Sunday, December 11, 2005

Thoughts on Die Macher

Yes, we played Die Macher on Saturday night despite my zonked out state from partying the previous evening (and into the morning of Saturday). Session report to follow, including some bits about "double dong". In the meantime, thoughts on the game:

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TRUE: Die Macher is takes a bit of time to play. It's four simultaneous elections for four turns, then 3, 2 and 1 for the last three turns. Three hours is a good time once everyone is familiar with the gameflow, timing and mechanisms.

FALSE: Die Macher is a heavy game. It isn't. The rules are pretty simple, and it flows well. Once the relationships of the mechanisms are clear, you know what you are able to do. It's the choices you make with your resources that put the tension and enjoyment into the game.

TRUE: There isn't anything like Die Macher out there. With the aggressive streamlining that game developers put into games, the direction has turned away from epic-scale 3-4 hour games in the Euro arena. Reiner tries to keep his games around an hour long, for example. So it's likely that Macher will stand alone - a Eurogame that's truly epic in its feel, with unusual length, but retaining the elegance of a well-developed, polished product. Contrast with the longer indy games of today (say, the Splotter stuff, or Caylus to a lesser extent) which may be epic in playing time but lack the elegance and polish of Macher.

FALSE: There's too much luck in the opinion polls. This is the only knock I've heard about Macher's mechanisms. The poll has a bit of luck in it, sure. Too much to overcome? No. The poll attacks your trend at a single point in time. If you refuse to allow yourself to be vulnerable to it in an important region, you can covert party meetings way before the region becomes current. Or you can bid enough to win the poll. Or you can control the media and immunize yourself. Getting whacked early in the game hurts a bit, but there's an entire game to catch up. With coalitions, no one is ever completely out of it.

TRUE: This is the Grand Shit Poohbah of German Gamers' Games. People who like Puerto Rico, The Princes of Florence, Goa and Amun-Re should seek out Die Macher. It's a 9 by my BGG ratings right now. With more play, it should ascend to a 10 eventually.

FALSE: The won't be an English edition because Die Macher cannot be rethemed and I can't imagine a game this heavy, themed on the German electoral system, generating enough sales to justify and English edition. If you're looking for a good example of theme-to-mechanisms integration, Macher has it in spades. It took a while to understand the "overhang" seats, but now I can explain it and talking about the theme as you teach the game makes it so much easier to digest. So, those who are inclined to own and play it will seek out the German 2nd edition, which isn't all that hard to find in Germany as I understand it. I know I'll continue to do so.

1 comment:

Game Over said...

Ah, yes, this truly is a wonderful game.

I laughed when someone suggested we play a 4 hour game based on the German election system.

After playing that game I immediately ordered my copy from Germany.

The overhang thing with seats is a bit weird but it's precisely what happened in the recent election here in New Zealand (we have an electoral system very similar to the Germans).

Now if only I had more time to be able to play the game :)