Author: unknown

Publisher: Queen Games 1998

Awards: none



Being introduced to the public at the Nürnberg Games convention in spring 1998, "Putsch" still needed another half year to leave production. Two days before the Essen Games Convention it was ready, just in time to be sold at Essen.

"Putsch" is settled in a politically unstable area. 8 states participate in the game, and the players must try to get as many political groups from each state to their side as possible. Each of the states consists of 5 political groups: The Government, the Opposition, the Industry, the Military and the Guerilla. At the beginning of the game, the governments of the states are distributed among the players. In addition, each player randomly receives two other groups from any of the states.

A round of the game now begins with the players drawing Number-Girls, which are cards showing the order of play this round and the income of the player. So the player who has drawn "1" will begin, but he receives only 10.000 Marks income. On the other hand, the last player (i.e. number "6") receives the highest income. After the order of the players has been found, some cards showing different groups will be available for auction. These cards are randomly drawn from a deck, and there may be new groups but also groups which are actually owned by players. Now the players note down a maximum of two bids, and if all players have made their notes the bids are evaluated. Each group is now won by the player with the highest bid. If itīs a new group, the winner simply places it in front of him. But if itīs a group already owned by another player, this player is forced to discard his group.

After the auction the first player starts with activating the governments he owns - one state following the other.

If a state has been activated by the government itīs time for the annual budget of each political group in the state. Now the player owning the industry of this state decides whether the wages will be paid (i.e. all players owning groups from that state receive the money according to the value of their group(s)) or whether no money is paid. Next comes again the gouverment, which now may decide on one of the following possibilities:

  • The government may decide to stay passive.
  • Taxes may be raised, forcing every political group of the state to give money to the government.
  • War may be declared. Here the government needs to ask the opposition whether they agree to start a war, and if they agree the military of the state must obey and attack a political group of another state.
If there is no defending military (or it refuses to act) and no ally is found, the defender automatically loses. Otherwise the war is fought by paying money. Each player (attacker and defender) takes an amount of money into his hands, and the player who has paid the higher amount wins the war. If the attacker is the winner, the defending military is removed from game and the attacker gets the attacked group. On the other hand, if the defender wins, the attacking military is removed and goes to the discard pile.

After performing the government action, itīs now the oppositionīs turn to declare an action. If the opposition places 20.000 marks on the table, an election is started. Now each player owning groups from the state in question may vote in the election with the value(s) of his group(s). If the opposition wins, it becomes the new government whereas the old government now take the role of the opposition. If the opposition doesnīt win, the government stays in power and takes the 20.000 marks. Last comes now the military. If it hasnīt already acted this round, it may now start a military adventure on its own. It may declare a target from any other state, and this target is considered taken over by the military. This means that the target still remains with its owner, but loses all its functions and will count for the owner of the occupying military. But the military has also the possibility to start a coup dī etat. It will automatically win and will be exchanged for government unless the guerilla decided to defend the government. In this case the guerilla and the military go to war.

A last group is the Guerilla. It doesnīt have a specified action-phase in the turn-order, but it may cancel functions of the other groups. So it may cancel the decision of the industry, it may stop the raising of taxes, it may cancel an opposition or it may force the military to cancel a planned occupation.

After a state was worked through in this order, the active player activaes his next government. This goes on with the other players until all 8 states have been activated. If all states have been played, the round is over and an eveluation phase comes. A player now gets victory points according to the groups he owns. He will get a bonus if he owns groups from a state with a total value of "5" or more. The first player who reaches 100 victory points wins the game.

"Putsch" is a game which needs at least two or three testing games before the players actually are able to capture the exact meaning of the attributes of each group. For a novice itīs quite hard to evaluate the functions and the use of any group, and thus a careful study of the gameplay is strongly recommended. Nonetheless, the rules are held in a short but understandable form, which offers the player a compact but detailed view on the gameplay. If the players have "warmed up" the the game, they will enter a new dimension of "Putsch" since now a game of political intrigue and high risk decisions comes up. The game offers very clever playing mechanisms by allowing different groups in each state to influence some steps in domestic policies, and the players are required to keep a constant watch on the changing political "geosphere" spread before them. After having learned to play the game, the players may enjoy wonderful hours of playing and discussing political steps.

Nonetheless, the game has one weakness. Itīs nearly unplayable with less than 4 players. Rules for three and even two players are included, but I would not recommend using those since the game may be out of balance at the beginning. Even with four players, I witnessed the following scenario more than once: At the beginning, a player got a military corresponding to a governement he already owns. In addition, no other military comes up during the next one or two rounds (this may happen due to bad luck when drawing cards for auction). The player owning the military from the beginng (or first turn) will get a nearly unbeatable lead, even if all other players now team up against him, he may take over groups as he whishes, and thus the other players will have a hard stand against him. During play, I found two possible ways to fix this problem: One the one hand each player could receive an additional group at the beginning of the game. This results in a slightly faster game, but the military situation in the game will be more balanced. On the other hand, attacks by a military might be delayed until the opposition of the same state is on the board. This ensures a system of checks and balances over the military.

Otherwise the game is fine, and I am sure that I will find many friends from the corner of tactical players.

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Copyright © 2006 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany