Congratulations! You’re the New American President (Part 1)

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Welcome to another look inside Mr. President!

(Please note that not only is all the art you see below playtest art, it’s playtest art mostly created by me, and I have trouble drawing straight stick figures! It’ll look a lot better when our artists do their magic!)

This time, we’re going to start a new game, and give you a sense of how you populate the game board, choose and prepare your assets, assume your persona, and dive into a new story. First off, let’s introduce YOU, the newly-elected President!

You make a few die rolls and find out that you are a 40-something male (you can have different ages and potentially gender here) who just won the election handily! In game-terms, that means that a) you’re relatively young, and thus less likely to die in office – unless you make someone really, REALLY mad – and b) you get to start on the public Public Opinion Track at 52%. This is the EASY setting for the game, although I’m betting some of you will question my definition of “Easy” as you play (and maybe LOSE!) a few games of Mr. President.

Now let’s find out about your Special Attributes. There are eight Presidential Ability markers in the game  and you get to randomly choose two at game start. You MIGHT get another during game play (gaining experience and expertise), but for now, these are your special talents. 
We draw, and get LIKEABLE and TEAM BUILDER. You were probably hoping for PERSUASIVE SPEAKER – always a good one – but the ones you have are good attributes. We’ll set these two markers in front of you for now and use those abilities in a few minutes.


You’re playing the EASY level of the game this time, so we’ll now place the markers for Presidential Prestige and the remaining four Domestic Tracks (Relations with Congress, Media Relations, State of the Economy, Homeland Security) at 6.

To round out our Domestic Situation Set-up, you set your Advisor Experience marker in the leftmost “Green” box, and draw five normal and two Veteran advisors. But wait, because one of your Attributes is TEAM BUILDER, you get to draw one extra normal Advisor at start. So, here’s your Advisor mix for the game:


Not a bad mix of advisors at all. One of the Veterans is a Legislative All-Star and will certainly help you get your Legislative Agenda going. The other is strong in Homeland Security. The non-vets give you a wide variety of capabilities, all of which you’ll need – trust me. So you place all of the Advisors in the Unused section of the Advisor box.

Now to Congress. You are playing the EASY difficulty, so your party has a “Slight Majority” in each house. So you place those markers in the Majority Control box in the US Congress section of the map. Now you’ll establish Public Priorities for Legislation by choosing two from the list list of 14 and randomly drawing three more.


You chose “Education Reform” and “Job Creation Package” and drew “Cyber Security,” “Energy Independence,” and “Finance Reform.” Now you’ll randomly fill the “Public Legislative Priorities” box by drawing those five markers in sequence. Here’s what they look like when you are finished:


Next, you establish your top three Legislative Priorities. You decide to go with what the people want (and potentially reap extra benefits for matching them), so your priorities are:

• Job Creation Package
• Energy Independence
• Education Reform

The last aspect for Congress is drawing Congressional Friends and Opponents.


These are your strongest supporters and staunchest foes in the legislature. Because you have a majority in each house, you get to draw three friends and two opponents in each house from a mix of 24 possible friends/opponents. 

Here’s what you drew: 


One of the fun aspects of Mr. President is that there’s a lot of random drawing during the setup, so you have a new situation every time you play – and that’s BEFORE you start flipping Crisis Cards. So let’s take a brief look at this Friends/Enemies mix in Congress:

In the House, two of your three Friends are STAUNCH (the ST at bottom left and darker counter color), which means these guys will always help when chosen. The non-Staunch friends need extra incentives from you (Favors or APs) or passing a die roll in order to be effective in your cause. So in the house, you’re looking really good, with a total of 8 Power ratings (bottom right) to just 2 (and one Staunch) for your opposition. One of those opponents is a potential Presidential Rival, so you’ll have to keep an eye on Douglas Tate – even though he’s not real powerful at start. (Note: Those hand-scribbled numbers on the counters are a random range that is used when some Crisis cards affect certain of your Friends or Opponents).

In the Senate, you’re going to have a rougher time. Both of your opponents are powerful (3 is highest) and Staunchly opposed to you (for opponents, this means you can’t buy off their influence with Favors). Worse yet, one of them – Gates – is a Potential Presidential Rival – and a strong one. You have one Staunch Friend in the Senate, and generally a pretty powerful group. But those Opponents are going to be tough. (You make a note to get one of your “Subvert PO”-rating Advisors working on weakening Charles Gates….) At least initially, the Senate is going to be your bigger challenge. Thank goodness you have a majority, or you’d be in real trouble there.

