To start this story at the beginning, Chester Ogborn enjoys Die Macher. Loves it. It's one of his favorite games. Ches is one of my little "original" online (board)gaming group, The Four Friends, along with Mary Weisbeck and Gerald Cameron. We "met" on boardgamegeek.com - Mary wanted to learn Euphrat & Tigris so I set up a 4P game and invited Chester and Gerald to play. We've been playing online ever since.
Anyway, it's common knowledge to these friends of mine that Die Macher is my "holy grail" of boardgames. So one day, Ches says "hey wouldn't it be cool if I shipped you my copy of Die Macher and you could play it and write stuff about it?" I say "that would be cool, but you would be nuts to propose such a thing since I live on the other side of the world and all sorts of bad things could happen to the game enroute, not to mention the cost." Ches says "I don't mind taking a risk on it, it's only a game, and I'm happy to do it." I say "I appreciate the thought Chester but I'm a stranger living far away and Macher is a rare and expensive game so it's a really bad idea so I won't hear of it." "Ok," he says, "but I'm not going to get to play Macher in a while as I won't have time due to work. It's really something I'm happy to do."
I don't quite recall what happened, but I eventually agreed to the pilgrimage of Chester's Die Macher over to Manila. It cost him $25 to ship it, it took over 8 weeks to get here, and it cost me $25 to claim it from customs after it arrived. But arrive it did.
I'm glad to report that the game arrived in great shape. The box has a few dings along the edges, but nothing noticeable unless under close scrutiny. I kept the box for the game's return trip, though I'm secretly hoping that somehow, someway I'd get to hand the game back to Chester in person and get to play it with him.
Two people have asked Ches what possessed him to do such a thing as send a valuable, highly sought-after boardgame to a person he's never met halfway around the world. This was the answer: "It just seemed like the kind of thing I wish would happen more in this world."
So. My end of the deal is to write a review and a couple of session reports. Ambitiously, I'd like to attempt a strategy guide at some point, though that would seem to be on the order of my three-quarters finished guides to Euphrat & Tigris and Torres - daunting, and the games hold me in awe so much that I battle with myself to consider anything written in depth about them as "done."
Anyway, I took Macher straightaway to game night on the same day I collected it from the post office, stopping at a Starbucks to refresh the rules over an Extra Hot Peppermint Mocha. When I got to game night, I laid out the following games for the people present to select (there were only three other players that evening, fortuitously). They had not played any of the games I laid out - I had played 2 of the 4.
The Frog, our host, immediately identified Macher as "that German election game" I had been mentioning to be on a slow boat, sent to us from Missouri by a doctor who I had never met. Yeah, they think Ches is slightly mad too. But poor Magna Grecia once again got passed over, and Macher was the game of the night. Our only regret was that we only started playing after dinner, as I knew it was going to take time to get going.
(Next: The First Game)