Die Macher is a game of trying to win the election in Germany. It is
made by Hans Im Gluck (also makers of Manhattan, 1835, Auf Heller und
Pfennig, etc) and sells for around $50.
In order to win the Federal Election, each of 4 players fights over
7 regional elections. During each of the 7 turns of the game before
the federal election, one regional election is held. Additionally,
though, the next 3 regions to hold elections can also be manipulated.
So, each of the first 4 turns sees the players manuevering in 4
different regions. Also, each player must control many facets
of a campaign, including public opinion, party platform, media
coverage, regional views, national views, party bases, public
figures and money.
Each of the Four Parties has a central tenet, (Environmentalism,
Free Trade, Civil Liberties and Labor Unions), which is their basic
position and cannot be changed. Each of the parties also has 4 other
platforms, which could be one of the above, or it could deal with
one of 5 other issues. (Abortion, taxes, working conditions, nato
and atomic weapons). Their position on these is the party platform.
For example, as the Green Party, my starting platform (Randomly dealt
except for my central tenet) was environmentalism, pro-choice, pro-Nato
pro 35-hour work week, and decreasing taxes on the rich. Positions
don't have any effect on the game, except for the number of positions
with which you and the regions (or nations or other parties) agree.
Each party also starts off with 5 different 'Shadow Cabinet' members, who
can travel to regions to influence the votes. (Each party has 7 possible
choices for Cabinet members, and picks 5.) Each party also starts off
with 2,000 in cash and 3 party bases. Each party then gets to setup
a 'starting position' of campaign meetings, media control, and vote
share in regions.
Each of the 7 regions has a different worth, which is measured in terms
of mandate. For example, a small region will have a mandate ranging from
4-9, a large region ranging from 8-13. Also, each region will have four
opinions, although the opinions might not be readily apparent. The region
that is the next election will have all 4 opinions known, the next in
line will have 3, then 2 and 1. These opinions can either match or contradict
each of the party platforms.
Also on each regional board are markers to show public opinion about each
party (ranging from 2 thumbs up to 2 thumbs down), and markers to
show media control, vote share and campaign meetings.
Each of the turns has the following steps:
- Party Conferences
- Send Cabinet Members Out
- Form Coalitions
- Buy Media Coverage
- Buy Campaign Meetings
- Public Opinion Polls
- Regional Assessment
- Regional Election
- Get Contributions and Donations
The first thing a party can do is decide if it wants to hold one of
it's three party conferences. A small conference can do one of two
things: Allow the party to change one of it's (non-basic) platforms,
or increase it's partybase. A party can only change a non-basic
platform if it does not make all 4 parties agree as to a position.
(For example, all 4 parties can't be pro-NATO).
In addition to two small conferences, each party can hold a large
conference once, which will allow it to change 2 platforms and increase
the party base.
Of course, each of the conferences cost money.
After each party has had (or declined to have) a party conference,
each party gains a number of party bases equal to the number of agreements
between it's platform and the current regions views.
Send Cabinet Members Out
Next each party can send out one of it's five shadow cabinet members.
Each one costs money, of course. Each player takes turn playing
cards face down until all have declined (once you decline, you cannot
send one). Cabinet members are then flipped face up and payed for.
Each player then takes one action per card. Different members can
take different actions, which include: Increasing vote share, focusing
debate on an issue (making it count more), stealing media control from
another player, running an ad campaign or a smear campaign. In addition,
some Cabinet members can form Coalitions.
Cabinet members that have been used are discarded, unless they can
form a coalition, in which case they wait around to see if they can
In the current region, if two or more players have played a Cabinet
member capable of forming a coalition, they may. The parties must agree
on at least two basic positions. If they do, then they may agree to
form a coalition, which means that, during the regional election, their
votes are counted together (for purposes of determining victory). Only
2 parties may be in a coalition. If the two parties agree on 3 or more
positions, either party may Force the other into a coalition.
