At the end of the game, you score 1 point for each plan that was executed according to your objective but you also lose 1 point for each time you have been purged.
The players take turns to play the general secretary and lead the turn through three distinct phases:
Plan: The general secretary proposes one of the three ministries of defence, finance and security and calls for an open vote. The ministry approved by a majority of the members enters the execution phase.
Execution: The general secretary appoints three members for a secret execution where they choose between repression and reforming.
If they are unanimous, the ministry adds 1 point for repression and subtracts 1 point for reforming.
If no unanimity is attained in three attempts, the ministry is unchanged and the three members enter the purge phase.
Purge: The members secretly points out another member to purge.If a member is pointed out by the other two, he or she loses 1 influence.
The players’ objectives may be related to the repression or reforming of one or more ministries or to the other members’ influence. They may coincide or collide.
The plan phase could have been replaced by the general secretary simply select which ministry to score.
However, a vote is a good way to engage all players each turn (and have them hinting their interests). But why
would the other players want to vote for a ministry proposed by the general secretary and help him or her to attain
an objective? Simply because several players may have an interest in that ministry. Some may want it to score positively,
some to score negatively and some perhaps only want to see the following execution to fail. And since there is a
limited number of ministries to propose, the rule that the third and last ministry proposed always succeed will ensure
an end to the plan phase.
While the plan phase engage all players, the execution phase is all about putting selected players against each other
and eventually, using the process of elimination, deduce their interests. This is similar to the voting and deduction
mechanism of Avalon
with the addition of a general secretary with the power to replace players and have another go.
Is this addition necessary? Yes, while Avalon has simple two-dimensional objectives and actions (good/evil, pass/fail),
a Politburo player choosing to score a ministry positively may do so for several reasons; to
maximize the value of that specific ministry, to maximize the value of all ministries in general,
to prevent the ministry from getting a value at all and so on. One attempt would be too random
whereas a new attempt will help the general
secretary to do some triangulation to find players willing to comply with his or her objectives
(but with the risk of giving away too much information on them).
The two first phases with their many coinciding and colliding objectives are probably enough for
a voting and deduction game so is the purge phase necessary? Yes and no. Without it, Politburo
wouldn't be much different from other games. The purge does not only fits the theme very well but
also adds another dimension to the voting and deduction. Do you dare voting in favor of your interests
and risk a purge? Perhaps you want a purge to take place to bring down another player? The depth
added by this rule is most intriguing!
... and Rejected Rules
The scoring is relative, meaning that a ministry may win by for example having the highest level, rather than absolute, meaning that a ministry win by having a high level. The difference may seem insignificant but does have a major impact in the player incentives. With absolute scoring, players are simply interesting in voting to execute their own ministry and maximing its level while keeping the others around 0. Once a ministry goes below 0, it will be difficult to turn it positive again, making the game less interesting for player with this objective.
With relative scoring on the other hand, the players may attain their objectives either by increasing their ministries or by decreasing competing ministries and even a ministry with level -1 can be the highest if the others have -2. This makes it more interesting throughout the game.