The Holidays. Some gaming. That new movie, The Post, was just released, prompting a desire to play something political...
... well, there are a few beloved choices from the past: Landslide (played that a bazillion times growing up) and Road to the White House (an old First Minnesota Historical Wargame Society favorite) spring to mind. Had a smart-as-a-whip and full-of-fun-non-gamer-friend say "Let's play one of your games". What to play? Schleped it over The Complete Strategist in midtown NYC and scoured the shelves. There was 1960...hmmm...
I remembered playing that once back when it was released at WAM in 2008. We had a tourney. Well received by the WBC card sharks. I thought it wasn't bad, but, didn't grab me - despite playing with Scenario Boy (who is great gamer and a hoot to play with).
Gave the purchase some further thought..."Yeah, that might fit the bill". Secured a copy. Read the rules. Watched the videos. Began to set it up...
WAM 2008 (WBC's Winter Activation Meeting) first 1960 tourney. More reports here: https://boardgamers.org/history_minicons.html
Shark Tested: WBC 2008...left to right...Dr, MeCay, The Finnish Dragon Riku, Mr.Byrd, DA MASTER
A bit about the game...
I love power politics games. Always have been a big fan of SPI Power Politics series. Been on a The Plot to Assassinate Hitler kick lately Power Politics, Dunnigan, A Plot and a Damm Fun Time: 1st MN Gives The Plot to Assassinate Hitler a Go: Nov 3, 2017: BIG Thumbs Up! . And, really enjoyed Labyrinth: The War on Terror, 2001 – ? , AAR here: Springtime LAB: 1st MN Gives Labyrinth a Toss on Tax Day: The Cities...The Source....April 15, 2016 . Both are meaty - in different ways - and contain a decent amount of flavor. I've always been a BIG critic of wargames that do NOT have depth, flavor and lack a significant political component.
1960 is NOT a power politics game; it lacks a military component. It plays like a wargame (this is good)...and sort like a power politics game (this is good) More on both latter. It is also not a heavy game (egads!) and does not contain much glorious chrome (WTF?!). And, sadly, no dice (or spinner for that matter)! Normally, I'd run away. But...
1960 is one WELL DESIGNED game. Damm smart design. And chaotic. And fun. Basically, it is card driven (play the cards for the event or use the card value to perform one of three game actions) and area control game (drop a cube in an area to control it). And, there are some innovations here (despite the card driven wargame genre just beginning its mid life crisis about then) including;
1) Compensating for the variability in quality of hands players get from a single deck by the use of "rest cubes"
2) Support checks impacted by strength of existing opponents support and location of enemy candidate
3) A number of juicy screw your neighbor cards (love the Gaffe card, the sorry-mate-you-can't-do-jack sh*t-in-that-region and numerous other booooofs)
1960 simulates a few of the major dynamics of a presidential race VERY elegantly. For example, the mechanic for advertising is fabulous: hold the edge in ad spending in a region? you get to avoid support checks when placing in that region. I could see a designer over designing the advertising mechanic. Not these guys. Same with issues or endorsements; simple and works well.
It's a Card Driven Game
Dice? NO! WHAT DA HELL? Games without dice suck! (yes, chess is a stupid, silly game...no chaos or random element - essentially the non-reality based world that perfect planners and the demented dwell in). However, 1960 does employs a bag containing each players' cubes (sort of like Wallenstein (second edition) tower of chaos mechanic). The cubes are fed by the cards; the worse the card, the more cubs that are deposited into the bag (a nifty mechanism to deal with a single play deck and a desire to keep the game close). Need to resolve something? Draw from "the bag of sorrows".
Issues? A cool little track that provides benefits in the form of momentum chits and endorsements.
Debates? A ok game mechanic. One of my very few criticisms of the game is that there should have been a few more levers/dials for the players regarding the debate mechanic.
Final determination of who wins each state? Very cool mechanic involving players being able to determine which four states they can make surprise support checks in. We've had a couple of games determined by the final pull from a bag of cubes the victor: great drama
You win the game by winning a majority of electoral votes cast. You gain votes by winning a state (having your cubes there). 1960 uses a simple cube placement mechanism to determine state control which anyone will quickly get the hang of.
The heart of the game, the cards, are OUTSTANDING! They are varied in effects (haven't got bored with them yet after 6 full games) and simulate (very well) various dynamics and events in the actual campaign. And there is a wonderful dose of screw your opponent cards (MUCH rejoicing) as mentioned above.
Anyways, on to one of the six games we manically played over the holidays...
The package: a good looking game that someone gave their love to...
Pimp it out: Chips!
