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Subject: Die Macher Tips – Preliminary Phase rss

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Eric Sanders
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Here's part one of my oft-threatened (at least to our group) general strategy guide for Die Macher. It addresses almost exclusively the Preliminary Phase (or at least uses that phase as it's frame of reference). I don't know if the other sections of this will be one entry or seperate entries for parts of the Election Campaign yet (option 2 gets them up faster, but perhaps they'd be too fragmented).

I know these comments/ideas/"strategies" are pretty vague - but the variable nature of the game boards and party platforms make it difficult to be too specific in any regard. Perhaps the final "tips" post I make will try to summarize some overarching strategies instead of these comments which may be better summarized as tactics.

This writing assumes you are already familiar with the game and it's rule set. I tried to use the standard Valley Games terminology for actions and effects when I could - but didn't go into depth to explain these terms. If you haven't played yet, you may need to at least walk through a turn to understand the definitions.

Hopefully the (very) mild humor isn't too distracting to the point (rather, making it a less dry read). As always, all constructive criticism and differing opinions welcome!

5 Preparation

The Preparation Phase is the most important phase of the game. If you don’t set up correctly you can’t play right. Enough said.

6.1 The Preliminary Phase

The Preliminary Phase is the most important phase of the game. Decisions you make here will echo over 2/3rds of the game play (four of the [essentially] six rounds, since round 7 is just scoring - and 4/5ths of the game play in the short game). Investing these “free” resources into States you cannot win – or at least strongly compete in – can be fatal to your final score.

Column 1:

Increasing Party Popularity is the best benefit. Even one step up in a State gets you double the votes off your Meeting Markers, and using both in one state (with the top option) can max you out at +3 without the investment of a Shadow Cabinet card (10,000 Euro equivalent from the Foreign Affairs Minister to equal the +2 effect). This can be a strong play into any State with a large vote count. Playing into an earlier State limits the damage that can be done to your investment via Poll or Shadow Cabinet cards since your opponents will get less chances to effect your Popularity in each of those phases before the election is held.

Any State showing the promise of a strong [Issue] Coincidence can be combined with this Popularity boost to garner large vote totals from limited Meeting Markers. On early boards this can win quick elections with all the benefits (Cash, [State] Victory Points, National Party membership, etc.). On later boards it can also allow for Public Opinion card manipulation (if you can quickly accumulate “more votes than all other players combined”).

Gaining Party Meeting Markers is the best benefit – but you can only get one in any of your selections in Column 1. An obvious play for these markers is into the first State so you can max out your Meetings to multiply against (where otherwise you would be limited to a max of 5 by the “can only add 4 Meeting Markers to a State per turn” rule), but any State you have a strong “Factor” (Popularity + Coincidence) in can be a great play for these freebies – potentially converting them into quick votes.

Gaining Votes is the best benefit. Votes are forever – they can never be taken away or reduced by “Factor” manipulation (a 5,000 Euro “Speaker of the House” can wipe out a +2 Party Popularity bump faster than you can say “Intern Scandal” – without even risking a Coalition). Frank Herbert said it best in Dune (a series all about Politcs): “The Vote is Life” (I may be paraphrasing).

Six votes are enough to guarantee you some points in an election (albeit, very few). More importantly, if you can pick a later State where no one else places votes (or you double them up by placing both Vote options there) you can use your “more votes than all other players combined” majority to manipulate the Public Opinion cards in the region.

Column 2:

Gaining Media Markers is the strongest play. Again, Herbert wrote in Dune “He who controls the Media contols the State” – or something like that. Media control in any State makes you immune to those pesky negative polls (Who cares what the People think? There are abandoned puppies available for adoption at the shelter! Story at Ten), freeing up money from those auctions for other actions. You can also manipulate the Public Opinion cards in a State to your advantage and your opponents’ dismay – perhaps for many turns if you dominate a later state.

A larger early state is a very strong draw for two or even three media markers. You get them back for future plays sooner, and either you can tweak the important Public Issue Opinions to your favor or prevent your opponent from screwing up your Coincidence by keeping them the same.

