Note: Here are links to Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of this ongoing article. Also, please note that all of the pictures and graphics herein are of Gene’s homemade dtp counters, map, and cards. This is decidedly NOT final art! 🙂
As we begin your 3rd month in office, let’s recap a bit. Last month, our events started with a joint US/Russia/China-led humanitarian effort in Africa, and things were looking good. Then, a major terror attack against Russia’s GASPROM Pipelines infuriated Russia and propelled her into war with the Caucasus Emirate in Eastern Europe, leaving open all kinds of ugly possibilities in that part of the world. Back at home, you hadn’t had time to get an Infrastructure bill through Congress, so you were blamed when a major highway bridge in Pittsburgh collapsed and killed hundreds.
On the legislative front, you made progress last turn, moving your Job Creation Package forward in each house of Congress and introducing a new Infrastructure Upgrade package in the House of Representatives. You’re taking good advantage of your “honeymoon period” with Congress to get some of the legislative agenda rolling.
Your SecState was reasonably effective last month, helping to solve some short term crises in the Middle East, and counseling restraint to the Republic of Korea in the face of increasing Tensions and concern about threats from the North. He also attempted to talk with the North Koreans, but was rebuffed.
You used your SecDefense to engage in a little gunboat diplomacy (where “let’s talk” diplomacy had failed) with North Korea, and US/ROK joint maneuvers succeeded in getting the DPRK to calm their rhetoric a bit. (Note that this could indeed have backfired, and increased tensions on the peninsula. You rarely get a “sure thing” in Mr. President.)
We’re picking up the action now as you enter the 3rd month of your Presidency. Let’s get right to Game Turn 1, Round 3.
Round 3 – March:
Crisis Phase (Draw and Resolve 3 Crisis Cards)
Card 1: [#CH] CHAOS!. This card is another of the six Recurring Cards that are in the Turn Deck each turn. For you, Chaos is an unpleasant card; you never know exactly what kind of negative event will occur, but it’s never going to be something you like. In this case, you roll a d10, and the result is up to two game-created Rogue States get to perform a Rogue Action. (BTW, Rogue States usually act during the Ally/Rogue Phase of Turns 1,3, and 5. This card allows them to sometimes take actions unexpectedly, making them harder to predict.) We currently have one Rogue State in the game. It’s in the Middle East (and represents ISIS/ISIL). It’s a Lvl 2 Rogue State (If it ever increases all the way to Lvl 4, that’s an auto-loss for you, which is why you are bombing them at game start).
So, for a Lvl 2 Rogue State, they get two actions. The first, because they are at war, is a Recruiting Attempt. They currently have 5 strength vs the 12 Strength of combined US and Coalition Airpower + Regional Troops arrayed against them. So you currently get 2:1 + odds when we do resolve War Progress Checks. In this case, they manage to recruit 1 additional Strength point, bringing their total to 6.
For their second action, you roll and get a “Major Terror Event Planning.” You now draw one card (unseen) from the Unused Terror Card stack and place it in the “Reshuffle” pile – meaning that it will get shuffled into the Turn deck next year (Turn 3). That’s the end of the Rogue State’s actions for now.
There’s also a possible Domestic Chaos event attached to this card, but it only applies if your Public Approval rating is below 40%. You’re at 44%, so you dodge that bullet for now.
Card 2: [#158] FAMINE FUELS DESPERATION IN NORTH KOREA – Wow. More drama on the Korean Peninsula. This puts two more Tensions markers on North Korea (they have 4 now). This card has several potential additional outcomes, so you roll to see what you get. It’s “North Korea trades strategic minerals to China for food and weapons/military supplies.” You place an Improving Economy marker on China’s SOE Track and Move the “Relative Strength” marker one box in favor of the North on the DPRK/ROK Conflict Track.
This card reads “Place this card in the Reshuffle pile after use,” so we add it to the unknown Terror card currently in the Reshuffle pile. We could see this card again on turn 3 or thereafter.
Card 3: [#RA] Russia Acts. This is another one of the six Recurring Cards that you’ll see every turn. It’s time to take a look at one of your major game antagonists and resolve Russia’s major actions for the turn. (This represents their core planning of economic and foreign policy actions throughout the turn, although there are certainly Crisis Cards in the game that cause Russia to act or be acted on – remember the GASPROM attack from last month.)
