Howard Posner
Australia
Brisbane
Queensland
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Decided to write this brief review, because the game seeems to have gone under the radar, with only one review, and that negative (I discount the designer's wife as a neutral reviewer, although I admire her loyalty, respect her for disclosing the information, and do not challenge her judgement).

We got the game a few weeks ago, via Kickstarter, and we are in Oz, so presumably all the kickstarter punters must have their copy by now. We have played it enough times to make a judgement, and we are still playing it, so for my group it is a hit.

The game is a recreation of the 1860 US Election, which Lincoln won in a very split field, with 3 other candidates up there getting electoral votes and muddying the waters. In brief, you are playing influence cubes on to a map of the USA circa 1860, divided into States (electoral districts), to try and win enough electoral votes to become President. You do that by playing cards, either to directly add a number of influence cubes to a State, or for their event, which has all sorts of other effects. There are 6 turns, with (usually) five cards played each turn per player from a hand of six to eight cards.

Probably the key to the game is the 'Regional Poll' card. There are quite a few of these, and when played they give you control of States, and better momentum. Until one is played you may be in the lead but someone else controls the State. When they are played the whole deck is reshuffled. I have heard complaints that they never come out, but in every game we have played at least three or four have been played, although sometimes a region can stubbornly refuse to be polled as the turns go by and all your placements there get countered by your opponents.

The game appears at first glance to play much like '1960:The Making of the President'. I've read the designer's outraged statement that his game has been in development for a decade and how dare anyone point out the similarity, but it does play like it, Alex. No problem, it's a good system, no one is accusing anyone of plagiarism, there's heaps of originality in this one, and it works. All card based boardgames with event or action point number alternatives on the cards should make a genuflection towards Mark Herman anyway.

In fact when you actually play the game it is better than 1960 ( which I also like). First it is a four player game, so there is less 'tit for tat', and more strategic thought. Secondly, and critically, the reshuffle mechanism when polls are held means that not all the cards will get played, and some may get played lots of times, which makes it pointless to card count. One of the problems with 1960 was that almost all cards get played every game so if 'Tricky Dick' hasn't been played you know it's coming. In this game, it may never come ( or in some cases it may come two or three times).

The map is divided into regions, and if you didn't know before, you will understand after playing this where the people lived and the votes were in 1860. It makes you wonder how the South thought it could possibly win a civil war ( Please don't tell me. I don't want a political debate, but the demographics are seriously skewed north and northeast and King Cotton was never quite the monarch they thought it was).

This game rattles along, with the events critical, and a nice 'keep cards' mechanism that enables you to save up the real heavy hitting events till you can set them up, maybe a turn or two later.It isn't the crap shoot we thought it was after the first play, and with four playing you really do have to decide where you will concentrate. With enough work you can 'lock' a State in for the duration, a huge advantage, but it ain't easy, and in the bigger states ends up in a slugfest that eats away too many cards.

The game runs for a couple of hours, it's tense, the events matter, and it's very playable, with a clean system and not too much chrome.The Kansas issue and the possibility of South Carolina starting the war a few years early creates lots of tension and works well, but I wonder if the other special states rules are necessary ( New Jersey, New York, the strongholds etc). I can understand the desire to get the history right but they add complication and tend to make those States less fought over.

Our only beef with the game is right at the end. This is a four candidate game, and should be played with that many players. Assuming four players, unless you are playing against the cardboard equivalents of George McGovern or Barry Goldwater your candidate ain't going to get 152 electoral votes and win outright.
Then it all goes to the House of Reps where each State gets 1 vote, and Oregon packs the same punch as New York or Ohio. The game rules seem a bit fuzzy on this with only the top three EV candidastes eligible,and the danger of a losing third or fourth place player having to become kingmaker, with no benefit to themselves. Probably politically accurate, but not competitive gamer friendly. We have experimented with all sorts of house rule alternatives, the current favourite being a joint ticket between first and third in electoral votes facing one between second and fourth, still in the House of Reps with the Vice Presidency for the lesser partner. This makes gathering those little States that don't give you many EV important, and has resulted in some House of Reps upsets over the leaders in EV.

Anyway subject to that one caveat, it's a very fun game, properly play tested (and it is so easy to pick the ones that aren't once you start playing), and I give it an 8.5.

Thanks for reading.






