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Subject: The German People Want... Something! rss

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Jeffrey Drozek-Fitzwater
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Taking advantage of the Thanksgiving break, five of us got together for a Die Macher session.

The players:
Trey (Die Linken, first time)
Abbie (SPD, second time)
Emma (FDP, first time)
Ben (CDU, second time)
Me (Die Grunen)

After a rules rundown for the newbies (we used the convention format for changing platform as well as being able to buy multiple polls at bid price but no party bonus for suppressing), we were underway.

The initial board looked like this:
* First region was worth 32. Apologies for not naming the regions; it's not my copy and I couldn't find a list.
* The second region was worth 50.
* The third region was worth 24.
* The fourth region was worth 80(!)

For my initial selections, I chose two thumbs and six meeting markers and 12 party members.

Turn 1

Die Linken and I tie for first player bid; I end up winning at 3k. I pick Linken, at my immediate left, to go first. My hope is with a little experience at the table, I can build steady progress toward winning the 80 point region while holding my own early on. As I thought, much of the effort is on the first two regions. Nobody is shy about buying media markers, and CDU has the same designs I do, putting two on the 80 point region to my one. Nothing surprising happens during the Shadow Cabinet phase, but I do demonstrate the power of position by removing an unfriendly doubler from the regional opinion board. There is a lot of angling for early coalitions. I settle into a coalition with CDU (who is looking very strong in this region) while FDP and SDP join up. Die Linken is left out in the cold.

The opinion poll is won by CDU, who uses it to boost their popularity. CDU easy reaches 50 votes while I struggle and up with the fewest. But it's enough to inch us ahead of the DP team.

Election Result: Coalition Victory for CDU and Die Grunen

I'm not thrilled with only earning 10 seats, less than half of everyone else, but I'll gladly put a media marker on the board and a national opinion card.

I decide to take the 50k contribution. Money, money, money.

New region for turn 5 is 26 points.

Turn 2

Trey has decided going first is awesome, so he wins the bid for start player and names himself to go first. Fine by me!

My platform in this region is decent but not great. Die Linken, stinging from being left out last round, is already openly negotiating possible coalitions for this region. I internally note with some dismay I'm not eligible for any coalitions this round; somehow, I can't agree on two positions with anyone. Deciding not to die on this hill, I'll lay low in this region, pick up the points I can, and make a big push at the 80.

CDU makes a mistake during the Shadow Cabinet round, playing no cards into the 80 point region. I pounce, snatching the last two open media marker positions. He laments his oversight, but I am quite grateful. Seeing a very hostile region in the offing for turn three, it's vital I can bend this one to my will. And I do; let's change the opinion of the fine people of 80 Point Region Whose Name I Cannot Remember.

More coalitions: Die Linken joins up with SPD while FDP and CDU get together. The opinion polls offer no revelations for anyone (but I increase my popularity in the 80 point region), so let's count up those votes. I actually do fairly well, finishing third and earning 30 seats. CDU and SPD both cap out at 50, leaving their coalition partners to decide this one and Die Linken has a little more gas in the tank.

Election Result: Coalition Victory for SPD and Die Linken. That's critical, as I don't want CDU getting two media markers up in the first two rounds. Speaking of media markers, neither SPD nor Die Linken had any in the region! D'oh! No points for you!

But things are looking rather bleak for me. The 26 point region is basically the opposite of what my platform. But what is really daunting is the other four players are sharing multiple positions. There's no way for me to join in because there are only four cards for each position. So I'm in a real bad way here and winning the 80 point region is a must if I want to have any sort of chance.

Region coming out for turn 6: 32 points.

Turn 3

I punted on this region. Too hostile and not enough points to be worth the effort. I keep my focus on the 80 point region, where I'm feeling rather bulletproof. I also throw a couple meeting markers into the 26 point region coming up on turn five. For whatever reason, FDP and Die Linken form a coalition. I didn't understand the need, as they were the only two parties even making an attempt to win the region. Maybe as a goodwill gesture? I don't know. They both got 50 votes.