To determine how many actions they’ll get and how aggressive they’ll be, we consult their State of Economy, which is currently 3. So they’re going to get 3 Actions this turn. We also flip the four Tensions markers to determine their values.
They total 6, then -1 for the flipped Multilateral Sanctions marker on Russia, for a total of 5. If the total of Tensions less Sanction value is “5” or greater at this point, the Russian Posture (representing their level of aggressiveness toward the US and her allies and their general willingness to be proactive and aggressive on the world stage) increases by one. So you move the Russian Posture marker to the 2 box, and award the Russians two additional actions (they now get 5). Then you remove the old Tensions and Sanctions markers (because you now know their values) and replace with a new Sanctions marker and half the number of previous Tensions markers – so two. (Every time the Russia or China Acts card comes up, you make this Posture increase determination, then remove all and replace with half–rounding up–of the previous number of Tensions markers – representing that tempers and tensions tend to cool somewhat over time.)
So you note that you need to REALLY pay attention to those Tensions markers on Russia (and China, and all the other Allies and Rogue States in the game), as they’ll get more aggressive and generally more effective if you let the Tensions get out of hand. Now let’s get to the Russian actions. Here are the five and their effects on the game state:
- The Russians use their first action to attempt to improve their economy. But because of the -1 effect of the Sanctions (there are varying results, some no effect, some that even embolden the sanctioned country), they fail to improve their economy this turn. Note that there is a risk of internal strife when the economy is at its lowest level, which it is now, but the Russians pass their Internal Strife roll, so all is well for now.
- They use their 2nd action to attempt to reinforce their troops at War against the Caucasus Emirate. They roll a “1”, so they add 2 SPs (10 now against 3 for the Emirate) to their Strength on the War Status Track.
- They attempt to use their 3rd Action to conduct an extra War Progress Check (an intensive offensive), but they fail the State of Economy check (so basically they don’t have the funds and the logistics in place right now to support intensified operations). So they’ll have to wait until the War Progress Check card is drawn to try to finish their offensive against the Emirate.That didn’t cost them an action – they’re just not able to use their third for War Progress. So they’re going to use it to attempt to resupply Syria in their Civil War. In this case, they succeed, and add 1 SP to the Syrian Gov. side in the Civil War.
- Russia uses it’s 4th action to attempt to expand their influence in Eastern Europe, but they fail.
- Russia is chafing and their economy is constricting under the multilateral sanctions. So amidst much internal debate, they decide to use their 5th action to attempt to negotiate some compromise that will remove the sanctions. The result of their diplomacy is that they DO come to an agreement with the Europeans. They remove one Russia Influence marker from Eastern Europe (think territorial concessions) and the Multi-lateral Sanctions marker is removed. You now have the choice as to whether to keep (the generally less effective) Unilateral Sanctions on Russia. If you did, though, there’s a chance you could take a negative World Opinion hit in the UN, so you decide to remove US Sanctions as well in light of the Russian Concessions.
All in all, not a bad turn for the Russians. They reinforced their troops at war with the Caucuses Emirate, reinforced their Syrian Ally, and they negotiated themselves out of the crushing joint US/European sanctions. And their Posture advanced to 2. Watch out! If they can get their economy moving in the right direction, they could cause you considerable trouble. You’re going to want to think about what actions you can take to encourage/persuade/coerce the Russians back to Posture 1, or at the very least what you can do to make sure they don’t advance to become even more aggressive in future turns.
Ally and Rogues Action Phase (Rounds 1,3,5)
Remember, during Rounds 1, 3, and 5, your Allies act at this point in the round. On the even turns, the UN acts.
During Round 1, Ally/Rogue Group B activated. So now, it’s either Group A or C. you randomly select and get Group C. That’s Australia, Israel, India, and then any game-created Rogue States.
Australia: You ask the Australians to help you with Short-term Crisis relief in the region. You roll a 4, and the relief efforts succeed. Move the ST Crises marker in Asia/Pacific from the 2 box to the 1 box. For their unilateral action, the Australians roll and get Major Trade Summit with China. As a result of the Summit, you place an Improving Economy marker on China’s SOE, which increases their Economic Strength by one box to 5. (Sometimes your allies’ actions don’t help you at all!)
