So my friend bought this and had a massive game with his friends into politics, history or both. They played it till 3am! (Loving the game, not that it takes too long! They started late)
From talking to him, he brought it around for me to look at, but as I'm neither into politics or history - neither of us expected to play it. But he spoke with such excitement of it I thought I'd give it a try.
And I'm glad I did. It was fun!
I've found from playing a variety of games, the content is important, but the gameplay is better (Agricola is a good example, I'd never think "Oooh I need to play a game where I'm a farmer!" yet it's very indepth and each game is different).
The game is one of strategy and whilst we played the 2 player version (which seems quite anti-republic, as they can’t go into the Lower South region) it was still interesting and I’m told played out very differently to the four player game. The question of the two starting parties is historically bound, so maybe playing with non Republic parties makes the game more even? We’ll try again one time.
Firstly I had no idea of the real events, so I wasn’t skewed to try and replicate them (a method that doesn’t generally work well I’m told). And I had the ability to place support in the Lower South as well as being free to split my support over all of America. This gave me a lot of power. Meanwhile the Republic had 8 cards to my 6, meaning he had more choice (but as he said, it all comes down to getting good cards!)
The game works by placing support either using the card number (2-4) or using the text. The text is ‘special rules’ and can be very good in certain circumstances – allowing you to generally bypass the ‘control’ a person can have over a region. (Each region has a control number, once someone meets or exceeds that number, everyone else has to pay 2 points to place one support in there – until they match the highest value players support there)
So to start it’s a ‘building support’ style game, catching the good ones and either grabbing the little ones or starting to fight over the big regions. Eg. New york is worth something like 20 small regions! You want to win that one. Yet it’s at the end of the game it counts, so it’s about planning and hoping to get good cards (or keeping the good card/s you have till the end)
The cards can interrupt, counteract and react to other players cards – adding a lot of chocie and interaction to the game. We found with two players it was obvious who you were aiming at, whilst in 3-4 player games, you need to keep an eye on everyone.
Due to a lucky card at the start I had an easy win, due to being able to double all placement of men in the Lower South (which he couldn’t contest!) So I secured a large number of votes with the minimum. The it was down to grabbing the small regions (which we both did) and then having some luck and skill in ousting all the big regions from his control. Final score was something like 220:60.
It was quick to play with two as the choice of targets was easy, otherwise you spend a lot of time thinking over strategies, to affect someone else without losing control yourself. The cards can really work well in certain circumstances, so luck with cards and timing help or hinder.
But over all, from a non political background or interest, I found it a good game. Like they say, Politics is a battlefield for peace. So send in your armies (support) and take those regions to be the winner at the end of 5 turns (or 25 rounds!)
I’d recommend the game and we’re already trying to get another 2 player game (reversing roles) and more than 2 players.