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Andrew DiGregorio
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Democrazy, a 2000 offering from the minds of Karl-Heinz Schmiel and Bruno Faidutti and published by Descartes Editeur, is a fun, unique game that evokes an atmosphere that reminds one of the wild and crazy social games played in many colleges (but without the mandatory drinking!).

The game is based on Karl-Heinz Schmiel's earlier offering, Das Regeln Wir Schon. The game could best be described as a voting game, but with an extremely light and social atmosphere.

Gameplay is very simple and straightforward. At the start of the game, all players (the game can play with up to 10 players comfortably, and the more players generally the better) reach into a cloth bag and blindly take 4 colored chips (colors are red, blue, yellow, and green). At the start of the game, each kind of chip is worth 1 point each (giving each player 4 points at the start of the game), but the heart of Democrazy lies with each player’s ability to manipulate the rules of the game, to increase their score whilst lowering the scores of their opponents.

At the start of the game, players are also given 3 voting cards, a “YES” card, a “NO” card, and a random special card. These special cards can perform anything from forcing a vote’s outcome to be an automatic “Yes” or “No”, or even to reverse the outcome of any group vote. The special cards are quite powerful if used at the right time, and after one use, they are discarded, so players must use their special card judiciously. The other 2 cards (“Yes” and “No”) are returned to the player after each use, so players may never lose them. Players are also randomly given 3 “Law” cards at the game’s start. These Law cards each specify a specific rule that may be added to the game. These laws can range from the mathematical (“All red chips are now worth 5 points”), to the silly (“All players with beards get 5 points”), to the confusing (“Each player will score extra points for each color chip that they have that the opponent to their left does not.”), to any range of possibilities in between. During the game, it will be up to each player to decide what law they wish to try to pass on their turn.

On a player’s turn, they draw a new law from the pile, giving them 4 potential laws in their hand. They must choose the one they wish to try to enact and play it for the group. The group then secretly votes on whether they wish to see the law enacted or not. Players vote by playing facedown either the “Yes” or “No” cards from their hand. All votes are then revealed simultaneously. If the “Yes” votes outnumber the “No” votes, then the law is enacted. If any player played one of their automatic “Yes” or “No” cards, then the law is either accepted or rejected accordingly, regardless of the vote outcome. Be warned: If more than 1 player plays an automatic card during the same vote, then all automatic votes are discounted, and the vote is counted without them! Moreover, groups of laws have particular symbols printed on them. If a law is enacted with that contains a symbol of a law that is already in play, then the older law is discarded. This is a powerful tool for players, as it not only lets players get a law they need enacted, but helps them to eliminate a potential harmful law at the same time.

Play continues in this fashion, until someone draws a card labeled “THE END”, at which time the game ends. Based on the remaining laws still in play, players tally up their score. The highest scoring player is the winner.

Democrazy is one of those rare games that lend itself to a party atmosphere, where social interaction is just as important as what cards to play. The game could be played by serious gamers, looking for some light fare, or by non-gamers in almost any social situation.
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