Board Gaming · Strategy · Wargame Garrison

Strategy for 1960: The Making of the President – Part 3: Post-Debate through Election

Welcome to the second 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

*****
Part 3: Post-Debate through Election Day

Now we come to what is, arguably, the most critical time in the game. Your early turns can see a lot of adaptability to the cards being drawn and just plunking down cubes wherever feels like it is a good place. The debates are the part of the game where you can either press to make a huge swing on the board or you can simply ignore them and accept the losses. But you can’t be so free and loose with the final rounds of the game if you want to have a chance to win. You get an extra card every round, although you still play only five of them, and every decision in these rounds will feel critical. These are the final attempts to shift the board into your favor going into Election Day, and the process of election itself which can have some pretty radical ramifications if things go your way.

Tactic#1 – Plan early for the cards you’re dedicating to the Election

In the first half of the game you are saving cards to use in the Debate phase and it needed to focus on candidate symbols, issue markers, and CP. The four cards you save here (two per round) have a very different focus: the state shown in the bottom corner. The cards you set aside will let you draw three cubes from the bag in the Election round to try and place them onto that shown state. So saving a card in a state you are already carrying, or one worth minimal points, might not be an effective use of those cards. On the other hand, there is no guarantee of pulling the cubes you need, so not playing a powerful event isn’t ideal, either.

My personal approach is to look and see if any of those states are controlled by my opponent with only 1 cube on that state. Then I look to see if any match a high-point state my opponent controls. Those are the ones I want to consider first for saving into the Election round. On the other hand, if there is a state I control that my opponent seems to be aiming for, I might keep that card for the election phase to either increase my cubes on there or to wrest it back from them.

Saving the right cards can be important, although not critical. If you really need to gain a particular state, it might be easier to spend the CP during these two turns and take it that way, especially with media support.

Tactic#2 – Media Support is so very important, yet so hard to come by

The power of Media Support going into the Election Day cannot be overstated. The original benefit, which allows you to bypass support checks if your opponent is carrying a state, is worthwhile enough to make spending CP on Media a good strategy. Yes, you have to pull cubes from the bag in order to gain that support, but that also makes it incredibly hard to lose the support to your opponent. Media Support also allows you to continue to flip the position of two adjacent issues on the Issue Track, a key component for gaining momentum and endorsements (more on that in Tactic#3). But even that isn’t the real reason to want to be doing well in Media Support…

In the early part of the Election round, you gain cubes into the bag equal to the Media Support cubes on the board. PLUS those cubes already out for Media Support. This helps to seed the bag with those cubes you want to pull, either when you are trying to win something or as a block when your opponent is pulling cubes. More cubes = better chance that the events during Election Day will go your way. It might be tough to get that Media Support out there. But if you are in a reasonably good position on the board, or if your CP would all be burned just moving or doing support checks, it might be better spent gaining that Media Support.

Tactic#3 – Endorsements can be a board-changing force.

Endorsements can be a funny thing: either they will be extremely ineffective and rendered useless, or they will be a critical piece of your strategy. The only way to gain Endorsements comes from having the 1st or 2nd place Issue at the end of each round. You draw a card, place an endorsement marker in the region shown (or remove one of your opponents’ markers from that area). It serves no purpose until Election day, and even then it only comes into play at the very end. If a state has no cubes on it AFTER the campaign cards are resolved and Election Day events are completed, then the person with Endorsements in that region claims that state’s votes.

This is a way that the Kennedy player, for example, can sweep up a lot of those states in the West that would otherwise default to Nixon.

If there are a good number of vacant states, or if you are playing cards that have a chance of emptying a state your opponent controls, then Endorsements can be really vital as part of your strategy. On the other hand, a board where most worthwhile states already have cubes on them, this might be something you can ignore completely.

The good thing about getting Endorsements in a certain region, though, is that it forces your opponent to react. Such as in the case of being Kennedy, and getting control of Endorsements in the West region. All those states that Nixon was ignoring, assuming they would fall to him, are now up for grabs. This may force them to play defense, moving and spending that critical CP to place cubes over there instead of doing something more devastating.

Tactic#4 – Know when to cut your losses and focus elsewhere

This is something that can be difficult to do. You’re wanting those points in a California or a New York. You feel like you’re behind and that could swing the game in your favor. But they are carrying the state (or, worse, they have their candidate there). You could spend CP after CP pulling cubes from a bag in a desperate attempt to wrest it from them.

Or you could focus elsewhere, and make actual progress that isn’t up to random chance.

The problem with high-scoring states is that they are tempting targets. The good thing is that your opponent likely has more than a few decent states that aren’t nearly as hard to crack. You are more likely to win those battles than getting stuck in a power struggle over a single spot on the board. Trying to get that 45-point state and failing is far worse than picking up 25-30 points in other states. Every point you take from them is really a 2-point swing for you. They can win the five biggest states on the board and still lose if you control enough area. Don’t forget that!

