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1960: The Making of the President» Forums » Strategy

Subject: Is Nixon easier to play than Kennedy? rss

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Kalvin McBride
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I've been going through the rules and trying to make sure that I've been playing correctly but I still come up with the fact that Nixon has won every game I've played. Kennedy won the first game but both me and my opponent made several mistakes so I really can't count that one win.

The reason I bring this up is because I own several games and I've started to get my 11 yr old son to play and even my 9 yr old daughter, but the most important person, my wife, has always been hesitant to play. I've never pushed her but when I asked her one day if she wanted to play she admitted that my games seemed to be too complicated, too confusing for her. They seemed to take a long time and effort and with a 3 yr old child, time and energy are scarce. Again, I know she's intelligent enough to play but I can't force her to so I left it alone.

One day, she surprised me by asking if I could explain 1960: The Making of the President to her. She's been following the current political situation and she knew that I had 1960 so I got it out and did my best to explain the rules. I explained about the campaign points and issue positions. I explained about carrying states and rest cubes and support checks and the debates and the final election and towards the end of several minutes, I could see her start to grow impatient so we agreed to just play, just to give her an opportunity to learn and ask questions as we went.

This seemed to be the 'gateway game' my wife chose. She enjoyed it. She loved the decisions involved. She loved carrying a state and loved watching me suffer through support checks. She had the anguish of watching me force California to a recount and reclaim Nixon's home state. She had fun. So we played it again. And again.

But the problem we're running into is that Nixon has won every time. She's been reluctant to play Nixon because she enjoys playing against him as a candidate and has grown some allegiance to Kennedy. What I fear is that the unbalanced number of wins is starting to take its toll. I've taken the game and played it against another member of these forums and Nixon has continued to win. (Granted, I feel the total number of games played is 6 or 7 so it's not a lot but it's enough to notice) I don't want to lose this opportunity and have my wife leave with a negative impression of this game.

So, I feel that maybe my interpretation of the rules might be the root of the problem so I've got some questions that I hope someone can answer.

1) Can you have an infinite number of media cubes in advertising in one region? Usually, the east and mid-west are the two most fought after regions and it's important to break any state that's carried. Until now, we played that you could only have one cube in media, but upon re-reading the rules you can have more than one. With this realization, can you stack more than 4 in one region? Is there a rule to how many you can have?

2) Nixon has at least three cards ("Henry Cabot Lodge", "Herb Klein" and "Martin Luther King Arrested") where he can add 2 to 3 issue support. With "Republican TV Spots" he can add 3 media support. These cards are so important that the Kennedy player has to groan when they hit the table. With issue support and the possibility of getting potential endorsements and momentum with only one cube degrading after the end of the round, this just feels so powerful. At first, I was hoping that the cards granted possibly 3 POINTS (as in 1 point for the first cube and 2 points for the second cube) but that isn't correct. The "Henry Cabot Lodge" card grants 2 issue support in one issue and that wouldn't be possible as POINTS. My question is could I just be over sensitive to the power of these cards?

This is my first post to the forums and it's obviously important for me to understand what I can do to keep this game coming to the table. I don't want to limit my play against my wife because she'd see it. I don't want to ask her to play as Nixon just so she can win.


So, are there tips to help Kennedy even the odds? Is there any advice for a man who loves his wife and doesn't want to let this opportunity slip away?

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Stephen Sanders
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I'd have to look at the Kennedy cards again. But, I do think that Nixon is winning more than Kennedy in the few games I have played. The games have been close and well fought.
 
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Tim Thorp
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I don't know what to tell you. I've played 3 games as Kennedy and won all 3.
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Kalvin McBride
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I truly appreciate the quick responses so it might be a matter of strategy where Kennedy needs to give more attention to issues or to balance out the West early to eliminate the ‘Gathering Momentum in the West’ card. It could also be the timing of the cards and when they appear, too.

Tim, when you played did you move Kennedy out of the East early to help in the south/west or did you shore up and try to carry New York and Pennsylvania? Mind you, I’m open to strategy as well.
 
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Seth
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Even though Kennedy wins the most games I've played, I did a poll the other day and that suggested that Nixon was the man. I think that the Kennedy player just has to play different from Nixon. Nixon is stronger in Issues, and Kennedy stronger in The States, knowing that and looking at the cards, you might want to ask yourself (as the Kennedy player): am I going to attack my enemies strongest point, or exploit my own? Make that decision and stick with it (as your mainstream strategy) Another problem I see here is the over use of media. Carried States can be broken easily in this game, with the use of Events. No need for those pesky Support Checks. Did you realise that? Events don't need Support Checks in Carried States or states occupied by the Opponents Candidate? It happens more often than not that this is overlooked. If so: that does make Kennedy very weak indeed.

