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Offline BanzaiCat

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1960: The Making of the President (GMT)
« on: February 11, 2018, 10:33:39 AM »
Chapter 1: Introduction



1960: The Making of the President was originally published in 2007 by Z-Man Games and re-published by GMT just last year (2017). It simulates the final months of the 1960 Presidential campaign between Richard M. Nixon (Republican) and John F. Kennedy (Democrat).

The 1960 election was unique in many ways. For one, it was the first election where both major party candidates were born in the 20th century; for another, it was the first Presidential election since 1860 where the incumbent Vice President was a Presidential nominee. Nixon actually won more states than Kennedy did, though the Electoral votes put Kennedy into a 303-219 win. This, also, despite the fact that Kennedy only narrowly won the election in the popular vote – by a mere 100,000 votes.

Arguably, though, one of the most important aspects of this campaign was widespread use of television, and more specifically, the televised debates between these two candidates. Kennedy was well-rested and tanned from a short trip to Florida, whereas Nixon was nursing a knee injury and was exhausted after an extensive whistlestop campaign. Kennedy came across the television as very charismatic, while Nixon sweated profusely under hot studio lights that melted the make up he wore to attempt to cover his five o'clock shadow, making him look like death warmed over.

In any case, this AAR will cover my first game ever of 1960: The Making of the President. As a caveat, I therefore DO NOT claim any expertise in this game, nor abundant knowledge of the strategy. Anyone more familiar with this game than I will no doubt find great frustration at the card play and question my lack of skill or 'noob' level of ignorance when it comes to this game. More than anything, I'd just like to highlight how this game plays, and show it off to anyone that might be on the fence about it. And, hopefully, provide a somewhat entertaining narrative to describe the game as we move along.

Next, I will provide a (very) brief overview of how the game plays. I don't mean to teach you how to play, but that might come across in the narrative a bit, so you can somewhat understand the choices you can make within.

I'll try to keep this as brief as possible (which is a stretch for me), so that it will play quickly. Hope you enjoy it as much as I've had fun playing it.


Offline BanzaiCat

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Re: 1960: The Making of the President (GMT)
« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2018, 10:36:48 AM »
Chapter 2: The Game

Overall, 1960: The Making of the President is elegant and makes you confront very tough decisions; more often than not, you'll see something you should have played RIGHT after making a different play, and realize you screwed up.

It is very similar to other GMT titles, such as Twilight Struggle and 1989, insofar as it is driven by card play. The cards can be used as Events (which causes the card to be permanently discarded from the game), or by using the CP value (Campaign Points) which can range from 2-4. These CPs are used to campaign, get media coverage, and do many other things.

One thing unique and interesting to the game is something called Motivation. Each candidate gets two Motivation tokens to start the game, which look like campaign buttons (clever and interesting in design). These can be used for a variety of things, most notably to stop the other player from executing an Event (which costs two Motivation tokens), or to trigger an Event on the other player's card when they're playing it just for CPs (called 'Triggering'), for one Motivation token. You start the first six Game Turns with six cards; this goes up to seven from Game Turn 7 through 9. Part of your worry as you play, therefore, is wondering if the other player will preempt your Event if you play it for CPs, or try to block your Event if you play it as such. Sometimes the best approach is to try to get them to 'fire off' their Motivation tokens early in a Game Turn, which will help pave the way for other card play later.

Some Event cards lean towards the Republicans, while others lean towards the Democrats, in their value. So, for example, as Nixon you might very well be faced with a hand of cards that are full of Democrat-leaning Events (or vice versa, of course), which will limit your options, especially if the other player has a plethora of Momentum tokens. There are, however, cards that can affect the other player's Momentum, by forcing them to spend a certain amount, or otherwise taking them out of commission. As I said, the game is quite elegant, almost a dance of evil, when it comes to maneuvering during a Game Turn. It can be quite frustrating, but there is a tremendous amount of excitement when you know anything can change on a dime.