Election Result: Coalition Victory for Die Linken and FDP.

This time, the winners get a media marker up.

Getting 0 points for the region smarted, especially with CDU already over 100 AND leading in party membership. I only have 40 seats. To compare, FDP was fourth with 62. Not panic time yet, but that makes this upcoming turn make or break for me.

The last region comes out: 48 points. That's going to be a knife fight.

Turn 4

Trey really likes going first, so he wins the starting bid again and names himself to go first! By this time, the wheel has started to click back in my direction. Seeing how many points were at stake and my control of the region, other parties have been furiously changing their platforms to get in on the giant pie I'm trying to keep for myself. So now I have some options and CDU talks me into forming a coalition with him. I don't really want to, but I accept the offer.

But first, we have to do Shadow Cabinet. To insulate myself against any attempts to kill my popularity, I put down one of my most powerful cards. Thankfully, nobody decides to do that (it probably would not have mattered anyway; my platform lined up perfectly), but I do have this card that can tank another party's popularity. Considering it, I announce my intention to pull down Die Linken. But he stops me: If I do that, he will force a coalition with CDU. This brings me pause. I need a victory here not just for the points but for the opportunity to shape the national opinion. Not wanting to call his bluff, I instead bring down the popularity of a shocked CDU. Die Linken immediately officially offers me a coalition, which I accept. FDP and SPD partner up, and CDU is left out of the cold. He's stunned and feeling a little bit backstabbed. I don't blame him, but I try and point the finger at Die Linken, who I argue strongarmed me. He's not buying it, but we're moving on.

The media markers for regions 5 and 6 are already full, and the seventh is filling up fast. FDP has two markers while Die Linken and SPD have one on there. But Die Linken and SPD both have another marker they can put in that fifth spot while FDP is out. She seems to think momentum is going in my direction and she gives Die Linken a hard sell on allowing her to have media control on the last region. She argues I'm going to trade out the one position the people don't agree with me in the current region, which is true. She wants to put in a position more favorable to her (and Die Linken, one would assume) and leave no good choices for me in the pool to replace the one unfavorable position already in the region.

Not wanting to let this happen, I note SPD also has a media marker and no reason not to put it up. I also note if Die Linken allows FPD to control the last region, it's only going to hurt Die Linken's efforts in Region 6, where he has media control. It's an argument that takes several minutes, but finally, Die Linken ties up the media race in the last region. Whew.

I cap easily and need just a little assistance from my partner to secure a victory, which I get.

Election Result: Coalition victory for Die Linken and Die Grunen.
Only I get to put up a media marker, but Die Linken is not complaining about getting to put a card up on the national board. The national board is looking really good for me, aside from the one Die Linken just put up that removed one agreeing with me. I feel like I'm back in the race, even if CDU still picked up 64 seats. Everyone is going to be gunning for him.

Turn 5

People have been bidding more on the turn order, and I don't want to lose my position of going last, so I bid big and win the order. There are some laughs when I name Trey to go first. Now turning my attention to the final spring, I win a hotly-contested auction for the opinion poll in Region 7. It's completely unhelpful, so I don't publish it and choose not to risk buying another at such a high price. That hurt.

This region got really ugly for me. The media control was really effective in changing opinions and the opinion poll was quite unfavorable to me. There's no way I'm going to get any seats here unless I pour 10 markers into it, and I decide that's not worth the effort. I need to marshal my resources for the final turn.

For the first time, there are no coalitions. CDU, somehow, manages another strong effort. Not sure how he's managing this with everyone going right at him.

Election result: FDP by a nose.

Turn 6

Here we go. The starting bid is much more hotly contested, with FDP winning for the first time in the game. Both her and SPD still have a convention left and they both want to get in on pro square tomatoes. The table position is really interesting here. Both myself and Die Linken are already pro square tomato, which is an issue in both the final regions and figures to get up on the national board. So FDP, SPD, and CDU all want in on the square tomato frenzy. The table position goes SPD-FDP-CDU, so if she decides to go last, she'll miss out on a precious position. If she goes first, CDU gets it. So what does she do? Names Trey to go first. Not sure why she wouldn't have SPD go first, but hey. I'm not complaining.

