Welcome to the first of a planned three-part series of posts on 1960: The Making of the President by GMT Games. I was provided a copy of this game in exchange for some strategy posts, and while it took some time to get the opportunities to try the game out, I am very glad I could experience this one. This game definitely encourages many playthroughs to become familiar with the entire deck of cards and how they can impact/influence the game. But I’m assuming that if you’re reading this, you are closer to my own skill level at the game: beginner. So rather than focusing on specific cards and maximizing their usefulness, I am going to cover some overall strategies that have proven helpful to me (or have been hard lessons learned) across the three phases of the game.
Part 1: The Early Turns
Part 2: The Debates
Part 3: Post-Debate through Election Day
We come to what is likely to be the short center of this three-part series. On Monday I covered six strategies to guide you through the early turns of the game. On Friday I plan to cover strategy carrying you through the end of the game. But today I cover that awkward 6th turn: the Debates. This is arguably the shortest round of the game, and some might write it off as being unimportant. And yes, you can still win the game if you do poorly here. You could make a case for “throwing” the debates in order to keep your focus elsewhere. Yet 9 cubes can provide a good swing in key parts of the board and shouldn’t be dismissed out-of-hand.
Tactic#1 – Go into the game with a Debate strategy from Turn 1.
This can be a difficult thing to decide, as you have no knowledge of the hands of cards you will see in turns 2-5. Or what your opponent will keep. At best, you are likely to win 1-2 issues during the debate so keep that in mind. There are a few paths you can walk down:
1. Save two really good cards for two issues (4 cards total) to increase your odds of winning those issues. The final card you save can either be a card you don’t want your opponent to use the event on during regular rounds, or it could be a card of your opponent’s in that third issue category. Why? See Tactic #2 below!
2. Save two really cards for a single issue (2 cards total) and play to win the third issue in the debate for 4 cubes. This will let you “toss” up to three cards that would favor your opponent during those early rounds. Spotting them 5 cubes in the debate should be a reasonable compromise here, as some events can place 5-7 cubes from a single card. If everything plays out how you imagine, at least. Even giving them 7 cubes, winning the first issue in the debate only, could be a very worthwhile play.
3. Ignore the debate strategy completely. Every card you toss will help your opponent in some way. This is especially important if you are getting at least one overpowered event for them each turn and you simply don’t have the Momentum to preempt the event and/or they are never low on Momentum. This becomes the easy decision of avoiding the worst thing in your hand each turn, knowing that they will simply get 9 cubes to place in Turn 6. At least this way you can plan accordingly prior to the debate and try to set up the board so this won’t be as harmful in the end.
Tactic#2 – Try and trigger the first issue for your opponent
This sounds counter-intuitive, but there is a good reason to want them to win first: the first issue to resolve awards 2 cubes. If you want them to win one issue, you want it to be the one that scores first. Alternatively, if there is one issue you want to win then you want it to score last so you can net 4 cubes for the victory. This makes the playing of the cards really interesting, as it only requires the placement of a 2nd card on one side of an issue to trigger it.
What really becomes interesting is when both of you start by playing cards on the opponent’s side. Do they have a 2nd card of that same issue to trigger that issue you saved cards for? It can be a gamble to open by placing on the issue you want to win last. It can equally be a gamble to place completely on their side. Which is why…
Tactic#3 – Initiative matters sometimes.
There is an important benefit to having initiative in the debate: if two issues trigger on the same round, the person with initiative chooses the order that they resolve. There is a cube of difference between 1st and 2nd, or 2nd and 3rd. It doesn’t sound like much, but this is a game where a single cube can make all the difference. Having the ability to choose the order in which they resolve gives you the power to play more aggressively on their side to try and give them the early victories so you can get more cubes on your own issues.
Tactic#4 – Know where to use those cubes you earn
Repeat after me: No support checks = good. Like, really good. Over-powered good. Knowing how to use those cubes effectively is vital to coming out of this round feeling good about the rest of the game. 9 cubes can take a New York or California from being carried by your opponent and make it so you are carrying it instead. That is a huge swing in points. It can be spread across multiple states, allowing placement without spending CP to physically move into that region (Alaska and Hawaii are particularly obnoxious). With even 5 cubes, you can take a state from being carried to having one of yours on it. That is huge. No bag pulls to see if it works. It simply happens. If you are okay with whatever your opponent does here, great. Let them run away with the debates. If your opponent lets you dominate the debates, you can make them pay dearly here by wresting control from their #1 state. Or seeding the board at will. But you need to have an idea of how those are best spent: taking control of a carried state, bumping big states to being carried by you, or gaining control of states far from your candidate.
And there you have it, four simple tips to help with going into the debates. Some might write them off as unimportant, but they can have a big impact. Yes, it might be for a few cubes but those can have incredible power.
What is your preferred approach to the Debates in 1960?
Hopefully you found this article to be a useful look at some strategies to employ for the game. If you’re interested in providing support for Cardboard Clash so I can continue to improve what we offer, check out my page over on Patreon: http://www.patreon.com/CardboardClash.