Here is the map, which is easy to navigate and view, though the Eastern Region (in red) is somewhat cluttered, though there's no helping that. This is what it looks like before you start adding Control cubes and State tokens, which we'll see more of later. The number in each state (e.g. California's 32) is the number of Electoral Votes either side gets for winning that State on Election Night. The colored band at the top of each state's box (e.g. red for California, blue for Nevada) indicates the direction it leans in, which only affects it if there are no Control cubes in it when the election hits. The elephant or donkey symbol you might spy at the bottom of that box (which does not exist in every State) indicates the starting number of Control cubes that go there.



This is most of the Midwest region (dark green) and East region (red). You can see that this part of the country is fairly open at the game's start.



The Western region (which also includes Alaska and Hawaii, which are obviously not pictured here) is fairly well leaning Republican at game start, with Nixon having a comfortable lead in eight States. Strangely, he does not start with any Control cubes in California, his home state, although it does lean Republican (haha...ahem, excuse me).



And finally, here's a close up of the Eastern region, especially the smaller States there. Kennedy's Democrat token starts in Massachusetts, where he harbors a good amount of Control cubes. (I've not pictured the South here, but you'll see it soon enough. It's mainly leaning Democrat, which should not come as a big surprise for this Election.)

Those are the basics. I'll get more into game play throughout this AAR. Let's go ahead and begin with the first Game Turn.

Note: If the images are too large (they just fit on my screen), please let me know and I'll make 'em smaller.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2018, 10:47:38 AM by BanzaiCat »

Offline BanzaiCat

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Re: 1960: The Making of the President (GMT)
« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2018, 10:44:56 AM »
Chapter 3

Game Turn 1, Initiative and Activity Phase 1 (of 5)

Each player puts twelve of their Control Cubes into a bag (provided in the game), which is drawn from in various circumstances. One is determining Initiative for the current Game Turn. To do this, you draw a single cube from the bag, and once two of the same color are drawn, that player gets to determine who goes first throughout the five Phases of that Game Turn. (This changes a bit later during the Debates and Election Night, but for now, this is how we do things.)



We draw one Red cube, then a Blue cube. The next cube will determine Initiative, and it comes up blue, so Kennedy gets to choose who goes first throughout Game Turn 1. He chooses to let Nixon go first. Sometimes it can be advantageous to let your opponent go first.



Nixon eagerly plays Whistlestop for the Event to start things off. Kennedy does not cancel it, so Nixon gets to spend 7 CPs in any state, as long as he doesn't spend more than 1 CP per State.

What this translates to is, by spending 1 CP, Nixon can place a red Control cube in any State. If Kennedy has a Control cube(s) in that State, that means he can subtract one of Kennedy's cubes instead. Both sides may not have Control Cubes present in a State, so the opposing side will have to have their Control cubes removed before 'friendly' ones can be placed.

Also, regarding Campaigning – as long as the candidate stays in the region he is currently located within (in this case, Nixon starts in California, in the Western region), he can Campaign in any State in that region; once he places a Control cube, he moves his token to that State, and does so until he runs out of CPs to spend.

If, however, he wants to travel to another region using the Campaigning action, he must spend 1 CP per region he travels to. So, for example, if he wants to go to the Midwest to Campaign in Illinois, he'd have to spend 1 CP to get to that region, then another CP to place (or remove) a Control cube. He could then freely move about the Midwest region to Campaign and spend CPs, unless he wants to move to another region, in which case it would cost another CP. You get the idea.

In this case, Nixon decides to fortify his support in the Western region and goes on a grand tour of the Western States. He places one Control cube in Washington, Oregon, California, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma. He chooses to begin in Washington, and ends in California. Again, it doesn't really matter, as long as that candidate moves his token to each State he chooses to Campaign in.



Nixon has done well to solidify his support in the middle of the country, and now has a decent hold on the West Coast.



For Kennedy's turn, he plays Fidel Castro for its 2 CP value. As there is no leader in the Defense issue (more on Issues later), Kennedy doesn't see the value in running the Event, as there are no leaders in any Issue, let alone Defense. You'll see more about Issues later.

Because of this card, Kennedy gets +2 Rest, which means he adds two of his cubes to the 'Rest' area on the board. This will affect the draw bag later, as you will see.

