Thursday, March 13, 2008

It's Tricky Mickey in a landslide

Back to our regularly scheduled sessions after our OCS Tunisia marathon (my take, Eric's take, Eric's thoughts. After some 'After you, no, after you' on whose choice it was, Eric picked 1960: The Making of a President. I initially had this game on my 'to buy' list, but after reading some reviews I wasn't so sure about it, so it got removed. I was more than happy to get this on the table to try it for myself.

I ended up with Tricky Dicky, and only half-jokingly asked for confirmation that Kennedy won the original election. (Hey, I'm the foreigner here, and was only 1yo at that time.) I started with a big push in the East, not knowing that there were many cards in the deck that gave Kennedy an advantage there, so I'm not sure if that was a sensible move or not. However, grabbing NY and PA forced him to spend time to recover them, so maybe it wasn't totally wasted.

From there I pushed into the Mid-west, South, West, and back to the Mid-west. In the mean time I'd been shoveling cubes into the bag as if they were the crux of the game. At the end of turn 3, with the Debates turn coming up, we went over the rules again on how they worked, but it wasn't sinking in. By the time the debates came up I had crummy cards, and at the end Kennedy had out-debated Nixon 3-0. However, all wasn't lost, as I still felt my position was decent, with presence in a lot of states, if control in few.

In the last couple of turns I drew strong CP cards, with 5 of 7 in the last turn worth 4CPs. In the last play I chose to go for Issues, controlling 1st & 2nd. In his last play Eric Campaigned in the Mid-west, clearing four states of cubes, a smart move as he had an Endorsement marker there.

However, when evaluating the Issues, I picked Endorsements and drew 2 for the Mid-west, gaining the endorsement and an 80-90 vote swing for Nixon. Balanced against that, Eric drew 4 blue cubes from 5 to grab IL from me for a 54 vote swing back in an Election Day event, but I'd protected CA so it was safe from a similar event.

We picked up all the counters, added it all up (using fingers and toes, for some of us) and it worked out that Nixon had won by 284-253. (Or near enough to that.) Kennedy had won the larger states in the East, South and Mid-west, but the West belonged to Nixon, as well as a lot of smaller states.

Certainly very similar to Twilight Struggle, although a lot simpler in the game play, which is both its strength and its weakness. From a casual player's point of view it's a far more approachable game. There are fewer options available, there are only a few card interactions. That's not to say that there are no decisions to make, there are, and they can be significant. That's the strength.

But it's a two-edged sword, for those same strengths for the casual player are weaknesses for the more dedicated player. Fewer card interactions, fewer options, more random wackiness, all features that could turn off someone looking for that deeper gaming experience offered by Twilight Struggle. In TS the player who knows and understands the game's intricacies will win most of the time, less true of 1960.

I'm very much on the fence about TS. I really like the game, but I'm not sure I'm prepared to dedicate enough of my precious gaming time to get to a higher level of play. I find I'm in the same position with 1960, on the fence that is, but for the opposite reason. I'm not sure that I want to dedicate my time for something that feels a trifle light. I'd give it a second go, but for the moment it's not going back on my 'to buy' list.

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