Pimp it out: Candidates! Just ordered some of these
Early Game: Kennedy Gains an Edge
Eat and drink like it's 1960
Turn 1. Nixon struck first blood by subtracting support cubes from Kennedy in the South. Kennedy responded in kind in Dixie. Nixon then put a hurt on Kennedy in the Midwest, while Kennedy dropped 5 cubes in the heartland in response. The turn ended with Nixon making an a successful ad spend (received 2 cubes for pulling 4 from "the bag of sorrows" ) ,while Kennedy dumpster dove and only grabbed a bunch of stinky dead fish. Disgusted, Kennedy dropped a few cubes on the issues.
Turn edge. NIXON.
Kennedy began the Turn 2 with a big push in the east. Nixon somewhat successfully parried. Kennedy then hit pay dirt with a card that allows placement of 7 cubes (cards range in value from 2 to 4). Nixon responded with a play of 5 Cps (Campaign Points), somewhat muting Kennedy's windfall. A little more battling in the east and another Kennedy episode with the bag of sorrow: skunked again. Turn ended with a tussle on the issues breaking Nixon's way.
Turn edge: Kennedy.
Kennedy began the Turn 3 with the play of Hostile Press; Nixon would be prevented from conducting support checks (meaning he could not remove any Kennedy cubes in states Kennedy was carrying or in). Very powerful card. Nixon responded with a play for Texas. The turn proceeded with a fight in the midwest, Nixon grabbing a position on most of the issues and Kennedy conducting a relatively successful ad spend.
Turn edge: Kennedy. We counted votes at that point: Kennedy 305. Kennedy also had 2 media cubes, 1 momentum and 1 endorsement vs Nixon 1 endorsement. The donkeys were pleased at that point.
Mid Game: Nixon's Revenge
Gaffe by Kennedy
Turn 4: One of the cool things in a card driven game is when your opponent poops out of turn: misplays a card. A good laugh and some trash talking results. Turn 4, Nixon misplayed the Gaffe card.
After a "take back", Nixon began the turn with 5th Ave Compact, which weakened Kennedy's NY position. Kennedy responded by pushing up support in PA to 4. Both candidates then invested in issues. Nixon then went on a successful ad spend, gaining 2 media cubes. Nixon subsequently used the newly acquired media cubes to wipe out Kennedy's position in NY and PA. Kennedy fidgeted in his chair: his dominating lead in the game was quickly evaporating...
Kennedy ended the turn with 3 MO chits, 3 ED (endorsements) ... Nixon held 1 Media Cube and 1 ED.
Turn 4: Nixon
Turns 5 & 6 witnessed a further slide in Kennedy's victory chances as Nixon gained steadily. Turn 5 was a real debacle for Kennedy as Nixon began with the Eisenhower card followed by 21 CPs for campaigning - swamping Kennedy in the Midwest and South. I believe at some point Kennedy was restricted from campaigning in one region. As Kennedy attempted to campaign there, Nixon said, "You're restricted in that region. In fact, if you want to fart, you have to get on a plane, fly out, fart and fly back in!".
The turn ended with an exchange on the issues that favored Tricky Dick. By the time the dust settled, Kennedy held only 232 electoral votes.
Turn 5 & 6 edge: Heavily Nixon.
Nixon is pleased; he thinks he should have this in the bag
Kennedy scores a zinger in the debate...
Late Game: Further Slide and then a Comeback
Turn 7 witnessed fierce fighting over NY. When the dust settled, NY was still Nixon. Kennedy did significantly win the issues - attempting to secure an edge in "the strategic bombing/sub warfare" component of 1960 (that's what the media cubes provide). The turn ended with Kennedy having 3 MO chits and 5 Endorsements. Nixon held 1 media chit. Kennedy checked the electoral count and confirmed his worst fears: Kennedy 189. John F. said a prayer, muttered something, shuffled cards and hoped for the best.
Turn 7: Edge Nixon
Turn 8, Kennedy caught a break, won initiative and forced Nixon to move first (moving last on the final turn has been a significant advantage in our half a dozen games). Nixon spent a few CPs campaigning, with Kennedy secured PA. Nixon then solidified NY, while Kennedy grabbed CA in a bold move. Nixon then attacked in PA, reducing Kennedy to 1 cube. Kennedy responded with a quick trip to the Midwest. Nixon then attacked in PA. Kennedy successfully defended. We then had a rules question and some good natured smack talk. Highlight of which was Nixon saying, "If that was the interpretation last time this came up, that's the interpretation this f*cking time". Great to hear that from a about to be newly minted strategy gamer
The turn ended with Nixon flying to CA and repairing his position (now 1 cube) and Kennedy making war in the south: he removed Nixon single cubes in all Nixon leaning states. Given Kennedy's endorsements in the region, that would now toss those states to Kennedy. Hopefully! At that point, it was time for turn 9: the count...
