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Subject: First session of the new parliament rss

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Jon Cormier
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My first session of Die Macher is over and I think it was about as good as could be expected.

There were four players present and we were all learning it for the first time. Although some of us were better prepared than others, we had all at the very least, watched the Board Games with Scott episode at least once. I did my best explanation of game flow and ideas, as I understood them to be and we were off and running.

I was approaching this first session as the training session, or pre-season game (by-election I guess if I were to use only political comparisons). And, like I said, two of us were better prepared than the other two, and in the end we finished first and second.

So we started out and if I had one piece of advice to anyone else playing this game for the first time – expect to totally screw up the starting bids (where you choose items from column one and two). We all chose our items and realized we all screwed ourselves equally. But since we were all in similar situations and simply learning in a trial by fire we just ran with it in an attempt to understand the game.

The first election was exceptionally painful as we constantly referred to the player aids I had, thankfully, printed off the BGG after many recommendations. These were a life saver. We managed to get through it and the many different pieces started to fit together in our brains. Then we forgot to take in outside contributions – something we didn’t realize until we finished the second election. But again, since it screwed us all equally we decided to take a live and learn approach to it. Also, we decided to do a full seven elections to make up for our first round mistake rather than calculate both the 6th and 7th election more or less simultaneously.

Being that we were all involved for a political party (some of us in more than one) at different levels this game had a big appeal to us. For a few of us who were employees of a somewhat smaller and new party it was simply fun to be able to spend thousands of dollars on opinion polls – something we never got to do while working for a real-life party. For others, the more or less randomly generated platform pointed to a cynical view of politics at the heart of the game. It’s all about playing the game as it presents itself rather than sticking to your views, challenging the voters and convincing them that your views are actually better. You can influence the riding, but only if you have media control or more votes than all others in the riding added together. Again, at its heart that is a very cynical idea. It feels true though, which is what made the game a lot more fun to us. We got to be both idealistic and unscrupulous whenever we thought fit.

Personally, I was in the most coalitions and they all benefited me the most. I managed to artificially inflate opinion poll bids to bankrupt the competition and finally clued into the strategy of another player of low bidding on opinion polls that nobody cared about in order to increase his party membership nationally. So the session did go along well, hiccups included. They were expected after all since we knew the game was a bit of a beast.

The only complaints people had was that it wasn’t open who was in the lead because the points aren’t only about who wins elections, but on national membership and party platform appealing to the voters. It really didn’t make a huge difference but it does have the ability to swing a close game, which probably isn’t such a bad mechanic now that I think about it. We are planning the second election for some time next month, but I think I’ll let people choose their own starting platform to start the game rather than randomly draw cards. We’ll do this before any riding positions are revealed. Part of the appeal for the players I play with is that you can be specific parties and then flip flop on their positions. I don’t think it’ll unduly affect the game since riding positions will still be random and players will need to deal with the same situations.

I’ll end with a bit of advice for first time players (they may not work for you, but it's what I noticed in our game):

-Chances are nobody is putting resources into the last election on the board. Try to win opinion polls for cheap then don’t publish them as an easy way to increase your national membership.

-If a big election is one of the starting 4, and you want to win it, use the starting set-up choices to put meeting markers there, increase your modifier and start some votes there as well. You could also choose to focus on media majority there well. Other first time players probably won’t clue into the fact that consolidating resources in the point heavy ridings will help win it.

-Don’t worry too much about starting player bids for the first game. You’re all learning and only 2 of our elections saw people hit 50 votes.

-If someone is trying to compete in 2 provinces/ridings and you’re going for one of them, inflate their votes for the opinion poll in the other one then drop out when someone else who really wants it takes over the bidding. Make your opponent spend more money outside the riding you want.

-Go for the first election and try to move your media token to the national board, it is worth a lot of points in the end game.

-If someone is hosting try to keep him or her focused on the game and not hosting duties. We played at a friend’s house who kept wanting to download German music, order food, and talk in a bad German accent. He lost. By a lot.

-We drank too much German beer. It didn’t matter that much but our attention wandered a bit and it is a long game so you could end up drinking a lot more than you wanted to. It does make auctions a hell of a lot more fun when you’ve had a few, it’s in the last few rounds and you have a lot of money.

-Start by noon if not earlier if you have plans that evening. It really will take you as long as people say.
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James Hemsley
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Good overview of the game.

One comment:

Choosing your own platform at the beginning might sound innocent, but the reason you don't get to choose it in the rules is because of the possibility of coalitions or hostile coalitions. Remember, to form a coalition you have to have a certain number (not looking at rules right now) of similar platform stances. If you and your friends are like-minded, it might make coalitions easier, which may or may not be the intent of the designer.

--James

Edit: for clarification
 
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Daniel Hurst
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Next time I play, I'm adding the "Drink too much German beer" variant. Thanks!
 
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Jon Cormier
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James - thanks for the head's up. I didn't quite think of that. I do think we'd be fair and try to best represent the parties we've chosen. I, on the other hand would be totally unscrupulous and go for the coalition option.

Daniel - all political deals are done in a back room with beer.
 
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