It’s hard to believe we’re almost half-way done with 2019 already.
Where does the time go?
I know where my time didn’t go last month: playing new to me games. I only have three games to tell you about!
However, as the Cult of the New to Me bylaws go, if you play fewer new games, you have to make sure they’re old enough. I think 2007, 2005, and 2012 qualify!
Where did my time go in May?
I was attacked by assassins in an attempted coup!
Thankfully, I dealt with it.
I’m posting this two days early because I won’t be playing any more new games until Sunday. Besides, my father (or mother, or maybe just somebody I heard on the street, I can’t remember) always said that if you can’t do it better, do it early.
I live by that motto!
Anyway, without further adieu (all of my adieu was accidentally donated to a presidential campaign anyway), let’s get started!
Designers: Christian Leonhard, Jason Matthews
Artist: Josh Cappel
This was originally published in 2007 by Z-Man Games but has been republished by GMT Games. I played the GMT version (apparently there are a couple of rules changes in addition to any other cosmetic changes there might have been). I’m still counting it as 2007 because I am liking this “old game” trend!
Anyway, the election of 1960 between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon was an intense one and turned out to be fairly close as far as the Electoral College vote totals were concerned.
In 1960 (yes, I’m shortening it because I’m a lazy git…deal with it), each player is one of the candidates, and they will go through a series of rounds playing cards to campaign, gain political support in certain states, and hinder their opponents, trying to win the final election.
This is a card-driven game with many similarities to Twilight Struggle (a wonderful game that if I had ever played it on the table would probably have made my Top 25).
The game starts with each candidate having some political support cubes in various states. Candidates will be trying to turn each state their own colour, and they can do that by adding their own cubes or removing their opponent’s.
Each state can only have one colour in it, so if you “add” support to a state with your opponent’s cube(s) in it, you first remove theirs. So “adding” one support cube to a state where your opponent has three will mean you’ll take one of theirs away.
Each round, players will be dealt six campaign cards (seven after the debates) that they will use that turn to do various things. These cards will have both an event and a number of CP (Campaign Points) on them. You can play the card for either one, but not both.
Those familiar with Twilight Struggle will know what comes next, but it’s not quite the same. If the card has your symbol on it, then the event will benefit you. If it has your opponent’s symbol on it, then it will benefit them. If it has both, then it could benefit either one depending on what the event is (usually it’s whoever has the most influence in a certain issue or something like that).
Once you’ve played the card for CP (not the event), your opponent can spend one Momentum token to trigger the event (in Twilight Struggle, this happens automatically). Thus, you do have to be careful when playing cards with your opponent’s symbol on them. However, it’s a decision they have to make whether to spend precious momentum to trigger the event.
What if you’re holding back a card that would be even better for them and they don’t have any left?
You can also spend two momentum tokens to ensure your opponent can’t trigger the event. That works too.
You can also play your candidate card for 5 CP instead of playing a card in your hand. This “exhausts” your candidate, and they stay that way (unusable) until you play an event that lets you turn it back to its useful side.
What can you do with those CPs?
Well, you can send your candidate to different states adding support cubes to them. Each CP lets you put one support cube in the state, but you have to send your candidate token there.
If you want to go to a different region, it costs 1 CP to travel to an adjacent region.
The game has a pretty cool mechanism of “Support Checks” if you’re campaigning in a state where the opposing candidate is or if they control it with at least 4 cubes.
There’s a bag that’s been seeded with cubes from both sides, and there will be cubes added to it at various times as well.
If you’re trying to place support in these circumstances (unless you have media presence in the region which lets you avoid the support check), you draw cubes from the bag and only place the cubes that belong to you in the state. The others are given back to your opponent.
If the cubes you draw are all your opponent’s…oh well! That didn’t work.
You can also try to advertise. However many CPs are on the card, you make that many support checks (cube draws). Any of your cubes that you draw can be placed on the Media section of any region. Or, as in campaigning, you can remove your opponent’s because again, only one colour can be present.