THE COUNT: Kennedy made support checks in PA, NC, MO, AL. 12 cubes drawn from "the bag of sorrows"... only 1 Kennedy cube. If he would have had a lighter at that point, "the bag of sorrows" would have been lit on fire. Nixon did no better with support checks in MI, CT, CA and TX, drawing 2 Nixon cubes in 12 tries. We then resolved an election event in IL. Kennedy would need 4 cubes out of 5 drawn. The first one was Nixon...he would need to go 4 for 4. We revealed 1 at a time...all Kennedy! Damm, the electoral count was going to be close. Could Kennedy manage the epic comeback?
Nah...final count: Nixon 284, Kennedy 253. At that point, the newly minted strategy gamer tossed hands up the air: , and, with that, a strategy gamer was born .
If Kennedy could have drawn a chit 1 chit out of 3 in MO and AL, he would have won. 2 cubes from "the bag of sorrows" ...close, but no cigar.
At that point, a bottle of port was cracked...
Debrief: Two Big Thumbs Up and a Bottle of Port
For some reason, I've never got the Twilight Struggle bug. Playtested (playtest kit still in the game closet!) at the inaugural OUTER BANKS CON , after first meeting Jason out front of the ice cooler wargamer room at AvalonCon (DONCON). He and Ananda had a prototype of TS set up. Great guys. I think Ananda had written an article in GMT's C3i regarding Paths of Glory , so, he immediately had street cred and my gaming respect. Anyways, I gave their game a go, but, it just didn't grab me (despite having a tank counter!). Fast forward a decade plus...
DAMM!, did have I (we) have a blast with 1960. FUN game! Played 6 in the last few days; all have been different and tense (except for one blow out, but, we still enjoyed it). Love how the board position can QUICKLY change; the counter play between defending or attacking, and, especially, how "the front lines" constantly shift. There is a war-game in here!
1960 does what I want a game to do: generate decision angst (much), produce a compelling storyline and create drama all within a fluid and chaotic situation that provides players with enough dials and levers to provide the illusion that you can work a plan. It does that using VERY elegant design mechanics: a real efficiency of "play pop" relative to amount of rules and game components.
My usual criticisms of not enough flavor (there can NEVER be enough chrome, can there?) and not enough depth (still most enjoy the 8 to 20 hour game length) fell by the wayside with this gem. Hats off to the designers: great job!. And, thank you for converting another pilgrim into our fantastic hobby.
Two thumbs up and a bottle of fine port
Link to other 1st MN/Sawatdee/Herr Dr AARs: 1st MN/Sawatdee/Herr Dr Session Reports]
- Last edited Fri Jan 19, 2018 12:50 am (Total Number of Edits: 10)
- Posted Wed Jan 3, 2018 7:05 pm
Print and Play Gamer
I have the older version of this game. Bought for the wife and I to play. We played it once, the wife liked it, but we never ended up playing again. Later, I ended up scavenging the blue and red cubes for a playtest game, and 1960 has never seen the light of day since, and the cubes are still missing!!
I need to play this again.
Oh, the dynamic duo have another game coming out soon....Imperial Struggle
- Last edited Fri Jan 5, 2018 1:08 pm (Total Number of Edits: 2)
- Posted Fri Jan 5, 2018 1:07 pm
This is a great write-up. I intend to go through more thoroughly later. I recently purchased the new GMT edition and have not played it yet.
Where were th chips and the models from?! I love this game and would love to bling it up!
I just stole those images from the gallery. However, I did just find the models on eBay: "Marx" presidential figures...and quickly ordered. Poker chips? Those could be relatively easily made.
- Last edited Fri Jan 5, 2018 11:33 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Fri Jan 5, 2018 11:31 pm
There's a thread on here somewhere about how to do custom poker chips like that for any game. In involves printing on glossy stock, buying a circle cutter, and spray adhesive to poker chip blanks that they sell.
I really loved this presentation and really dig the pedigree concept. I wonder in identifying the first wave of "power politics" games why Republic of Rome and possibly Kremlin do not make the cut? Secondarily, the Political Capital Bag or "Bag of Sorrows" if you prefer has a precedent that I failed to mention in my original email. There is a very clever three player Euro called The End of the Triumvirate, it used a bag mechanism for combat resolution, and we adapted the concept from there.
Thanks for feedback, Jason. Republic is in there (the newer cover probably tricked you). Kremlin? Hmmm...I've thought the power politics games should have a blend of military, politics and other elements (statecraft, wet works, etc). I can't remember a military mechanic in Kremlin, but, I never played it much. Maybe Junta should be in the mix, but, I haven't played that ever for some strange reason.
Man I sure wish WAM was still around. Right when I decided I was going to go to the next one, it got cancelled.
love the Gaffe card
Me too. I think it's a combo of "gaffe" being a very evocative and thematic word as well as an inherently funny word, and the still-image photo of Kennedy they picked - the way it's probably from an innocuous situation but timed perfectly to make him look doofusy, is exactly the sort of thing you'd see in a negative campaign ad.
- Last edited Mon Jan 8, 2018 9:31 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Mon Jan 8, 2018 9:30 pm