I’ve had several requests of late for more information about the domestic side of Mr. President. In the recent replay articles I’ve shared, we downplayed the domestic choices and events because, frankly, that piece of the redesign wasn’t quite finished yet. Now I have all the main domestic redesign pieces in place, so I wanted to give you guys a look at what they are and how they work together. I hope this peek under the hood gives you a sense of the domestic opportunities and challenges you’ll find in the game, and introduces you to some of the tools you’ll have at your disposal to become an amazing President – loved by at least 51% of the people! I hope you enjoy the article! – Gene
I’ve received several questions of late about why there’s so much foreign policy and anti-terrorism in Mr. President. Not to be flippant, but “Have you seen the world lately?” I want the game to reflect, at an appropriate level of simulation, that the U.S. President looks out on a world that has never been more interconnected and interdependent, especially in terms of communication, economics, transportation, and security. Mr. President acknowledges this by assuming significant US interests in each of the world’s eight game regions. The game also recognizes that there are serious threats to stability, successful relationships, and burgeoning trade in each of those regions, as well as peer competitors vying for influence in each. Throw in alliance and security concerns, plus the explosion in sophisticated international terror groups over the past 20 years, and you have a complex and difficult operational problem. I believe that deciding how to best promote and protect the interests of the US and its allies in today’s global environment is one of the most difficult and diverse of all the challenges the President faces. In domestic affairs, despite our differences, we mostly share a common language, culture, history, and experience, which facilitates understanding. Compared to that, it seems that operating, advocating, mediating, and sometimes leading in a world with scores of disparate languages, cultures, histories, objectives, and interests is a substantially more difficult task. So I’ve attempted to build a world situation in Mr. President that will challenge you early and often with many diverse and unexpected challenges and events.
Managing Domestic Crises
The thing that happens to you most often in the Domestic part of the game is drawing a Crisis card that will introduce one or more Domestic Crises. These Crises are specific problems on each card to aid with the game’s story-telling, but the game’s Domestic Crises track streamlines them (for playability purposes – or the game would take forever to play) into x number of Crises to manage – if you get too many, you get a Domestic Failure. This increases the Lingering Domestic Issue Track (too high and you lose the game) and causes other unwelcome problems. Domestic Crises are annoying in the context of “I want to get on with my Greater Society and Legislative Agenda (see below), but now I have to deal with these issues first.”
I guess my 10,000 foot view of the Presidency is that you have your plans and objectives and agendas going in, but you spend most of your time trying to manage all the chaos of the unexpected things that keep popping up. It’s a real challenge to work through all that and still have the time and resolve to stay true to your original purposes. The game has you manage quite a bit of unexpected chaos, but it also gives you opportunities, as you’ll see in the Building a Greater Society section below, to lay out your plan and work toward it. This is a tough balance to get right, but based on current in-house testing, I feel like we are getting close to the mix I want for the game.
Building a Greater Society
There are six Greater Society Tracks in the game, as shown above (I am still considering and tweaking effects, so expect that a lot will change before the final game version). These tracks have evolved a bit over time, but we are finally starting to get them where they feel right to me. These tracks now represent the areas in which you choose to move the US society forward during your term. Together, they form my (still-evolving) view of the areas where a US President needs to help the country evolve and improve. These comprise, if you will, a game approximation of “quality of life” for both the republic itself and for its average citizen.
Using Domestic actions and introducing legislation to move each of these six tracks forward in a mix and at a pace that fits your goals is a big part of what you will be doing and thinking about domestically as the President. As you see, you can get big legacy points (game VPs) here as well – lots of positives for your most advanced tracks, and negatives for the least advanced track at game end, so you have incentive to make sure you progress in all the areas, while probably picking a couple to really focus on heavily. One thing to note is, as with Lingering Domestic Issues, you can’t spend Actions on Greater Society if you have Domestic Crises to deal with. So you have to work to keep Domestic Crises at bay in order to consistently work on your Greater Society projects. How well you manage all this and how you choose to move those tracks forward will be a big determinant of your success in the game.