Finally, you can also place support cubes on one or more of the three issues that are in contention: Civil Rights, Economy, and Defense.
Whoever “controls” each issue will sometimes get a benefit on an event, and control will become important at the end of the turn.
After five cards are played on both sides, you’ll do some issue clean-up. Whoever has the most media cubes out can switch two adjacent issues on the track.
Then, whoever controls the 1st place issue will get a Momentum token and an Endorsement card. These Endorsements will help you during the election. Whoever controls the second issue will get their choice of one or the other. Whoever controls the third issue will get one momentum token.
Remove one cube from each issue, place a remaining card from your hand into the Campaign Strategy section on your side, discard any others you have, and go on to the next round.
After Round 5, you’ll move to the debates, where you will be using the Campaign Strategy cards you saved to “win” issues. This will allow you to put political support cubes out in the country anywhere you want, and no support checks required. (This is already long enough, so I’m not going to explain how the debates work)
Rounds 7 & 8, you’ll get seven cards and place two in the Campaign Strategy section at the end of the round.
Round 9 is the election itself.
Some events that are played during the game will persist, either preventing other events from happening, or affecting the debates (we didn’t play any in our game) or perhaps affecting the election itself.
For example, Late Returns from Cook County gives Kennedy 5 support checks in Illinois during the campaign. This could turn Illinois blue depending on how much support is already there.
On Election Day, the bag gets a bunch more cubes based on various rules I’m not going to get into right now, then each player will make three support checks in the states on the Campaign Strategy cards they’ve held back the last two turns.
At the end of all this and the Election Day events, any states that have no cubes in them will go one way or the other. If you have an endorsement in that region, you will win all states with no cubes in that region. If nobody has an endorsement in the region, then the states will go whichever way they generally lean.
After that, total up the electoral votes from all controlled states, and whoever has the most is the winner!
I fully expected to never be able to play this game, despite buying it. It’s a 2-player game that takes longer than an hour, so it can’t be played at lunch.
I brought it to a game day, and it just worked out that somebody was interested!
And oh my god is this game amazing.
I really like Twilight Struggle, but one thing I hate about that game is when you have a hand full of nothing but your opponent’s cards. I love the fact that in 1960, you have to make a conscious choice. Do I want to play a momentum and trigger the event played by my opponent? Is the event I’m playing so good that I want to play two momentum tokens to make sure my opponent can’t trigger it?
Nothing feels better than playing an opponent’s card when they have no momentum tokens.
And the decisions are so juicy! Where do I need to concentrate my limited campaigning time? And oh my god Kennedy played the Nixon’s Knee event so I have to spend a momentum token each time I want to campaign. What the hell??
My plays of this game had both of us going “damn you!” when an event got played that hurt the other one, or did something really good for them. It was going back and forth, and my opponent really thought I was going to win both times.
But I didn’t spend enough time working the Midwest as Kennedy and I ended up losing pretty badly. I spent too much time out West.
Then, when I played Nixon, it was going my way pretty well but the last two turns evened it up.
And then the Late Returns from Cook County event played earlier in the game, which gave Kennedy 5 Support Checks in Illinois on Election Day when I had 4 influence cubes there made all the difference. He needed to draw all 5 Kennedy cubes…and he proceeded to do it. A 27-vote swing gave him the victory, 280-257.
Thus, the Democrats once again managed to dig up a bunch of dead voters in Chicago…
That’s the beauty of this game. You can kind of get an idea of how things are going, but there’s always the chance for a sudden turnaround.
It was tense, it was fun, and after the teaching it only took us two hours to play. The second game was about the same.
I must play this one again.
Designer: Franz-Benno Delonge
Artist: Victor Boden
I’m so confused on this one. I’m not sure which version I played, but I don’t think there are any real differences. The Rio Grande edition is out of print, but apparently the Zoch Verlag version in Germany is available from their web site!