Tactic#5 – Look for events that let you place 5+ cubes throughout the board

One of my best plays in this game came in the final round, playing a card that essentially wiped my opponent out of the South and allowed me to pick them up. He had focused no time down there and had a ton of states with just 1-2 cubes. I was able to spend 7 cubes down there, no more than 2 per state. While he was off winning California from me, I took far more points in two actions (that card, and then an Election Event that took 2 additional states he controlled in the South and made their votes not count). It had been a very close contest until that point, and even though he had a bag seeded full of his cubes the rest of what followed didn’t matter. It caught him off guard and flipped the board in a very meaningful way.

Cards cap out at 4CP. Anything that lets you place 5 or more with a single action are almost always going to be worth playing for the event. This is the time of the game when you need to be dropping cubes like a madman, whether they go onto the map, into the Media Support, or onto the Issue Track. Anything else almost feels like a wasted action.

Tactic#6 – Shoot for 269, but don’t forget to have fun

This part of the game can become mathy. With the wrong players, this can really bog things down if a person looks at their hand and tries to add up the best sequence of cards to play in those final rounds. Be considerate of the person sitting across from you. Yes, this is a game and you’re likely trying to win. So are they, and only one of you will walk away victorious. Don’t suck the joy out of the experience by trying to math out every possible move here.

Instead, target something that you know will provide a strong swing if successful. It doesn’t have to be the “perfect move” to be the right move.

This isn’t a game where you’re simply trying to score more points than your opponent. Every point you score is also a point taken away from them. It is more of a tug-of-war struggle than it is a points race. This can open wounds that you wouldn’t expect as you sweep the board under your dominion.

The point of gaming is to win, but more importantly to have fun. Don’t sacrifice the fun, for either side, in the interest of trying to win. A close game is more likely to earn you a rematch than a one-sided beatdown, after all.

*****

There you have it, the final piece of the strategy guide for 1960: The Making of the President. This is, overall, a really fun and challenging game. It is far more interesting than the theme might make it sound, and there is a lot of tension to be found from round to round. This is a game that rewards repeated plays, as getting to know the various cards in that deck will help you be able to plan better and know what events should get prioritized for play. I have a long, long way to go to reach that point where I feel like I’ve mastered the game enough to know those things. But these three articles should, hopefully, help you get started down the path of making subtle changes to improve your overall results in the game.

What are some other strategies you might pass along to a newer player of this game?

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.

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Board Gaming · Strategy · Wargame Garrison

Strategy for 1960: The Making of the President – Part 2: The Debates

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.

Board Gaming · Strategy · Wargame Garrison

Strategy for 1960: The Making of the President – Part 1: The Early Turns

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

 

Part 1: The Early Turns

Unless you are very familiar with the cards in the deck, those early turns can feel like you’re drowning in water. Six cards come your way, and at least half of them are likely to contain your opponent’s symbol on there. You need to play five of these (in most cases). The one you don’t play is likely going to be the one that benefits you the most. How do you handle this situation? Here are a few pointers on what to emphasize, the things to keep a close eye upon, and some overall tactics that have been successful in their implementation during the games I’ve played.

Tactic #1: Momentum Matters

One of the most important resources in this game comes in the form of those Momentum markers. You get some at the start of the game. Half of them get discarded when the round ends. You stand a chance of getting a few at the end of a round based on the Issues Track. What are they and why do they matter so much?

The Momentum markers are used for one of two purposes: to trigger the event of a card your opponent plays, or to prevent your opponent from triggering the event on a card you play. The first time you look at a hand of cards you will likely groan as you see the events that your opponent would love to trigger. There is a pretty good chance that they will trigger at least one of them during the round when you play cards. One of the keys to success would be to entice them to spend those markers early in a round on something that sounds great, but isn’t nearly as powerful as another card you’ll be playing later. But you don’t want to always have that best event be the very last card you play in a round – they might catch on and save a marker for that final card.

If your opponent is spending markers on triggering events, that means they aren’t spending them to prevent you from doing the same with their cards. Depending on who is producing more Momentum in a turn, this might not be a bad position to be in. The real key comes in knowing when to pay those markers to preempt the card you are playing. This can be a tough thing to do – it costs two markers, which means two cards you aren’t going to be able to trigger the event if your opponent plays them. A card which will swing the board in your opponent’s favor is something you don’t want to see played. Something which lets them gain Momentum, or trigger a permanent event, are also very worthwhile to preempt. This is a tactic that I am still working on trying to get right for timing. Knowing the deck, and what cards can really flip the playing field, will help you to better understand when preempting is important.

