With the unusual and always problematic number of 7 gamers to deal with, I broke out Tom Clancy's Politika, which can handle 8. In spite of the game's drawbacks, I thought this group would enjoy the negotiation and card-play aspect of the game. They didn't.
I won't go into a full review of the game, as I have covered it comprehensively on our section of our website. I will say that we did use ALL of the variants which are listed on our website, and this did improve the flow of the game (in spite of John Moore's whinings about being limited to only five Action cards). However, in spite of the improvements, it doesn't save the game.
The game still has several flaws, one of which is MAJOR. That is, the person who moves last on the final turn has a HUGE, perhaps fatal advantage. That player can attack at will without fear of retribution as the game will end on that turn. We have attempted to solve this problem by adding a variable ending, with the chance of the game ending increasing with each passing turn, but as the odds begin to favor the game ending, the final player can go for broke on the final turn, likely scooping up major influence points, and win the game.
This problem was even more evident in our game as the hour was growing late and the players decided to roll at the end of turn 6, with a 50% chance of the game ending. Otherwise, we would have played a turn 7 and the game would definitely ended at that point. I happened to be selected last on turn 6 (we used a player order selection identical to that in Air Baron) so clearly had the advantage.
Another flaw is the game's length. Normally, our group doesn't mind longer games, but this one is very repetitive. In spite of the card play, event cards and attacking each turn, rarely does one break out of the pack for a substantial lead. And if he does, he is mercilessly set upon by the other players and knocked back into the pack. There is no incentive to grab the lead as the leader gets pounded upon. Thus, the only turn which really matters is the final turn.
This is all sad, as the game's premise is intriguing. It even has some interesting mechanics, but as a whole the game fails. I probably enjoyed it more than everyone else, but that is probably based more on my desire to like this game than on the actual merits of it. What a shame.
Here were the players and the factions they represented:
Eric A.: Military
Eric S.: Nationalists
Again, since the game is described and reviewed in detail in the section, I'll just give the round-by-round influence tallies:
Round 1: Eric 14, Greg 12, Stephen 12, Eric A. 11, Lenny 10, John 10, Clyde 9
Round 3: John 13, Eric S. 13, Stephen 12, Eric A. 11, Lenny 10, Clyde 10, Greg 9
Round 4: Stephen 13, Eric S. 12, Lenny 11, Eric A. 11, Clyde 11, John 10, Greg 10
Round 5: Stephen 14, Eric S. 12, Lenny 12, John 12, Greg 10, Eric A. 10, Clyde 8
Round 6: Greg 15, Lenny 14, Eric S. 13, Stephen 13, John 13, Eric A. 11, Clyde 10
My victory was based in large part of hoarding cash (I received 1 point for each $60 in cash ... I acquired 4 points this way) AND moving last in round 6 (which wasn't determined until the last chit was drawn). I do believe that altering, or perhaps even eliminating, the amount of points earned for cash is necessary.
The ratings continue to be disappointing for Politika:
Eric S. 6, Eric A. 5, John 5, Clyde 5, Lenny 5, Greg 5, Stephen 4