Now you place all of those At-Start Friends and Opponents onto the Political Influence Track. Rivals go in the “5” space. Those with Power Ratings of 3 go in the “4” space. Everyone else starts in the “3” space. Then you put all the unselected Friends and Opponents into one of the random draw cups, to potentially be drawn out during the game as events unfold.

The last thing you’ll do on the Domestic side is choose your one “Exceptional White House Resource.” There are five cards that represent people or groups who are just amazing at what they do. They offer extra special resources to the President, in various ways. At the start of the game, you get to randomly select one of these cards and use it throughout the game. Once you’ve chosen your card, you permanently discard two more of the five cards, then shuffle the remaining two into the Crisis Deck. So you MIGHT get more Exceptional Resources during the game. For now, you shuffle the five cards and draw AMAZING SECRETARY OF TREASURY. Here’s what he does:


So this is going to help you economically – an “Improving Economy” marker once a turn is a big deal – and save you (because of his prudence and foresight) from one financial crisis during the game.

Now you’ll quickly set up the world, based on the World setup sheet. I should mention that we are testing with one basic sheet (for consistency in evaluating results), but I’ve structured this part of the game so that we (or you) will be able to create new Setup Situations very easily. When you think about how much the world changes over just a year or two, I think this is going to be a welcome aspect to the game, as we plan to create – and encourage customer-created – new World Setup cards as pdfs periodically online.

Here’s a quick glance at a few of the world’s regions, at Start.


From left to right: Middle East, Africa, and Asia/Pacific regions.

Now we’ll choose your Secretary of Defense and Secretary of State, your two key Cabinet members (game-wise). The reason we wait until after the world is drawn for these two is we want you to see the world setup before you make these decisions. So there are eight possible candidates for each position. You place all of each time in a draw cup and draw three of each. These are your final vetted candidates for the position. You get to pick the one you want from the vetted candidates. Here are the candidates you drew:


For the Secretary of State, the ratings are:

Left#: Diplomacy Rating

Right#: Russia/China Rating

Also, above the ratings in the center is a special ability. So in evaluating the candidates, Wallace and Sanchez have the best numerical ratings (although Hallsten is awesome with China). So your decision point comes down to whether you think you’re going to need Mediation ability or ability to deal with Rogue nations more in the game. You look at Iran and North Korea and that Rogue State in the Middle East and decide you want Raoul Sanchez as your Secretary of State.

For the Secretary of Defense, the number ratings represent Planning (left) and Operations (Right). Like the Secretary of State, they also have a Specialty in the middle above the numbers. So you dismiss Massey immediately, as his ratings are inferior to the other two. Campbell and Mercer are identical in terms of ability, but Campbell is oriented toward Hi Tech and Mercer is a master at building and deploying Special Operations Forces. This is a tough call, but you are swayed by all those Terror markers dotting the map, and decide you want Ivan Mercer for your Secretary of Defense.

You quickly build  and shuffle the Crisis Deck, draw 12 off the top and put together with the six recurring cards. You shuffle these and place them in the “Current Turn Deck” space on the map.

Now you’re ready to start the game! You spend a few minutes evaluating the board and thinking about what you want to prioritize in your first six months. You decide that you want to take advantage of your “honeymoon period” with Congress, and focus all your efforts initially on getting your legislative agenda passed.

Just imagine your chagrin, then, when the first Crisis Card you draw to begin the turn is “PREVIOUSLY UNKNOWN TERROR GROUP BOMBS THE EIFFEL TOWER: THOUSANDS DEAD OR INJURED.” So much for focusing on your legislative agenda….

Next time in Part 2: The first month of your Presidency, or “How to Simultaneously Juggle Knives and Breathe Fire.”


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16 thoughts on “Congratulations! You’re the New American President (Part 1)

  1. Very cool. I like the set-up, that will be a lot of fun. One of the reasons I love Enemy Coast Ahead is the part of the game that is the pre-game part, the setting it up, mission planning. So I like that Mr. President has a little of that pre-game stuff.

    Is it going to matter if you are Democrat or Republican? Doesn’t look like it matters by what I see.

    • Thanks Gordon! I agree, Enemy Coast Ahead is cool! Jerry did a great job on it.

      Glad you like what you see of MP so far. And you’re right, the game doesn’t deal with party identity or partisanship. It recognizes that you have political friends and opponents, but that’s about it. I’m going for functional decision-making rather than ideological perspectives in this game.


      • That’s fine by me. I also like that you identify potential rivals in Congress, that adds a little extra flavor.

        Would there ever be a rival from your own side? A reluctant ally who is also a potential same party rival, who if you are weak might make a run against an incumbent president?