Israel: You ask the Israelis for some Intel help in tracking down some of the Terror Groups in the Middle East. The Israelis get TWO Intel attempts when they perform an Intel Action (your other allies only get one) to represent their outstanding intelligence-gathering and terror-tracking capabilities. In this case, they make one attempt against the unlocated Lvl 2 Terror group, and succeed. Their other attempt is against the Lvl 2 group that is in the Gathering Intel box. This attempt fails, so you now have two Lvl 2 Terror Groups in the Middle East Gathering Intel box.
For their unilateral action, first you flip the lone Tensions marker on Israel. It’s “No Effect” so there’s no DRM to the Israeli roll for Tensions. They do get a +1 for the Rogue State in the ME and another +1 for the current status of the Iranian Nuclear Track. They roll a “7”, modified by the +2 to “9,” which results in “Skirmish with Hezbollah.” This results in adding a Tensions marker on Israel (1 now) and Iran (2 now) and increasing the Conflict Status on the “Israel/Neighbors Conflict Track” by one box to “3.” This Conflict Track, by the way, is the only one in the game that results in War at level 4 (instead of 5), so things are getting uglier on Israel’s borders. So here’s a peek at the Middle East Region after Israel’s actions.
India: You ask the government of India to help you with Intel gathering against a terror unit. So they make one Intel attempt against the Lvl 2 Terror unit in Central/South Asia. Unfortunately, they fail their Intel roll. For their unilateral action, they roll and get “Border Tensions with Pakistan.” Increase the India/Pakistan Conflict Track by one box, to 3.
Rogue States: There is still only one Rogue State in the game, the Lvl 2 Rogue State in the Middle East. Unfortunately, they get to activate again this round (thanks to the previous CHAOS card draw). They get 2 Actions. Again, they attempt to recruit, but this time they fail, so there’s no increase to their Strength on the War Track. For their 2nd action, they roll and get “Attempt to Acquire Weapons of Mass Destruction.” Place a “WMD Not Acquired” marker next to their counter. This triggers what is potentially a three-step story line. Certain future rolls or events could result in them acquiring a WMD, and you would flip the marker to its WMD side, then a future Rogue State action might succeed in using the WMD against the US or Israel (if that happens, btw, it’s an auto-loss for you!). So, again, you note that you need to get serious about taking these guys down, lest they grow out of control (think Caliphate) or acquire and then use a WMD.
Presidential AP/Domestic Advisor Initial Phase
OK, I told you last time that we’re still testing the latest round of changes that eliminated general action points and that some additional balancing might be required. I have indeed determined that the player didn’t have enough Presidential Action Points in the new version. So you now (at the Easy level) get ((Presidential Prestige x 2) +4) Presidential APs each turn. In this case, your Prestige is 6, so you get 16 Presidential APs per turn. You’ve already used 3 of them this turn, so you have 13 remaining.
You decide to use 2 Presidential APs to Make a Presidential Regional Trip. You choose to visit the Middle East, to consult with heads of state face-to-face and try to build some goodwill toward the US in the region (Regional Alignment is currently “5,” but with a Trending Anti-US marker on it). You make a Presidential Prestige Check, and pass, so you trip is mostly successful, and you place a “Trending Pro-US” marker on the Regional Alignment Track. This negates the “Trending Anti-US” marker that’s there already (both are removed), so at least you’re no longer in imminent danger of Alignment degrading to 4 in the Middle East. Additionally, because you visited a region with a War (also true for a region with Stability of 3 or 4), you get a potential PR benefit. You roll a d10, and get a “4,” which means you get to improve Public Approval by two boxes, to 48%. The folks at home liked the way you represented the US abroad. You now have 11 Presidential APs remaining for the turn.
You decide you want to use your Treasury advisors to work on stimulating the economy. They do make some progress on their initiatives, but not yet enough to make a difference to your economy. You place the used advisor marker on your SOE track as a reminder. If you can get additional progress later, it will get you an “Improving Economy” marker on your SOE Track.
You then use one more advisor to buy you an extra Legislative Action this round (up to 3 now).
You decide to hold off on any other advisor or Presidential Actions until the end of round, to see how well you do with Legislation and your SecState and SecDef.
