We’re picking up the action as you enter the 2nd month of your Presidency. Let’s get right to Game Turn 1, Round 2.
Round 2 – February:
Crisis Phase (Draw and Resolve 3 Crisis Cards)
Card 1: [#129] WE ARE THE WORLD. This is a Conditional Benefit card. If both Russia and China’s current Posture is 2 or less, (they are both 1 at this point in the game) the positive effects of this card occur. In this instance, Russia and China join with the US to lead the world community in a massive effort to Eradicate childhood diseases in Africa. The effects help each of those countries, and the region, as follows:
Place a “Trending Pro-US” marker on the Africa Alignment Track. Increase Regional Stability in Africa by one box, to ‘5.” Decrease the ST Crises marker in Africa by one box (now it’s 1). Place both a Russia Influence and a China Influence marker in Africa (China has two Influence there now- something we need to watch). Finally, Tensions between the three nations decrease as a result of this cooperation, so remove two Tensions markers each from Russia (they now have 1), China (now none), and NATO (none).
We feel pretty good about this one. The world just became a little bit more stable.
Card 2: [#137] SEPARATISTS DESTROY MAJOR GASPROM PIPELINE – Ugh. Just when we thought the Russians were going to settle down a bit. This card places a Worsening Economy marker on the State of the Economy track for both Russia and the Eurozone. It also increases the ST Crises marker in both the Eurozone and Eastern Europe (it’s now “3” in both regions, bordering on having to draw a Major Crisis chit for each). You also place THREE Tensions markers (4 total now!) and a “-1 AP” marker on Russia (they’ll lose a global action this turn as they’re focusing on problems closer to home). And, because they are royally ticked off, you roll a d10 for an immediate Russian response.
The roll is a 5, which reads:” Russia blames Eastern European Terrorists and declares War on the Caucasus Emirate. Set up an Air/Ground War between Russia and (a new) Lvl 4 Terror Group in Eastern Europe. No Surprise. (If Russia wins this war, increase the Russian Expansion Track by one box).
Yikes, this game’s first new War. We set the War up on our War Status Track and make an Initial Attack roll to determine the results of the initial Russian surge against the Caucasus Emirate. The Russians have solid 2:1 odds on the Combat Table. The roll is a “4” (low is good) and results in one shift in Russia’s favor (to the “Attacker winning” box) on the War Status Track. If they can get another big push during the “War Progress Check” card (it’s undrawn so far this turn, but we don’t have any idea when it will come up), the Russians might be able to “win” this conflict before the Terror Group can disperse and turn the conflict into a longer guerrilla war.
Oh, one more thing. Anytime a War starts in one of the world regions, it immediately adds one to the ST Crises Track in that region. In this case, that moves the ST Crisis in Eastern Europe to “4”, which triggers the draw of a Major Crisis chit. The chit we draw is a “-1 Stability”. So we decrease Regional Stability in Eastern Europe from 6 to 5, and move the ST Crises marker back to the “2” box (where it always goes after a Major Crisis is triggered).
So, shortly after jointly singing “Kum ba Yah” together in Africa and seemingly being on the way to a more peaceful world, the Russians are now at war on their borders and Eastern Europe is starting to get ugly. You mark down the Russian war against terrorists as one you want to stay out of – although you may need to try to provide some stabilization help to Eastern Europe over the coming months.
Card 3: [#45] BRIDGE COLLAPSE KILLS HUNDREDS IN PITTSBURGH. Your attention is quickly shifted back to the homefront, as your administration comes under heavy fire for its lack of attention to and funding for new bridges and other infrastructure improvements (you have no Infrastructure bill in Congress or already passed, so you take a hit with the public). Decrease Public Approval by two boxes (to 44%). Also, move “Infrastructure Upgrades” into the #1 box on the Public Legislative Priorities track and slide all the other priorities one box to the right.
You’ve only been in office for a couple months, so it feels very wrong that you should be blamed for something your predecessor failed to do with you just new in town. My advice is “get used to it.” Like real-life Presidents, you’ll often be blamed in Mr. President when the electorate is angry, “fairly” or not. What this effectively does for you, in game terms, aside from the Public Opinion hit, is give you a new piece of Legislative to consider introducing (because you get more credit – and public support – for bills that are highest on the Public’s Legislative Priorities.) It’s also going to rob you of a bit of your public support for your existing Jobs Package in Congress. They still want it, but they want you to act on Infrastructure Upgrades now. You’ll get your chance to act in your Legislative Phase, shortly.
UN Phase (Rounds 2,4,6)
Remember, during Rounds 1, 3, and 5, your Allies act at this point in the round. On the even turns, though, it is the UN who will act.