As for your rules questions: Media is unlimited. And yes, I think you are oversensitive. The Kennedy player does not have to focus on ALL the issues, media support in the East combined with a surprise but sturdy attack on either the Defence or Civil Rights issues early in the game, will give the Nixon player plenty of headaches (just study the cards).

Cheers,

Logan
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Kalvin McBride
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I agree that events are the best way to break carried states. As Kennedy, I love to mess with California that way.

I also agree that Nixon is stronger on issues and I believe that Kennedy can/must clean up in the debates with the +1 point value of the Bobby Kennedy card (I believe) and "Nixon's Lazy Shave" which is a brutal card against Nixon.


So, by speaking with people who have won with Kennedy (and I hope I don't sound foolish by asking for advice) is it a good strategy to head west and take some states to minimize the "Gathering Momentum in the West" card? It just feels to be too big a risk versus so little reward. I always wanted to try it but never had the guts. As Kennedy, I wanted to shore up the east coast and work my way into the mid-west. Maybe I should mix things up.

Also, I've wondered about rules on one card, too. "Unpledged Electors" states that if Kennedy wins Alabama, Louisiana or Mississippi with less than 4 state support, these states are not awarded to either player.

I'm assuming 4 per state, not 4 total.

Again, thanks for the polite advice and quick responses.
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Tony Chen
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One game here. I was Kennedy.

I lost huge on the debates. I saved some pro-Kennedy-event cards for the debate, and still lost 2-7. I didn't draw any of the pro-Kennedy debate event cards until after the debate. I still won the game.

Winning issues, and the momentum markers and endorsements that come with it, are important. I was able to win many tied states with endorsements. I also took over a Nixon-carried California by investing in advertisement there.

But of course these strategies apply to both sides, and my opponent put just as much emphasis on them as I did, so maybe it was just luck. I got some good event cards on the last round. And even if it wasn't luck, these strategies can be used by Nixon as well, so they don't really tip things over to Kennedy's side.

However, one thing I did value more than Nixon was endorsements. I don't know, maybe Kennedy can make use of endorsements better than Nixon?
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Joe Rickard
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In my opinion the West isn't worthwhile to Kennedy. I usually try and bump up my support in the big states in the NE and then either move to the South or Midwest depending on how the game is progressing.

The only state worth fighting for in the West IMHO is CA and usually I wait for the debates to try and steal that from Nixon. I do agree that it's fairly important for Kennedy to come out ahead in the debates. Hopefully at that point he is in the NE trying to steal NY from me and it will cost him a lot to get back to CA. Obviously the cards that are remaining in those last few rounds will make a huge difference on weather or not Nixon will be able to save CA.

If you can prevent the Gathering Momentum in the West Card from being played and you have an endorsement in the west you can usually pick up a few easy votes but other than that I don't think the west is worth Kennedy's time.

I really need to play this game soon it's been awhile.
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Tony Chen
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My only west state was CA I think when I won with Kennedy.
 
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Ingo Griebsch
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Hi,

my girlfriend wins every game, regardless which side she plays. cry
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Tim Thorp
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Quote:
Tim, when you played did you move Kennedy out of the East early to help in the south/west or did you shore up and try to carry New York and Pennsylvania? Mind you, I’m open to strategy as well.


I like to control the Northeast, as well as work the Issues track. Otherwise, I'd try to be where my opponent wasn't (if he was in the South, I'd go to the Midwest and West, etc.) Bear in mind, I've only played 3 games, so it probably won't work too well against a more experienced player.
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Chris Martin
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Here are a couple of pointers from my experience. I find that the game is quite even and depends mostly on the quality of the play, not on the side - though I do detect a slight advantage to Kennedy in the margins of victory.


1) You HAVE to manage your CPs carefully

If you start wasting CPs then, ceteris paribus, you will lose. Simple as. You have limited resources and you must manage them very carefully. This has a number of consequences.

2) Don't bother trying to carry states

To get all of the votes for a given state, you only need to win by one cube - hell, you only need to win by having the edge there. As such, putting four cubes in any states other than, say, the top half dozen, is just wasting precious CPs. At the end of the game you can consider yourself to have played well if you have one cube in every one of your states, because you have been as efficient as you could have been.