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Wendell
United States
Yellow Springs
Ohio
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Si non potes reperire Berolini in tabula, ludens essetis non WIF.
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hposner wrote:
The game rules seem a bit fuzzy on this with only the top three EV candidastes eligible,and the danger of a losing third or fourth place player having to become kingmaker, with no benefit to themselves. Probably politically accurate, but not competitive gamer friendly.


That is definitely politically/historically accurate. If no EV majority, the top 3 Presidential candidates are sent to the House for election. Meanwhile, the top 2 V-Presidential candidates are presented to the Senate.

Good review, I'm looking forward to trying this!
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Alex Bagosy
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Ladera Ranch
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Thank you kindly for the open, honest review. I'm most grateful. In response to one point, let me say that I do acknowledge that the game has many similarities to other systems - the OP comment was essentially that the game was 1960 with a different theme, and that I should be paying royalties or openly admitting that. While I do have a great deal of admiration for 1960, and I enjoy it quite a lot, it is neither lifted from nor a clone of that system. So, that's where the "outrage" came from, in my defense:)

Unfortunately, I'm doing what I can to promote the game, which as a first time designer is only so much. As a result, it's largely flown under the radar. Since it seems clear that the game will not be advertised, at this stage, I continue to believe that word of mouth is the best friend that Divided Republic can have, and I thank you sincerely for your honest assessment!


-Alex
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Yours Truly,
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Sol Invictus wrote:

Unfortunately, I'm doing what I can to promote the game, which as a first time designer is only so much. As a result, it's largely flown under the radar. Since it seems clear that the game will not be advertised, at this stage, I continue to believe that word of mouth is the best friend that Divided Republic can have, and I thank you sincerely for your honest assessment!


-Alex


Have you thought about doing a BGG contest and giving away a copy? Are you allowed to do that as designer or does that have to be done by the publisher? Those contests seem to be popular and give games a lot of visibility.
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Brian Boyle
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I received Divided Republic in the post about 2 weeks ago and, after a couple of games, was going to write a review in response to some of the slight negative press this game was getting.

However you have pretty much said everything I would have said and probably more eloquently than I would have done.

Its very clear that the designer has put a lot of love into this game and cares a lot about the history.

For the reason, it reminds me a little of Silverton. I respond very positively to games that come with a passion for the period/subject by the designer. As a result I am prepared to accept small aspects when accuracy takes priority over ease of gameplay.

Overall Divided Republic provides a great playing experience.

Unlike many games today - its got (a) soul.
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The Cheng Meister
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Alex Bagosy
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JohnnyDollar wrote:
Sol Invictus wrote:

Unfortunately, I'm doing what I can to promote the game, which as a first time designer is only so much. As a result, it's largely flown under the radar. Since it seems clear that the game will not be advertised, at this stage, I continue to believe that word of mouth is the best friend that Divided Republic can have, and I thank you sincerely for your honest assessment!


-Alex


Have you thought about doing a BGG contest and giving away a copy? Are you allowed to do that as designer or does that have to be done by the publisher? Those contests seem to be popular and give games a lot of visibility.


That's a good idea, and one I'm very open to. Any suggestions as to the type of contest I should attempt?

-Alex
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Yours Truly,
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Raleigh
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There must have been a moment at the beginning, where we could have said no. Somehow we missed it. Well, we'll know better next time.
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Sol Invictus wrote:
JohnnyDollar wrote:
Sol Invictus wrote:

Unfortunately, I'm doing what I can to promote the game, which as a first time designer is only so much. As a result, it's largely flown under the radar. Since it seems clear that the game will not be advertised, at this stage, I continue to believe that word of mouth is the best friend that Divided Republic can have, and I thank you sincerely for your honest assessment!


-Alex


Have you thought about doing a BGG contest and giving away a copy? Are you allowed to do that as designer or does that have to be done by the publisher? Those contests seem to be popular and give games a lot of visibility.


That's a good idea, and one I'm very open to. Any suggestions as to the type of contest I should attempt?

-Alex


I'd recommend taking a look at the "contests and promotions" module on the upper left of BGG right under the news. Usually the format is a series of questions people have to answer (some game rules-specific, in your case some historical might be appropriate), and the more correct answers the more times you are entered in the drawing. Then one or more games are given away to the winner(s) of the drawing. And everyone gets a microbadge for participating, so everyone is happy
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