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Subject: Session Report rss

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Jonathan Arnold
United States
Medford
Massachusetts
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Die Macher (2nd edition) played on Saturday, June 12-13, 2004

We got started about 8pm, explained the sequence of play and the rules
a little, and started the first turn about 8:45. We finished at about
3am the next morning here at my house in Medford, MA.

Players
=======
Grüne (Green) - Mark
FDP (Yellow) - Jonathan (that's me)
PDS (Blue) - Michael
SPD (Red) - Andrea
CDU (Black) - Rob

A good time playing Die Macher was had by all. It was Andrea's first
time playing and Rob's second, while the other 3 had played it a few
times over the past couple of years. Some day, we'll play soon enough
after the last playing without being rusty on the rules. The last time
we played was early January of this year, so it took a little
familiarizing again, even for the long time hands. But Andrea, despite
looking a little overwhelmed, gamely played on and, as you'll see, did
very well in the end for herself

The first 4 regions, in order, were Berlin (max of 40 seats),
Schleswig-Holstein (32 seats), Rheinland-Pfalz (42 seats) and
Sachsen-Anhalt (36 seats). The players revealed their starting
choices, and seemed to contest, not surprisingly, Rheinland-Pfalz's 42
seats the most, while only FDP and SPD were working the intial region
of Berlin. CDU picked as his second option the extra 12 membership,
which was, as we were to find out, the beginnings of a membership
drive that was to last the entire game.

We were to find out we had already done our first gaffe. We had
forgotten to have one of the regional opinions in the fourth region
(Sachsen-Anhalt) turned up, so for the first turn, not much happened
there, as there were no known opinions - oops :-( FDP and SPD were the
only ones involved in the first region (Berlin) until Grüne joined in.
But the opinion poll published by SPD there was a killer for FDP, as
it caused public opinion to turn against the Yellow party, driving
down their points to a meager 8(?). It looks like I was looking at the
wrong card when I scored this region's seats, looking at the fourth
region's card instead of the first. So really, it was 9 for FDP, 6 for
Grüne and 16 for SPD. Not too big a change, really.

Most everyone cashed in their $50,000 PAC money card, but CDU went
against the grain and actually turned theirs in, as well as rolling
nicely and adding something like 7 more to their party.

After scoring Berlin, it was replaced by Baden-Württemberg, a pretty
big region with a maximum of 54 seats. Next up in the scoring was the
32 seats for Schleswig-Holstein. This time competition was pretty
fierce, and PDS ended up winning the region, hitting the maximum of 50
votes for 32 seats, while CDU got 25 and Grüne got 10. FDP and SPD
paid the price for not being involved, getting shutout. A costly one
to get shutout on too, because this means you don't get any money
during the payout phase, as, being an even turn, membership doesn't
pay; you only get money for seats gained.

The sixth region turned up was the much smaller Brandenburg, with only
28 seats max. But competition for Rheinland-Pfalz's 42 seats was
spirited. This time, there were 3 coalition markers, and CDU matched
up nicely with PDS, and so they joined in a rousing victory. Grüne
actually had more votes (48) and gained more seats (32) but the
coalition easily combined for in excess of 50 votes, getting a total
of over 70 votes, with CDU getting 20 seats and PDS getting 28. SPD
came in a solid 4th, getting 20 seats, while once again FDP came up
empty handed. In one of the more interesting Die Macher rules, the
coalition member with the most votes choses the regional opinion
first, which is a little less powerful than doing it second, as it
could be replaced. CDU got shortchanged, because he didn't have a
media marker to add to the victory point board, due to a shortage of
cash because of his principled positions of turning down PAC money.

The final region turned up was tiny Bremen, with only 15 seats max.
But things were really heating up in Sachsen-Anhalt, where once again
a coalition ruled the day. This time, SPD chose to ally itself with
Grüne to win the region and place opinion tiles and media
markers. Both SPD and FDP got the maximum 50 votes, but as FDP want
after SPD, it was actually on top and would've won "by a nose" save
for the coalition. So SPD and FDP both got the maximum 36 seats,
while Grüne settled for 28 seats and a spot at the winning table. CDU
won 24 seats and for the first time since region one, PDS was
shutout.

