Here is the story of a close 3 way race, Primary and General Election, on medium difficulty version 2.05.
I chose Johnson and used the default options on everything. Spies on, fog of war on, Primaries on. I started on July 15th 2015. No modifications were made to the game (although I usually make a few to make the game better, in this case I played default as part of the 3rd party challenge post. The only changes I made to pure default were to select Johnson as on and human player, and to select bush as computer player (as opposed to human).
The game started with the GOP in the lead and independents at 1% exactly in the polls. Since I was the only independent candidate, I was starting well ahead for the primary and had nothing to worry about. I had almost 90 percent of the party vote and no competition. Needless to say, I started trying to build up for the general election, using the primaries as a head start.
My first steps were to increase my debate and issue skills, increase command points, get endorsers, and to target a few early states like California.
By October 14th, I had build command and momentum up so I was getting 63 actions points a week, and had increased to 1.2 percent in the polls. By November 11th, I was up to 91 points a week, and had also gotten endorsed by Romney, Chaney, Bloomberg, and Palin. In some cases endorsements were free foot soldiers, momentum, or money -- needed desperately for my long-shot bid.
The jolt of support from these endorsements and my campaigning had me up to 2.4 percent by Nov 25, with the GOP at 47 and the Dems at 40. By Dec. 16th, it was 2.5 percent. I was also building a war chest, having 25 million in the bank on Dec 16th. With continued slow progression, I was up to 3% by December 30th and 26 million in the bank. I had targeted CA, NY, FL, PA, MI, OH, IL, MO, VA, MA, FL, and TX. I used a process of targeting the larger states, then building infrastructure. At this time, Clinton had 51 percent for the Dems, but was behind O Malley in IA, NH, and SC. The GOP side was colorful. Cruz followed by Cristie, Bush, and then Rubio were leading. All 4 having between 7.4 and 8.6 percent of the vote.
January 2016 was surprising, especially Iowa winners. I was up to 30 million in funds and 3.2 percent of the vote. The GOP had 47 percent and Dems 40 percent. O Malley took Iowa for the Dems, which wasn't a shock... The real shot was Fiorina taking Iowa for the GOP. My first thought was that this would never happen in the real world. 2nd place for the GOP was Jindal, followed by Perry, Santorum, Cruz, Bush, Kasich, and Carson. For the Dems, the order was also surprising. O Malley won (ok, that was believable, but then Biden was next, followed by Sanders, then Webb, and in last place with 2.7 percent of the vote was Clinton. 2.7 percent! The January surprises continued with NH. O Malley won NH for the Dems, and Graham for the GOP.
As of Feb 10th, I (Johnson) was at 3 percent of the vote with 33 million and 91 actions a week. The GOP was leading 49 to 44. I had by now also targeted WA, GA, NC, and NJ.
Meanwhile, the GOP chaos continued. Jindal won Nevada, followed by Paul, Santorum, Kasich, Rubia, Fiorina, Graham, and Bush. Jindal also won SC and all its delegates due to the 25 percent threashold rule. The GOP Crystal ball listed Trump first with 47, followed by Bush 46, Christie 44, Walker 40, Kasich, Santorum, and Jindal also with 40, and Rubio was 39.
Meanwhile O Malley won SC with 42 percent 28 seats, followed by Sanders, Biden, Webb, and Clinton had 0 percent. Thus far Webb and Clinton had no delegates.
By March 9th, things were looking good for me. Divided GOP and Dems primaries were looking like they may weaken my competition. I was at 91 actions a turn and 40 million in the bank. the GOP was at 49, the Dems at 44 and me at 4.8. Little did I know things were change.
By May 4th, the good news was I was up to 112 actions a week, had 52 million in the bank and was at 6.4% in the polls. The bad news was on the GOP side Rubio was pulling away. He was up to 17.4 percent, with his 2nd place challenger, Cruz, at 10.7 percent. The GOP is largely winner take all, and Rubia was ahead in NY, PA, FL, CA and others. At the same time, Clinton was at 62.3 percent. Sanders and Biden had dropped out, and O Malley was at 23 percent. The Dem primary was proportional, and so with Clinton actually ahead of her original 51%, it is clear she was ahead and her lead had been increasing all along. The early O Malley wins were not a sign of a fight, and it was clear that Rubio and Clinton would win easily.
Soon after I invested in some scandals, but for some reason, despite trying nationally and in states, I only managed to get 3 scandals all game... a clear change in the game from earlier versions -- a good improvement for game play, but a change I wasn't ready for.
By June I had won the libertarian primary (no surprise), was at 98 actions a week, and had build up 80 million in the bank. Polling had the GOP at 45, Dems at 40, and me at 8.5%.
The map had the ties in PA and OH, and the GOP ahead in WI, MI, MO, NH and where one would expect. The dems only positive surprises were NC and FL. The Dems did hold NM. I had nothing.
