Around the Classroom in 80 Games: Die Macher

Today is Iowa caucus day here in the United States, which means our national election process now has less than nine months to run its course! What a long strange journey it’s been. And much the same can be said here at Game Level Learn - the last three games reviewed have been games trying to simulate aspects of the American election system. They accomplish that goal with varying degrees of success, generally capturing one aspect or another reasonably well while leaving other critical parts un-covered or un-simulated. So as I’ve reviewed 1960 and don’t yet have a copy of Campaign Manager 2008 (which I will review later), it seemed prudent to leave our shores and visit another country and its election process. So, today’s game is Die Macher - a simulation of the German election process.

Die Macher is an exceptionally complex game. It richly simulates the nuances of German election politics by giving the players control over one of the major German political parties. The game then simulates elections in eight different German regions. Players compete with limited resources to secure victory in these regional elections. It is the management of these limited resources that gives the game much of its complexity. The game does a very good job of balancing media, money, party concerns and captures the feel (if not the exact reality) of Germany’s different regions very nicely. While it takes a long, long time to play the complexity of the game is deeply rewarding to the gamer who likes such things.

For the educator, Die Macher is a much greater challenge. Its complexity makes it totally outside the realm of possibility for anyone below grade 8. It’ll be hard for Grade 9 and 10 students to be honest. For a class that really wants to understand the parliamentary election process, though, it could be worth a play through. I would be most likely to use Die Macher in a class setting where I could teach comparative elections. In that context, I would teach one of the other election games I’ve discussed in this series and then teach Die Macher, asking students to assess the different assumptions present in each rules set.