Every time the UN is eligible to act, they will automatically make one Humanitarian Aid attempt (this represents the world body acting together to alleviate suffering and avert crisis, and attempts to decrease the ST Crises level in the one region with the highest ST Crisis level by one box). In this instance, both the Eurozone (that’s a shock, but remember the Eiffel Tower bombing and the major Terror infiltration last month) and the Middle East have a ST Crises level of “3.” We randomly roll to determine who the UN tries to help, and Europe gets the nod. A Humanitarian Aid roll is successful 80% of the time, so a roll of “8” in this case (barely) succeeds, and we move the ST Crises marker in Europe down to the “2” box. Thank you, United Nations.
You could at this point use either a Presidential Action Point (they are precious in this game – you get 10 this turn ) or a US Goodwill marker in the UN to ask the UN to vote on something else – another Humanitarian Aid attempt, a “Build Infrastructure” attempt which increases Stability in a region, a vote to place Sanctions, or to send UN Peacekeepers to a war-torn region or Conflict Track. You can also ask them to send UN Troops to a conflict (this is difficult) or to attempt peace talks to stop a war.
You do have a US Goodwill marker in the UN (from last round’s Presidential Speech), but you decide for now to just hold off and conserve your resources for later in the turn.
Presidential AP/Domestic Advisor Initial Phase
I want to note here that I have streamlined the game a bit since our last installment. I’ve eliminated all of the General Action Points as well as the AP cost on the Crisis cards. This is a major change, but at the end of the day it was a place where I could streamline the game and shorten the playtime by getting rid of what was essentially an artificial construct. When I ditched the Action Points and costs, I still had all the compelling story created by the Crisis Cards; I just had to rebalance player capabilities to make sure you have enough options and actions to be competitive with the Crises the game throws at you. That rebalancing continues; I may yet need to adjust the mix of Advisors, Presidential Action Points, Actions for SecState and SecDef, Ally Actions, or UN Actions to achieve better balance. Testing and time will tell….
So, the only things you really have to think about in this phase now are whether and how you want to spend your Presidential Action Points (you have 9 left out of 10 for the entire turn) and whether and how to use your Advisors.
For your Advisors, you decide to use one of your Legislative Specialists to buy you one more Legislative Action (for a total of three) this turn. That’ll help you respond to the public’s wishes and get a new Infrastructure Bill started in Congress.
For your Presidential APs, you’re getting a little worried about Public Approval, so you spend 2 Presidential APs to “Use Bully Pulpit and Exclusive Interviews to Influence Media and the Public.” To do this, you make a Presidential Prestige Check (Your Prestige is still 6). If you pass, you get to improve Public Approval by two boxes (4%) and Media Relations by one box. In the event, though, you roll a “9,” which gets you no benefits and means both the public and the Media were unswayed by your Media Offensive (a roll of 10 would have hurt your Media Relations, so at least it wasn’t that bad). So you’re down 2 Presidential APs (you have 7 remaining now for the rest of the turn) and got no benefit this time. Rats!
You now move on to your legislative agenda. You use one of your three actions to introduce an Infrastructure Upgrade bill in the House. You are still in your Honeymoon Period (all of turn 1), so your Opponents can only act once each for the entire turn. You have to choose your actions before the Opponents act, so you decide to use friends in both the House and Senate to try to keep your bills moving along.
Senate: You only have one piece of Legislation in the Senate, a Jobs Bill that is currently in Committee. You charge Senator Malachi Taylor to marshall your bill out of committee. The Opponents, with only two Opponent Actions left in the Senate this turn, decide to save their opposition for a more opportune time. To resolve the attempt to move it out of Committee, add your Friend Senator Taylor’s Power (2) to any Public Support for the bill (it’s now a +1 instead of a +2 because it’s no longer the #1 Public Legislative Priority) and add those to the roll of the blue 6-sided die. You then compare that to the roll of the white 6-sided die. If your roll (blue) is greater than the white roll, your bill moves forward. So in this instance, you get a +3 to the blue die and no mods to the white die. The rolls are 5 (blue) and 1(white), so your bill moves out of committee and to the Calendar space in the Senate. You’re making progess! Remember to move Senator Taylor from the Unused to the Used Once section of the Political Influence Track when you’re finished.
