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Subject: A Lazy Llama's Look at Politicks rss

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Adrian Abela
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So, just got this in the post today, already played 4 two-player games, so here's what I think as a first-fourth impression.

Where I got it from

They had an Indigogo campaign a short while ago.

The Game in Summary

It's a card game for 2-4 players, satirising Maltese Politics. You have a number of Factions which you must attempt to influence (and thereby gaining votes) - by choosing the more influential (and/or experienced) politician, whilst trying to thwart your opponent's attempts through the use of event cards.

The Gameplay in summary

You have Politician cards, Event cards and Faction cards.

Every Politician has two influence values ("Red" and "Blue"), a list of icons denoting expertise, and potentially a special ability. You're allowed to choose one politician for each round (though some politicians have special abilities that let them be swapped out).

Red Influence is used for Red-coloured Factions, Blue for the Blue-coloured, and their sum for the Grey-coloured Factions.

Event cards can have many effects, from increasing or decreasing influence, to changing expertises, to changing some of the rules for that round.

Factions are what you fight over - every round has a different faction - with each faction respecting certain expertises, as well as giving a number of voters to those who woo it. To win over a faction, the politician you chose must have the most influence (+ a bonus for having matching expertises), compared to the ones your opponents chose.

Whomsoever reaches 9 votes total wins. Different Factions have different votes, falling into the [0..4] range.

- - -

At the beginning of the game, you pick a total of 7 cards from the Politician and Event Decks in whichever proportion you wish. If you win a round, you get to pick one card to replace. If you lose (or draw), you get to pick two.

What I like

The strategic element of it all. You have very few cards, and they're not going to refresh as often as you'd like. A particularly powerful Event can turn your luck around... but would holding onto it be better? Is it worth fighting over this few votes? A particular politician might shine in a future situation, but you could use him now... You're going to have to make some tough decisions. There will be battles you will be happy to lose just to get some extra cards.

The artwork and flavour. Okay, if you don't know who they're meant to represent, you're not going to get the references, but you really don't need to know who any of those people are to have yourself a good time. But for those in the know, it's worth a couple of titters.

The tactical element. Some event cards are just brilliant at pulling the rug out. That feeling of smug satisfaction as you discard your opponent's effort through a tactical use of Event cards is quite exhilarating. And this ties in well with the Strategic aspects above - because with effects like these - is it truly worth risking a useful card?

Easy to learn. The rulebook is light (and there's a video if you're lazier than that), and it's pretty easy to figure out what you want to do. After reading it twice I didn't need to refer to it again.

Pretty quick game. The box says 30-60 minutes. With two-players it's over much quicker. I didn't time it, but 15 minutes seems about right for a 2 player game. With more players I'm sure it's going to take longer.

Catching up. Because the winner of a round only receives one card in return (and most probably spent at least 2), it's easier for players who have fallen behind to catch up - because chances are the winner's hand is mostly depleted. So there's no real sense of giving up if you've lost the first couple of rounds.

What I don't like

It gets a bit too bookkeepy sometimes. When you have multiple Events which require you to keep count, you're going to end up having to recalculate the effective influence every time someone plays a card.

Looking through the deck/discard pile - some cards let you do this (or require you to check if someone was discarded). The decks are pretty large for what it is, and waiting for someone to go through the deck to pick something is a bit tiresome.

What I think

Well. I like it. It's fun. There's enough strategic thinking in it to keep me interested, without bogging things down. The artwork's a hoot. I'd recommend it.
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