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John Weber
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Ellicott City
Maryland
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Starting around 5 PM on the final day of this year’s World Boardgaming Championships (“WBC”), four of us tackled this historical “experience” game, with myself (John) leading the Red faction, Tom leading the Blue faction, Michael leading the Green and David the Orange. I had played before, but not recently, while Tom had boned up on the rules and rounded up Mike and David to participate. Since we went for the “learning by doing” approach, things went slow at first but picked up as players became familiar with the game mechanics, and everyone got into the negotiating and role playing aspect of the game. After a few botched rules and around seven hours of play (which included an appropriate dinner break), we picked up the game around midnight, having got through nine Presidential terms and close to 40 years of American history.

As stipulated in the rules, we started with the historical 1789 setup with George Washington as President, John Adams as Vice President. I happened to control this faction, but others had strong leaders as well: the Green faction started with Thomas Jefferson, leader of the Liberal party; the Orange, Alexander Hamilton; and the Blue, Aaron Burr. Tragedy struck at the start as the finger of fate decreed that Washington, the second oldest Statesman in the game (after Ben Franklin), died even before completing one official act, and Adams – backed by a much less powerful voting block in Office – succeeded him. With some wheeling and dealing, Adams managed to get a few bills through Congress and passed the first tariff in an effort to put the country on sound financial footing. However, trouble loomed ahead with the first election, as the Liberals fielded a strong ticket, with Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr. Trying to win votes in the South, Adams selected Virginian John Marshall as his running mate but the plan backfired.

1792 Election: C - Adams (Pres) 72, Marshall (VP) 63; L – Jefferson (Pres) 66, Burr (VP) 75.

Curses, the vagaries of the pre-12th Amendment electoral system resulted in that scoundrel, Aaron Burr, outpolling his party’s Presidential candidate, meaning Burr succeeded Adams as President. In an inaccurate rules interpretation, we allowed the defeated Adams (second in the electoral count) to remain in the game as Vice President and, although this added a few VP for the Red faction, Adams remained in primarily a figurehead role. Burr took over the mantle of Liberal party leader from Jefferson, but in the Conservative party the growing popularity of Alexander Hamilton meant Adams was doomed in the next election after naming the New Yorker as his running mate.

1796 Election: C – Adams (Pres) 38 Hamilton (VP) 100; L – Burr (Pres) 72, Jefferson (VP) 66

The liberal ticket generated roughly the same vote totals as in the prior election, but the fact that Adams was unable to garner any support outside his native New England meant, for the second time in a row, the man chosen as the #2 walked away with the Presidency. And, for the second election in a row, the sitting President who came in second was named VP – something that caused some discussion among the players and eventual implementation of a “house rule” a few turns later. Meanwhile, Hamilton went on to oversee the Louisiana Purchase, assuring the future growth of the fledgling republic. However, by the time of the next election, the voters once again turned to the Liberal party, and none other than Aaron Burr, who made a triumphant return to the White House (again, Burr should have been removed from the game after the 1796 election).

1800 Election: C – Hamilton (Pres) 38 Ames (VP) 38; L – Burr (Pres) 148 Gallatin (VP) 98

By this time, Jefferson had passed away and the players realized that the early rules miscue meant both Burr and Adams should not have been in the game at this point. Therefore, instead of going all the way back to the start, Burr – now back in power for the second time – was removed in favor of Gallatin – the players deciding to retroactively remove both Adams and Burr, the two previously defeated incumbent Presidents – from play. This led to a bit of back-tracking in the election results, and Albert Gallatin stepped up to assume the office of Presidency. His term was an uneventful one, and his lack of influence and popularity meant that his Secretary of State, James Monroe, assumed the mantle of Liberal party leadership. With ex-President Hamilton also retired from the game, one-time Vice Presidential candidate John Marshall headed up the Conservative cause, which created a tricky situation for the overall game as both were controlled by the same faction, the Green faction, thus beginning an era of “rigged” elections.

1804 Election: C- Marshall (Pres) 67 Ellsworth (VP) 75; L – Monroe (Pres) 108; Jackson (VP) 34

Monroe threw his VP candidate, Andrew Jackson of Tennessee, under the bus, to insure his own election, but he also created split party control with the election of Conservative VP candidate Oliver Ellsworth. This considerable dissatisfaction with the 1804 election results led to electoral reform and the passage of the 12th Amendment, assuring that in future elections there would be a two-person ticket for President and VP from both parties. Monroe even decided to offer the VP job to a fellow Virginian, Edmund Randolph, and the two were successful in winning the first election under the new procedure, making Monroe the first incumbent President to win re-election.

1808 Election: C – Marshall (Pres)- CC Pinckney (VP) 78; L – Monroe (Pres) Randolph (VP) 131

President Monroe filled out the remainder of his term, and party leadership passed to Andrew Jackson, who had proven himself an able general. However, the Green faction that controlled Monroe also controlled the Conservative party leader, the twice defeated John Marshall, who proved third time was a charm as he trounced the Jackson-led Liberal ticket in one of the biggest landslides to date, taking advantage of the fact that the Conservative party had moved ahead on the all-important Popular Support track.

1812 Election: C – Marshall (Pres) – King (VP) 155; L – Jackson (Pres) – Tompkins (VP) 55

Marshall went on to a successful term, resolving the War of 1812 (albeit a few years later than in real life). With the Conservative party riding a tidal wave of popularity, he went on to win re-election, once again by a convincing margin. While some newly-admitted Western states went for Jackson, the small number of additional electoral votes were nowhere near enough to counter Marshall’s success in the original “back East” states.