You now move on to your legislative agenda. You take a peek at the Public’s Legislative Priorities.
You’re tracking pretty well with the Public’s top two Priorities, but you don’t currently have an Infrastructure Upgrade bill in the Senate, so you decide to spend one of your Legislative Actions to introduce one.
Senate: You introduce the new Infrastructure Upgrade bill and try to get it into Committee. You work with Senate Friend Sara Riley (2 Power) to get the bill to committee. Your opponents don’t have many actions this turn, so they decide to keep their powder dry and wait for a more opportune time to oppose your bill. Thus, with a +2 Public Support (because it’s the Public’s #1 Legislative Priority) and +2 from Sara Riley, you’re looking good going into the dual d6 rolls. You roll a “2”, modified to 6. Your opponents roll a “3,” so you’ve won at this stage and your new Infrastructure bill moves into Committee.
You decide to use your 2nd Legislative Action to attempt to move your Jobs Bill from the Calendar box to the Floor Vote box in the Senate. You ask one of your most powerful Senate allies, Senator Juliet James (Power 3) to help shepherd the bill to get on the docket for a Senate Floor Vote. Your Opponents, wary of a Floor Vote because your Party holds the majority in the Senate, decide to expend political capital here to delay your bill’s advance. Senator Charles Gates (a Power 3 Rival) leads their charge. So, for drms to this roll, Gates’ Power offsets James’, and you’re left with a net +1 drm in your favor due to Public support. Flip Gates to his USED side – he’s finished for the turn, and move James to the “Used Once” side of the Political Influence Track. You really want a better shot than that, so you play your lone FAVOR +1 marker (you get it because your Relations with Congress Track value is currently 6.) Flip the FAVOR +1 to its FAVOR Used side on the RWC Track. So that’s a total +2 to your roll. You make the rolls – both dice come up “4”, so with your drm, your bill advances to the Senate Floor, where it is set for a vote in your next Legislative Phase. So here’s your overall status in the Senate after those two Actions:
House of Representatives: In the House, you have two bills pending in the Committee 1 box. You only have one Legislative Action left, so you decide to try to advance the Jobs Creation Package in that the same bill in the Senate has made it all the way to a floor vote. Your Friend Milana Tome (Power 3) agrees to assist you in getting the bill out of this committee. Your Opponents only have one Action left in the House for the whole TURN (you’re going to look back on this turn’s advantage longingly once you get further into the game), so they decline to use an Opponent. So your net drm is +4 (3 for Tome and +1 for Public Support). You make the rolls: You get a “3” and the Opponents get a “5,”, which with your drms is a success for you.
Before you move the bill out of the Committee 1 box, though, you need to make one more roll. The House works a little differently than the Senate. In the House, it is possible for a bill to go directly from Committee 1 to the Floor Vote box, or the bill can be send to a 2nd Committee. It’s a 1/3 chance to go straight to the floor for any bill, but you roll a “3”, so your bill moves to the Committee 2 box. Still, it’s progress! Here’s how your House situation looks after your Legislative Phase is complete:
That concludes another very successful Legislative Phase. Again you used three of your Congressional Friends to excellent effect and defeated one of your Rival Opponents. Both sides have diminishing resources on the Political Influence Track. Here’s what it looks like at this point.
Secretary of State and Defense – Where Should You Prioritize?
You take a minute to evaluate your priorities and world trouble spots before you start spending your SecState Actions.
- With Russia at Posture 2 and Sanctions no longer an issue, you want to try to improve relations in an effort to keep them from getting any more aggressive.
- Terror. Lots of it. Especially in the Middle East, Africa, and Central America. You need to start finding and whittling these guys down.
- You want to see both improved Regional Alignment and increased Stability in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Central/South Asia.
- North Korea has a LOT of Tension and the DPRK/ROK Conflict Track sits at “3.” Furthermore, China has improved the North’s readiness for war with military equipment and support, and your ROK allies are screaming for more US troops and/or weapons.
- Tensions with Hezbollah/Hamas on Israel’s borders have escalated and point to war. You want to help de-escalate this if possible.
- Drug Lords in Central America have driven Stability low and the region has a growing Terror problem. Central American governments are asking for US assistance.