Kennedy decides to spend his two CPs on Advertising. Each CP earns him one cube, and he places one in the East region and one in the South region. These cubes act the same way as they do in States, in that the opposing player would need to remove the other player's cubes before they could place their own. Advertising represents Media Support, which can make things easier in a region for the 'controlling' candidate.



A fairly interesting start to the game, Activity Phase 1 has seen Nixon reinforce his power in the west, while Kennedy has gone in front of the cameras in the East. Decisions here might seem relatively benign, but everything has far-reaching consequences – or so I get the feeling. As I said, this is my first play-through, so I could already be courting disaster. But as I have no pony for either show, so to speak, I don't really care who wins; I'm just trying to play the best I can for both sides.

Next, we'll get into the following few Activity Phases for Game Turn 1.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2018, 10:46:54 AM by BanzaiCat »

Offline BanzaiCat

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Re: 1960: The Making of the President (GMT)
« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2018, 11:04:06 AM »
Chapter 4

Game Turn 1, Activity Phases 2 and 3

Activity Phase 2



Nixon (whom, again, is First Player throughout Game Turn 1) plays Martin Luther King Arrested for its CPs, deciding to spend it on Issues. Kennedy will not try to Trigger the event later, because doing so would benefit Nixon by giving him 3 issue support for free – not a smart choice!

I'm bad at AARs, because somehow I forgot to take a picture of this. You'll see it soon, but to help you picture it, the Issues Track is made up of three Issues – Defense, Economy, and Civil Rights. They start out in that order, with Defense being the 1st Issue and Civil Rights the 3rd. This affects rewards at the end of the Game Turn, and they can be manipulated depending on control and card play.

In this case, Nixon has 3 CPs, and spends two on the Defense Issue and one on the Economy Issue. Like States and Media Coverage, one must eliminate an opponent's cubes in any of these Issues before they may place their own. Control here means that candidate is the 'leader' in that particular Issue.



Kennedy plays the Prime-Time Television card for its Event. It also gives him one Rest cube, which he places in his 'Rest Area.' Nixon considers preempting the Event, but decides to hold on to his two Momentum tokens for now – you never know when something worse might come along, and who knows, Kennedy might be trying to bait Nixon into spending his Momentum only to lay a much more devastating Event later in the Game Turn.

This Event is pretty clear, and as you know Kennedy has Media Support in both the East and South now. He spends 2 CP in New York, 2 in Pennsylvania, and 1 in New Jersey, giving him a good edge in the East. New York and Pennsylvania are particularly lucrative electoral states.



The East region now looks like a bastion of the Democratic party. Go figure. ;)


Activity Phase 3



To start off this Phase, Nixon decides to tap himself and use himself for 5 CPs. This is a fairly powerful move. You see, each candidate has their own card, and may be used – but doing this flips it over to it's 'Exhausted' side.



This has no other consequence other than the candidate cannot use himself until he is refreshed and flipped back over, which can apparently only be done due to card play, I think. His own card also affords him no Rest cubes.

Nixon, with his shiny new 5 CPs, decides to travel to Texas from California. Travel to another region costs one of his CPs. He spends another two CPs on Control cubes there.



Down three CPs, he has two remaining, and decides to travel to Tennessee to spend one of his CPs on a Control cube there.

With his final CP, not wanting to fall too far behind in the Issues race, he spends it on the Civil Rights Issue. Otherwise, he would only be able to remove Control from the other two, though this sometimes could be a viable option if you want to deny your opponent the relatively lucrative awards you get at the end of the Game Turn (as you will see, later).





Kennedy now takes his actions. He plays The Cold War for its Event. Again, Nixon withholds his Momentum markers, though at this point he might have thought seriously about doing so, as this card gives Kennedy five State Support cubes (which are Control cubes, as I've been calling them, but will try to call them State Support cubes from now on, because word count). This card also gives Kennedy another Rest cube, which he places now.

Kennedy decides to remove the one Nixon State Support cube from Ohio, leaving that State empty. He also spends 1 CP on removing the lone Nixon State Support cube from Indiana – the Republicans find their support in the Midwest slipping fast!

