Keith, Tim and I had enough time left over at the end of Lost Valley so we squeezed in a game of Knizia’s Traumfabrik (or as my edition is called, Fabrik der Traume). This is yet another Knizia bidding game, but one that has a much stronger theme than many of his others. Each player is trying to hire directors, actors, special effects technicians, musicians and cinematographers to work on some movies. Some workers are better than others, and range in value from four stars (directors like Alfred Hitchcock) to zero stars (Dave remarked, “How can Errol Flynn be zero stars?”. There is a special exception – if you hire Reiner Knizia to work on your movie, he is worth negative one star.
The bidding system works particularly well here, in that the winning bidder pays his bid (studio contracts, rather than money) to the other players, rather than to a bank. This provides great balance, ensuring that no player runs away with the lead. A heated bidding war can take a player out of successive auctions for a while.
Players compete to make the best movies possible, and awards are available for the best movies (in several genres), the first movies made (a little bonus for those that hire quickly), best direction and an award for the worst film (Reiner Knizia comes in handy here). A movie’s worth is determined by adding up the number of stars present on each person working on the movie.
None of us finished a movie in the first round, but production quickly picked up after that. Each of us were the first to finish movies in different categories (Adventure, Entertainment and Drama), and
Tim was the schmooze-king. He maintained the highest number of actors throughout the game, thus giving him first pick at all the parties (the parties are the only places where tiles are not bid on – they are selected in order by the player that has hired the most actors). Keith really jumped into action finishing a really strong movie.
As the game was winding down, Tim and I started battling over the better directors, as it was obvious that a couple tiles were going to determine the Best Director prize. Tim eventually took those tiles, at great expense, effectively removing him from a couple auctions. It was great fun to artificially drive up the bidding when you knew a player really needed the tiles to finish up his movies.
In the end, the awards determined everything. I ended up taking two of the best picture awards. Tim took a best picture award and the worst picture award (thanks to Reiner Knizia). We actually all tied for Best Direction, removing that award from the game. In the end I narrowly edged out Tim for the victory, while Keith trailed by a bit. Keith had finished quite a few movies but was unable to take any of the major awards.
Next time I play I’ll definitely try to keep the end game awards in mind and watch each player’s completed and near-completed movies much more carefully. This was a lot of fun, even with 3 players, and I suspect that it would be even better with 4 or 5, as the bidding would be more intense.