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Apr 14

Last Month in Games

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So…remember when I said in the last edition how I had not forgotten about our little chats, and then I left you twisting in the wind for a month?  What I meant to say is that I have not forgotten about our little talks, and I am insanely busy!  While the insanely busy schedule is only going to heat up, I will be trying to get this column back on its weekly schedule in the days ahead.  In fact, I am hoping to be able to share some amazing news in the very near future.  However, that is for another day.  Shall we begin?

The classic game of 1980’s German politics, Die Macher, is one of the finest and deepest strategy games I have ever played!  If theme is not the most important thing to you, and you want to play a game that is truly a brain-melter, I cannot recommend Die Macher highly enough!

Die Macher was the second game of the current IGS season, and coming off of my big win in Dominant Species, I was hoping to start a trend by winning another of the heaviest games we play.

The players for this event were Nate, James, Steve, and myself.  The game played out over three sessions and four weeks, with the first being a rules refresher and partial game for practice and two full sessions devoted to the real game.  It took four weeks for the process because we had to skip a week during the main game due to conflicting schedules.

The game began with four relatively valuable province visible for the early elections with the fourth being the most valuable in the game.  We all understood from the get go, that the game could very well be decided in that fourth province and attempted to plan accordingly.  I based my set-up choices on preparing to win that election and hopefully the first one as well, to build some early financial advantages and try to get an early media marker on the national board.  Unfortunately, I miscalculated what I believed Nate would do, and to all of our surprises, including his own, James won the first election.  He was so unprepared for this outcome that he did not even have a media marker to place on the national board.  This was terrible for me as I had invested a fair amount of resources in that province and had very little to show for it.  I actually thought to myself that I may have just lost the game in the first province.  It would be quite awhile before we knew for sure.

As it turned out, I won the next two elections, which “promoted” me to early leader and granted me all of the benefits normally associated with that title.  I had actually planned on being in the early leader role, but the plan really required me to win the first election to maintain my financial and positional infrastructure for the long run.  Sadly, as I mentioned, I did not win the first election.  As a result, my lead, and strength were a mirage that I was well aware of, but I was unable to convince the other players of as being the truth.  I can’t blame them, as it is pretty hard to have the highest score, and see your pleas of weakness get accepted as legitimate.

This, brought us to the fourth and most crucial election.  All sides dumped in massive amounts of resources and we knew, because of the shadow cabinet members that had been played, there would be two competing coalitions.  This is where I apparently made a mistake and definitely got a bit unlucky.  Steve and I got into a massive bidding war for the opinion poll with the final price being around 70k.  I could have bid more, and possibly even bid enough to win, but I decided to keep my money, prepare for the future, and gamble that the poll would only do minimal damage if any at all.  As it turns out, it was literally the worst possible poll that could have come out against me, as it reduced my popularity by three levels.  Where previously, a tie loss for my coalition would have been the worst outcome, and a full win for it more likely, this poll utterly destroyed my ability to generate votes in this province and in addition to losing outright I got virtually nothing for all of my effort.  If I had not lost the game because of the first election, I most certainly finished the job with this one.  To his credit, Steve played it perfectly and was willing to go to the mat for the opinion poll to give himself every opportunity to get a lucky outcome.  He in effect, made his own luck and it smashed me to bits.  The remainder of my game was a weak attempt to rise back through the ranks and finish better than last.

I actually may have had one more opportunity to win, because of being in a coalition with Nate in the fifth election.  If he could have outbid Steve for the opinion poll, it would have allowed us to win the election and had a fairly damaging effect on Steve’s growing dominance.  It was not to be, as Steve had more money than Nate and bought the poll as insurance to protect his position.  At this point, I was quite sure that Steve was going to win and all that remained was to see where the rest of us would finish.

The last two elections wrapped up quickly, although I managed to play them poorly, I still won the next to last one which was worth almost nothing.  Had I handled the last election differently, I may have been able to squeak into second place, but I made a few mistakes born out of my defeatism and did not pull it off.  The final scores were as follows:

  1. Steve-356
  2. James-281
  3. Chris-265
  4. Nate-248

Congrats to Steve for his crushing victory and to James for pulling off a second place finish!  The last time I played, I felt that Steve probably played the better game but a combination of my surprise noob tactics and a bit of bad luck made it impossible for him to come back and win that one.  In this one, he once again played the best game, and with a little good luck to boot, there was no stopping him. It was disappointing to lose, but it was exhilarating to play Die Macher again!  It is one of the few games that I do not own that I wish I did.  I envy Steve for his copy something fierce, and I hope he will bequeath it to me should he meet with an untimely demise!

It was during the same time period that Die Macher was taking place that I played and reviewed two games that were in the process of being funded on Kickstarter:  Good Cop Bad Cop and Creative Clash.  For more information regarding these two games and what I thought of them, simply click on their pictures to read my reviews.

Legacy Wars

Now we get to the root of my delays in writing this article and my blogging malpractice.  While I still cannot go into great details regarding my game, tentatively named “Legacy Wars”, I can say that a relatively small publishing company has taken a strong interest in it and if everything comes together it could very well be released!  As one might imagine, this process has taken up a considerable amount of time between play-testing, reworking the language, actually writing a rulebook, and a myriad of other things needed to make this happen.  All I can say, is that when, and if things are finalized, there will be a literal barrage of posts detailing the progression of the game and where it is in the process.  I promise to bore you to tears with endless design diary posts letting you in on the very latest of changes being made.  If that does not sound like the height of tedium to you, I strongly suggest that you stay tuned. Should things become a certainty, perhaps by reading my diary you will gain some insight into the process should you ever seek to publish yourself.  Until then, I will just keep you updated on various changes I make to the game in future editions of this column.  Truly interested parties, may even find themselves sent a copy for blind playtesting (no promises). So show me your enthusiasm by commenting on the updates or telling me about your own projects in the comments section of those articles, as I would love to hear about your designs as well!

In Conclusion

As you can see, I am not just putting you off for some other secret blog that I prefer writing, as if such a thing were possible, but I have actually been very busy with an exciting game related project!  I will still feed the animal that is my gaming hunger as much as I am able, but I will also focus on making my life long dream of truly being a game designer a reality, and I can’t wait to tell you all about it right here!  See you soon!

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