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Subject: 1960: A Study in Alternate Realities rss

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Jonathan Serna
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Norman
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Sometimes it dawns on me how lucky I am in terms of the people I play games with. All of my various gaming groups are of a pretty good size, ranging from my XBox Live friends list which is almost maxed out, to my board gaming group which stands at a healthy 15-20 members, to my D&D group which is at a comfortable 4 or 5 depending on the day. This makes for a good size group whenever the mood strikes me to play a certain game as well as for a great amount of regular gaming. I don't mention all this to brag, but it does mean that certain types of games have simply passed me by, two-player games being a good example. Wherever I am playing just about any game there's always a need to try and include as many players as possible, simply because there are a lot of people I want to play with. I used to think two-player games made for an inefficient use of one's gaming time with other people. It's only been recently that I've begun to come around and start trying some two player games for myself. Battle Line was the first two-player only game that I really enjoyed and continue to play, but it's a quick game that's best played in small doses. I can see the need for a two-player gaming experience that has all the meatiness and depth of a full-on multiplayer title like Power Grid or Agricola, but specifically designed for two players in mind.

1960: The Making of the President is such a game. As the title suggests, the game is all about the 1960 presidential election between Kennedy and Nixon. The game takes place over the nine week period leading up to and including the presidential election. Players take turns using event cards to help their campaign or hinder the opponents. There are many options to use your resources on, including the basic and critical taking of states, and the more nebulously helpful advertising and the support of issues like Defense, the Economy, and Civil Rights. Cards take the form of events and groups of the era, like the Harvard Brain Trust, Faithless Electors, and Baptist Ministers. Obviously some of these events will help out Nixon, while others will assist Kennedy, and still others are beneficial to either player.

The game is all about balance and counter-balance. Every card can be used either for raw Campaign Points or for the potentially more helpful effect or event. Even when cards are burned for Campaign Points, the opponent might still be able to activate the event on the card, so care must be taken when playing any cards that might hurt you more than assist. Every action in the game is a risk vs. reward decision, especially when preparing for the special Debate and Election turns.



The game requires a much leaner style of play than you might expect. Despite the number of turns that you have available to the players, there's not a lot of room to mess around and waste actions. Thankfully the game is pretty straight forward in it's mechanics, so it's pretty easy for a first-time player to get right into the game after a brief rules overview. It's helpful to keep in mind the old saying "A good offense is the best defense" as this particularly rings true in this game. Chasing your opponent around the board trying to take back the states he's turning against you is a sure way to a ass-beating, so it's best to just play your game, and use the opportunities presented to you to make your moves and play your game.

1960: The Making of the President is a fantastic game. Calling it merely a really good two-player game simply doesn't do it justice. This is simply a really good game. The only concern I might have would be replayability, since the game is entrenched in a theme that only had one outcome, it wouldn't be plausible to make a 1960: The Revenge of Eisenhower or some such. There are plenty of Campaign Cards to make things interesting, and it would be possible to expand that pool of events to allow for different strategies and effects. This concern isn't particularly overwhelming, as this probably isn't going to a game that's going to hit the table too often. Unless you're gaming group is a more of a gaming duo, in which case you have my sympathy. Just kidding.

8/10

In the spirit of full disclosure, I played my first game as Kennedy, and ended up losing the election 276 to 261. OMG HISTORY HAS CHANGED!!!

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Jon
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Edmond
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Good review. Your opponent is obviously a brilliant tactician, to pull off such an upset.
 
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Jonathan Serna
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Norman
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SILENCE, VILLIAN!
 
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Jason Martin
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This was my favorite review so far. I have been on the fence on this one, but I think of the "CDG's" this one interests me the most.
 
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