1816 Election: C – Marshall (Pres) – King (VP) 157; L – Jackson (Pres) – Madison (VP) 62

The end of Marshall’s second term saw some new blood enter into the Presidential fray, namely Gouverneur Morris, who had served ably in the Marshall administration and inherited the mantle of Conservative party leader. Andy Jackson continued as Liberal party leader and, this time, he did much better than in the two contests with Marshall, but still fell short in the electoral count.

1820 Election: C – Morris (Pres) – Ellsworth (VP) 129; L – Jackson (Pres) – Madison (VP) 99

Morris’ first term saw the addition of several new states, but no real issues to be resolved (the various factions had seen to it that the thorny issue of Slavery was put on the back-burner whenever it reared its ugly head). One final election was held before time was called. New running mates were named for the rematch: CC Pinckney for the Conservations, Winfield Scott for the Liberals. Would the fourth time be a charm for Andy Jackson and the Liberals?

1824 Election: C – Morris (Pres) – CC Pinckney (VP) 154; L – Jackson (Pres) – Scott (VP) 81

A late surge in newspaper activity on behalf of the Liberals, as well as some efforts to smear the Conservatives, fell just short. The game ended (due to time constraints) as President Gouverneur Morris settled in for his second term in the White House, and Andrew Jackson ended as a four-time loser for the Liberal party.

Scores were tallied as of 1825, and Michael’s Green faction, which held the Presidency for four straight terms, was the winner. Final scores: Green 46, Blue 34, Red 32, Orange 26

Chain of Presidential Succession:

1789 - George Washington
1789 – 1793 John Adams
1793 – 1797 Aaron Burr
1797 – 1801 Alexander Hamilton
1801 - Aaron Burr
1801 – 1805 Albert Gallatin
1805 – 1813 James Monroe
1813 - 1821 John Marshall
1821 - Gouverneur Morris

Thus, the game ended in 1825 with Gouverneur Morris (who had died nine years earlier in real life) serving as President of the United States. What a great game!

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tim landers
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This session seems to have been shown twice. I do not understand the Presidential succession etc. Wa this some special format in the Boardgaming Championships. I do not seen any such info in the Founding Father rules.
I just purchased the game recently and what your saying is interesting. Can you enlighten me on this subject?
 
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John Weber
United States
Ellicott City
Maryland
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flandt wrote:
This session seems to have been shown twice. I do not understand the Presidential succession etc. Wa this some special format in the Boardgaming Championships. I do not seen any such info in the Founding Father rules.
I just purchased the game recently and what your saying is interesting. Can you enlighten me on this subject?


The game was played in open gaming so it was not a scheduled event as part of the Boardgaming Championships. We just played for fun.

Not sure I understand your last question. You need to try the game and come to your own conclusion. I enjoy the historical/ahistorical aspects of it.
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Christopher Leary
United States
Elizabethtown
Kentucky
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Great session reports for a great game, perhaps my favorite "non-wargame" in my collection. There's just not much else like it out there, apart from it's "father", Republic of Rome... but this is significantly less complex. If anything, I'd like to hang a few more sub-systems on FF's game engine, to increase the historicity of the gameplay... but that's only due to my deep interest in 1790s-1850s US politics.

If ever a game needed a vassal module, it is this one... I don't have much of a gaming crowd in my neck of the woods, and so playing this one via vassal/pbem would be a godsend.
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Alexander Alekhine
United States
Baltimore
Maryland
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warmonark wrote:
If anything, I'd like to hang a few more sub-systems on FF's game engine, to increase the historicity of the gameplay... but that's only due to my deep interest in 1790s-1850s US politics.


You'll have your chance! I was one of those players at WBC, and we have a few ideas on ways to modify the game along the lines you're thinking. Watch the forums in coming days and chip in, please.
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Rusty Coleman
United States
Geismar
Louisiana
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Though it has only happened once with Grover Cleveland and post-Civil War, I wonder if a house rule could me made to allow for a political life after the Presidency
 
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Alexander Alekhine
United States
Baltimore
Maryland
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RustyColeman wrote:
Though it has only happened once with Grover Cleveland and post-Civil War, I wonder if a house rule could me made to allow for a political life after the Presidency


You're right, the rules as written do not allow for the possibility that the president after leaving office plays a prominent role in the government by joining Congress (as J Q Adams did) or the Supreme Court (as Taft did). A problem is that the accumulated cubes would make that person a juggernaut unless cleared from his card.
 
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John Weber
United States
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Maryland
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alekhine wrote:
RustyColeman wrote:
Though it has only happened once with Grover Cleveland and post-Civil War, I wonder if a house rule could me made to allow for a political life after the Presidency


You're right, the rules as written do not allow for the possibility that the president after leaving office plays a prominent role in the government by joining Congress (as J Q Adams did) or the Supreme Court (as Taft did). A problem is that the accumulated cubes would make that person a juggernaut unless cleared from his card.


To this list of ex-Presidents serving in political office I would add the much maligned Andrew Johnson, who after surviving impeachment (by a one vote margin) was elected to the US Senate from Tennessee (by the state legislature by a one vote margin, after some 54 ballots), before passing away some six months later, making him the only ex-President to serve in the US Senate, as JQ Adams was the only ex-President to serve in the US House of Representatives.
 
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