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Tim Harrison
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Power Struggle

by Bauldric & Friends

First off, I'd like to mention that this is my very first review. I've been a member of this site since 2003, but I've never been much of a writer. So why, after so many years, am I writing my first one? Because no one else has, and this game deserves attention. So please be gentle.

Oh, and one more thing. I wrote the latter half of this review while suffering from stomach flu, so if I all of the sudden become incoherent, you know why. =P

OVERVIEW

In Power Struggle, players act as corporate puppeteers, pulling strings from the shadows of a big company. Players strive to increase their power and influence within the company by hiring and firing employees, creating new departments, acquiring the special services of division heads, investing in stocks, controlling the board of directors, and bribing other players. The first person to achieve 4 of the following 6 conditions wins the game:

- at least 7 points on the Influence track,
- at least 18 points on the Shares track,
- at least 4 points on the Main Department track,
- at least 9 points on the Corruption track,
- at least 1 counsel in 3 different divisions on the Counsel track,
- defeating your Archenemy.

COMPONENTS

Upon opening the box, you'll find an abundance of colorful, high-quality components: a large and lavishly illustrated board, a number of event and archenemy cards, gorgeous paper money, over 100 meeples (managers), 60 cubes (employees), player aids, bribe folders, and thick privilege tiles. Eggertspiel never seems to fail at delivering extraordinary components.



RULEBOOK

The rulebook, unfortunately, is the most disappointing part of the game. It seems to be organized well, but there are quite a few typos, errors, and unclear rules -- at least in the English translation. With divisions, departments, main departments, department heads, division heads, employees, members of the board, a chairman of the board, and many other terms that are sometimes not adequately explained, things can get awfully confusing.

I read the rules front-to-back twice and reviewed them a 3rd time before playing, and yet we still referenced the rulebook at least twenty times in our first game. This is not to say the game is terribly complicated. It isn't. Most of the actions available to the players make perfect sense. There are simply quite a few different actions available, and quite a few ways to score points, and wrapping your head around it all can be tricky.

On the positive side, the designer has gone to heroic effort to highlight these errors, in threads such as this one:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/4171617#4171617

GAMEPLAY

Power Struggle is primarily an area control game -- complete with variable player powers and frequent backstabbing -- played in a series of rounds. Each round consists of a directors' meeting followed by 4 to 7 department turns.

A directors' meeting is simply a preparation phase for the round, where the players elect a new chairman of the board and determine new division heads (both based on majorities), assign privilege cards to the chairman and division heads, score influence points, and sort the event cards.

The player with the most members of the board of directors becomes the new chairman, and the players with the most department managers in a division, become division heads; the same player may hold one, none, or several of these positions. The chairman and the division heads each offer unique special powers. Obtaining them is crucial.

So what are these privileges?

- CHAIRMAN: At the beginning of the directors' meeting, you may create 1 new department with 1 employee.

- ACCOUNTING: If you buy shares, you may receive a larger number of shares than you pay for, depending on the current motivation
value.

- CONTROLLING: You may receive more money for each of your departments and during the payment event, depending on the current motivation value.

- DEVELOPMENT: You may entice 1 employee away from another player's department and add it to one of your own.

- HUMAN RESOURCES: You may receive additional employees from the general stock during the actions hiring employees and founding departments actions, depending on the current motivation value.

- LEGAL & PATENTS: You may dismiss 1 of your own employees in order to score 1 influence point.

- COMMUNICATIONS: At the end of the directors' meeting, you may sort the 8 event cards for the current turn.

In one of the more unique elements of the game, the head of the communications division next takes 6 random event cards, along with the payment card and the directors' meeting card, and creates an event deck with them in any order he wishes, with two restrictions: the payment card (where players are paid for holding certain positions and owning shares) must come before the directors' meeting card (an end-of-the-round card), and the directors' meeting card must be in the bottom half of the deck (the 5th, 6th, 7th, or 8th card). The events and their order are only known by the head of Communications.

The events and their order impact the game in a number of ways. Many of the event cards raise or lower the motivation level, which in turn affects several of the privileges offered to the division heads, as shown above. Other events immediately penalize or reward players holding certain positions.

Next, there are 4-7 department turns, depending on how many event cards precede the directors' meeting card in the event deck. At the beginning of each department turn, the top card of the event deck is first revealed and resolved. Then, beginning with the communications head and proceeding around table, each player takes one action.

There are quite a few different actions available to the players, so I'll summarize:

Hire Employees, Found New Departments, and Restructure Departments involve adding or moving employees and department heads (henceforth called managers). The player with the most managers in a division will become the new division head during the directors' meeting. The number of employees is the tie-breaker.

Resign as Divisional Head: When the division head resigns, he may do one of two things: 1) move both the division head and all of his managers from that division to the board of directors, where they will score influence points during each directors' meeting and may become the chairman of the board, or 2) turn his division head into an external counsel -- one of the victory conditions. Either way, the division is closed, and all of your other employees and managers of the division are fired!

Bribe Other Players: A player can make a secret bribe (by placing cash in the bribe folder) to obtain a corruption point and a privilege card from another player. A privilege acquired through a bribe has a stronger effect than the standard privilege of a divisional head. If the bribed player accepts the bribe, he too gets a corruption point, but if he rejects the offer, he has to fire one of his employees!

Use a Privilege Card: See the Development privilege and the Legal & Patents privilege above.

Buy Points: A player can dismiss employees or spend money to advance on the competence (victory point) tracks:

- Influence: dismiss 3 of your own employees for 1 influence point

- Shares: pay an increasing amount of cash per share to buy stock, which counts towards a victory condition and pays out from the payment card event

- Main Departments: pay cash to create a main department (a department with 2 managers that can never be removed from the board -- due to resignations, for example) and score 1 point on the main department track

- Counsels: pay cash to place a manager on one of the counsel tracks

There are several other ways to get points, too. Influence can be obtained during the directors' meeting by holding positions on the board of directors. Main departments can be created and scored with the Found New Department action. And Counsels can be acquired with the Resignation action. On the other hand, Shares can only be bought with cash with the Buy Points action, and Corruption only comes from making or accepting bribes. Some of the privilege cards give bonuses to these actions as well.

Ok, so now that you understand the basics of obtaining points on the tracks of influence, shares, main departments, corruption, and counsels, you may be wondering, what is the 6th condition, defeating your archenemy?

At the beginning of the game, each player is given a secret archenemy color card and a secret archenemy competence card. The color card identifies one other player color, and the competence card lists 3 of the 5 competence tracks. This victory condition is fulfilled by leading the named archenemy at any time during the game on all 3 of the competence tracks listed. If you happen to draw your own player color as your archenemy, then you can fulfill this condition by leading *all* of the other players in 2 of the 3 competences listed.

If a player has at least 4 of the 6 conditions fulfilled on his turn, he may declare it. The remainder of the department turn is then played, and if he remains the only player with 4 conditions fulfilled, he wins. If any other player is able to meet 4 of the 6 conditions on the same department turn, then the player with the most money wins.

For the sake of brevity, I've left out many of the more finer details of the game, but you should now have a basic idea of how the game works.

MY THOUGHTS

So what do I think? Power Struggle is a mega-hit for me. It very well may be my game of the year. The game offers a number of fresh twists on standard area control mechanics, multiple paths to victory, and plenty of room for crafty play. The variable (and unknown) length of each round due to the order of the event cards and the enhanced power of bribed privileges are both ingenius.

I'm not the only one who loves the game. Says Eggertspiele's Wolf Wittenstein, "As far as I am concerned this is one of the best games for a party of three players that I have encountered in the last decade. The game usually holds the tension up to the very last minute." It's no wonder that the game won the Hippodice 2009 award for best full-length game, and it's also no wonder that Eggertpiele raced it to market within a matter of months. The freshman designer deserves a wild round of applause.

I can hardly wait for my next game of POWER STRUGGLE!

COMPONENTS:
RULEBOOK:
THEME:
STRATEGY:
LUCK:
INTERACTION:
GAMEPLAY:

OVERALL:


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Jennifer Schlickbernd
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Mine's coming on Tuesday and I can't wait to play! Thanks much for the review.
 
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Maaike Fest
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Yay, finally review, and a long and good one!!!
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Brian Robson
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Any game which has a "moron" event card must be worth playing ...
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Wolf Wittenstein
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Tim, thanks for that epic and fine review.
We are thrilled when people love our games and let us forget the amounts of blood, sweat and tears we gave - at least for a short time.

Thank you for playing Machtspiele even after tackling the English rules. You were not the only one doing so. Black mark for eggertspiele doing such a poorly draft of the English rules.
For the second printrun in January these rules will be revised, debugged and polished. And probably they then can be downloaded from the web-site, too.
We appreciate that Bauldric is busy clarifying all the English rules questions on BGG. Thumbs up!

The initial problem were the German rules. We had to start from scratch. We outsourced someone to reinvent the rules and then we outsourced another one to structure the reinvented rules. These 20 pages we sent to our lovely translator. Meanwhile the designer bursted out with new ideas for the nearly finished game, the playtesting started again, the rulebook grew nearly into a paperback, was shortened, was layouted again and rushed to the translator. She could not grab a few lines of some game mechanics and got back to the rules´ department. These fine guys, partly having decent jobs, were at a loss, too, then fixed the bugs and at the same time tried to integrate urgent new ideas of the designer, strictly by public demand, of course. The translator..would work on the 27th version, if Spiel had not started Oct.22.

And if you and all those geeks learn a decent language, German that is - being derived from German games - you would hardly find any bugs in the rules, our games would be a bit cheaper and we would have more time to play. Think about it.

And you are right, this game was more than raced to the market and an army of family members, friends and supporters were doing day and night shifts to get this baby finished and delivered to Spiel 09 - 90 minutes before the doors opened...

So you better do have fun with it ;-)

By the way, we found a new translator...

Ah, have you ever returned some money in the bribe envelope after you have been bribed successfully and handed it back with your privilege card? Have a camera ready for the face expresion.
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Tim Harrison
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marshduck wrote:
And you are right, this game was more than raced to the market and an army of family members, friends and supporters were doing day and night shifts to get this baby finished and delivered to Spiel 09 - 90 minutes before the doors opened...


I can understand why. It really is a great game.

marshduck wrote:
Ah, have you ever returned some money in the bribe envelope after you have been bribed successfully and handed it back with your privilege card? Have a camera ready for the face expresion.


Nope, can't say I've seen that. Why would someone do that?
 
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Maximilian Thiel
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Thank you for your comment. This touched me very much. By the way. The most work for the error-corrections of the english rules was done by the unselfish and generous people who make the rule translation to french, croatian, italian, hungarian, russian, dutch and so on.
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Dvonn Yinsh
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This was the BEST game of Essen 2009. Probably the best game since Agricola. It needs more attention!
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Wolf Wittenstein
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Yes, Bauldric, that is very true and just now that I happen to learn about all this it is very much appreciated.
Nobody in Hamburg had any chance to have a glance at the last version of the English rules in that short timespan before Spiel 09 - and we take the blame. Actually we were rather aiming to present the English version to our international friends, partners, media folks and the befriended geeks than to sell the limited number of the first English printrun.
With our cooperting partners (and native speakers) we will create a hassle-free English rulebook with the second printrun.
Time management has never been the core competence of the Hamburg micro-gang and foreseeing catastrophes neither - and that might be a grand theme for a new game.
And we never stop learning.
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Mario Aguila
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I just translated this review to Spanish: http://docs.google.com/View?id=dctx3933_93fwb2jvzx
I hope this doesn't bother you
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Daniel
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I have played the game (in German) and enjoyed a lot. It's really a a very good game.

It's really a pity such an excellent game is jeopardised by a sub-optimal management of the internationalisation and translation process.

A lesson learned for the future: if you don't put enough time and money into the internationalisation and translation of a project and use the right professionals for that, your sales are going to be hit in the international markets... and you might end up losing good revenue opportunities :-(

On the other hand, I can understand this is really a tough small market and companies have to rely on highly motivated and dedicated hobbyists to perform tasks (like translation) that are usually done by professionals in more mature markets.

Fortunately, the customers seem to be quite forgiving with this kind of quality problems.

I was going to buy it but I will definitely wait a few months until the second edition is released next year.

It's also a pity but now I when I see a game from Eggertspiele in a shop, I am going to have to think twice before buying because I can't be sure if I am going to get a quality product.

Daniel

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Wolf Wittenstein
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Daniel,
please let´s do differ between a quality game and a quality foreign language rulebook. eggertspiele has always put a lot of effort into choice of quality components, artwork and playtesting.
There is lately a tremendous pressure on price and timing for board game publishers. With an AAA professionell translator Power Struggle would have hit another price-bracket for the English speaking market and would have been too late for Essen. Would that be an alternative for this game?
Just look at all the feedbacks this game got by the English speaking gamers - they must have somehow got through the English rules and still enjoyed the game, enjoyed it more the second time, too.

Usually our partners and distributors are involved optimizing the local rules. For Power Struggle we did not find a transatlantic distributor beforehand and till this very moment still nobody has finally committed to publish this game in the US and the UK. Not before a deal is done we will tackle the English rules, as you might anticipate.
All the time and energy right now goes into the projects for Nuremberg 2010 - and yes, we have already translated the rules -semi-professionally.


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Geo
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marshduck wrote:
Not before a deal is done we will tackle the English rules, as you might anticipate.


Then why Eggertspiele (and online shops) already sell an English version with so many errors in the rulebook?

Shouldn't they wait to get the rulebook right before they publish it in English???

 
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Phil Sauer
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GeoMan wrote:
marshduck wrote:
Not before a deal is done we will tackle the English rules, as you might anticipate.


Then why Eggertspiele (and online shops) already sell an English version with so many errors in the rulebook?

Shouldn't they wait to get the rulebook right before they publish it in English???


Their main focus is on the European market. I consider an English version a courtesy, for which I'm appreciative (I'm NOT implying that you are not).

Understandably, translation issues make this very susceptible to error (e.g., Stronghold), but with a community to piece things together from both languages, it's a game that reaches a larger audience. Had the release been exclusively in German, it's unlikely (but possible) I would have purchased the game. Since there was an English version, I definitely purchased the game.

Thus the reason for an English release with less than perfect rules (but with no way to really know that at the time, as it was the best they could do under the circumstances). Add to this a POSSIBLE rush to meet the Essen show (I'm not sure if this is the case in this situation), and everything is handily explained, from my perspective.

Just an opinion... one among billions of opinions.
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Randall Bart
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GeoMan wrote:
Shouldn't they wait to get the rulebook right before they publish it in English???

That's crazy talk.
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Geo
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From what i read so far, they aren't going to fix the rules until they make a deal with a US distributor. Why?

If FRED gets the distribution, they will not publish the English rules...

So, shouldn't Eggertspiele correct the rules and upload them for those who got the English version? Why should we wait for a possible deal? Didn't we pay for the English version?
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Geo
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Barticus88 wrote:
GeoMan wrote:
Shouldn't they wait to get the rulebook right before they publish it in English???

That's crazy talk.


It's not crazy talk if you take a look at TtA. The 2nd FRED edition had errors in the manual and they NEVER made a corrected version available.

 
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Flix
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Shouldn't this thread be continued in the General section?
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Jim Cote
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GamesOnTheBrain wrote:
Either way, the division is closed, and all other employees and managers of the division, including those belonging to other players, are fired!

Is this really true? The rules don't say this.
 
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Maximilian Thiel
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ekted wrote:
GamesOnTheBrain wrote:
Either way, the division is closed, and all other employees and managers of the division, including those belonging to other players, are fired!

Is this really true? The rules don't say this.


Ooops. This is not correct. Only the employees of the active player are fired (and therefore also the managers of the common departments)
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Tim Harrison
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ekted wrote:
GamesOnTheBrain wrote:
Either way, the division is closed, and all other employees and managers of the division, including those belonging to other players, are fired!

Is this really true? The rules don't say this.


Oh my, I think you may be right! I read this on page 10 of the rules:

All employees the current player owns in this division (also those in main departments!) are fired and returned to the stock. I.e. all departments are closed, only the main departments continue.

The bold used above is how the rulebook reads.

I saw the latter part (in bold) and apparently missed the part that says "the current player owns".

My that changes things!

UPDATE: I checked the player summary cards and that definitely adds to the confusion. The aids state:

"in both cases, dismiss all employees from that division, close all departments ..."

Note, it does not say all YOUR employees, but ALL employees.

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