        • Yes, indeed. There are six rivals who are Opponents and four rivals who are Friends. If you happen to draw some of those friend/rivals, you have to be careful: you need them to get your legislation passed, but you don’t want them to become too accomplished/popular, as they COULD beat you for the nomination if their influence is really high and you’re not very popular. (I know, just DON’T be unpopular, right? 🙂 )

  2. Really looking to this! I saw somewhere that this might be the start of a series. Are you thinking that you might have historical expansions/versions coming? Playing as a historical President (with the appropriate world/domestic issues) could be a LOT of fun 🙂

  3. Gene,

    I thought I posted a note yesterday and it has never appeared so hopefully this one isn’t going to turn out as a near duplicate of one already out there in the ether. Just wanted to say the game is looking great, and as I’ve said before, I’m eager to put this one on my game table! I’m loving the many moving parts, getting the administration ready for the first 100 days, then all the rest!

    Following up on current events, I’m wondering if there is a provision for congressional opponents and supporters, as well as advisors and department secretaries, to evolve during the game. For example can Rival Opponent Gates “resign” from the Senate and be replaced by, say, Griffen fleeting up to Rival, and then a new Opponent is picked to fill in behind Griffen, or is that too much chrome with these sorts of things assumed to occur behind the curtain with the originally drawn counter mix staying constant? Same sort of thing for secretaries of state and defense, and also advisors?

    As an aside, I’m really looking forward to playing Mr. Nixon in the fullness of time, just for the experience of starting out with Advisor Kissinger with perhaps a +3!!, and then promoting him to secretary of state with perhaps a couple of attributes and maybe a 2-2 rating, although that might skew the application of these ratings within the context of the game system. Of course Kissinger should skew the game a little compared to the more normal politicos that revolve through these doors. The Amazing Secretary card idea might apply as well, and that would be a pretty amazing card, plus it would need to be sort of a pre-draw rather than random! And while mentioning secretaries of state, I’m very eager to bring Buchanan to the table in Mr. Polk’s cabinet!

    On the Amazing cards, more cards might be better, because it seems that Amazing Secretaries of the Treasury are much more rare than a 1 in 5 chance. Although as you say, it may be that the effects identified with Amazing Secretary of Treasury really represent a very effective Treasury team, a real solid chief civil servant and professional permanent staff, plus a mix of knowledgeable and effective assistant secretaries, even if the actual secretary were somewhat lackluster, but still, a 1 in 5 chance of an Amazing Treasury Department seems a little too high. I won’t reveal my biases from working in and around the Executive Branch for more than 45 years, but depending on what other cards are among these five Exceptional cards, I might have to dream up some substitute cards!

    Keep these great reports flowing! I have three politically minded brothers, and I might have to increase my p500 order to four!


    • Hi Jan!

      Really glad that you are liking what you see of Mr. President!

      On your question about advisors and friends/opponents, there ARE cards in the game that cause some to resign. lose so much influence as to no longer be significant in Congress, even die. In those cases, yes, they are replaced, and yes, that can change your situation for better or worse. There isn’t a TON of chrome here, as I don’t want us to get bogged down in this part of the game, but you definitely can’t count on always having your current resources later in the game.

      I agree, Nixon and Kissinger would be fun to play with!

      On the “amazing” resources, I’m not really doing “20% math.” Rather, just representing that you’re always going to get ONE person or team that is exceptional. Historically speaking, I think that’s reasonable. There’s just no telling which one you’ll draw. And by the way, I may well indeed add one or two more options for the Amazing cards.

      When you get the game, with all the experience you have in government, I’m SURE you’ll want to tinker, add, and modify to suit your tastes. I hope you’ll send me whatever you come up with down the road so I can have fun with them too!

      Thanks again for your interest and support!


  4. Hi, the game really looks interesting, I will be my first p500, but I have one concern. I’m not from USA, will it be difficult to understand the flow of the politics, not all countries make laws in the same way or the process will be explained?


    • Hi Axel! Thanks for your interest in Mr. President! I understand your concern. I’m doing my best to create a game that will be fun to play and will immerse players in an ever-changing story, whether they live in the US or not. I will definitely be taking special care in areas of the game that I think non-US players might be unfamiliar with to explain both the game processes and the realities behind them.

      Also, one of the reasons we try to have playtesters from all over the world is to help us learn early, before we release the game, which areas might need some extra attention and explanation. Thanks again for your question.

      Enjoy the games!


        • I’m glad you like them, Axel. As for the US President, let’s just call him “inexperienced” in this instance! 🙂 (Don’t worry, I’m making a few adjustments.)