1960: The Making of the President - Board Game Box Shot

1960: The Making of the President

| Published: 2007
74 6 2

All elections are turning points, but the presidential election of 1960 holds a special place in American history. The 1950s had been a period of unparalleled economic growth and US global power. Richard Nixon served as President Eisenhower's Vice President through most of the period. Nixon's humble origins gave him a common touch that appealed to the small town, idyllic America encompassed by the spirit of the 1950s. John F. Kennedy, was Nixon's mirror image: charming, Harvard educated and the scion of an American political dynasty. Kennedy challenged Americans to confront the uncertainties and tumult that were already emerging in 1960. He set his vision not in the past, but on new frontiers.

In 1960: The Making of the President, you take on the role of one of these great protagonists vying to lead America through an era of turbulent change. The candidates must contend with all the great issues of the day, from the Cold War to civil rights to voters' pocket books. This is an election that will turn on positioning and momentum. The contest is fought on an electoral map of the United States as it stood in 1960. Using a card-driven game system, all the major events which shaped the campaign are represented: Nixon's lazy shave, President Eisenhower's late endorsement, and the 'Catholic question' are all specific event cards. The famous televised debates are also an important component of gameplay.

As with a real election campaign, the challenge is to adapt your game plan as the ground shifts out from under you. There are never enough resources or time to do everything, but you need to make the tough calls to propel yourself into the White House. This fast-playing strategy game for two players challenges you to relive the most significant political contest of the Twentieth Century. Will you recreate history, or rewrite it? 1960: The Making of the President provides you the opportunity to do both.

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30 of 33 gamers found this helpful
“Brilliant 2 player masterpiece! Meaty and fun!”

Overview
Okay, politics and history may be a dry theme to some people, but this should not prevent you from taking a look at 1960: The Making of a President. This is a masterfully designed game for 2 players that has almost chess like qualities to some degree. The object of the game is very simple of course – win the 1960 election as players take on the role of John F. Kennedy or Richard Nixon. Will history repeat itself or will you successfully rewrite history?

Pros
Theme and history make it a richer game
Well designed
Very replayable
Rules well laid out
Great artwork

Cons
Can get kind of long sometimes
Crummy insert
Takes a few plays to really understand the game

Gameplay
The gameplay at first seems a little convoluted, but the designers did a nice job of breaking it down into turns and phases that you can keep track of on the board itself. There are 7 “normal” turns that have 7 phases to them. Then, there are two extra turns that are special called the “Debates” and “Election Day”. Players will go through 5 normal turns, do a “Debates” turn, 2 normal turns, then finally “Election Day” turn.

During a normal turn, each player will be dealt 6 cards before “Debates” and 7 cards after “Debates” and start out with two momentum markers. They will take turns playing five cards and save the remaining cards to their “campaign strategy” deck to be played on “Debates” or “Election Day”. The cards themselves provide interesting decisions. A player can either play the event on their card or use the campaign points on their card. If the player uses the event, then it is resolved immediately unless it is permanent or lasts for the round.

However, if the player decides to use the campaign points on the card, then it gets more interesting. A player can use the campaign points for either adding support cubes to a state called “campaigning” or add support cubes to a campaign issue or add support cubes to advertising. The support cubes for states helps your candidate win electoral votes, the cubes for issues help the player win more momentum markers and endorsements during the momentum phase, and the cubes for advertising helps the player not have to do support checks in states that are carried by the opponent or currently occupied by the opponent as well as reorder the issues at the end of the momentum phase.

Of course if a player chooses to use their campaign points, the player leaves their opponent an opportunity to activate the event on that card using a momentum marker. The player can override their opponent by using two momentum markers.

Players who win issues by having the most support cubes during the momentum phase of a normal turn gain more momentum markers and/or endorsements. Cubes are then removed from each issue, then the leading player in advertising can rearrange the order of two issues.

At the end of a normal turn, players choose one (before Debates) or two (after Debates) card to put in their campaign strategy deck and discard any extra. Players are basically saving up cards in their campaign strategy decks to be played during those special turns. It’s like two extra mini games in the game. In the Debates, players are laying down cards in support of one of three issues: economy, civil rights, or defense. As each issue is won by a player, they get to add cubes to states increasing amounts with each win. On Election Day, players are playing cards to do support checks in states listed on the cards to possibly swing a state to your side.

Once all the support checks, endorsements, and events have been resolved for Election Day, players will see which states they have won based on whether or not they have their cubes on them. Then they’ll take the votes of each state and tally them up to see who has the most electoral votes to win the presidency.

Strategic Overview

Even though the ultimate goal of the game is to win the most electoral votes, the road to victory is not so straightforward in this game. A lot of elements play into how you maximize your chance for victory, and you need to pay attention to every element or your opponent can swing an unexpected advantage. This means you can’t solely focus on adding support cubes to states or your opponent may start racking up momentum markers by leading the issues, then you’re really in trouble as they can start activating more beneficial events on your cards that you can’t cancel. Sometimes you need to play your candidate card for five campaign points, so that you can deny your opponent very powerful cards by discarding them at the end of your turn. You can’t use your candidate card that often, because it becomes exhausted and can’t be activated again without another special card. Ignoring advertising can hurt you as well, since leading advertising helps you rearrange issues each turn as well as avoid support checks in tougher areas to campaign. Then there is setting aside cards for the final election day which is easier to deny opponents events by stowing them into the campaign strategy deck. However, all the cubes and momentum markers leftover at the end of the last normal turn adds more cubes to the campaign bag which helps increase your chances of winning support checks on “Election Day”.

Conclusion
1960: The Making of the President is a wonderfully designed two-player game. It has almost “chess” like quality of moves with a back and forth momentum between players attacking with their cards and counter-attacking with the same or other cards. Along with that is a couple of “meta-games” on top of the game planning for the debates and election day turns. It captures the historical atmosphere of a famous election in a very elegant way. Being a card-driven games, it does take a few plays to fully understand the game given that the cards are so full of information.

This is not a game for social or casual gamers. For lighter fare, these gamers should look to Campaign Manager 2008 by the same designers. 1960 is a deep, rich, and rewarding two player game that should appeal to power gamers and strategy gamers. Even though the cards can be random which adds to the replay value, there is quite a bit of planning involved leading up to the “Debates” and “Election Day” by setting aside cards in your Campaign Strategy hand or playing permanent event cards.

Family gamers will have to wait until their kids are old enough to play, but it makes a great way to explain to your kids about our voting system and talk about a very historic election. So, it makes a pretty good educational game in that respect.

If you looking for a heady and well balanced two player game, get 1960: The Making of a President. You won’t regret it.

 
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7 of 22 gamers found this helpful
“A challenging two player historical strategy game”

This is a brilliant game. Gorgeous production quality of the materials. Play is similar to Twilight Struggle. The challenge of “1960: The Making of the President” is your ability to manage the damage of your own and your opponents event cards. 1960 provides some alternate means of preventing problematic events by overcoming the worst by forcing or blocking events with momentum markers. The trick is knowing when to expend your limited momentum markers to thwart disaster. 1960 (fortunately or not) doesn’t have the constant tension of Twilight Struggle. A winner is not determined until the last turn during election day. The theme of 1960 is impressively integration with the game and easily pulls you in.

 

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