards that are in your reserve? If you’d prefer to use the cards from your reserve, then you must trade the cards in your hand with those in your reserve. Now your reserve is your hand and any cards that you do not use on this turn will be given to your opponent when your turn is completed.
Next, you will need to decide whether or not you want to draw any additional cards. The number of cards that you are allowed to draw depends entirely upon the number of factions that your opponent controls. The more factions that they have in play, the more cards you are allowed to draw. But, beware, any cards that you don’t use are going to go to your opponent, so you’ll want to exercise caution when drawing them.
After you make this decision, you then have the opportunity to play any card from your hand into any of your columns for free. The columns are arranged in such a way that your opponent’s columns are directly facing yours. If your opponent already has three columns in play, then your choice of where to place any cards for any new columns is limited. When placing a card into play for free, you can ignore its cost entirely, but you do not gain any of the benefits that you would had you put this card into play by paying its cost. It’s a trade off, but this gives you a method of getting a high value card into your column much more quickly than you normally would. And you are never forced to put a card into play for free. This free play is entirely optional. If there is a column with five or more cards in it after the free play, then a faction is formed and you will need to select a faction representative. If none of the parties in the faction has a majority, then the faction is dissolved and all of the cards are discarded.
Once you have put your card into play for free (if you chose to do so) then the second portion of your turn begins. Now, you may put as many cards into play in any of your columns as you can pay for. Each time that a coin is spent, it is flipped upside down to signify that it has been spent. In addition to the monetary costs associated with playing the card (the number in the upper right hand corner) some cards also require you to have certain numbers of the same faction in play in order to play them. To determine how many of a certain faction you have in play, you need look no further than your faction representatives. If you have one angel and one dragon, then you have one angel faction and one dragon faction. If you have any angel and a demon that has a pink wooden disc placed upon it (which is an effect of some of the cards), then you have two angel factions. The wooden disc changes the faction to whichever faction is represented by the disc’s color. And, once you have played all of the cards that you care to play, your turn is finished and you will give the cards that remain in your hand to your opponent.
END GAME and WINNING
At the end of your turn, if your opponent has five factions in play, then the game comes to an end. Then all of the victory points are added up from the faction representatives plus one victory point for each coin and the person who has the most victory points wins.
I must admit that my first impressions of this game were not favorable. As I bumbled and stumbled my way through my first few plays, I wasn’t having much fun and I was having to constantly pore over the rules to figure out how some of the various mechanics worked. However, as I began to understand what I was doing, a pretty cool game began to emerge.
The key to this game… the thing that sets it apart from most other card games… is the unique drafting mechanism – the communal hand. Not only are you setting yourself up for success, but you’ve also got to think about what you’re doing for your opponent. At the beginning of the game, you’ve got some secret knowledge, your reserve, but as the hands are exchanged and the reserves are pulled out, that knowledge becomes less and less secret. That’s when the strategy begins to emerge.
It’s like playing a game within a game as you try to build up your hand in such a way that your opponent is going to be forced to dig into their reserve and hopefully hand you the cards that you’re setting yourself up for. These kinds of manipulations and hand juggling make this game tense and exciting. And, oddly enough for a card game, there is very little luck involved here. A large part of that luck mitigation comes about because of the hand swapping. It’s not every game that you are able to not only put your own strategy into play, but to also try to influence your opponent’s decisions in such a direct manner.
Despite its bizarre theme, eccentric art work, and questionable translating, this game’s got a certain kind of magic about it that brings me back over and over again. It’s easy to learn, easy to play, and easy to clean up. No matter how many times that I play, no two games ever play out the same. This is a truly unique offering and I am grateful for having had the opportunity to play it.
- [+] Dice rolls