Here we go! Last week it looked a bit like there wasn’t going to be a game at all, but at the last moment I got some players. Unfortunately there was one cancellation, but we got three-player game going and that was good enough for me.
I started to explain the rules at about 2 pm. I started with the typical
The purpose of the game is to win. Then I explained how the winner was determined and was going to talk about the turn phases, but decided it would be best to explain all the stuff in the box before.
As a word of warning I should mention that the game takes lots of space. My round table with a radius of half a meter was enough, but the fourth player wouldn’t have had any room. So it’s good we had only three!
After 40 minutes of explanations, the game was ready to start. I skipped some of the smallest details and didn’t have a demonstration round. I did visualize some details. I didn’t miss anything, as I had spent lots of time studying the rules (more than ever, I think), but I wasn’t quite clear on some parts.
The line-up was: Ville Morkki (Grüne), Manu Humppi (SPD), Mikko Saari (PDS). I usually always play the red — this time I took blue, but I think the PDS is the reddest party… And I feel sympathy towards them, they only got two seats of the six hundred in the elections.
First target was Thüringen, with it’s 26 seats. I had decided to take it — winning the first election seemed like a good idea and their opinions matched as well. I loaded my startup stuff there (votes, trend, meetings, media). Other players put theirs mostly in Bayern, which was coming up next. I paid 7000 DM to choose the beginning player. Manu showed some righteous attitude when he refused to take 50000 DM donation. Unfortunately the dice didn’t bless him with many new party members.
Mikko — 26
Manu — 14
Ville — 0
Next up was the biggest state of our game, Bayern with 60 seats. I expected Grüne to win them because they had put some effort there earlier, but to my surprise I was the winner and with only 27 seats. Amazing! SPD was already looking forward to the next election, really.
Mikko — 27
Ville — 22
Manu — 12
My situation looked good — two won elections, two media markers on the national board, some good opinions too. I was ahead!
Then, Schleswig-Holstein and 32 seats. Lots of party meetings were bought. SPD’s strongest theme was opposing the healthcare reform. PSD’s favourite was supporting the grammar reform. Grüne was giving up the green values as fast as they could. Those bastards! Polls gave both good and bad results, and lots of money was paid for both. Both my PSD and SPD got 50 votes, unfortunately Gr?ne had chosen me as the starting player and therefore I lost by the nose. I got, however, my third media marker on the national board.
Manu — 32
Mikko — 32
Ville — 10
Fourth election was Sachsen-Anhalt, 36 seats. I was looking forward to them, as it looked like a good spot to score some points, but as my lead was clear, Grüne and SPD joined forces and started a coalition against me. I was already seeing the shadows of my success — I had only two media markers left and thus no media control. I paid lots of money for the polls, 16000 DM for a poll that gave me five members more. However, had someone else bought that, they would’ve lowered my trend by one, and that would’ve cost me a lot of money, too, so I thought that 16k was well spent. In the donation game Grüne got whopping 15 party members. One rules was missed here — I hadn’t explained well enough how the media markers worked and while the Grüne-SPD-coalition won, SPD didn’t have a media marker available to place on the national board. My mistake, but it didn’t lose the game for SPD.
Ville — 28
Manu — 24
Mikko — 17
I had planned to pretty much skip the fifth election, Mecklenburg-Vorpommer and it’s 24 seats. However, I got so excited at the poll auction that I paid a ton of money for the poll… I got something out of it and placed second in the election. The opinion polls are just like jesters in Princes of Florence — I want them all and then everybody laughs at me when I pay over 1000 florins for them many times a game… SPD got about gazillion votes and they had already 48 votes from the previous round.
Manu — 24
Mikko — 11
Ville — 0
End was close. Sixth campaign was about Hamburg and very humble 22 seats. I paid 0 DM to choose the starting player, Ville offered a bit more: 7000 DM. I happily joined the Euro club. I had spent all the game opposing Euro, but when my anti-Euro opinion was reversed on the national board and both Grüne and SPD were pro-Euro, I decided it would be best to join them. It was the last chance to change opinions and the luck of the draw was on my side — I got the necessary Euro card and changed it immediately. Polls were sold with the highest prices in the game, 30k DM and 32k DM. Both were sort of useless, but this was the last time you needed money in the game, so what the heck. We were all quite rich from the last turn membership payments anyway. Hamburg was all green.
Ville — 22
Manu — 5
Mikko — 10
Last election, Sachsen, had 46 seats out for grabs. Both me and Manu offered 15000 DM for the round start bids. Manu won, after two die rolls. Grüne took us both by surprise and grabbed 50 votes. National opinion was already badly bent for Grüne after the success in Hamburg so this was starting to look bad. Both PDS and SPD were far from the max votes, so Grüne won nicely and matched the national opinion board with his party program. This resulted in a huge load of points, of course.
Ville — 46
Manu — 21
Mikko — 13
It was starting to be clear now. Here’s the total mandate:
Mikko — 136
Manu — 130
Ville — 128
I got the most seats, but the difference wasn’t as big as I would’ve hoped. I won seats in every election, as did SPD. Grüne got zero seats twice.
I still got the national media points with a comfortable margin:
Mikko — 65
Ville — 37
Manu — 35
Party membership count had been a race between me and Ville, but in the end I was left far behind.
Ville — 74 + 10 bonus
Mikko — 60 + 6 bonus
Manu — 58
The matching opinions was all Grüne. It was a nice sight, a perfect row of matching opinions. Fortunately there were no secured cards.
Ville — 82
Manu — 37
Mikko — 25
So, here’s the final results:
Ville — 331
Mikko — 292
Manu — 260
What I learned from this first game of mine: winning the first election is cool. Winning the first three elections is bad. Winning the last elections is good. Winning the last two elections is a good way to secure your victory.
Only one quite meaningless coalition was seen. With more players, they should be a bit more dominant. We had quite good control every now and then, that should lessen as well as the player count grows. The game took, by the way, only 3 hours and 40 minutes. I would’ve expected more, but then again, we had only three players.
Money was less of a restriction as I thought. I spent lots of money, but never ran out of it, I always could buy whatever I wanted. Media markers ran out quick, and I would’ve wanted to have more meetings. Shadow cabinet cards are easy to spend, I ran through them faster than the other guys.
I’ve seen people complain about the randomness of opinion polls. I don’t think it’s a bad problem, really. Sure, they’re random and especially with three players rarely useful, but they are also important to buy to protect oneself. Perhaps a little more reliability with the party membership increase would be nice. Now it’s a shame to pay a large pile of money and then get zero new members.
So, is it any good? Yes, it is. Very very good. 10 points right away. Worth all the hype. Lots of tough decisions, fulltime involvement (the turn structure is similar to Puerto Rico — otherwise the game reminds me mostly of Princes of Florence). You have to keep on reacting to the situation. It’s not a very strategic game, but very heavy on tactics. It’s among the very best games. It was nice with three, but is probably better with more players. I would play it again with three, anyway. I will play it again, as soon as possible!