Buy Media Coverage
Each player may then buy media coverage for 400. Each player may only
have 5 media coverage tokens in play (including in Bonn) and each region
may only have 5. Players take turns buying tokens in order. After all
players have bought all (or passed), each region is assessed. If one player
has a plurality of media tokens, then they may change one of the regions
opinions. Having Media Control also has benefits during the Public
Buy Campaign Meetings
Each player may purchase up to 4 campaign meetings in each region. (However,
each player only has 15 campaign meeting tokens). Campaign meetings may
be accumulated between turns (up to 10 per region max). Campaign meetings
will be turned into vote shares during the regional assessments/elections.
Public Opinion Polls
Each region then has public opinion polls. Players bid on who gets to
see the poll first and control it. After the bidding is over, the
winning bidder may buy 1 or more polls at the price listed. Each poll
lists the four parties and the public's opinion in that region (Two better,
one better, one worse, two worse). The winning bidder may publish one or
none of the polls. If a poll is published, then each party's public opinion
changes by the listed amount, with the exception that a party with
media control cannot be hurt by a poll.
During the regional assessments, each region (except the one that the election
is occuring in), converts campaign meetings into vote shares. The ratio
that the change occurs it depends on the public's opinion towards that party
and the number of agreements and disagreements the party's position has
with the public position. Players may choose not to convert meetings into
vote share (hoping to get a better ratio next turn). If any player has
more vote share than the other three players combined, he may change
one of the public's positions.
The regional election is the same as the assessment, except all players
must convert all of their meetings (and having a clear majority does not
allow you to change the region's positions). Then, the player with the highest
vote share wins the election in that region (or a coalition may win).
The winner may then move a media token (if any) onto Bonn, and may move
two of the region's four opinions to Bonn. (However, positions that
are central to a party may not become Bonn's opinions). If Bonn was
against one of the positions moved on, it cancels and both cards go
to the discard pile.
Votes are determined by Vote Share (a number from 0-50), Mandate (a number
that depends on your vote share and the size of the region) and the number
of agreements you have with the region. These votes become votes for Bonn
and a running total is kept.
Each player then gets money for each vote for Bonn they got (rounded)
and for the number of party bases. In addition, each player gets to
choose one of 4 donation sources. Taking a donation from some sources
may cause the loss of party bases, but get more money.
If there are more elections, then the regional boards are re-arranged to
show the next election and set up the next region.
The Federal Election
Once the seventh regional election is done, the federal election occurs.
This is merely figuring out the final vote tally, which is based on
the Votes for Bonn Received, media control of Bonn (which you get by
winning elections and moving media tokens to Bonn) and the number of
agreements between your party and Overall Public Opinion.
There is an amazing amount. The tips that the rules include are:
These are good tips, and there are plenty of decisions to be made.
- Don't try to win every region.
- Don't try to go it alone.
- You never have enough resources.
Do you turn in your party conferences to get party bases or change your
platform? Party Bases give you income and count in your final score,
but changing your platform can give you a large amount of votes. Another
problem is that if you are alone on an issue, any one of the other three
parties might change that issue against you. However, if you agree with
a party on 3 points, you can be forced into a coalition against your
will. (Such as when you have clearly won a region, another player can
get the benefits of the win, such as moving media tokens to Bonn and
controlling Public Opinion in Bonn.)
You also have to worry about your Cabinet members. The expensive ones
are flexible, but hard to use early in the game. The cheap ones don't
give you many options. And, of course, you want the ones that are able
to negotiate a coalition (except when you can be forced into a bad deal).
Not to mention you only have 5 cards to last the game.
How do you manage your (paltry) money? Which regions do you focus on? Do
you go all out on a few our try to win 1 or 2 and place reasonably everywhere?
When/and with whom do you form a coalition? Do you convert campaign meetngs
or hope for a better conversion ratio next turn? How much do you bid on
public opinion polls? How many do you buy? The list of questions goes on
Problems with the Game
The game does have problems. Money becomes very abundant by the end of
the game. The only real question on the last turn is who will win the
opinion poll. Also, the game has so many variables it can be confusing
the first few times you play remember what influences what.
The other problems deal with translational confusion:
But overall, the game is quite good. Strongly recommended. I might put
it on my top ten choices of all time game, but I want to play it a few
more times first...
- Can you only buy 1 media token a turn?
- Can you exchange face down opinions with the Undisclosed opinion pile
(when you are allowed to exchange opinions)?
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