Saturday, January 12, 2008

Democrat wins the White House / New Life for Twilight Struggle

Tonight, Jose and I played a game of Mr. President. It's a 3M/Avalon Hill bookshelf game from the early 70's and reflects the political landscape of America in the middle of the 20th Century. Jose showed off his veteran campaign skills and his Democratic candidate soundly defeated my Republican 350 Electoral votes to 100 and something. My candidate invested heavily in the East, Midwest and California. Somehow I dominated the East yet lost big everywhere else. Mr. Candidate even lost his home state of Michigan. I spent several turns challenging Jose's candidate to debates which proved fruitless. Jose invested in quite a bit of advertising. His strategy of campaigning in every state proved sounder than mine of concentrating on the larger states as he picked up almost all of the undecided vote, which made most of the difference.

We both agree that we want to try this game again but with 4 players. Jose had played before and says it's more interesting with 4 (2 Presidential candidates + 2 VP candidates).

Next up was my favorite, Twilight Struggle. Again we used the optional rule allowing alignments regardless of DefCon level. This time I played the USA and was intent on showing Jose how unbalanced the rule is in favor of the USA. Not true. Jose won the game in Final Scoring with 14 Victory Points. The USA dominated right up until the Late War when some nasty cards came out (Glasnost, OPEC). Our game was extremely tense through the end. I highly recommend everyone try the optional rules found in the 2nd Edition Rulebook. It makes Europe a battleground instead of a stalemate. Our experience has been that Asia becomes locked up in favor of the Soviets, but Europe, Africa, Middle East and Central/South America all become more active. Realignments become the weapon of choice with Coups reserved for Military Ops and special targets. I still think this is a great game.


At 1:37 PM, January 12, 2008, Blogger jbarreto said...

Excellent writeup Mark.

Mr. President is a fairly light election game with lots of luck involved. Essentially, to win ballots in a state, you have to roll that state's number in a 1-12 chart for the region you chose to campaign in. Other special actions like debates and advertising depend on rolling 7 or doubles. Not for those with legendary bad dice rolling.

Still, its one of the few games with an election theme that takes 2 hours or less to play. I personally prefer the mechanics of Road to the White House, but that once can take a whole day with 6 people.

On our weekly cold war showdown, it certainly looked bleak for the soviets in the first couple of turns. The US had a very high ops card hand in the first round and played Marshall Plan to establish a solid lock on Europe. They steadily hammered me with European and American scoring in the early to mid war to reach a high point of 15 points (out of the 20 needed for victory).

The last 3 turns saw a dramatic change as the historical dialectic proved the superiority of the communist doctrine (in other words, I drew some awesome cards). A lucky coup in Guatemala and a two failed realignment rolls by the US saw communism spread like the plague in Central America. The long struggle for Africa tilted in my favor with the fall of Angola. Muslim Revolution cleared the americans out of the Middle East and Opec/Asia Scoring gave me some much needed points to bring the game back to even.

The turning point, I think was on the last turn. I played "Pershing 2 deployed" on the headline phase to eliminate 3 US influences in Western Europe. Targetting his battleground countries, this gave me a brief window of dominance and I quickly played Europe Scoring as my first card.

A very close game that could have gone either way.

At 8:35 PM, January 12, 2008, Blogger Carlos said...

Thanks for the great posting Mark and Jose. I still need to try TS as I have not played this one yet.

Jose, I have not really gotten to read he AE rules all the way through yet. It seems that I have been been reading the Lovecraft stories that inspired Arkah Horror and this is all that I want to read these days. But I must point out that I do not worship Cthulhu.

At 1:03 AM, January 13, 2008, Blogger Mark said...

Carlos: I look forward to another game night soon.

Re: TS Optional Realignment Rules

I like that they seem to balance the game better, but I don't like the effect they have on the feel of the game. While they do make for a tense game, they also make the game more of a dicefest. They also end Asia as a battleground and hand it to the Soviets--at least in the two games we've played this way.

At 8:25 AM, January 13, 2008, Blogger Carlos said...

BTW, I have been very involved in my son's cub scout activites these past couple of weekends. This ended in yesterdays pinewood derby with good results. With this behind, I will probably be getting in more gaming.

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