The final shadow cabinet plays see SPD increase its popularity in the final region. Unsure what to do, I use mine for a safe 15 votes rather than risk a poll going against me. I didn't have one left for a play into Region 6, which means I'm the only one ineligible for a coalition there.

When it comes to poll time, FDP wins and uses it to tank SPD's popularity. I think I avoided a bullet there as she could've easily sent me down. I think SPD being at the top was the deciding factor there. The poll in Region 6 is less kind. Die Linken wins it and knocks me down, which hurts. I was just a couple thousand short of winning one of those polls, which is really annoying, especially when I had the most money for much of the game. But those shadow cabinets ain't cheap...

At least my decisions are easy: 8 markets into Region 6 and 10 into the final region. I watch as SPD and FDP team up against Die Linken and CDU. I manage to place a modest third, but it's all about those coalitions...

Election Result: Coalition Victory for SPD and FDP. That's FDP's third media marker on the board. Yeesh. FDP, who doesn't like my platform at all, does some damage to the national opinion board. Me no like.

Turn 7

With anticipation, we flip over the hidden regional opinion... it doesn't help nor hurt me. I can live with that. We count up the votes and I nudge ahead of SPD thanks to that opinion poll that hurt their popularity in the previous round. Thanks, FDP!

Election Result: Victory for Die Grunen. I don't have a media marker to put up, but I get to undo some of the damage FDP did to the national board.

So, on to final scoring!

As we make final party additions, Abbie notes, rather quietly, that her platform and the national opinion line up exactly. Holy crap, it does. That's not good. But, oddly, SPD finishes last in party count. I guess they're so popular, nobody wants to join?

Here is the seat count from the elections:

CDU: 200- They really struggled the last two elections, finishing last both times.
FDP: 176- They were in a lot of coalitions but rarely put up strong vote totals themselves.
SPD: 203- No surprise; they were strong in 6 of the 7 elections.
Die Grunen: 182
Die Linken: 160

FDP had the most scoring media markers with three for 47 points. Both myself and SPD had two on the board while CDU and Die Linken managed a single. I finished first in party membership (by a fairly wide margin of 12). CDU, who rolled horribly in contribution rounds, finished tied for second with FDP.

As noted earlier, SPD had all five platform positions match the board for the maximum 82 points as well as a 10 point bonus for strong positions. I had 4 of 5 and one strong position for a 5 point bonus.

As we added up the final scores, I got SPD at 360. "That's the winning number," I thought. "Nobody is catching that." As I added up my own, Abbie exclaimed, "Oh, Jeffrey, you have 362!" Excitedly, I added it up and came to... 360. "I meant 360 as well." Oh.

Wait, a tie? What's the tiebreaker? Party membership, right? It has to be party membership. (Google search) No tiebreaker.

So after 4 hours, it ended in a tie. Did not see that coming. I guess we have to caucus with the other parties in order to form a government.

Final scores:
CDU: 309
FDP: 294
SPD: 360
Die Grunen: 360
Die Linken: 288
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oystein eker
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Thank you.

Die Macher is the perfect game.
13 simple steps in a round, that match like cogs in a clockwork. Impossible to do a game ruin bad move. But squeezing out the last 5% to maximize takes a lot of brain burning.

If you know a little about how a multi party democracy works - it is perfect mix of abstract and simulation too.


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Steve
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Fantastic report. Die Macher is so stupidly interactive and you captured it in your report. On its face it seems like a pure efficiency exercise, and it sort of is, but that efficiency is often generated by conflict and cooperation with other players.
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Jeffrey Drozek-Fitzwater
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Thanks, Gary.

You know, when a game like that ends in a tie, I go over what could have happened differently. I could have used my final shadow cabinet card to pump up my popularity instead of take 15 votes, which would've given me a couple more seats out of the election. But then maybe FDP hits me with the poll instead of SPD...

So many little things that end up making a big difference.
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