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Subject: Die Macher VASSAL v1.07 rss

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Jason Mowat
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I am proud to announce version 1.07 of Die Macher for VASSAL. I believe that this module will allow more people (myself included) to play more of this great game. Die Macher was begging to be made into a VASSAL module and it lends itself well to an electronic, online format. I hope that you give it a try and enjoy playing it as much as I enjoyed porting it.

Die Macher VASSAL boasts a large number of features:

Look and Feel - Die Macher VASSAL is a Valley Games port, so it feels like you are playing the Valley Games version of the game. Cards and counters rotate, so they can be arranged just like you would do so in a live game. The experience with the online version will be quite similar to the live version, perhaps even better in some respects.

Organization - Die Macher has a lot of pieces. Live plays of the game require large surfaces and there tends to be a tornado of cards and components surrounding players. Since the game is so multi-dimensional, players are rewarded for being aware of what public cards their opponents hold, understanding how their cards relate to their opponents, and understanding how the exchange pool can influence the different states. It is easy to get overwhelmed. With the VASSAL module, players can quickly show and hide their own and their opponent’s cards, reference and hide the exchange pool cards, and view and hide the national opinion cards. This allows players to filter out extraneous information so that they can make better decisions faster.

Fog of War - Die Macher is a game of limited information, and the VASSAL version preserves this. Public opinion cards are drawn face-down so that players can’t see what they are before they are flipped onto their respective states. Public party policy cards are drawn face-up so that all players can see what they are up against, while private party policy cards are drawn face-down to conceal the options available to the owning player. Shadow Cabinet and Party Contribution cards are all concealed to opposing players and can be revealed when a player wishes. Opinion poll cards are drawn face-down to hide their identity, but players who successfully purchase them have the option of peeking at the card. This will reveal the card to the peeker but will not reveal the card to any other player. The winner of the opinion poll auction can then choose to discard the opinion poll card face-down, or can publish it by unmasking it to the other players. Money can be made invisible to other players to increase the uncertainty of auctions and confound other player strategies. Preliminary setups and starting player bidding allow players to specify and mark their entries as invisible so that privacy is respected.

Deck Shuffling - Decks are constantly reshuffled so that opinion cards do not have to be placed on the bottom of the deck. While this might result in the same card being redrawn, the convenience of reshuffling makes it a non-issue and players can be confident that their cards are being drawn from a randomly organized deck.

Counter Stacking - Die Macher operates off of the concept of stacking when determining winners in elections. Die Macher VASSAL preserves the stacking of player markers so that this mechanic can be respected.

Communication - Die Macher VASSAL reports on all player movements so that you can figure out what has just happened in this busy game. Yet communication reports will mask the identity of hidden cards so that private information is not exposed to opponents. VASSAL allows for private chatting, which is something that becomes time consuming in live games, where people have to leave the table to speak in confidence. Having the ability to privately negotiate deals and coalitions increases player interactions and makes for a more exciting and strategic game.

Solitaire Play - Although Die Macher is a 3 to 5 player game, it is nice to be able to set up the game and play a few rounds solo. This allows new players to learn the game and it allows novices to quickly set up and study the game so that they can devise devious strategies. The main attraction is the speed of setup; a table top setup takes over 15 minutes to prepare; Die Macher VASSAL takes less than 5 minutes to completely set up the boards, draw cards, and set up the player stocks.

Valley Games have been contacted and notified about this module. They have not yet responded to my communications, and I have taken their silence to mean tacit approval for posting the module. They, of course, have the power to request that the module be removed from VASSAL if they do have a problem with it, but given that a few of their games are already in VASSAL format (e.g. Hannibal: Carthage vs. Rome), I doubt this will be an issue.

This is my first VASSAL module. I am by no means a graphics expert, so some of the player boards are fairly minimalist. If there is anybody who would like to improve the look and feel of some of the player boards, I’d be happy to work with you. The VASSAL editor is well designed and offers rich functionality to a developer. It has its challenges as well. I have done as much as I felt was reasonable to allow for a playable version of this game. More can be done, and I look forward to hearing your feedback about what you would like (or what you don’t like) with this module.

