Karl-Heinz Schmiel

Publisher: Hans im Glück 1998

G@mebox Star



"Die Macher" is a political boardgame which is set up in the sphere of german domestic politics. Three to five of the major german political parties (SPD, Die Grünen, PDS, CDU, FDP) participate in the game, and the players take up the role as party leaders. They have to manage the parties through 7 elections to State-Parliaments, and the party which got most influence after this seven elections by obtaining seats in the German Parliament, enlarging the number of Party members and News Presence wins the game.

To reach their goal, each party starts with exactly the same basic "equipment". So the parties have a small amount of party members, 7 political characters which may be played to influence the vote, 5 financial aids and - of course - a certain amount of cash. At the beginning, each party is also given five different political cards with themes from the german actual politics which represent a partyīs programme.

The gameboard itself is formed by four tableaus with State-Parliaments. These show the actual trend of each party (differing from +3 to -3) and the votes which each party has obtained In addition, there is space for up to 10 promotional-events of each party and on 4 spaces are cards showing the public opinions in this state.

At the beginning of each turn, the players find a starting player by secretly bidding an amount of money. The starting player will go first in in each phase of a turn, and the other players will follow clockwise. In each turn, an election will be held for one of the State Parliaments, so the players will mostly concentrate their playing on this State. In the first phase of a turn, players may exchange a single card from their party programme. For this, they have a random hand of three cards (representing internal discussions and ideas). If they think one of these ideas a good choice, they may move it into their party programme.

Next comes the phase for the playing of political characters. A player may use one of the characters per state per turn, but he must beware that he only has a total amount of 7 characters for the whole game, and a character will be removed from play after use. These characters have different possibilites of which the player may chose one to apply in the state. So he may raise his trend or lower the trend of another party, he may change the News Presence of his party, or he may declare one of the Public Opinion Cards in the state to become the leading theme for the election. In addition, some of the characters are able to form coalitions with other characters, which means that two parties may join up in a single election.

Each state has space for a total amount of 5 News Presence Tokens. A player may buy a token and place it there, reducing his total amount of News Presence tokens. If a player has the simple majority of tokens in a state after this phase, he may use his leading position in the media to change on of the public opinions in the state. Afterwards, the players buy promitional-events for each state which they later may change into votes.

Afterwards the players get a chance to bet for a prognosis for each state. A prognosis is placed face-down on the table. The player who wins the bidding takes the card and now may decide whether he wants to publish the prognosis or or keep it. A prognosis will influence the trends of some parties. If it raises the trend of the party owned by the player who received the prognosis, he will certainly publish it. But if it raises the trend of another party, the player will chose not to publish it, and he will receive a random amount of party members as a compensation.

The most important phase of the game is the transferring of promotional-events into actual votes. Each player receives votes according to a simply calculation: Itīs the number of promotional-events multiplied with a factor derived from trend plus the number of similiarites between public opinion and a party programme. Itīs important to note that a player may always trade his events to votes in this phase, even for states in which arenīt election states this turn. The player who has the absolute majority in a state gets a bonus: he may exchange one of the public opinion cards in that state.

In the state where the election takes place this round, the players sum up their votes and receive seats in the German Pariament depending on the number of votes they received. These seats in the German Parliament will be counted as victory points at the end of the game. In addition, the winner of a state-election gets the possibility to place one of his News-Presence Tokens at a special space for presence in the Federal News - this again will count as victory points at the end of the game. Furthermore, up to two cards from the public opinion of the election-state are placed at a sheet representing the public opinion for the whole federation. Each similiarity between the federal public opinion and a party programme again will be worth victory points by the end of the game.

After the election is over, the start of the next turn is prepared. A new state is randomly drawn, and the just emptied state-sheet is used for the next state. Then the players receive some money as income and some additional party-members.

The game is over after the 7th election, and now the players count off their victory points: So they will get points for the seats in Parliament, for News-Presence in the federal news, for similiarities between party programme and federal public opinion and, finally, for party members. The player with most victory points has the best chances to win the next federal election and thus wins the game.

"Die Macher" is one of the most complex german boardgames I have ever seen. It tries successfully to simulate the sphere of politics and elections, and despite the lot of rules the game is essentially easy to learn. Itīs imprtant to note - thought - that the game is not designed for a short and fast game for an hour or two. A full game normally takes a duration of at least four hours, plus another hours if the rules must be explained before play. The game come with cards and sheets which offer possibilities to give the game parts a straight order during the game and allow an overview of the single phases, and these parts are quite an assistance to keep the game easy going. Perhaps one flaw: Itīs actually quite hard to keep a good view of the progress of the players concerning the victory points during the game. The players always can check for the seats the other players have obtained, but the other counting factors are quite easily underestimated. Myself, once I have won 4 of the 7 elections, but still lost the game. But otherwise, the game is fine and offers quite interesting gaming in the sphere of politics.

In 1998 Hans im Glück released the second edition of the game. The game was slightly revised, but most effort in the new edition was given to the new german rules. The rulesbook was totally rearranged, and now it presents the game still on 24 (!!!) pages, but the game has become much more understandable. Deservingly, the new rulebook received the "Essener Feder 1998", an awards sponsored by the city of Essen each year to the game with the best rules.

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Copyright © 2006 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany