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I had heard good things about this one and upon reading the rules thought this would be a wild and frenzied negotiation style game. Unfortunately, it wasn't. It is one game which would seem likely to play much better with more than four players.
Players vie to win the elections which are held in twelve European countries. This competition takes the form of players playing politicians from their hand, each of which has various strength points and belong to a particular political party. Each player places a card from their hand, then a second round is held wherein a second card is played.
Points are then totaled for all cards played and a majority figure calculated to see if any of the political parties have secured a majority to capture the election outright. If so, the players who participated in the winning party receive victory points. If no one party has secured an outright victory, then party chairmen are determined for each party played, and players must attempt to form coalitions to capture the election. Care must be taken, however, as each card lists the parties which that card may enter a coalition with. If a coalition is formed, then those players who have participated in the coalition then split the victory points, the larger faction receiving more points.
There are other cards which can affect play, including a sex scandal which ousts the top politician played that round (gee ... in the U.S. it seems a sex scandal actually enhances a politician's status!).
With four players, two rounds of six elections are held, then points are tallied. Then, there is a bizarre rule concerning bonus points, which are awarded to players based on winning percentages with the various political parties. The player who garnered the most points within each political party is determined, and then bonus points are awarded to those players on a sliding scale, with 7 points going to the player who has the most votes in the party which had the largest share of votes, 6 points for the next greatest total, etc. This throws a real twist into the game, as there is extremely little, if any, control over this aspect of the game. It would take incredibly precise planning ... and some luck ... to maximize these points. We all detested this rule as it seemed to completely skewer the outcome (in fact, it totally reversed it in our game). Yuck!! I can see that the rule might be used to one's advantage if he was a seasoned player, but I'd rather see it implemented ONLY when the game is being played by such veterans.
Using the rules as written, and awarding the bonus points, here were the final results:
Greg 34, Eryk 33, Lenny 31, Jerry 29
Without adding the bonus points, here were the results:
Jerry 27, Eryk 25, Lenny 24, Greg 24
The game received mediocre to poor ratings, which was disappointing as I have heard good things about it and the theme seems wonderful. I'd love to hear other's thoughts on this one.
Ratings: Eryk 6, Greg 5, Lenny 5, Jerry 1