Finally, the big one came up - Baden-Württemberg's 54 seats. All the
parties were struggling for its votes, with SPD once again at the
maximum of 50 votes, but coming in second "by a nose" to PDS, so both
got the 54 seats but only PDS got to change national opinion. Grüne
came in a close second with 48 seats, while CDU got 42 and FDP got
37.

PDS claimed region 6, the 28 seats of Brandenburg, with CDU coming in
a close second with 25 and FDP got 11, while Grüne and SPD got
shutout. And finally, little Bremen gave 15 seats to SPD, which won
by a nose over FDP, allowing it to change one national opinion and add
its media marker, while FDP merely added its marker. Grüne got 8 seats
and the other two parties got 1 seat each.

Finally, we tallied up the scoring:

296 = 143+42+39+5+57 - PDS [Blue]
274 = 165+0+54+10+45 - CDU [Black]
232 = 141+35+21+0+35 - SPD [Red]
229 = 132+30+37+0+30 - Grüne [Green]
204 = 108+25+21+0+50 - FDP [Yellow]

where points are:

Mandate + National Media + Party Membership + bonus + Matching Votes

(there were no security cards, so no security card bonus)

The PDS party was able to capitalize on huge national media score, as
well as matching many of the national opinions in the end, to waltz
away with the victory. They also had a good national membership. CDU
rode its national membership to second place, while also doing well in
mandate, although a rousing zero in the media hurt his chances at
victory. SPD had a very nice showing in her first game, with the
highest mandate and the second highest national media total. Grüne
stuggled to match the national opinion, while doing very well in
mandate and party membership. FDP managed to match national opinion
fairly well, but that was its only saving grace.

I think we all enjoyed ourselves as usual. Looking back on it, I
think we still did a couple of things wrong:

* Like I said, we didn't turn over the first opinion on the 4th region
at the start.

* I think I messed up on scoring the regions, using the wrong cards to
map from votes to seats. The above scoring is the "real" scoring,
but the scoring done at the time looks incorrect from my notes. The
final positions are not affected, although due to the differing
payouts, the ramifications are not easily tracked.

* Doublers were used quite extensively this game, as a good way to
lock in an opinion. However, I forgot that you can also use a shadow
cabinet "doubler" to *remove* a doubler as well as adding one. This
is esp. important because you can have only one doubler per region.

* Reading the FAQ afterwards, I noticed that it says you play your
party donation cards one player at a time, starting with the start
player. We were revealing them all at once, paying out those that
had face up, and then revealing the face down to see if there was a
winner for most money turned down. It could make a difference,
esp. as the last player if you see that everyone else is claiming
money, you might turn in your lowest one for the party gain. So the
way you're supposed to play it is for each player to play their
card, one at a time. Face up ones pay out immediately, while face
down ones wait until the end, when all the face down ones are
revealed.

* We were wondering about the "Convert Party Meeting Markers" phase
for the 6th turn, where the only region that you do this on is the
7th region. As all you do is score the region after scoring the 6th
region, is there any reason to convert markers in the 7th region in
the 6th turn? I suppose it might give someone a chance to have the
absolute majority, thus enabling one last opinion change, but it
seems unlikely to happen.

As for my game as FDP, it went from bad to worse, as the final scoring
shows you. I got nailed early on by a bad opinion poll, giving me
little payout for my first region, which I had invested in heavily
with my starting picks. I then proceeded to ignore the next two
regions, which is probably too many, esp. early on when you need the
money you get for the seats. This was especially painful in region 3
(Rheinland-Pfalz), as I matched a doubled opinion, but noticed too
late to do anything about. And then when the last two regions were
such tiny ones, any chance I had of a big comeback went down the
tubes. I even won the final region (albeit by a nose) and still
couldn't gain anything impressive from it, which has been a hallmark
of previous games - the final region's national opinion effect has
been imperative. Not this game.
 
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