July 13, less than 4 months from election day and, while I was making progress, things were still not looking good. We were still pre-conventions, but the map was filling in more solid. the GOP was at 44, Dems at 38, and me at 9.7, the GOP was now ahead in NC, but MI was now a tossup, and the dems were ahead in OH. July 20th, a week later showed NY up for grabs and the dems ahead in NC. At this time, the gop was at 45, Dems 39, and me at 9.8 percent. July 27th showed CA, NY, FL, GA, WV all up for grabs. OR and PA leaning GOP. This may be a result of my efforts focused on attacking the opponent in the lead for the larger states. I was up to 10.8 percent.
By August 8th we had entered the general election and I started mostly playing daily (with a few exceptions). I was at 19 actions a turn, 88 million in the bank, and 11.3 percent. The map was looking more normal. the GOP was ahead in all the George W Bush states except NM, and the dems in the rest except for MN, this put the GOP ahead 301 to 182. The exception being CA which was a toss-up.
I realized I need to start trying to catch up faster and started spending down some money. By August 24th, my bank was down to 75 million. Polling showed no big change. The Dems were back ahead in CA, and thanks to a Rubio scandal I found in FL, the dems pulled ahead there. I was at 11.9 percent with 3.3 percent undecided. This wasn't looking good. It was time for me to try a new strategy. September 7th, showed me at 12.5 percent, 4 percent undecided, the same general map and cash.
September 14th showed my strategy had worked. I had tried a few experiments on the new game logic and one paid off -- DC. For DC I had targeted it and tried a new add strategy that was inexpensive since it was a small state. Rather than spread out my efforts and give the opposition a chance to counter, I focused on putting everything in a concentrated attack at once, and kept the pressure up for weeks. Surprise shock and awe worked. Unfortunately, I could not afford it nation wide, but it gave hope and an idea -- target one state at a time with everything I could. I would now apply this to CA.
The details of DC showed that neither the GOP or Dems had any FS (foot Soldiers) or Ads in DC. I had a Medium HQ and 5 FS. My success came from first a huge wave of attacks against Clinton that drove up undecideds, followed by both attacks and boasts as I slowly experienced growth of a percent or two a day. Clinton took a big hit over 4 days, but then slowly recovered. Even with no positive momentum, she still recovered some, indicating the problem with my prior plans. For some reason, Rubio and Clinton had a small gain in their states no matter what. Perhaps it was platform distance. She was .2 away for DC, and I was 1.7 away. Whatever the case, I stood at 29 to her 26 and a GOP 6 in DC. My new strategy was to try to go after states leaning heavily to one party with a shock and awe. I also realized I needed to be more negative. I changed my themes from all pro-Johnson, to one Johnson, one Rubio, and one Clinton.
I went on to get all the new endorsements for a big boost, and before the end of September had closed the gap in CA to a close race. I was at 29, Clinton 33, Rubio 31. I had a Centeral HQ with 5 FS, but Rubio had a starter HQ with 2 FS and Clinton a medium HQ with 2 FS. CA was no DC and not a state Clinton would give up. By this point both Clinton and Rubio had a negative theme for me. The endorsement I got, however, had helped my momentum. I was from 12 actions a turn on September 21 to 24 a turn on Sep. 26. I huge momentum spike. I was at 28.4 momentum, and the Dem at -4.2 and GOP -2.2. I was at 74 million in the bank thanks to endorsement money also. By the 30th, I was at 25.6 momentum, Rubio at -7.2 and Clinton -4.3. I was at 67 million in the bank, as I was implementing shock and awe.
Shock and awe wasn't exactly working. By October 3rd, I was down to 53 million. However, I was only at 13.3 percent in the polls. CA was leaning GOP. The only state I had was DC, and I was far behind in all by DC and CA. I kept up the fight, however.
I had missed the 1st debate. There was a 15 percent threshold. This is was looking bad.
By October 10th, just 1 week later, I was down to 31 million dollars, but I was doing everything to try to move up enough to qualify for the next debate. I had missed the VP debate also. However, I had failed, as I was at 14.8 percent, just missing the 2nd debate's 15 percent threshold. The good news was I was now leading CA. NY would be next for shock and awe. I was down to 20 actions a turn. The GOP was at 41, dems at 38. GOP momentum at -8.1 and dems momentum at -4.1. I didn't have the money to keep it that low forever, though.
By October 17th, I was down to 9.5 million. I had spent everything to try to make the final debate. I also unleashed all my surrogates that I had saved -- about 10 of them. Giving it all, I was at 15.7 percent -- I worked.
On October 22nd, I won the 3rd and final debate. 15 to Rubio's 10 to Clinton's 7.
By the 24th, I had the bounce from the debate and was at 17.1 percent. I was ahead in CA, and ahead in NY also, along with DC. The GOP was at 38, Dems at 36.
My opponents were not spending their money. Rubio had 114 million on hand. (he was down to 3 actions a turn due to negative momentum, maybe that was part of it?). Clinton had about 240 million and 5 turns compared to my 18 turns.
