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Democrazy is a fun-filled game where the players make the rules...
Why should you always blindly accept the rules of the games you play? After all, don't we live in a democracy? Then, vote for new rules!
For once, you can manipulate the rules to you advantage! This is not too difficult; you must simply convince your opponents to vote using "common sense"... as long as "common sense" helps you win!
In the game of Democrazy, the rules constantly change according to the votes of the players. Each player, on their turn, proposes a change to the rules and submits the change to a vote by all players. If the rule passes, it is adopted. If it is rejected, it fails. Of course, each player will try to pass rules that benefit themselves, and obstruct rules that don't.
Ive always felt little about my voting powers until the 2000 Presidential election. There, I found that my vote (I lived in Florida at the time) really mattered. Voting on things is also a game mechanic that I like and enjoy quite a bit. So when I saw that an entire game was designed around the voting mechanic, I was ready and eager to play.
So is Democrazy (Descartes Eurogames, Bruno Faidutti, 2000) a game worth playing? The short answer is that it is a great party game, especially with 10 players, and one that I find works extremely well with teenagers. Now, for the explanatory longer answer.
First, a short description of game play
Each player is given three cards, one that says No, one that says Yes, and one special card. Sixty wood chips, in four colors (red, green, blue and yellow) are mixed up in a bag, and several are drawn by each player (the actual amount is determined by the amount of players in the game). A deck of law cards is shuffled and an amount dealt to each player (again determined by player number). Twenty-five of the remaining cards are used to make a deck, while the remainder of the cards are removed from the game. A special End card is shuffled into the last ten cards of the deck. One player then starts the game by taking their turn, with each player following in a clockwise order.
On a turn, the player first draws the top card from the law deck. They then choose a law card from their hand and read it to all the players. If it is a red law card (donated by red graphics), it is a card that has an instantaneous effect on the game, then it is discarded. If it is a blue law card, the text on the card has a permanent effect on the game. No matter what color the card, however, the players must immediately vote on it, to see if the law takes effect. During voting, each player places one of the three cards in their hand face down on the table. Once everyone has decided their vote, the votes are revealed and tallied. If there are more yes votes than no votes, the law is passed and the effects are carried out. Otherwise, the card is discarded. In case of a tie in votes, players look at a small circle at the top of the card. If the circle is white, the tie is broken in favor of the law, while a black circle breaks ties by rejecting the law.
The votes are taken back by the players who played them. Each player has a special voting card that they can use once per game. These cards, of which there are three types, are discarded after use. One is a Definite Yes! card. This card will beat any amount of Nos and will automatically adopt a law. The only way to cancel it is with a Definite No! card, which does the opposite. A Scam card reverses the outcome of the vote.
There can only be six blue law cards on the table, and if any more laws are adopted after that, they replace one of the six. Some laws have special symbols on them, and two laws with the same symbol cannot be on the table at the same time. Some examples of red laws include All players lose all of their chips, except for two., One law of your choice, chosen before the vote, is discarded., and Simultaneously, each player takes two chips in their hand, and passes them to the player on their left.. Examples of blue laws include Each player triples the value of chips in colors of which they have only a single chip., Players with beards score 5 bonus points, Red chips are worth zero points, and Blue chips are worth two points..
The game ends when the End Card is drawn by a player, or when the bag runs out of chips. At that point, each player counts up their points. Chips are normally one point a piece, but all the blue laws modifications and bonuses must be taken into account. Whoever has the highest point total is the winner!
Some comments on the game
1). Components: Im a big fan of all things wooden, so I like the easy-to-handle, brightly colored wooden chips. The cloth bag provided for them is of good quality and easy to reach inside. The cards are of good quality even though mine (especially the vote cards) have taken quite a beating from repeated, excited playings. The artwork on the cards (as with most Faidutti games) is quite humorous and cartoonish. The box is the same size as all Blue Box games small, compact, and strong and holds all the components well.
2). Rules: The rules are printed on a small, four-page leaflet. They are easy to understand, even though they may be a bit crowded on the pages. This game is extremely easy to teach and learn and makes a great game to bring to a crowded table full of people new to games like these.
3). Fun Factor: The game is a riot of fun. Many of the laws are silly and the yelling and arguing that goes on before and after voting is pretty funny to watch and partake in. Some people may be put off by how silly some of the laws are. (One insists that players play all vote cards with their left hands or lose a chip.) However, I think that it adds to the fun. Democrazy is not a game to be taken seriously, as the artwork should suggest. There is some strategy to getting others to vote for laws that benefit you the most, but its mostly about having a good time arguing.
4). Amount of players: One thing I really like about Democrazy is that it can accommodate up to 10 people and that everyone votes on every turn, keeping them interested in the game. The game is not unwieldy with that many players so if you have 8-10 players, this would be the first game I would recommend (if you were all staying in one group to play a game, that is).
5). Carte Blanche: This is a variant that adds some blank cards to the deck. When a blank card is played, the player who plays it must make up a red law of their choosing. However, this opens up a whole can of worms. What laws are acceptable, and what laws are total nonsense. Can you make a law that says, Joey loses the game, or Anyone currently eating loses two chips. The rules say that it is up to the players to decide what laws are acceptable, and I have found that the hottest arguments in the game occur over these. I would prefer to leave them out, but if everyone is in a silly mood by all means, include them!
Democrazy was my first Faidutti game I bought, and it hooked me on his chaotic, fun style. Its my game of choice for a ten-player crowd, and is a fun game to bring out whenever everyone is in a light mood and ready for some fun! Its inexpensive, plays well in big crowds, and is a lot of fun. Give it a try!
Democrazy is a game that takes moments to learn and provides hours of hilarious scenarios. As new laws are enacted, players must not only monitor their own behaviors, but those of other competitors as well to insure victory! Regardless of your attentiveness or shrewdness, the outcome is still based on the current laws in effect at the end of the game, leaving room for anyone to win!
This game was a blast for us when we first purchased it. We played it everywhere with all different types of people. Most people really enjoyed the wacky laws and the voting process. But after playing it several times, it started to wear out it's welcome.
Perhaps it would be better if we had purchased it now when we have a much wider selection of games to choose from (it was one of our first). The excessive repetition of it just made it more obvious that each game sort of turns out the same.
There is one particular problem I had with the mechanics of the game. The tie-breaking is annoying (especially since the female bonus law passes in case of a tie, but the male bonus law loses in case of a tie). We play a large amount of games with other couples making it so that our group is generally an even number of people, so we get a lot of tied votes.
We still pull out this game and play it occasionally, but it's lost that thrill that it had when we first bought it. I would recommend this game for an occasional filler with groups of more than four (even better if you have an odd number of people). For a smaller group game where the rules keep changing, go with Fluxx.
Don't break the rules, make them! Start with four to six colored chips worth one point each, and an equal number of law cards, depending on the number of players. Take your reusable Yes and No cards, and a single-use Wild vote card. On your turn, draw a card from the law deck and choose a law from your hand to propose. Everyone votes on these laws, which affect gameplay and scoring if they're passed. For example, a law might change the value of some chips. The three kinds of Wild vote cards (definite Yes, definite No, and Scam) add mischief if only one is played. The first two override all other votes, while the Scam reverses the result of a vote. The game's over when the END card is drawn; the winner is the player with the highest value in chips. Seven blank cards are included for creative lawmaking. I propose we play Democrazy again: Yes, No, Scam?
I never quite got to grips with Herr Schmiel's Das Regeln Wir Schon!, hamstrung as we were by the avalanche of German text. Even Dirk Henn's kind gesture in providing a translation ultimately failed to move me. This, I suspected, was Karl-Heinz's "year off"--a phenomenon alluded to by Mike Siggins in the pages of Sumo.
I can confirm my earlier opinion now that the original design (complete with board) has appeared as a pure card game, the revision expedited by Bruno Faidutti. This is beginning to be a habit, because in recent months Bruno has also added his two-pennyworth to Doris & Frank's Banana Republic (as Corruption). In my opinion, neither has been improved, and Democrazy is close to a disaster.
Democrazy requires players to vote on a series of "laws" drawn from the deck. This are either applied instantaneously (red) or can survive into future rounds (blue, maximum six on the table). The effects are pretty straightforward, along the lines of "Each player counts their points using the chips of the player on their left". In most cases, the way to cast a vote is obvious, although the introduction of the Scam card does reverse the democratic decision. If you are desperate for a particular rule to be adopted or otherwise, then a one-off "wild" Yes or No card can be played, although they can cancel each other out.
Cards continue to be drawn until either the last chip is drawn from the bag, or the End Game card appears. We were praying for the latter almost from the start, because there seemed to be total randomness in the gaming procedure.
Each chip has a base value of one, but this will be amended at the game's conclusion by the laws still in play. But any decision making, however sensible at the time, can be usurped by a single card, therefore negating linear strategy. Which prompted the question "Why are we playing this?"
Bruno Faidutti clearly has merits as a designer. His Valley Of The Mammoths provided some memorable moments. But Democrazy, Corruption, and the lauded Ohne Furcht Und Adel, where you might never have a turn, have left me stumped.