You are hereEpisode 66: Hail to the Chief

Episode 66: Hail to the Chief


66: Hail to the Chief

Release Date: Nov. 3, 2008

Running Time: 145 min.

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I am not a crook... or a jelly donut. But if I play my cards right, I could end up President of the United States! In this Democracy-sized special, we play 1960: Making of the President, a board game that simulates the contentious election campaign between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy.

News & Notes:  Paleo, Space Alert, Boardgaming Finland, Mow 'Em Down
The List: 1960: The Making of the President
Name That Game: Win Rage
Backshelf Spotlight:
Mr. President
Truckloads of Goober: Schrille Stille
Game Sommelier: 5 games guaranteed to make Stephen refuse to play
Mail Bag:
many faces of Atmosfear, Stephen at BGG Con.

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.

 Game News & Notes

Zombies on Xbox Live in 2009  Link

Twilight Creations' classic B-movie undead bloodfest makes its way to the online arena some time next year.

Paleo Official site | BGG

Part Crokinole, part euro game. A dexterity based flcking game involving explorers and mercenaries discovering and ancient city.

Space Alert Official Site | BGG

From the Designer of Galaxy Trucker come Space Alert, a cooperative game where players take on the role of crew members of a ship trying to survive a series of encounters dictated by a CD which is played during the game.

Mow 'Em Down Official Site | BGG

Designer Matt Saunders game is about competing landscape companies trying to gain lucrative contracts. Players must balance their equipment and money as the city expands and more contracts become available. 

The Club Official site | BGG

No , not a game about golf or that thing you put on your car to keep it from being stolen. The Club is a a board game about love and about people's need to meet one another. That's right. A game about clubbing. The board is the dance floor and by placing tiles you match up couples to "score."

Boardgaming Finland Podcast Link

Antti "Cane" Koskinen has a great game-related podcast based in Helsinki, Finland. He has 20 episode available in Finnish. Recently, he has started an English version of his show! Some days Dave and I still struggle with our native language, so it's really impressive (not to mention cool!) that Antti is taking the time and effort to produce mutli-lingual shows! Check it out.

Deluxe War of the Ring  Official Site | BGG

Massive deluxe edition of the Tolkien masterpiece from Phalanx Games. Wooden box carved and painted like a book, pre-painted minis, illustrated board. Amazing!

The List

1960: Making of the President Official Site | BGG

An historical simulation board game using a mixture of card and cube mechanics to represent all the key elements of the American electoral process. A must-play or must-own for any player interested in history, politics, or really fun games.

Backshelf Spotlight

Mystery Connection Contest
We'ew changing it up on your this time. Instead of our normal contest, send us your best election related story. There's a forum here where you can share the story with everyone or, if your prefer, you can email us directly. We'll pick our favorite story and the winner will get a set of custom Spiel dice.


Mr. President BGG

3M classic bookshelf election game. Players select candidates and use vote cards, debates, and advertising to seed each region with enough support to win the general election.

Truckloads of Goober

Schrille Stille  BGG

A secret ballot based game about competing Record label owners trying to get their bands to the top of the charts. The game uses the funkiest vote tallying mechanism I have ever seen!

 

 

 

 Game Sommelier

The Challenge: 5 games Dave likes that Stephen will refuse to play. This challenge comes from Gregory in Seattle. His goal is to find out what games we really despise. As a form of restitution, Gregory has agreed to pay $2.50 to the Spiel Foundation for each thumbs down Dave gets.

Dave's List

Stephen's Vote

Twilight Imperium
Thumbs Down
Marvel Heroes
Thumbs Down
Bali
Thumbs Down
Starfarers of Catan
Thumbs Up
Lucky Loop
Thumbs Up

Next Challenge: Stephen's turn to pick 5 games he likes that Dave will refuse to play.

Mail Bag

Tim W.K. Brown gave us some great background information on Atmosfear and its connection to Nightmare, another VCR based board game. After a little digging, we also discovered that there are many additional editions of Atmosfear made and sold in Europe and especially Australia.

I'm going to BGG Con in Dallas late this month (Stephen, that is). I'm looking forward to meeting some Spielers and playing a ridiculous number of games. Woo hoo!

Errata

I'm sure there are some goofs in there somewhere. Let us know if (when?) you find one!

 

Steerpike's picture

Wow, what an epic episode.

I'm only an hour and a half into it so far (morning commute plus traffic delays) but decided to give some initial thoughts while they are fresh in my mind.

First of all major kudos to you both for the way this is put together. You guys constantly amaze me with your ability to break the mould of the "gaming podcast"  and take some risks - a lengthy breakdown of the history surrounding the games theme and chapter breaks taken from the media archives of the era. Wow, we are not worthy.