Kennedy also removes one of Nixon's cubes from Texas, and places one of his in each of Indiana and Ohio, showing Democrat gains in the face of Nixon's slipping popularity.

In the next Chapter, we'll finish off Game Turn 1's Activity phases.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2018, 11:06:37 AM by BanzaiCat »

Offline JasonPratt

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Re: 1960: The Making of the President (GMT)
« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2018, 02:24:57 PM »
Did you mention whom you're playing against? I don't recall seeing that.
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Offline BanzaiCat

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Re: 1960: The Making of the President (GMT)
« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2018, 04:36:35 PM »
Did you mention whom you're playing against? I don't recall seeing that.

No, I did not. I'm playing it solo, which is doable for anyone that can play to the strengths of either side.

Offline BanzaiCat

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Re: 1960: The Making of the President (GMT)
« Reply #6 on: February 12, 2018, 03:08:48 PM »
Chapter 5

Game Turn 1, Activity Phases 4-5

Activity Phase 4

Nixon starts things off playing Henry Cabot Lodge for the Event. This is a particularly powerful card, as it gives him two State Support in Massachusetts (which would at this point remove Kennedy's two State Support cubes there), and adds two Nixon cubes to the Defense Issue, which would remove Kennedy's two cubes there. Finally, it would let Nixon flip his card back over to it's ready side.



These are all blows Kennedy doesn't like, so he spends his two Momentum markers to cancel the Event.



Nixon flaps his jowls in disgust and anger – he didn't think Kennedy would wipe himself out over this, but it was a calculated risk. The card is permanently removed from the game, as are all cards played for their Event (so they will not occur again in the game).

Kennedy now plays Harvard Brain Trust for 4 CPs. He's pretty convinced Nixon will cancel the Event if he played it for that, especially after what just happened, as this is a pretty powerful card for the Debates turn later in the game. Nixon could Trigger the Event, but that's kind of stupid, so he does not.



Kennedy uses the 4 CPs to Campaign in the East region, adding a State Support cube to New York and Pennsylvania. He spends 1 CP to travel to Illinois, and his last CP to Campaign there, adding one of his State Support cubes to the state.


Activity Phase 5

Now, the final Activity Phase for Game Turn 1 begins. Nixon starts it off by playing Volunteers for the Event. It also gives him +2 Rest, which he desperately needs since Kennedy is leading by far with four in his own Rest pool.



Kennedy can't do anything about the Event as he has no Momentum markers, so this adds one to Nixon's pool, giving him a total of three. This will be important as you will see in a bit.



Kennedy now has his final turn, and plays Nixon Egged in Michigan for 2 CP. Nixon has no interest in traveling to Michigan and getting pelted with breakfast material, so he doesn't Trigger this. This card gives Kennedy 2 CP and +2 Rest.

Kennedy spends his CPs in the Midwest region, adding a State Support cube to Michigan and then traveling back to Illinois, where he adds another one there.


Thus ends the Activity Phases for Game Turn 1. Next we'll proceed into the end-of-turn Phases for this Game Turn.

Offline BanzaiCat

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Re: 1960: The Making of the President (GMT)
« Reply #7 on: February 12, 2018, 03:12:40 PM »
Chapter 6

Game Turn 1, End of Turn Phases

These are not really called “End of Turn Phases” - I'm labeling them that to indicate all the Phases that are executed at this point before we move on to Game Turn 2.

Momentum Phase

Here, both players discard half of their Momentum tokens, rounded down. Nixon only loses one, giving him two, while Kennedy discards none (half of nothing is still nothing, after all – because math).

The next step is Issue Shift. The player with the most Media Support cubes on the board may choose to switch adjacent Issues, if they choose. As Kennedy has the most Media Support and leads in both the first and second Issue, he sees no reason to do this.



The next step is Momentum Awards and Endorsements. Here, the players get their rewards for supporting the three Issues, starting with the 3rd place Issue and moving upwards.

In 3rd place is Civil Rights, which Nixon is the leader in. He gets one Momentum token for this.