3) Don't travel

Travelling is another excellent way of wasting CPs. Every CP you spend moving to another region is a CP you've not spent on the states or the issues, and over time this adds up. In particular, Kennedy should never go to the West unless he has Ken Air or Advance Men, and he should ideally try to return to one of the other regions using that free movement. [And the only states worth stealing in the West are California (for obvious reasons), and Hawaii and Alaska (for Fifty Stars).] The cards in 1960 are powerful enough that you don't need to move much.

4) Don't advertise

Now that you're not trying to carry many states, why would you bother? In addition, whereas every CP played to the states or to the issues counts, about half of your advertising CPs will be "wasted" on your opponent's cubes (inverted commas because I recognise that you're removing opposition cubes from the bag, but the point that you're not using them directly remains). The time to get advertising cubes is the turn in which you have both World Series Ends and Prime-Time Television in your hand.

5) Work out when to play your opponent's cards

This is a more general CDG point and playing other games such as Twilight Struggle will help with this too. The idea is that lots of your opponent's cards can be played at a time when they are irrelevant to the opponent. As a side-point, yes, some cards like Henry Cabot Lodge are unambiguously good, but Kennedy has plenty of good cards - in my opinion Catholic Support is at least one of the most powerful cards in the deck, whereas Nixon has some false friends like the near-useless Heartland of America. (Near-useless because Kennedy would be a fool to attack the tiny Western states even without that card.)

6) Learn the deck

This really isn't as difficult as it sounds, and no doubt you are already at least most of the way there. Just make sure you put this knowledge into practice in the way you play. For example, as Nixon, don't make a serious play for Illinois unless you know for certain that Late Returns From Cook County won't get played.

7) Don't sweat the debates (pun intended)

A complete whitewash in the debates will give your opponent nine cubes, a result which he will likely have had to spend five good cards to ensure. Catholic Support, for example, will give you seven cubes for just one card. So, feel free to laugh and bury your opponent's juiciest events on the debates, because even if you lose the debates it will hurt but not kill you.


Seven will do, for now at least. Hopefully these hints will help you see more blue victories - and after all, isn't that what we all want?
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Chris Linneman
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I think the game is well-balanced and good play will overwhelm any imbalance in the game most of the time. That said, I've always found Kennedy to be easier to play for a couple reasons:

1) Starting in the East ensures Kennedy has to spend 1 less CP on travelling than Nixon, since he would be foolish to fly to the West (without Ken-Air)

2) Kennedy starts with an advantage in the South and can easily gain support in the East. This makes 2 out of 4 Gathering Momentum cards favour Kennedy. And the one for the West doesn't help Nixon much since he defaults to most of those states anyway and Kennedy won't bother campaigning there.

3) Kennedy's default states (the ones printed blue on the map) are better than Nixon's. This means it behooves Nixon to play into the issues, as endorsements help him more than they do Kennedy. More cards played into the issues mean less cubes on the board.

4) There are two debate cards that hurt Nixon, and none that hurt Kennedy

The cards themselves I find to be extremely well-balanced. Without a doubt I would say Henry Cabot Lodge is the best card in the deck (Nixon) but Kennedy has lots of good cards too--I'm thinking mostly of the ones that allow the placement of 5-7 support.

I disagree with the poster above who thinks you shouldn't bother carrying states. I place 5 cubes in states with 20+ votes when I am there. This is because once I carry a state, it is inefficient for my opponent to campaign there (without advertising). One of my first actions with Nixon is usually to place media in the East because of the event cards (World Series Ends and one other one I can't recall) and because Kennedy will almost automatically move to carry NY and PA. And if Kennedy doesn't respond, I will ignore support checks and get to adjust issue placement for the remainder of the game. I place 5 cubes (not 4) because of the plethora of events that say "place 5 cubes, no more than 1 per state" that easily break carried states. Try 5 cubes in NY and PA as Kennedy to open the game, respond to any Nixon play to get media in the East, and respond to any events that break them. If you can win NY and PA for just 10 CP (rare; you will need to also spend CP on advertising or play events to keep them--but still it will be close to 10) that is a huge boon and a big advantage to playing Kennedy.

The big states are so important (another reason Late Returns in Cook County is an awesome event for Kennedy). You can't afford to let 3 support checks take even Michigan from you on Election day. It is worth 20. That is a swing of 40 votes. Don't let your opponent take that from you for one card on E-day, unless you are taking something like Texas in return.

