NASA Dawn approaching Ceres
Oh dear, oh dear. As we had seven players we thought this would be an ideal time to try out the second (and supposedly superior) edition of Koalition, new to everyone (David, Doug and Janet had played the first edition).
The theme of the game is the election of governments of about 14 nations of a united Europe. Politician cards are played during a round, to resolve the election of one country. Each politician has a value, and these are totalled to determine the number of votes needed to achieve a government. Usually coalitions between political parties have to be formed.
This aspect of the game has changed for the better, in my opinion, from the first edition. Instead of two politician cards being played per country, now the number of cards varies from country to country. It is still two cards for the minor countries, but that increases to four cards for Great Britain, France and Germany. I like this change of pace from election to election.
Another excellent change is the fact that players who contribute cards to an election win now score one point per card. The earlier edition awarded points to only the leaders of parties, while the minor players missed out. Thus players with a poor deal had nothing to do but sit back and help others; I feel the new edition works better in this respect.
Now the problem - the action cards. These are dealt to players from a separate deck to ensure that each player is given an equal number of these powerful cards. The older edition had them shuffled in with the politician cards. I like this 'equal' aspect, but I don't like how they are now used.
What happens now is after a player has played a politician (mandatory) card, they may now optionally play an action card. This triggers a round of action card play, where each player in turn may also play an action card, until everyone has passed in turn. I found this tended to break down the flow of the game as players were unsure whether they were in a "politican" round or an "action" round. Once the action cards were played, nobody was sure who's turn it was to continue the game, and it was all rather clumsy.
This is where I prefer the old edition, which if memory serves me, was simply on your turn you played a card, action or politician. Simple, and it works, as there is no action card round to break the flow of the game. I would like to try the game again with the action card round taken out and simply replaced with either:
* play a card, action or otherwise, on your turn and continue until each player has played the required number of politicians for this election, immediately ending that round.
* play a politician (mandatory) and an action card (optional) on your turn, without an action round being triggered.
It reminded me of 6 player Siedler, where the flow of the game broke down as you had to ask each player whether they wanted to build before passing on to the next turn. Bernie said he disliked that rule in Siedler, and they play a house rule that only the player opposite you has the build opportunity. I'm not sure how that would work in Koalition.
I don't often do this, but I am going to try and rebuild the game based on the best bits of edition 1 and 2 - I feel the underlying mechanics are too good to discard.
So what happened in our game? Well, we waded through Ireland, Finland and Portugal before everyone simply got sick of it - simply from keeping track of the action rounds from what I could observe. A coalition was required in Portugal, but David didn't want to do it as it gave Doug points (who'd done very well in the first two elections). Rules were examined at length to see if the coalition was mandatory (which David didn't want). Bernie examined the German rules and discovered that if a government cannot be formed, the special cards are discarded and the election is resolved again, with players taking their politicians back. Interesting, and I think I like this. However, by this time, Janet, Dey, Roger and Moray had left and had started Mamma Mia! At this point we realised the game was over, and the rules desperately needed tweaking.
Any thoughts on those familiar with both editions of Koalition?