American History for Gamerzzz

At the next HISRECO meeting at Antwerp, Belgium in June, I predict that this game would largely outsell the books and journals usually displayed on their tables outside the conference rooms.

It features the perfect cocktail of enthusiasm for a past historical event and an extremely poor level of playability that scholars would rightly expect from a boardgame. It is called “1960: The Making of the President” and reenacts the campaign that opposed Nixon to Kennedy.

1960: The making of the President
1960: The making of the President

The following teaser shouldn’t let your soul of historian at rest until you spent nights playing the game:

“As with any election campaign, the challenge is to adapt your game plan as the ground shifts out from under you. There are never enough resources or time to do everything, but you need to make the tough calls to propel yourself into the White House. This fast-playing strategy game for two players challenges you to run for the most powerful elective office in the world, at one of its most unique crossroads. Will you recreate history, or rewrite it? 1960: The Making of the President provides you the opportunity to do both.”

Recreating and rewriting history comes to an effort, as we know well. With “The Making of a President”, you will have to swallow a 16-pages booklet of game rules, and from personal experience I can guarantee that your first game will surely last more than 5 hours. A long time, considering that the coin toss attributed me the depressing task of bringing Nixon to the White House.

Me playing, yesterday night
Me playing, yesterday night

Each card features historical events, from the incidental (Nixon knee injury which prevented him from actively campaigning for two weeks) to the more consequential (the media consequences of the the U2 pilot trial in USSR) which each made a contribution to the final outcome. One of the three stakes of the campaign is “the economy” (along civil rights and defense), so I  had a distinct competitive advantage here, which did not prevent me from loosing the TV debate on this topic, in the 6th round of the game.

With a remarkable rating of 7.89 / 10 on boardgamegeek.com, this is a must-buy for each member of our profession specializing in 1950 history and after. I can’t be 100% affirmative though: we stopped as we got so bored after 4 hours playing.

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2 thoughts on “American History for Gamerzzz

  1. I bought this game as a birthday present for my lawyer roommate last summer, and I have to disagree with your assessment. Perhaps it depends on your previous tolerance for long and complicated board games – compared to Advanced Civilization or History of the World, 1960 is short, simple and entertaining. We’ve played several times, and enjoyed each game. But we also are the kind of people who play long and complicated board games once a week…

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