You asked about placing multiple media cubes in one region. There is no upper limit, but also no advantage to "carrying" advertising. You might want a couple cubes in the East for insurance due to NY and PA and the World Series Ends card, but don't overdo it.

If you have Zun Tzu, I would be happy to play you an online game. Geekmail me if you're interested.
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Chris Martin
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QBert80 wrote:
I disagree with the poster above who thinks you shouldn't bother carrying states. I place 5 cubes in states with 20+ votes when I am there. This is because once I carry a state, it is inefficient for my opponent to campaign there (without advertising). One of my first actions with Nixon is usually to place media in the East because of the event cards (World Series Ends and one other one I can't recall) and because Kennedy will almost automatically move to carry NY and PA. And if Kennedy doesn't respond, I will ignore support checks and get to adjust issue placement for the remainder of the game. I place 5 cubes (not 4) because of the plethora of events that say "place 5 cubes, no more than 1 per state" that easily break carried states. Try 5 cubes in NY and PA as Kennedy to open the game, respond to any Nixon play to get media in the East, and respond to any events that break them. If you can win NY and PA for just 10 CP

I've not seen anyone try placing 5CP in NY but I still suspect that the event cards - hugely overpowered relative to the other CDGs - would soon swing almost any 5CP'd state back into contention. It'd be interesting to see it played though and I may well give it a go next time I play as Kennedy.
 
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Rob Bradley
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I have found a sound Kennedy tactic that frustrates your opponent when you can pull it off. It must be done fairly early as it relies on bluffing that YOU have the gaining momentum in the west card.

Wait until Nixon is in the EAST
Travel to and campaign in the midwest
Next phase travel to and campaign in a couple western states to take control from Nixon so you have the edge in western states.
The Nixon player will think he/she is clever and quickly travel back to the west (2 CP's travel cost) to try to regain the advantage.
Watch the look on his face as you play your phase 5 card ad it is NOT gaining momentum inthe west.
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Kalvin McBride
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The support shown by the people on this site is astounding. I can't express how good it makes me feel to see gamers come together and help someone who's asked for help.

Knowing the cards is so important but the problem that we faced was the fact that my wife was new to games. Explaining the rules to her was enough and I felt that asking her to study the cards, to see which ones were really powerful and how a strategy could be formed was too much. Hell, I was just happy she wanted to play.

After watching our last game, I came to the forums and read some of the advice and ended up passing some along to my wife. She always felt that the big states were the key to winning the game. After talking to her about it, the cards nullify any carried state. They're too numerous to ignore. If carried states are a concern, the cards allow the opposing player to take away that fourth cube, allowing them to come in and steal control with a four CP card. The advice about efficiency and advertisement is great.

Now, I haven't played against her since we've read these forums but I secretly hope that the next time this hits the table, she beats me.


Thanks to everyone who gave advice. Great early advice from Seth and thoughtful, well meaning advice from Chris Martin, Joe Rickard and Chris Linneman. I've read a lot of things on the Geek and I smiled to see Tim Thorp drop in, too.

And, Rob... my wife would kill me if I tried that tactic against her.
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Kalvin McBride
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I didn't think more than four cubes could be placed in a state. After checking the rules, I was wrong again. A carried state is any state with At Least four cubes from one candidate.

 
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Greg Schmittgens
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Thoughts on some of the 1960 cards:

Best ‘what-just-happened’ card – Tricky Dick (“I thought I discarded that card?!?”)

Close second ‘what-just-happened’ card - Swing State (“The new polls are out. You’re not gonna believe this. . .”)

Best ‘screw-with-the-other-guy’ card – Congressional Summer Session (“No, I expect you to crawl, Mr. Kennedy”)

Best two card combination – Jackie Kennedy and Joe Kennedy (“No more events for you!!”)

Best Dirty Harry card – High Hopes (“Well, do ya, punk?”)

Best card I’ve never seen played as an Event – Gallup Poll (“I’d rather fight over the issues as they are”)

Best safety valve card – Kennedy’s Peace Corps (“Suddenly my hand full of elephants doesn’t seem so bad”)

Which begs the question: How often do you play cards to mess with the other guy? Some cards are just too good to let pass (e.g. Congressional Summer Session, which could cost up to 10 CPs). But is it worth 6 CPs and two card plays to hamstring Nixon's event options with the Jackie/Joe duo. I know one of my regular opponents wouldn't hesitate. Anytime he can play a 'screw with the other guy' card, he will. (In Here I Stand, he played a mess-with-the-Ottomans card, even though they were in fourth place.)