In 2nd place is Economy, which Kennedy leads. He can choose either one Momentum marker OR one Endorsement card; he chooses the Momentum marker.

In 1st place is Defense, where Kennedy also leads. He gets BOTH a Momentum marker AND an Endorsement card.

The Endorsement card indicates the East region, so Kennedy places one of his Endorsement tokens there. This will help later in the game – if it stays, of course!



Note: As I mentioned earlier, the next step is 'Issue Decay,' which I totally forgot to do. In this Step, each player loses one cube from each of the issues. As only one player can have cubes on each issue (just like States or Media Support), Nixon should have removed his cube from Civil Rights and Kennedy, his cube from Economy. Additionally, Kennedy should have lost one of his cubes from Defense. I will rectify this (ish) in the next turn. Sorry for the screw-up.


Campaign Strategy and Rest Phase

First, both players place their remaining card into their respective Campaign Strategy spots on the board. These will be used in the Debates turn, so sometimes it is a good idea to save high CP cards for this purpose – as you will see later in our game.



Finally comes Rest. This means Kennedy and Nixon add their Rest cubes to the draw bag. You'll learn more about the draw bag as we play, as it impacts certain parts of the game. For now, just know the more Rest cubes a player adds to the bag, the better their chances are of having their cube drawn when the game calls for it.

This is the end of Game Turn 1. So far, I've found it fun and interesting; maneuvering your candidate with cards that aren't always beneficial can be a huge challenge, especially if they have a lot of Momentum markers on hand. We've only seen a pre-emption of a card so far, but there might be Triggering in the near future.

Next, we'll proceed with Game Turn 2. Thanks for reading.

Offline Barthheart

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Re: 1960: The Making of the President (GMT)
« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2018, 03:52:29 AM »
Is it just me or does anyone else think that cubes are cheap cop out for markers in a board game. Anytime I see little wooden cubes in a game I just pass on it.  :P
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Offline BanzaiCat

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Re: 1960: The Making of the President (GMT)
« Reply #9 on: February 13, 2018, 05:42:25 AM »
I've always liked them. I'm biased though since I've been playing with them since Age of Mythology: The Boardgame. Also I'm pretty sure GMT has a huge supply of these thanks to their COIN games. Lastly, they're easy to use and organize, especially in a relatively simple game like this, so you can tell at a glance what's going on across the board.

Offline JasonPratt

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Re: 1960: The Making of the President (GMT)
« Reply #10 on: February 21, 2018, 07:33:13 AM »
+1 BC. It isn't like this game is skimping on its production values elsewhere, so any money being saved on cubes is still being put up there on the screen, so to speak.

Granted, aesthetically I'd like to see sheep rather than white cubes; but I'm good with abstractions, too. And I'm not sure I have enough imagination to figure out what to sculpt for placing as markers on the issues instead of cubes, which after all (as in this game) can serve as multi-purpose player-markers. Little donkeys and elephants I guess? Tons of them? Would dozens of little molded donkeys and elephants make the game look better? I'm dubious.
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Offline BanzaiCat

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Re: 1960: The Making of the President (GMT)
« Reply #11 on: February 21, 2018, 07:35:48 AM »
They had to go with something relatively small. The western states are fine as they have a lot of room, but the further northeast you get, the less the real estate is, as you've probably seen from the pics.

I've got Game Turn 2 done and noted with pics; I just need to get motivated to post it here, which I'll probably do today or tomorrow.

Offline BanzaiCat

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Re: 1960: The Making of the President (GMT)
« Reply #12 on: February 28, 2018, 02:53:37 PM »
Chapter 7

Game Turn 2: Initiative Phase, Activity Phases 1 and 2

Initiative Phase

This time, the draw from the bag is one blue, then one red, and one red – Nixon wins the initiative, and chooses to let Kennedy go first.

Activity Phase 1



Kennedy starts off with Jackie Kennedy for the Event. This means, if Nixon does not block it, Nixon will need to spend a Momentum token any time he wants to execute an Event during the rest of this Game Turn. This could be a bad thing, but Nixon chooses not to block it...indicating he might have something up his non-crook sleeves. This also gives Kennedy +1 Rest cube.