Anyway, Manila is a combination auction/worker placement game about transporting goods into the port of Manila in the early 1800s. Apparently it was a dangerous past time back then, and you couldn’t be sure whether the ships would make it into port in time for the goods to be useful.
So lets bet on it!
The board for Manila is basically the waterway leading into the port, with ships (punts) at one end trying to get to their berths in 3 turns.
There are four goods that you can invest in, each starting with a value of zero. Each time a good successfully makes it into port, it goes up one level (5, 10, 20, 30). This is how much value the good has at the end of the game, as well as how much you have to pay for it at the beginning of the round if you buy one.
Once a good reaches 30-value, the game is over.
So how do you do all of this stuff?
Each player starts off with 30 pesos and 3 accomplices (a 3-player game has 4, I guess). You also are dealt two random goods that you keep secret.
First, the office of Harbor Master is auctioned off each round. This will allow you to buy a good (for market price) and decide which goods are going to be shipped this round (only three of the four can be shipped, as there are only three punts!)
The Harbor Master will then position the punts in their lanes. You can place each punt on a space in their lane up to 5 (there are 13 steps to get to port). However, the total of these spaces must equal exactly 9. So you can do a 5-4-0 one, or 3-3-3, or whatever.
Then there is an accomplice placing round. Each player can place one accomplice on a spot.
You can place it on one of the ships for the cost shown in the circle on the punt (it gets more expensive the more accomplices there already). If the punt makes it to port, then you’ll get a share of the money that’s awarded (shown at the top of the piece, 36 for green in the pic above).
Or you can place one in a berth to bet on whether or not a punt will make it there. Betting on one punt arriving is the most expensive (it costs 4) and it gives you the least return (6). However, it’s very likely that at least one will.
The other berths are less expensive and pay out more. This is because it’s less likely to happen.
If a punt doesn’t make it to port in three turns, then they wreck and go to the shipyard for repairs. You can place an accomplice here betting that one or more punts will be wrecked.
There are also two pirate spaces and two pilot spaces that will either let you potentially steal things or help a punt get into port (or not, if you are betting that they’ll get wrecked!)
After each player places an accomplice, a die is rolled for each punt and it moves that many spaces forward in its lane.
Then a second accomplice-placing is done, then a second roll, then a third placement of accomplices.
Prior to the third roll, the pilots can adjust one punt based on the space they are in. Then a third roll is done.
If a punt ends the 2nd round exactly on the 13th space, then the punt is boarded by pirates (if accomplices are there). There must be a vacant space for them or they can’t (I guess these are nice pirates and won’t throw anybody overboard).
If a punt ends the 3rd round exactly on the 13th space, then the punt is plundered! All accomplices are removed from the punt and the pirate (or pirates, if there are two) get the full value of the good on the punt. The pirate captain (first pirate) then chooses whether it docks or goes to the shipyard.
If there are no pirates and a punt lands on space 13, then it docks successfully. It also docks if it moves past space 13. It does this in dock order.
If a ship doesn’t make it past space 13 in the three rolls, it goes to the Shipyard for repair.
Once all three turns have happened, money is paid out based on where accomplices were placed and what happened in the round.
Any goods that reached port have their value moved up one, and the game ends when one hits 30.
Once that happens, you get money for your goods based on the current market value. Add this to the money you already have, and whoever has the most is the winner!
This was a fun little game, taking about 60 minutes or so. I’m not a big fan of auction games, but you’re really only auctioning off the Harbor Master. Then it becomes worker placement and betting (which I’m also not very good at).
The dice rolling makes it really random, but it’s more of a probability thing in that you are placing apprentices based on what you think will be happening later. If the Harbor Master starts a good on 5 because they want that good to make it to port, then it’s a good bet to place an apprentice there.
That will suck if they roll a 1 each turn, though!
If you don’t like randomness, this isn’t the game for you as bad dice rolling can kill you. One poor player did everything he could to make a ship get to port. He had bid high on the Harbor Master and he had the punt 2 spaces away from port on his third die roll.
