Stuart PlattUnited Kingdom
After only one play since purchase some 2 years ago, it was with great pleasure that I got to re-ennact Nixon vs Kennedy at Board Silly in Leamington this week.
1960: The Making of the President is a 2 player strategic war game that puts you in control of either 'Tricky' Richard Nixon, or 'JFK, John F. Kennedy as you re-run the tight and fiercely fought electoral campaign of 1960. History tells us that JFK was ultimately successful winning by less than 0.2%. Would Kennedy win tonight or, under my wily guidance, would Nixon pull off the upset?
1960 has a similar feel to the immensely popular Twilight Struggle - in that it is a card driven, area control board game with a war-game aesthetic. The cards that power the game are played alternately for either Campaign Points (that allow you to directly influence the various red to blue swingometers - the voters on the ground floor, the media or take the lead on election issues) or for the Event. These events are taken directly from history and will benefit either Nixon or Kennedy. As cards are drawn from a communal deck each round, you are as likely to be playing cards that would benefit your opponent. So you simply don't play their cards for the event right? Well yes, but Momentum chips can be played by either player to activate that event regardless. So there's the trick - you HAVE to play this card at some point in the turn, so can I get my opponent to spend their chip on a weaker event so that they can't activate another later in the round? Or do I just bite the bullet and play 2 of my Momentum chips to prevent my opponent from triggering... But then that puts me short when they play an awesome event for me... And so it goes. This mechanism is very entertaining, and keeps you engaged in the play at all times.
The components are great. The large wooden cubes to show how the electorate of a particular state are swinging at any time make it abundantly clear who is winning and where. The large, full colour map (complete with awesome coffee cup and pencil) is attractive and well designed - nicely augmented by individual state tokens complete with unique emblems. The only downer is the cube bag which is merely functional. I have been spoiled by the loveliness of the Eclipse bags though...mmmmm velvety.
So on this particular night, Nixon started strongly, securing much of the mid-west and capturing some vital endorsements - that split ties in states that have not been swung one way or another come election time. This meant that I had an advantage in those regions to ensure the electorate followed their heads rather than their hearts come the end-game and give 'Tricky' their precious votes!
Though it was close, it was the debates where Kennedy cleaned up and ultimately secured his victory by the slimmest of margins. The debates round is a special mini-game of sorts where careful allocation of cards in the first 5 rounds gives you an advantage. My short-termist decisions were more like - "hmmmmm if I bank this card then my opponent can't use the event and damn the consequences!" whereas JFK chose more wisely and, despite a late red charge in the south, Kennedy got the win.
I thoroughly enjoyed my first proper game of 1960. This is a thematically rich, tactically interesting and satisfying board game that builds well to a tense and dramatic conclusion of the final vote count. I don't get to play 2-player games very often, but I will endeavor to make sure this epic political duel hits the table again soon.
1960 is a 4 GAVEL game.