If there is an ur German game, it might be Die Macher. It is the quintessential eurogame, with just about all the mechanics you would expect (role selection, bidding, various paths to victory, etc.) It is also a 3-4 hour simulation of German politics. Oh, and it is one of the best games you will ever play.Each player takes the role of one of Germany's political parties trying to win 7 regional elections. You are forced to plan for the future while trying to survive in the present. We played the 2006 remake, which added a 5th player and made some of the rules clearer. Unfortunately, it also has some very poor graphic design choices which make things harder than they need to be.
The game is 7 turns. Each turn one state will be up for election, but the next 3 states are also available for taking actions. Each state has 4 opinion cards that tell you what matters to them. The issues range from genetically modified food to nuclear power to the War on Terror (obviously the original 1986 version had different issues..) In the truest simulation of politics, you spend each turn changing both the opinions of the people (using the media) and your party (it's amazing how quickly my Christian Democrats turned their back on higher wages!) to try and align yourself with what the people in that state want. The problems come in when two states want drastically different things. Where do you make the tough choices?
One of my favorite mechanics of the game are the "outside contributions." Each turn, you take one of your cards (ranging in value from 10K to 50K) and decide if you want to cash it in for money (which will cause you to lose members of your party as you literally sell out.) or turn down the donation (which will bring more members into your party). It's done as a blind bid (ie each player reveals their choice simultaneously) and can really make or break your strategy.
The beauty of Die Macher is how seamlessly all the different mechanics integrate. You can't ignore anything, so trying to do the most with what you have is critical. Another strength of the game is the lack of downtime. This is rare in longer games, but because of the way the turns flow, you are pretty much engaged almost all the time. Not a lot of sitting around waiting for other players.
It's a special luxury to have 4 friends who want to sit down & play a massive game like this, but I can't recommend the experience enough. It's not too crazy to suggest that Die Macher is the progenitor for so many of the mechanics that we love in games, and it has aged extremely well. This one might not belong in every collection, but if you get a chance to play it, go for it. You'll enjoy it.
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