In the House, your Jobs Creation Package (bearing a +1 Public Support marker) was blocked last month due to the opposition of Douglas Tate (who now, thankfully, is USED for the rest of the turn). So this turn you will roll to try to get it back up to the Committee portion of the box. To help it along, you choose Hugo Torres (Power 2). Again, your opponents, with only one action remaining in the House this turn, choose to save it for a more strategic moment. You roll, and both dies roll 2. With your +3 drm, though, your bill moves easily back to the Committee portion of the box. Now you’ll try to move your new bill, Infrastructure Upgrades, into Committee as well. You have a +2 DRM due to Public Support, but you really want to get this bill moving, so you work with Representative Jalen Jones (Power 2) to give you a +4 total drm. You roll and both dies come up “3,” giving you an easy victory. Move your bill into the Committee box.
That concludes a very successful Legislative Phase. You used three of your Congressional Friends to excellent effect. Here’s a peek at the Political Influence Track at this point.
Secretary of State Phase (3 Actions)
Your SecState Raoul Sanchez spends his first Action on arranging Crisis Relief in the Middle East, where the ST Crises marker is currently “3.” When the US makes a unilateral Crisis Relief attempt (as opposed to working with an Ally or the UN), there are possible negative outcomes (i.e. the unilateral US presence causes additional issues in the region). But you’re willing to accept that possibility here because the Middle East is a mess and you need to try to do something positive. You roll a d10 and get a “5” which results in a one box decrease in the ST Crises marker in the Middle East (it’s now 2).
You spend your 2nd SecState Action to automatically remove one Tensions marker from South Korea. (it has one Tensions marker now).
You final action is to attempt to De-escalate the situation on the Korean Peninsula by decreasing the Status of the DPRK/ROK Conflict Track. Unfortunately, your Diplomacy fails, at least for now, so the Conflict Status remains in the “3” box. (If it gets to 5, it’s War.)
Secretary of Defense Phase (4 Actions)
You spend your first two SecDef Actions to make 4 total Intel Attempts. Targets and Results are:
- Lvl 1 Terror Group in Europe, currently in Locating Target Intel Box. Intel roll Succeeds – move Group to Target Fixed box.
- Lvl 2 Terror Group in Europe, currently unlocated. Intel roll Fails.
- Lvl 2 Terror Group in the Middle East, currently unlocated. Terror Roll Succeeds – move Group to Gathering Intel box.
- Lvl 2 Terror Group in Central America, currently unlocated. Intel roll Fails.
You use your 3rd Action to provide Intel and Logistical Support to EU Anti-Terror Forces as they conduct a Raid against that Lvl 1 Terror Group in the Target Fixed box in the Eurozone. The result is a “5,” which yields a one level reduction against the Terror Group (eliminating it). You get no public approval benefits (too bad, as you could use some help there), because your part in the Raid is kept secret. However, the EU countries involved appreciate your support. You gain a “US Goodwill” marker in the UN to represent their willingness to repay the favor later.
With your 4th Action, you choose “Joint Maneuvers with an Ally” and select South Korea. You’ll try a little intimidation to quell the tensions on the Peninsula after your SecState’s diplomatic efforts failed. You pass the die roll, which allows you to remove one Tensions marker from North Korea (they have two now).
Presidential AP/Domestic Advisor Final Phase
You get one more opportunity to use your Presidential APs and Advisors, if you wish. But you choose to hold off, and preserve your resources for later in the turn.
End of Round Evaluation/Reflection
This month started well, but quickly got messy on the international front due to the Terrorist attack on Russia and the ensuing War. This has the potential to seriously destabilize Eastern Europe and has damaged the economies of Russia and all the European nations who depend on Russian gas deliveries. Those four Tensions markers on Russia are concerning (if they flip to reveal 5 or more points when the Russia Acts card is drawn, Russia’s Posture will increase from 1 to 2 and they’ll get more aggressive on the world stage). You probably need some additional diplomatic effort with Russia as soon as possible. On the Korean peninsula, you’re doing a little better, thanks to your SecState calming the South Koreans and your military exercises giving the North an unpleasant glimpse at what their future might bring should it come to war.
On the home front, you got a big shock with the Pittsburgh bridge disaster, but used that impetus to get some new legislation introduced. On the whole, you had a terrific turn on the legislative front, and have a decent chance to get important legislation passed this turn.
At the United Nations, you are building momentum and goodwill. Supporting your European friends in their anti-terror campaign has already paid more dividends for you than did the misguided drone strike last turn. You’re learning to listen to your allies – a valuable lesson.
All things considered, you’re doing pretty well for your 2nd month in office. Don’t get complacent, though. March will most likely bring more challenges, angst, and headaches.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this snapshot look at Mr. President. We’ll continue this game in part 4 of this article series, where we’ll pick up the action with your 3rd month in office.