Mr. President is a game unlike any other I’ve ever attempted to design. It is a solitaire game that puts you in the shoes of the President of the United States, attempting to govern, with limited resources, in a complex and ever-changing world. It is not a game about getting elected, and it definitely does not have a political affiliation or point of view. It is about GOVERNING, and the choices and trade-offs you make to try and balance keeping your citizens protected and happy while the world seems to be disintegrating all around you.
As an aside, when I begin design work on Mr. President several years ago, I ran the idea by Andy Lewis just to see what he thought. What you need to know is this is THE game I’ve always wanted to design, and intend it to be (by far) my best design ever. But when I told Andy about it, he was very lukewarm to the idea (although in Andy’s defense he says now that he didn’t realize it was going to be a solitaire game), and didn’t really think a game like this would sell. I was a little disappointed, but, naturally, I totally forgave Andy for his lack of vision and faith and went on with the project, right? OK, well that’s NOT quite the whole story. When it came time to create the Advisor counters in Mr. President, I told John Welch, my design assistant, “We’re going to put Andy Lewis in the Advisor mix. And we’re going to make him by far the sorriest advisor in the Cabinet.” Now for the record, I really like Andy Lewis and love working with him, and the rest of this is just all in good fun. But I DO remember…. 🙂
I hope you enjoy this brief look inside the world of Mr. President. We’ll post more as the design/development process advances.
“Mr. President! The rebels are advancing on Nairobi!
“Now wait just a minute, Higgins. That can’t be right. I remember authorizing aid to the government there just last week.”
“Uh, sir, you sent a dozen aid workers and three crates of black-market AK-47s. It seems that neither was sufficient to demoralize the rebel forces.”
“So you’re telling me that when I decided to send 1 Action Point to support the US forces, that’s the only result I get?”
“In this case sir, that’s correct. The game system offers no guarantees when it comes to foreign aid. But more is generally better, and actual military forces can make a big difference. In hindsight, we probably should have sent as many as 3 APs, plus some advisors, or maybe special forces and drones! I know how much you like your drones, Mr. President.”
“So what would you recommend, Mr. Higgins?”
“Well, sir, we have two carrier battle groups in the Arabian Sea. We could direct the Joint Chiefs to redeploy one of those groups off the coast of East Africa. Either the attached air wing or salvoes of Tomahawk missiles from the escorts could devastate the rebel spearhead and buy us some time to get some advisors and special ops troops on the group to support the government.”
“Ok, Higgins, make it so. But let’s lead with the Tomahawks. I don’t want to see captured US flyers on Al-Jazeera.”
The following week….
“This can’t be right! This latest poll says my Public Approval Rating is 28%!”
“I’m afraid that is what the poll says, Mr. President.”
“But I’m their leader, and I care about the people. They should love me!”
“Well, sir, I can’t be certain of course, but perhaps your veto of the minimum wage increase, coupled with your anti-immigration bill and your public stance against the “Clean Water for Everyone” movement has something to do with your drop in the polls.”
“What’s a President to do? You can’t be FOR everything!”
A few days later….
“Higgins, I need you to direct the Secretary of State to hop on a plane to Tokyo. Seems our Chinese and Japanese friends are crossing swords again over a couple of worthless specks of rock in the East China Sea.”
“Uh, sir, the Secretary of State is in Moscow for high-level meetings with the Russians.”
“Well, what about one of my other trusted advisors? How about Mr. Sanchez or Miss Richards?”
“Both are also overseas, Mr. President. You sent them to the Middle East last week to try to talk some sense into those people.”
“You and I both know that’s probably a fool’s errand, but I had to try, as without Jewish support here at home I’ll never get re-elected. OK, they’re out. So who do we have available?”
“Uh, well sir, there’s only one, but you told me never to use him. We still have Andy Lewis available.”
“Holy Sweet Jehoshaphat! You mean all we have left in the bullpen is Andy Lewis?!?!?!”
“I’m sorry to say, that’s true, sir.”
“Andy Lewis!?!?!?!?! Why, I wouldn’t send that gum-chewing, Euro-game-loving neo-hippie to referee a bar fight, much less to mediate an international conflict! Don’t we have anyone else?”
“Dang. If only I hadn’t needed Delaware to win that election! If I’d only known it was going to cost me having that Lewis character on my cabinet, I’d have let them have the election and made a fortune on the lecture circuit.”
“I guess there’s a price for everything, sir.”
“OK, I’m going to officially say that this game is broken! If my choices boil down to seeing China and Japan go to war and perhaps incinerating a third of the world in the process or sending Andy Lewis to try and make things better, the world is going to blow up EVERY SINGLE TIME! So we need more development….”
Later that month (turn) …
“Sir, Congress has just voted to block your landmark Education bill!”
“What? That bill is my legacy! What happened?”
“Well, sir, as you know, you do have quite a few political enemies, and they’re ganging up on you on this one. Three of them have ratings of “6” or higher on the Political Enemies Track.”
“Hmmph. Play a few dirty tricks while winning the election, and suddenly everyone wants to be your enemy. What kind of country is this?”
This is just an example of some of the things you will say and think when you play Mr. President. That’s just the beginning, really. With over 150 Crisis and Action/Event cards in the mix and multiple sub-systems representing the US Economy, Congress, Homeland Security, the Press, Presidential Prestige, Russia, China, Hostile Rogue States, and staunch Allies, no two games of Mr. President will every play remotely alike. As development progresses, we’ll clue you in on more of the details. For now, just picture yourself behind the desk in the Oval Office, and let your imagination run wild!