Right now I feel like the other podcasts are 2-D in comparison to what you've done with this show. OK - I'll try to stop sounding like a fanboy, but I for one appreciate the colour and susbtance which you've added to the game.

Why is this important ? Well, I've looked at 1960 a number of times - but I have never made the jump to purchase because a) I'm not American and b) I knew little about the period of history [my parents had not even married and thought of producing a little stone chipping when this election took place].

Frankly I was, at best, luke warm to the theme. Now I am more than enthused - I am energised to go and get this little puppy. Hey, how about a McCain / Obama updated version - think of all the fun you could have with action cards based around Sarah Palin !

The one piece of this I did have a good grasp on, before listening, was the way the American electoral college works. We've been getting a lot of that in our news recently :-)

In fact it is very similar to the way the British Election system runs and I'm presuming that there is a historical basis for this. The UK itself is divided into 'constituencies' which are, by and large, based on population centres. Each constituency votes for a member of parliament from one of the political parties - and the party which gains the most MPs forms the next government - with the leader of that party becoming Prime Minister.

So we have the same possibility, as in the US presidential elections, where a party could get the largest share of the popular vote but not win the election because they don't have enough MPs ('electoral college votes'). 

Which leads me to the interesting possibility of a UK election game based on the same mechanism as 1960. I wonder if I could put that together with my Stonehenge set. 

 

Stephen / Dave - kudos for a great show. Infotainment at its best.

Good Luck in the decisive Indiana vote . 

The Science's picture

I have to agree with Simon wholeheartedly, a truly great show.  Given that I'm a HUGE presdential history buff, the extras you included in the show were especially awesome.  1960 was already my #2 favorite game in my collection, and your review just reinforces why I like it so much.

Since it is one of my favorite games, I'll go ahead and be nitpicky on a couple of rules you mentioned:

Regarding Initiative:  when cubes are pulled from the bag to determine initiative, they go back into the player's supply, not back in the bag.

Regarding the use of momentum tokens:  if a player wants to use 2 tokens to prevent a player from activating an event on their campaign card, this must be done as the card is played (as a preemptive play), not in response to the opponent's triggering of an event with a momentum token.   I like the way this mechanic is designed, especially since the momentum tokens are not kept hidden from the other player.  It forces the active player to anticipate what his opponent might do.  That may have been the way you played it, but the way it was presented in the show made is sound otherwise. 

Regarding the debates:  although the rules state that you keep the support cubes with the issue tokens when you move them to the debate board, the cubes do not have any bearing on the outcome of a debate issue.  Only the CP on the campaign cards are used to resolve the debate issue.

Again, thanks for putting together such a fantastic episode!

John
(Spiel fan and "2-D" gaming podcaster)  :-)

Steerpike's picture

Hey, John -

no offence intended. When I was referring to 2-D podcasts I was referring to some of the longer established ones which are stuck in a rut.

I enjoy GameOnPodcast, too :-)

 

sconway's picture

Thanks for the corrections, John.

Given the complexity of 1960: Making of the President, I'm not surprised we had a few gaffs, but nothing so earthshatteringly wrong that we broke the game.

sconway's picture

First, a big thanks to everyone who has chimed in with encouragement and praise. I am very proud of how this episode turned out and it is cool to hear from so many people that they really enjoyed it. I hope we can keep setting the bar high and find ways to deliver.

I think the mechanics of the game could lend itself to almost any Presidential election as long as you have someone who spends the time and effort to make the cards for the game reflect the historical conditions and events of that race. Obama McCain would certainly have a TON of interesting cards!

I hadn't thought about how UK elections vs USA elections were similar in that respect. The one key difference is that an MP for a constituency actually represents that locale in government beyond simply casting a vote for Prime Minister. The Electors are not our Congressmen and Congresswomen. Their sole duty is to cast the votes based on the all or nothing race in each state for Electors. I think it is completely outdated and should at the very least be modified. Why not use board game mechanics to more closely reflect the will of the people by sending Electors in proportion to the number of votes cast in a state. Get rid of the all-or-nothing aspect, in other words. Sort of like finishing second in a lot of places in El Grande and first in a few key ones.

Interesting side note: a person on an email list (science fiction writers) is an actual Elector and will get to participate in the process next month. Pretty cool! I hope she gives a full acount of the experience since it seems like such an arcane holdover ritual from a bygone era.

And, Steerpike, if you manage an British election game with Stonehenge components, I want in on the test play!

 

The Science's picture

No offense taken at all!!  I was just poking a little fun at myself.  I definitely use the Spiel as a benchmark for excellence! 

