Monday, July 18, 2011

New's last gasp (Power Struggle, Junta: Vive El Presidente!)

With Shemp, Kozure and Pablo available, I took this week as an opportunity to play the last few unplanned games in my collection.

Power Struggle

First up was Power Struggle, a game about climbing to the top in a large corporation, by any means necessary. To many, this theme would be unappealing but at least it's not another game set in medieval Europe! I personally find it humorous because iWork in that environment, and in my opinion the theme has been integrated quite well.

Before I start, I have to say that explaining the rules was tough. I've taught hundreds of different games, but for some reason this one stands out. It's one of those games that offer many options AND where each rule seems to require the explanation of another rule to make sense. Also, it's a game where players have hidden objectives, so you want to minimize question asking in order to avoid giving things away at the wrong time. Once I muddled my way through a rules explanation, we started but we all knew nobody had any idea what they were doing (including me).

I'll give a very high level summary: the game board depicts a large corporation building, showing offices, manager's offices, the executive board room and the chairman's office. Throughout the game, players will populate and manipulate the offices in order to get their guys promoted to divisional manager and up. It boils down to a kind of area majority game, in a way. The trick is that there are several ways to go about what you want to do. Departments can be shuffled, merged, etc, divisional managers can be promoted to the board of directors and take their staff with them or exit the company and become outside consultants. Bribes can be offered to get the power of another player's division temporarily, etc. The upshot is that there are a number of score tracks that measure influence, investments, consultants and even corruption and each player must make it to a certain level in 4 categories before everyone else (each player also has a secret nemesis and can gain a victory point by simply being better than him/ her in certain categories).

In our game, after flailing about aimlessly for a few rounds we finally started figuring out what was going on. I started creating main departments and bribing other players at every occasion I had. After dramatically over bribing Shemp early, I reduced 90% of my bribes to the minimum because really I just wanted the corruption and the game punishes players for not taking them (one of the target's employees leaves). I did manage to win, having reached the target in influence, main patments, corruption and having beaten my nemesis, Kozure, in the required fields.

Initial confusion aside, I think I liked it. It will definitely take another play before I feel confident, though,andireally hope idon't need to teach it to a new player next time we play!

Junta: Vive El Presidente!

This one is a much simpler game, but also about terrible bosses. Some southern American country has a military dictator, and all the players want to build up their wealth and replace the dictator.

The game involves the presidente drawing cards and making secret offers to each player from those cards and then those players deciding if they want to attack another player or the president, defend themselves or the president, etc. If an attack on the president is successful, the attacking player becomes the presidente. Iftheattack is unsuccessful, anybody who didn't attack the presidente gets to keep the promised cards. We started with the ask game but quickly migrated to the advanced game... The main difference is that the presidente can also distribute dice along with the cards, and those dice can be programmed to attack other players, etc.

Pablo was our first and most successful Presidente, managing to keep the role for a few rounds. I earned the "worst presidente" honor after I kept giving cards to the player that couldn't defend me (like Shemp with only a single dice when Kozure had four!). In the end, Kozure won the game, funded heavily by my short terms as presidente no doubt.
Anyway, itwasfun but certainly not a "wow"

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