The Nixon sleeve starts by spitting out Republican TV Spots for the Event. This means he discards a Momentum token; also, the card does not allow him any Rest cubes. But, it moves Nixon to New York for free, and lets him play three Media Support cubes, which he puts in the East region. This displaces the one Kennedy cube there, and replaces it with two Nixon Media Support cubes. The journalists are instantly taken in by Nixon. This is not good for Kennedy, but it's not quite a disaster as Kennedy still has an Endorsement there.



Activity Phase 2



Kennedy now plays Swing State for the Event, which also gives him +1 Rest cube. This Event allows him to place five State Support cubes in any state that is being led, but not carried, by Nixon. It also gives Kennedy a free ride (i.e. at no cost in CPs) to that State.

Being 'led' and 'carried' are different ways to describe a candidate's dominance in a State. A State is led if a candidate has one to three State Support cubes present; if he has four or more, he is carrying the state. In this case, Kennedy chooses to go to California, Nixon's home state, and while presumably humming “X Gonna Give It To Ya,” he removes Nixon's one cube and replaces it with four of his own.



California has turned against its hometown son overnight, and is now firmly in the Democrat camp (snicker) and not only that, currently being carried by them, too!

Being carried has additional benefits for the side that's carrying; it means if the other player wants to try to put State Support cubes there (which, remember, means needing to remove opponent State Support cubes first before placing their own), they have to draw a cube from the bag for every CP spent trying to do this. If they draw a cube that is their same color, they may place (or remove) a cube; if the color is their opponent's, they may not.

For example, if Nixon wants to get his State Support back in California, now he'd have to, for example, Campaign there (if he doesn't have a card that helps him with this, like Kennedy did). Let's say Nixon plays a 4 CP card for its CPs. He'd have to pay 2 CPs to travel to California (from New York, because he'd have to cross two regions to make it there), which would leave him with 2 CP to Campaign. Presuming he then chose to spend both CPs on Campaigning in California, he'd then need to draw two cubes from the bag; for each red one he draws, he'd be allowed to remove one of Kennedy's four State Support cubes there.

Let's say further he draws a blue and a red...not the greatest result, but it would at least allow him to remove one of Kennedy's State Support cubes in California. Since there's four Kennedy State Support cubes there, it would reduce the total there to three cubes. While a small win, it would at least mean Kennedy is no longer carrying California, and therefore would not require Nixon to draw another cube from the bag to see if he succeeds or not.

Incidentally, any cubes removed from the draw bag are returned to the pile that each candidate has; they are not returned to the draw bag. Only Rest cubes go back in to the draw bag, which is why they're so important to mention.

Exposition and examplin' over, let's get back to things here. Nixon still has to go for his part of Activity Phase 2.

For that, Nixon plays Unpledged Electors for the Event. This is another +0 Rest card, unfortunately, and Nixon has to spend another of his Momentum tokens to play it, but he has a plan...



Note that this card has a bar just above the picture with text that reads “ELECTION DAY EVENT.” This means it is a persistent Event card, and it stays in play until that instance occurs (in this case, Election Day, the final Game Turn of the game). It's also pretty heinous to exist for Kennedy, as this card would mean he'd need to win in Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi with at least four State Support cubes in each State. For any of those three States that he doesn't have four State Support within, he'd not get the Electoral Votes for that State. They're worth 11, 10, and 8 Electoral Votes respectively; not large numbers, but they could mean the difference.

Because of this, Kennedy decides (with reservation, as he's leading in all those States now, but not near close to four cubes in each) to cancel the Event by discarding two of his Momentum tokens. The card is now permanently discarded from the game, ending Activity Phase 2.


Offline BanzaiCat

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Re: 1960: The Making of the President (GMT)
« Reply #13 on: March 02, 2018, 06:08:50 PM »
If you're following along, here's a bit of an update:

I finished the game just a bit ago, and will be updating the AAR accordingly. However, to spare some time, I'll finish posting Game Turn 2's results, then skip turns 3, 4, and 5, and report on turn 6, which is the Debates turn. I'll then skip over 7 and 8 and go directly to Election Night.