Musti's picture

I'm only halfway listening to this episode and again I'm stunned by the effort you are putting into this. As a Belgian, you're election system feels very weird to us and the extra background introduction on 1960 was very interesting. Both from the technical background but also from the historical perspective. More often than not the image we are getting here in Europe is very biased. During the Bush-years, all Americans seemed to be redneck, gun-loving conservatives whereas now all Americans are ultra-liberal, peace-loving people. Some neutral background info is always welcome, so thanks for that.

sconway's picture

As stated above the Electoral system seems weird and outdated to many of us, too, Musti. Perhaps it is just because we are board gamers, but if you think of it in game terms it doesn't seem nearly as confusing! I wonder if the Founding Fathers were gamers....

And given the past eight years, I don't blame you for seeing most Americans in that way. I'm very proud and grateful to have witnessed and played my small part in this historic election. Hopefully with new leadership, we can mend some fences and convince the world that isn't an accurate picture.

Steerpike's picture

Quick question - you mentioned the good quality components.

How does the board compare with Twilight Struggle ? Is it cardboard stock or more of a proper mounted board ? The component quality vs price has always been the deciding factor for me on TS

sconway's picture

Dave wasn't leading you down the garden path. The goober in this game is really nice.

The board is much better than Twilight Struggle. After a few plays TS board will almost surely start to warp or bend. No such problems with 1960. They are both pricey games, I know. I think it really comes down to whether you have a special affinity for one of the historical era or events in question. As games, not considering history at all, they both sing.

J Moody's picture

The board in 1960 is very high quality - almost too thick in my opinion. I think it is probably the best produced game I own (although I own a lot of paper map type games).

 

 

Another vote for the Spiel. The amazing array of audio memorabilia you unearthed made me want to replay 1960: The Making Of The President even more than the upcoming election already had. (Still haven't gotten the chance; things went a bit wild and giddy here that night. Maybe I'll post it in your election story thread as soon as my head stops spinning. By the way, just how long does that Kennedy song go on, anyway?) Amazingly, for a game this complex, we played for the first time just sitting down cold and following the rulebook as we went; it's that clear and well organized. Still more impressive to me is that, for a historical political game released in a culture where almost every form of entertainment has been gradually warped into propaganda, 1960 manages to present itself with through the impartial eyes of a strict historian and avoids editorializing on either side; something I probably wouldn't have been able to do.

As for Mr. President, this is eerily the second time running that you cover something I just got, having overpaid for a battered copy in a vintage shop over the weekend. (The missing dice were easily replaced and my India Rails crayons will suffice until I can find proper grease pencils.) There was no Clue-style envelope, but I suspect this had been discontinued by the time of my 1971 copy as the undecided voter stack sees quite a bit of action throughout the game. This may also be why the photo on the back of the box was changed to show the game spread out in the shadow of the capitol dome on some of that furniture that only exists on the back of 3M boxes. I swear if I ever build my dream house, I'll just hand the decorators my 3M collection and say, "This, please." (Check out the pictures on Contigo or Quinto and tell me that wouldn't be cool.) As is perhaps inevitable given the subject, it shows its age more than many Bookshelf titles, most of which I honestly believe could acquit themselves admirably if released unchanged today. (Indeed, Executive Decision for one has done just that.) The Democrats haven't had that kind of edge in Texas for a very long time, the color identification of the parties has inverted and after the recent election, the lack of diversity among the pictured candidates is suddenly glaring. They all look kind of weaselly actually. How strange for me, the great advocate of facsimile editions who thinks that the Hasbro exec responsible for demoting Col. Mustard to a football player should run up against Miss Scarlet in the Conservatory with her candlestick, to find myself thinking "This is a fine, solid game, but it would need a facelift." Then again, 3M apparently gave it several over its time and after last-erm, Tuesday night, even an election game from four years ago would probably feel dated.

The only real problem with both of these games is that tallying up the score at the end feels as long and painstaking as the real thing, but that's an immersive theme for you.

Looking forward to hearing how much you're going to finally end up taking me for next episode. "Sharing the wealth" and all that...

 

 

Not sure if the rules in your edition of Mr. President are different, but don't discount campaign headquarters cards. In my copy there are "Rumor" cards which can force your opponent to campaign in a specific state or give you their ballots from that state if they choose not to (or more likely blow their dice roll) and "Endorsement" cards which can give you a nice stack of undecided voters, either of which can be terrific help. But the real benefit for your specific problem is that your campaign headquarters are considered to be in your candidates' home state, so you can play those ballots (or any ballots from the corresponding state) whenever you draw one of those "afterthought" cards. Again, I think this may have been a different game in 1971 as it was in 1967.

sconway's picture

Totally with you on wanting a house with 3M interior design. The places they conjure up in the pictures are sometimes more compelling than the games! Here's what Gregory is talking about:

Just makes you want to step through the picture and look around, no?