If you, as a Nixon player, can preempt Greater Houston Ministry Association, do so at all costs. That one card wrecked me several times when Kennedy played cards that couldn’t be triggered by Nixon because this was in play.

Tactic #2: Balance the gain of CP with the gain of Rest Cubes

It might seem like the best strategy is to play all those cards that give you the most moves during your turn; however, many of those high CP cards are balanced out with low rest (if any at all) when playing the card. But I must emphasize the importance that Rest plays in this game. I had a play of the game where, at the very end, almost every cube in the bag belonged to my opponent. It made it so everything went in his favor, which complexly flipped a few areas of the board and prevented me from securing more on my turn. Most of the game is spent with the bag draw playing a small impact (unless you are vying for Media Support or trying to take an area where your opponent is located or carrying). Yet the opportunities to dump in more cubes are rarer than you’d expect. Don’t sacrifice a great play for the sake of an inferior event that provides rest; however, when faced with a decision between two cards and you are torn on which to play, always go for the one with more rest. It will pay off by the end of the game.

Tactic #3 – Don’t ignore the power of the numbers.

I’m not talking about the obvious numbers here, such as New York and California, because their importance is immediately obvious. It can be easy to get caught in a power struggle over those high-valued states because it feels like you need those to win. In some games you may very well need to spend several cards trying to wrest New York from your opponent’s grip. But don’t underestimate how critical the rest of the states may be. Especially in the Midwest and the West. Some of those states feel unimportant, especially when dropping to 4 points for whoever wins the state. However, there is power in numbers and controlling a good majority of the map is oftentimes more impactful than focusing your effort heavily in 1-2 big states.

Tactic #4 – Think ahead to the debate phase, but don’t assume your highest card is the one to throw

My first debate round was a complete disaster on both sides. I tossed three cards in for a single issue. My opponent tossed four on the same issue, and his other one showed my symbol instead of his. He won the first issue, leaving me to sweep the rest by default. There was no excitement, no tension. Only frustration and the feeling of being too dumb to play the game.

There are three factors to consider in the card you are saving for the debate round:

  • Make sure the card has your candidate’s icon on there. If you keep a card that doesn’t have your icon, that means it has to be played on your opponent’s side of the issue which could potentially help them to win. Ideally, a card with both is what you want to save to allow for maximized flexibility. Triggering your weakest issue first by playing on their side can allow you to reap greater benefits when the later issues resolve.
  • Look closely at the issue icon shown on the card. It will have one of the three issue icons: Defense, Social, or Economic. Don’t be like me and save too many of the same issue. At most you will get to play two cards on a single issue, so anything over that is a wasted card! Plan on saving 2-2-1 as a spread so you can maximize your placement.
  • CP matters on these, as that is how you determine the winner. This will get covered more in the next post, but you don’t want to toss the lowest numbers over here. Depending on the card(s)/situation, you may not want to toss the highest, either. A nice moderation of 3CP cards is likely the best plan without any in-game context.

Tactic#5 – Don’t neglect the Issue track and, by extension, the Media Support

It can be so easy to focus on the cubes on the map and try to maximize your influence out there. A hand full of events and high CP cards can give you dreams of swinging states under your control or bolstering your cube count in a key state. But the Issue track is so critical that you should plan on dedicating at least one CP move toward the Issue track. But why is it so important?

Remember that discussion of Momentum toward the beginning of the article? Yep, this track is the #1 way to gain said Momentum as each of the three placements can reward the winner with a Momentum token. Sweep the issues and you can get three more at the end of the turn. Even winning one is important as it will keep your flow of markers going. Nothing is more favorable to your opponent than having no momentum, because it will allow them to freely play cards for CP without any care for the event text.

The other important thing would be Media Support. The player with more overall Media support gets to flip the placement of two adjacent issues on the track at the end of the round. This is key, as it allows you to boost your own standing while dropping your opponent. Winning that 1st place issue is so powerful in the long-run (see more on this in the 3rd installment when it goes up on the Post-Debate strategy).

Tactic#6 – Don’t forget about your candidate card!

The final piece of advice is a simple, yet forgettable one. You have a candidate card which is worth 5CP. That is higher than any card in the deck. But, even better, this “replaces” playing one of the cards in your hand. Got a really nasty event that you know your opponent will trigger when played? Use the candidate card instead so you can discard this one at the end of the round. There are few ways to flip it back over, so don’t be too hasty in using the candidate card…but don’t forget this is a very viable option when you need the CP or to avoid playing a specific card.

*****

There you have it, six tips on playing the early rounds of 1960: The Making of the President. The game is one of being able to adapt to the hand you’re given, to make use of the events, and to balance that with spending enough CP to make a difference throughout the game.

Are there other strategies you’ve found useful in the early game? Are there questions you’d like answered regarding this part of the game? Leave a comment below and I’d be happy to discuss with you.

 

Hopefully you found this review 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.