And promptly rolled a 1.
Yes, that’s his fault for betting so hard on it, but your fate is in the hands of the dice at some point.
It’s not a bad game. I’d definitely play it again.
But it’s not one I’m clamoring for.
Designer: Uwe Rosenberg
Artist: Klemens Franz
(Edit – 12/20/19: The review is live!)
Uwe Rosenberg is known for making 2-player versions of some of his classic heavy euro games (Agricola, Caverna) and he also made a 2-player version of his classic Le Havre. I played that game and it burnt my brain with all of the possibilities.
Would a 2-player version do the same?
Thankfully, not really.
Le Havre: Inland Port takes place over 12 rounds and has a rather unique building system.
Each player is given three francs, a resource tracker, and a player board with what looks like a spinner. One has slots A-F and the other one has slots G-L.
When I first opened the box and saw these, I’m like “what the hell?” But after reading the rulebook and looking at them, they make total sense and it’s amazingly intuitive.
The available buildings are sorted into piles by their letter that corresponds to a round that’s on one of the player boards.
Each round will have a number of actions that are shown on the player boards (beginning with 3 and ultimately ending with 9). For example, Round G (as shown in the board picture above) will have 7 actions.
This is always an odd number because one person will get one more action in the round. Since you keep taking turns in order, who has the extra turn will also alternate each round.
At the beginning of the round, each player’s tracker is moved to the next round and that round’s buildings are made available for purchase.
On your turn, you can do one of two things. You can buy an available building for the cost shown on the top. For example, the Sawmill will cost you 4 clay. The Kiln will cost you a clay and a wood.
When you buy a building, you place it in the space immediately behind your spinner arm.
Or, you can use one of your previously bought buildings to do the action that’s on it. Most of this will either give you money or let you adjust the resources on your track.
Most of the buildings have arrows that tell you in what direction to move the resource marker. You can do that action the number of times equal to the number on your spinner that’s currently in that building’s sector. So if you scroll back up to the player board picture, you’ll see that you can use the Clay Pond three times.
Sometimes there’s an extra action after the “+” symbol. That is done once after you’ve used the building the proper number of times. Going back to the Clay Pond, after you’ve moved clay (red) to the right three times, you’ll get to move it one more time.
The building is then placed back to the “0” slot right behind the spinner arm to show that it’s been used.
The resource tracker is interesting because of how it’s set up. The arrows show how movement will subtract resources. If you need to spend 4 clay, for example, then you’ll move the marker diagonally downward to the left.
However, there is no change. So if you need to spend 4 and the marker is already all the way to the left, you can’t move down diagonally. Instead, you’ll have to move it straight down twice (spending 6). Too bad, so sad.
You can also give the other player a franc to use one of their buildings. They then move the building to the zero slot. You’ve essentially made it unusable by them this turn. Too bad if you were planning on it!
Resource Management ain’t Bean Bag.
After the twelfth round, each player add up the value of their buildings, adding this total to the number of francs they already have.
Whoever has the most is the winner!
Le Havre: Inland Port is a pretty fun game with absolutely no randomness whatsoever.
You know exactly what buildings are coming out each turn and how much it will cost.
The only variable is in how you play and how your opponent does.
It’s a game of resource management, buying buildings to move your resources around to buy more buildings that are worth more francs. Maybe the building might give you francs when you use it (you always need francs, to use their buildings if nothing else). Or maybe it will just shift resources.
I’ve played it twice and will play it again in order to do a review, but I can see it getting a bit stale after a while.
Nothing will change. It’s just what you do that will change.
Still, it takes about 40 minutes so it’s a perfect lunch time game, and it is fun if you like this kind of thing. Uwe done in under an hour isn’t necessarily a bad thing!
I’m glad I have it.
So there you go. Only three new games, but five plays of them!
What did you play that was new to you in May?
Let me know in the comments.