The Die Macher VASSAL module can be found at http://www.vassalengine.org/community/index.php?option=com_v.... The module is actually hosted on MediaFire because it was too large to upload directly to vassalengine.org. I started updating the wiki page for the module but it was acting flaky, so it’s only partially complete. I lost about 30 minutes of work on it and I am reluctant to continue, but if I have confidence that the wiki will allow me to enter what I want, I’ll publish detailed instructions on how to use the module. I think it is worth mentioning that the module is pretty straight forward and doesn’t really need a lot of documentation, as long as you know how to play the game and are a little familiar with VASSAL.

I hope you have as much fun playing this module as I had making it. I would welcome a game, so please send me a message if you want to give this beast a try online-style.
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Christian Krach
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Great! Thanks for your time spent on this module.
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Einmal ist keinmal
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Awesome work, sir! thumbsup
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Crazy Bob
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To get a game in is going to take some coordination. Ideas?
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John Allen
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I have been waiting for this for a very long long time..thankyou... I have played this solitaire on the kitchen table I liked it so much ...not a lot of family breakfasts for a while..so again much thanks..

John
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Brad Miller
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elcomadreja2 wrote:
To get a game in is going to take some coordination. Ideas?


Emails and dedicated players?
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Chris Shaffer
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I am leery of the constant reshuffling vs. maintaining a constant deck of opinion polls. Seems like it might introduce a little bit more (undesired) randomness.
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Brad Miller
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Agreed. Why go to all the effort to make this very nice mod, and then do something weird like make this kind of fundamental change to the game mechanics?
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Jason Mowat
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TheCat wrote:
I am leery of the constant reshuffling vs. maintaining a constant deck of opinion polls. Seems like it might introduce a little bit more (undesired) randomness.


I'm not sure what you mean by changing the game mechanic for opinion polls. Perhaps I did a poor job explaining what is happening.

When you discard your published/unpublished opinion polls, they are not added back into the deck. They go into their own discard pile. However, the public opinion deck and party policy deck are reshuffled whenever a card is added back into it. So if you draw a duplicate or contradictory card, instead of pushing it to the bottom of the deck, you simply reshuffle it back in. In my opinion, this does little to impact the game mechanics in any significant way, but I could be mistaken.

Do you still think this adds more undesired randomness? Should it push the card to the bottom of the deck, or is reshuffling the entire deck just as good?
 
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Chris Shaffer
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That's a much clearer explanation. I think the way you have done it works fine. The original description made it sound like there wasn't a discard pile for opinion polls.
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Jason Mowat
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I'm glad it helped - my original explanation was a little sloppy modest.

In the meantime, I added functionality to send the public opinion and party policy cards to the bottom of the deck instead of reshuffling them in. The only caveat is that the game starts with unshuffled decks and the players must explicitly click a "shuffle decks" button to initialize the cards. The button is in the center of the main board and it disappears after it is pressed.

The consequences of the modification is that it requires an extra action by one of the players to initialize the game. However, sending the cards to the bottom of the deck could save a number of extra actions and follows the true mechanic of the game. It's probably a good thing.

I'll post the update immediately if people would prefer to use it instead of the one I originally posted. Otherwise, I'll hold off and let people experiment with the current version.
 
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Jason Mowat
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elcomadreja2 wrote:
To get a game in is going to take some coordination. Ideas?


Shad maintains a GeekList that attempts to coordinate players and VASSAL games. The list can be found at http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/23350. This should allow players to find opponents.
 
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Meng Tan
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Bridgeman Downs
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Kudos on the module. The game is far more playable with the German edition artwork though, at least for the issues cards. Any chance of upgrading to that?
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Jason Mowat
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meng wrote:
Kudos on the module. The game is far more playable with the German edition artwork though, at least for the issues cards. Any chance of upgrading to that?


Thanks for the nod, Meng! It was a lot of fun developing it, especially since it was my first.

I developed the module by using scans of my own cards. As I don't have access to the German version, it'd be painful to render the game to use German graphics purely from online sources. However, if someone were to scan each of the German party policy and opinion poll cards, it would be relatively straight forward to resize and port them into the current module.
 
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