I'm wondering what the group thinks, generally? Play negative events or play the CPs? (Fully expect the answer 'Sometimes').
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Chris Martin
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GS in KS wrote:
Best card I’ve never seen played as an Event – Gallup Poll (“I’d rather fight over the issues as they are”)

I've played it as an event card, when my opponent had built up a huge lead in the number one issue and I marginally controlled the second and third. Muahahaha. devil

GS in KS wrote:
I'm wondering what the group thinks, generally? Play negative events or play the CPs? (Fully expect the answer 'Sometimes').

Play negative events. 1960's cards are hugely powerful.
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Chris Martin
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Kalvin wrote:
... thoughtful, well meaning advice from Chris Martin ...

Nice to be appreciated!
 
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I have played Nixon all four times and have experienced first hand the moves that give me serious headaches and what doesn't work.

1. Don't worry about the Western states. The points aren't worth it and Nixon is sure to pick them up with the Gathering Momentum card if he is lucky. In all four games, I (Nixon) received this card or activated it with momentum markers. One blunder a Kennedy player made was going after Alaska and Haiwaii in order to get the Fifty States event. First, I already had cubes on these states and second he wasted four valuable turns getting there, getting rid of me with Nixon's Knee because I was in Alaska, snatching up both states, and playing the Fifty States card.

During the last turn if you have the points to do it and/or have lined up cards to do support checks in the election, I would make a dash for California. It is a gamble and should only be taken if you are pretty solid in the East, Mid-west, and South.

2. Issues, Issues, and more Issues. Don't let Nixon rack up the endorsements and momentum markers and get all of these goodies at every opportunity. Fight him hard and try to get ahead on these issues to pick up Momentum Markers and Endorsements. Kennedy has some awesome event cards that can tip the balance in his favor if he can play them or activate them. I have felt the pain of Ken Air, Peace Corps, and Jackie Kennedy in one turn. It was a massacre for me.

3. Don't get too cocky with the South. Nixon has some very powerful cards that can overtun your dominance in this critical area. I remember one game where I was able to snatch up the entire South through the play of an event card, putting down four points, and playing a Gathering Momentum card. By the time the game ended, the entire South except for Alabama was entirely red. (Alabama didn't matter because of the Unpledged Electors Card.)

Hope these tips help your wife and President Kennedy in the next match. Even though I am staunch Democrat myself, it is just too much fun playing Nixon and using every kind of communist and red-baiting insult in the book to get at my opponent. Because every Republican knows whose side the Democratic party and CNN really are on. devil

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Ralph T
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Well, from game day results, Nixon wins more often, and my theory is that two of Kennedy's events go to helping in debates, but the debates are woefully underpowered, so much so that the 4 CP debate card (Harvard brain trust) is better played as 4 CP than an event. Some house rules which increase/double the CP value of the debates might be a way to equalize the game.
 
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Chris Montgomery
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I know this thread is a little old, but I've just started playing 1960. In both of my games (played by newbs), Nixon won.

The last game was close, though, and Kennedy's last campaign card, had it flipped New York, he would have won the game--instead, he drew three Nixon cubes (he needed two Kennedy). After that, the Nixon player (not me) had recount, and took California anyway. Still have yet to see Kennedy win, but the second game (where I was Kennedy) was closer than the first (where I played Nixon).

My biggest frustration in the game is the cards that time after time, favor Nixon on the issues--the issues are HUGE--because they give endorsements, and endorsements win unflagged states (and momentum, but that's not as important).

So, I know I only have two plays, but maybe with newer players, Nixon has the edge, until one figures out how to play Kennedy.

Chris
 
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Robert Eng
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QBert80 wrote:

If you have Zun Tzu, I would be happy to play you an online game. Geekmail me if you're interested.

If you don't want to deal with Zun Tzu, we have the game at GameTable Online.
 
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Adam Ruzzo
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I won with Kennedy today by only 7 EV (if i recall correctly). My opponenet had staked 7 or 8 support in NY, so i wrote it off and concentrated on the other 20+ states in the east and midwest. Wound up taking PA by a hair (one cube!) and stole CA from nixon with an "early returns from the east" as well as a CA campaign card.

Stole WA with a campaign card too, was a big big flip for me on election day. I would have been destroyed by probably 100 EVs if it wasn't for the flips on election day
 
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