Monday, September 17, 2007

Not Comics: Die Macher

So this past Saturday I busted out my copy of Die Macher and four of us got together for the first marathon session. For those of you significantly less geeky than me, or more discerning in your geekery, Die Macher is a board game where each player is a German political party fighting it out in seven provincial elections.

It is a heavy beast of a game that becomes incredibly involved and a heck of a lot of fun once you get past the suffering. It is a bit of a bitch to learn and you will totally screw yourself on the first decision you make in the first game you play. That’s really my only complaint here, it’s that you need to already know how to play before you start to play. So the first game is only ever a learning session and should be considered as such.

So what’s it actually like? Well, it certainly helps if you have an interest in politics. Not specific politics but the ideas and notions behind political systems because this deals with the essential mechanics of an election campaign. Upon reflection, it is incredibly cynical in this regard because you don’t get to choose your platform to reflect your values, it is generated somewhat randomly. You do try to convince local voters to choose your position on issues, but only if you have media control.

Then you can buy public opinion polls and possibly pay a lot of money to find out bad news, which isn’t too far from the truth. You can take money from outside contributors and lose a few members or refuse the money and attract more members for your principled stance. There’s a lot going on, but it is a cyclical game so once you do the cycle a few times you understand it. Like they say, we learn through repetition.

I guess in a few ways I’m a bit lucky. I have a group of friends that I met through working for the Green Party of Canada so we’re all interested in politics. It’s also fun to play with aspects of politics we never had a chance to with such a small party. It was a heck of a lot of fun to make unscrupulous choices and have a lot of money to spend on opinion polls or media influence. Again, it was long but you’re constantly involved so it doesn’t feel like you’re playing forever. Only the first election and most of the second feel entirely too long if this is the first time you’ve played the game.

So for us, we all screwed ourselves in the first election when we made out start-up choices. It’s sort of like funding capital to make the first election set-ups a bit more like the rest of the game where you’ve had the chance to plan ahead. We messed up a few calculations and forgot to take in outside contributions after the first round but we soldiered on, and just played the last election like a regular election rather than the different end-game that it’s supposed to be. We had extra cash cards, so why not?

All in all, a decent way to kill a cold rainy Saturday before a house party.

No comments: