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Game: Traumfabrik (Hasbro)
Submitted By: John Weber
Date: 8/21/2003 6:14:00 PM
TRAUMFABRIK (Hasbro Germany 2000) is a game about making movies. Players take on the role of a major movie studio and place chips representing actors and actresses, directors, special effects, fancy camera work, music, guest stars and agents to complete movie "scripts." A unique auction method causes money bid (called "vertrags," which is German for contracts) to be recycled to the losing bidders. Players are competing to complete movies and garner "Oscars" which can be worth additional victory points. The vertrags themselves are worth victory points and added to the point total for all completed movies, plus 5 points for each small Oscar (awarded during the game) and 10 for each large Oscar (awarded at the end of the game). And, one important rule: incomplete movies score nothing at the end of the game.
The game board involves a track, and the game ends after four trips around the board. Each "studio" has three scripts to start with, and seven additional scripts are up for grabs as movies are completed. Between three to five slots must be filled to complete a movie, and there is also one additional spot to hire a guest star, which is always optional. (There are simply far fewer guest stars than there are movies in the game.) Once a chip is placed on a movie, it cannot be moved (although it can be covered by another chip of the same type) and completed movies are "in the can" so to speak, i.e., their value can't be augmented by adding a guest star later. The value of a movie is determined by the total number of stars on all the chips assigned to it, plus a base of from 2 to 4 for the value of the script itself.
Those who have the most stars under contract (stars include actors/actresses and guest stars, and are easily recognizable with a red border) will have first pick and two special "party" location. The other six locations are all winner-take-all auctions, with high bidder gaining two or three chips that were drawn at random at the start of the turn or, at the first location, a special chip representing a four-star director. (Directors are important, as noted below). The winner must place his new talent immediately, and the losing bidders will divide the contracts among themselves as evenly as possible, with any remainder left in the "pot" for the next round of bidding.
There are a couple of other rules that make the game even more interesting. While many of the empty slots must be filled with a particular type of chip (i.e. directors can only go on the director slot, etc, and every movie needs one; but "King Kong" doesn't need actors), there is some flexibility offered by: (1) wild card chips called "agents" that can go almost anywhere (except on the guest-star location and (2) open positions that can be filled with any chip except for directors and guest stars. Also, in scoring the movies, there are a limited number (either 1 or 2) of each point value available, and movies that are "tied" will be relegated to the next available point chip. I.e., a movie that is an 8 late in the game could drop all the way to 5 if all the 6, 7 and 8 markers have been awarded. This simulates the dissatisfaction of the public with films that don't seem to be any better than what they saw last season, and sometimes you have to work extra hard to get a quality picture done.
The game components are pretty cool, in particular the Oscar statuettes and the chips with likenesses of the actors and actresses and named four- star directors. The only complaint I have heard on the ratings is that Jimmy Stewart is only a 1-star, whereas Frank Sinatra gets two. There is even a -1 guest-star chit representing game designer Reiner Knizia, which may prove useful for those seeking to win the Oscar for (yes, you guessed it) the worst movie. Some of the Oscars are color-coded to match the three genres of pictures in the game: adventure (yellow), drama (blue) and entertainment (green). The small five-pointers are awa