6th Apr 2024 Games Day - Weimar

by RobinSun, 7 Apr (Updated at Mon, 8 Apr)

There were a few topical themes at the April games day: Container, in honour of the ship under a giant mouse-trap in Baltimore; and Weimar, a political game where the democratic parties fight to stave off the surge of populism. One of the tables downstairs had also listed Hegemony, but I didn't get down to see if they actually played that of if it was just a placeholder. They had previously listed their game as Monopoly, which had to be removed... For all(?) the Monopoly fans out there: this is a club that welcomes all gamers, but you may struggle to get sign-ups from our existing membership for that game.

Anyway. The reason I didn't look around downstairs until late in the day was that I was very absorbed in Weimar. I'm actually reporting on 1½ games here: like many games of this kind, it has ways that it can be finished early. So, predictably, having set aside a good 7 hours for a full play-through, our first game finished early; we then started a second game, which was on course to go the full length when we ran out of time. But I left feeling like I could happily play it again and again and again - it was that good.

As the name suggests, it's about the German republic between the wars. You play as one of four political parties: the centre-left and centre-right, who want to preserve the republic; and the radical parties (the communists on the left and the DNVP on the right), who want to bring it all down and take over. By the time I sat down, the radical parties had been bagsied by the two Davids, leaving me with the boring centre-left. "But being a Nazi is fun!" I protested - but Dave-E took the same view and had already assigned himself the fascists. Maybe a fairer reflection of our own political alignments anyway 🙂

So I set about governing in a good socialist manner - not actually doing anything, but being very convincing in debates; while Richard - my right-of-centre coalition partner, devoted his time to ratifying the Treaty Of Versailles and other foreign affairs stuff. So we quickly suffered hyper-inflation and severe poverty, and the country duly collapsed into anarchy, triggering a premature game end.

The assumption is that anarchy is bad for the conservatives and above all the government, because they get a big points penalty when it happens. So I didn't want anarchy, but the radicals across the table did. But out of all of us, the only one who'd actually been paying attention to how many points we'd all accumulated was my presumed ally Richard. He realised that he had scored enough to win despite the penalty for being in the failed government. So in this particular rewrite of history, Weimar Germany collapsed into anarchy in the early '20s, with the substantially culpable Centre Party emerging as the strongest player in whatever came afterwards. Hitler was still painting at the time so perhaps not such a bad outcome.

As all Nazi afficionados out there will know, the DNVP was not the same as the Nazi party; and I have to say, it didn't look that fun. The one common outcome in both our games was that the DNVP came last. According to Dave-E, they come good later in the game, which we never really got to. But after the first game it was clear: the really fun party to be was the communists. So for the second run, when the centrists and radicals at our table exchanged places, I made sure I got the communists.

Why is it fun? Basically, while everyone else was preoccupied with boring stuff like Versailles and inflation, I spent the second game trying to take over the state, largely militarily. For most of the time, I was just one turn, or even one dice roll, away from winning the game. I never managed it, but after the first game of faithful centrist stodge, this was a breath of fresh air.

I started with a communist council in Munich, and soon got another one set up in Berlin. I just needed one more to win the game. Whereupon I was invited to join my socialist successor Dave-E in the government. Encouraged by my now heel-of-the-horseshoe radical friend Richard, I decided to give it a go. This led to an extremely fractious coalition, as my loyal comrades were betrayed by the establishment - whose socialist masquerade creaked under the strain of establishing their police state.

Unsurprisingly, we were both booted out at the next election, and our more overtly right-wing successors promptly evicted my council from Munich. I quickly set up another one in Essen - in this game as with so many others, enjoying a somewhat over-inflated thematic significance. And I still had the cards to get the third council in place in Stuttgart - but for some thematically confusing reason, I was prevented from doing so by a vote of no confidence...

And then we had to call time on the game. Even on points, which are supposed to be the winning mechanism for the centrist parties, I only lost the game by 1. In total, I think I failed to win the game by a whisker on four separate occasions. But what a fun way to lose!

I genuinely think I could play this game repeatedly and enjoy it every time. For each party, there is such a variety of different approaches that each game can feel completely different. The card-driven central mechanic allows enough agency that, even if you keep drawing the same cards, you can do very different things with them each time. As the communists, I chose the coup-d'état "strategy"; but I could have used the same cards in parliament, building towards a majority government. The same was true in some form for each of the parties. I'd still choose the communists though 🙂

So: part war game, part political game, part Euro game. It's hopefully got something for everyone. And probably worth trying on a Thursday night too: it seems like the premature finish will happen more often than not, and even if you have to stop before you finish it's still a lot of fun. One of most enjoyable games I can remember.


  • DE
    David Elliott
    Glad you liked it. Definitely one of my favourite games.