Increasing Party Membership is the strongest play. Selecting the bottom option of Column 2 generates 12,000 Euros in the 1st, 3rd, and 5th rounds – for 36,000 Euros gained. That money can buy alot of whatever you need – after the first round you’ve paid for the 3 Media Markers you didn’t place for “free”, or some Polls, or a stronger Shadow Cabinet card earlier than others can spare the cash for. Money is flexibility that Media presence cannot buy.

In addition to the cash, Party Membership is pure victory points at the end of the game – with a 10 point bonus for largest Party Membership. An extra 12 members on the National Party board can be an insurmountable lead to these bonus points, netting 22 points to your final score (perhaps close to 10% of what you might need to win in a short (5 round) game with mostly smaller States).

The compromise positions of Column 2 are all valid plays based on the States on the board. If everything is small (31% of the States yield a 1:2 ratio or less of seats (Victory Points and Euros) for votes earned, and 75% of them give less than a 1:1 ratio of seats to votes), nothing may deserve preliminary Media Markers placed on it. If you play early in the first turn, you may be able to place the Media Markers during the game turn instead of wasting the opportunity to bump up Party Membership – which there are less opportunities to do on the scale available in the Preliminary Setup than Media Marker placement.
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Franklin Lautert
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e_sandrs wrote:

The compromise positions of Column 2 are all valid plays based on the States on the board. If everything is small (31% of the States yield a 1:2 ratio or less of seats (Victory Points and Euros) for votes earned, and 75% of them give less than a 1:1 ratio of seats to votes), nothing may deserve preliminary Media Markers placed on it. If you play early in the first turn, you may be able to place the Media Markers during the game turn instead of wasting the opportunity to bump up Party Membership – which there are less opportunities to do on the scale available in the Preliminary Setup than Media Marker placement.


After playing this game for a second time, I was wondering what would make me not go for Party-Membership only, with no media markers at all. Maybe the "80 votes" province in the 1st turn? What do you experienced players usually do?
My point is, in the games I played we usually could buy media markers for 4000 DM, and you gain 4000 DM for each media marker you didn't take (4 party members) right after the 1st turn, so with more Party Membership you have the media markers "for free". Am I missing something?
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Eric Sanders
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flautert wrote:
After playing this game for a second time, I was wondering what would make me not go for Party-Membership only, with no media markers at all. Maybe the "80 votes" province in the 1st turn? What do you experienced players usually do?
My point is, in the games I played we usually could buy media markers for 4000 DM, and you gain 4000 DM for each media marker you didn't take (4 party members) right after the 1st turn, so with more Party Membership you have the media markers "for free". Am I missing something?


The reason to choose Media Markers is the 5 marker limit per State. The initial placement allows you to both exceed the limit of 5 and to be guaranteed to place in a State. If the other players take Media Markers and you take none you may end up with no opportunity to buy Media in 2 or even 3 States.

Make any sense?
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e_sandrs wrote:
The reason to choose Media Markers is the 5 marker limit per State. The initial placement allows you to both exceed the limit of 5 and to be guaranteed to place in a State. If the other players take Media Markers and you take none you may end up with no opportunity to buy Media in 2 or even 3 States.

Make any sense?


It does. If there is a big race for media, that is. Dominating the media is not fundamental, but not having any markers in the media is pretty bad if you win the election. That should depend on group thinking, I guess.
Thanks
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Eric Sanders
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flautert wrote:
Dominating the media is not fundamental, but not having any markers in the media is pretty bad if you win the election. That should depend on group thinking, I guess.
Thanks


Agreed. In most of our play Media is often hotly contested - except in the very smallest of States. Again, as you stated, having at least 1 media marker is key if you are going to win the State, but otherwise not critical to a overall winning strategy.
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Chris Shaffer
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2 media markers in a state likely gives you the majority, and most certainly make it much more difficult for other players to kick you out of the state entirely with shadow cabinet cards.
 
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