We really enjoyed Mr. President even though many aspects feel very dated as you pointed out. The fact that all the candidates looked like weasely stock brokers wasn't lost on me. We actually liked the big vote tally at the end and felt like it gave the game a nice crescendo. We helped each other out by calling out the state and reading off the tallies one by one and then went back to do the math and figure out who had actually won.

The reason we called the Campaign cards out is that they left a TON of interpretation up to the player as to how they should actually be played. In some cases, we felt like we were just making stuff up and that's never good. They seemed like a cool concept that was added at the last minute and weren't properly fleshed out. I can see how a later edition could make very good use of them.

 

 

Just had a chance to listen to the podcast - enjoyed it so much I pulled 1960 out of the closet and decided to play it for the first time while I listened to the podcast a second time. 

1960 is a great game and your podcast was just as awesome !!!

 

 

 

I was perhaps a bit too hard on Mr. President; playing it the day before an election that so completely turned longtime trends on their head and, like you, in the wake of 1960: The Making Of The President was inevitably going to do it a disservice. Most of what felt dated was cosmetic and had the events outside my window been less extraordinary I probably wouldn't have noticed. As to the "edges", those were the accurate stats of its time and could easily be adjusted to reflect other more recent elections. That would be interesting actually; you'd end up with something like Statis Pro Politics. The core of the game is actually quite good indeed; oddly the bit that impressed you the least was the one that kicked the game up a notch for us. When my opponent played a nasty rumor card on me, I was forced to divert my campaign to Ohio to attempt to quash it. The dice roll didn't let me campaign in the state (I failed to persuade the voters that it was a scurrilous lie) and my opponent got to take and immediately cast my Ohio ballots (reaped the benefit of lowdown dirty politics). A bit clunky and random perhaps, but the unexpected introduction of old-fashioned mudslinging suddenly gave an extra charge to the theme.

 

Yes, great episode. Where in the world did you dig up all that media from the election anyway? That was some good stuff (even if I did get out of the car at one point singing the jingle "Kennedy Kennedy Kennedy Kennedy Kennedy Kennedy Kennedy for me!" :) ). I have the game and it was supposed to get a play before the election, but we're probably going to get to it next weekend. I was looking forward to it before, but now I'm definitely making sure it doesn't sit on my unplayed list!

I didn't make it to Essen this year after all (work pulled an interrupt) so my concession is that I'll be at BGG.CON, so I hope to see you again there Stephen! I've gotten you to play Caylus once so we'll see what other trouble I can get you into! 

sconway's picture

Can you beleive the Kenneedy Kennedy jingl goes on for over 3 minutes? At least three more verses, too! Yikes.

I had to do some serious digging to find all the clips. In some cases I found youtube videos of old campaign commercials and extracted the audio. Some were available through library and archival  resources dealing with Presidential history. The skeevy thing I noticed is many web sites trying to monetize or DRM information that should clearly be part of the public record. Very weasely. But a little research and you can avoid such roadblocks.

teabo's picture

 Just wanted to let you guys know I really enjoyed the episode. Very interesting info, too, which is saying something since I thought I was too burned out from election season to care about anything political for years!

Keep it up!

J Moody's picture

I finally got to listen to this episode (I am a bit behind on my podcasts), and it was a great one!  During this year's election, I caught myself thinking about 1960 MotP several times while listening to the news. Every time there was a news bit about one candidate conceding a state, or volunteers and resources pouring into another state, I thought about moving my little candidate around the board placing cubes in 1960. And then there are definitely events that happen during the campaign that affect the general trend of the race. Looking at the game through the lenses of the recent election, it really enhances the game - the theme works with the game perfectly!

I do have to dissent in comparing the sibling games though - Twilight Struggle is obviously the superior game! :)

Fabulous episode, guys!  Just got to it last week and throughly enjoyed all the history and the clips.  It was really interesting to hear the ads and think about how differently it's done nearly 50 years later.  That Kennedy jingle was unreal!

Not much I can say that hasn't already been touched on in other comments, just wanted to stop lurking and actually say "out loud" how much I enjoy and appreciate the show.  They're all great, but I think you guys outdid yourselves with this one!

Cheers,

Janna

sconway's picture

Thanks for the kind words, Janna!

I thought the sound clips would be qwirky and semi-interesting, but they really add an extra layer of context to both the game explanation and the history itself.

Wild to see how the tenor of the political ads may have changed but the underlying rhetoric is basically the same even today!

Side note: it was awesome to meet you at BGG Con. Although Kazaam was pretty lame, I think we still managed to have a good time playing. Hope the coveted Spiel dice roll well for you.

Hope we'll see more posts from you here at Spiel Central in the future.

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