Secretary of State Phase (3 Actions)
You decide to start with Russia. Your SecState travels to Moscow for face-to-face meetings with the Russia Foreign Minister. You roll a d10, and the result of your trip is the removal of one Tensions marker from Russia. A good start!
You spend your 2nd SecState Action to engage in a third-party-arranged dialogue with North Korea. Alas, the North Koreans turn a deaf ear to your attempt at dialogue, so your 2nd Action goes for naught.
You final action is to provide Crisis Relief in Central America. Unfortunately, your attempts to help are misconstrued by government and used by the Drug Lords to make the situation even worse in the Northern Triangle area. Increase the ST Crises marker in Central America from 2 to 3. Ouch!
Secretary of Defense Phase (4 Actions)
You spend your first two SecDef Actions to make 4 total Intel Attempts. Targets and Results are:
- Lvl 2 Terror Group in the Middle East, currently in Gathering Intel box. Terror Roll Succeeds – move Group to Locating Target box.
- The other Lvl 2 Terror Group in the Middle East, currently in Gathering Intel box. Terror Roll Succeeds – move Group to Locating Target box.
- Lvl 2 Terror Group in Central America, currently unlocated. Intel roll Fails.
- Lvl 2 Terror Group in Eastern Europe, currently unlocated. Intel roll Fails.
You use your 3rd Action to send military equipment and supplies to the Republic of Korea. You increase the Relative Strength marker on the DPRK/ROK Track by one box in ROK’s favor, putting it in the “Equal” box. Now you have to roll to determine if there are any P/R effects at home or in the UN. First you make a World Opinion check, and Fail (rolling an “8” is rarely good.). So you lose one of your two US Goodwill markers in the UN. Now you make a Public Opinion check, to see how US citizens respond. They’re not very happy with you either, and you lose two boxes of Public Opinion – now back down to 44%. Well, you helped your Ally militarily, but it definitely cost you.
With your 4th Action, you choose to approve a series of drone strikes against one of the Lvl 2 Terror Groups in the Locating Target box in the Middle East. In a beautifully executed campaign, your surgical strikes kill key leaders of the Group and force the organization to disperse. Decrease the Terror Group by one level to Lvl and move it back down to the Gathering Intel box (they have dispersed and you’ll have to spend intel resources to pinpoint their locations again). Back home, you deliver a “We got them” press conference and Public Opinion improves by two boxes, to 48%.
Presidential AP/Domestic Advisor Final Phase
You decide to spend one more Presidential AP (of the 11 you have remaining) to go to your NATO Allies and ask them to send airpower to support the War against the Lvl 2 Rogue State in the Middle East. After some debate, your allies agree that the Rogue State represents a security threat to Europe and NATO member Turkey, and agree to send 3 Strength Points of Airpower to support the campaign. (You now have a 15 to 6 Strength advantage in the Conflict). Decrease your Presidential APs marker to 10.
End of Round Evaluation/Reflection
Domestically, you’re doing pretty well. Your legislation is sailing through Congress, although next month we’ll see your first key floor vote. You have a 48% Public Approval rating, up 4% from last month. And you’ve made a start toward giving your economy a boost, which, over time will pay big dividends.
On the foreign policy front, Russia’s move to Posture 2 was an unwelcome surprise, but you’ve begun to rebuild a little trust with your SecState’s trip to Moscow, so there’s hope for improvement in this important relationship. Elsewhere, the world continues to be full of mostly unwelcome surprises. There’s just more trouble than you can ever address, so you need to get your allies, the UN, and regional players more involved in helping to get ST Crises and Tensions under control. You found and whacked one of the more organized Terror Groups in the Middle East this turn, and your intel folks are homing in on the locations of the other most effective group, so you’re making some progress in the War on Terror. The Drug Lords, combining with Terror Groups in Central America is a serious concern, and now the ST Crises level there is on the verge of causing major problems in the region. You still have a lot of work to do! We’re only halfway through the game’s Turn 1, and China hasn’t even had their major planning and action opportunity yet, but you can see already that the world of Mr. President immerses you in a dangerous, desperate, and dynamic story.
All things considered, you’re still doing pretty well. But stay vigilant. Winter’s coming….
I hope you’ve enjoyed this snapshot look at Mr. President. We’ll continue this game in part 5 of this article series, where we’ll pick up the action with your 4th month in office.