October 31st saw me ahead in ND, CA, NY, DC, and AK. I was at 18.7 to the Dems and GOP tied at 35.1. I had made progress, but the election was coming soon. I had 4.3 million, was at 65 engergy, and 22 action turns. I had one poll left before election day. By this point the elector count was 208 for dems, 188 for GOP, 98 for me. I figured that I had one chance. There was no way I was going to win 270 votes, but maybe I could win by congressional vote. I figured the congress is GOP and maybe if the dems were 1st and me 2nd and the GOP last, that maybe they would face to much pressure against picking a GOP president and thus go independent. Especially given that nearly every elected representative endorsed me. So I decided that for the many states where I was behind by 40 points or so, but Clinton was only behind by 5 points or so, to focus on negative campaigning against Rubio. Yes, the game logic doesn't work that way, but at this point a win was unlikely, so i went for a moral win of -- if the rules were a little different, maybe I would have a chance. Now exactly trying to win, but when you are behind by 25 points with a week left...
By Monday, November 7th -- 1 day before the election, Rubio was at 34.3, Clinton 33, and Johnson 20.6. I had CA, AK, DC, NY, ND, MT, WY, UT, NM, and NE. The GOP had TX, NV, ID, CO, OK, KS, IA, MN, MO, AR, TN, MI, IN, KY, VA, MS, AL, GA, SC, VA, and MA. Dems had WA, LA, WI, IL, OH, PA, FL, PA, VT, DE, NH, ME, RI, CT, NJ, DE, MD, and tied were OK, SD, NC, and WV. I was at 5.7 million, and 25 actions a turn.
The GOP was at 223 electors, Dems at 170, and me at 115.
I looked at the states I needed to win. I figured I needed to keep going for FL. I was Dem, but I needed those 29 electors. I had 29 percent, Dems 36, and GOP 17. Dems had -37 momentum, and I was campaigning hard there to win it. GOP was -18 momentum and had a scandal of level 81. I was at 28 momentum. the Dems and GOP had 3 FS and outpost HQ. I had a central HQ and 5 FS. The tracking poll showed a close race between the GOP and Dems until the scandal had hit, then the GOP free falling and I slowly picking that up. with 2 days left FL was a must win, but I couldn't focus there alone.
I had to focus on 3 things in my final 2 days. First, I needed to tip the balance for the Dems for about a half dozen states where they were just behind the GOP. (as part of my beat the GOP and hope the GOP House will elect me in a divided vote plan). Second, I did need FL. It was my shock and awe big state after NY and CA, using the DC model. Finally, I also needed to win a series about 6 GOP states and 2 Dem states where I was within 10 points or so... and also TX (where I was almost 20 points behind).
My efforts in TX were part of a last second calculation 2 days before the election. I realized that there was no way the math would work for me to have more electors than the GOP -- even with everything else without TX. Swing states proved much harder to win than 1-party dominated states. While I was going after a series of small states with ads, I had limited money and it is just as hard to campaign in a big and hard state if you don't have extra money. Plus, since I hadn't campaigned much in TX and had a level 6 HQ and 5 FS, it was the ideal place for me to use shock and Awe.
I had 2 remaining suragots, my VP (Ventura), and myself campaign there. 3 barnstorms each for my VP and me to move 6 issues a day, and web ads targetting what they could for the state. I even spent some money on newspaper and radio. What little money I had was mixed between the small states I needed and TX.
Tuesday, November 8th. Election day. The news says Rubio's campaign is in collapse. Momentum is plus 32.2 for Johnson, and -15.1 for Rubio. It was -6.1 for Clinton. I had hit Rubio with everything I had, and for Clinton had surgical strikes only for the last couple days. I needed to hold NY, CA, FL against Clinton, so I needed to fight her some. My themes were 2 negative for Rubio and 1 postive for me for these last 2 days.
8 pm, results came in for Kentucky -- I won. This may turn out to be a good day after all. I had 40 percent of the vote in KY. Nation-wide so far I was at 30 percent. A good start.
9:06 PM -- FL was won with 57 percent of the vote. I had been scared to fight for TX with FL so close, that didn't turn out bad, whew...
10:25 PM, TX won with 44.2 percent v Rubio's 38.3. that was amazing. I had also won WV, which was a target Clinton state, along with DC, and DE. NY was called at 11:18 with 50.3 percent to 29 percent for Clinton. A strong win.
I continued to outperform my final polling, winning ND, SD, NE, NM, UT, ID.
At 1:11 AM, I won CA 58 percent of the vote.
At the end of the day...well the day after the election, I had done well. I had won 215 electoral votes and 34.3 percent of the votes. The Dems were at 183 and 33.6 and teh GOP at 140 and 32.1. I had the most electoral votes, the most popular votes and had won CA, AK, HI, ID, UT, MT, WY, NM, TA, ND, SD, NE, MS, KY, WV, NY, FL, DC, DE 19 states. The GOP had NV, AZ, CO, KS, OK, MN, IA, MO, AR, IN, TN, AL, GA, SC, VA 15 states. the Dems had WA, OR, WI, IL, MI, OH, PA, ME, NH, VT, MA, RI, CT, NJ, MD 17 states, so I had won the most states also.
After weeks, and a hung electoral college, the House took up the vote. Despite my argument that the House should elect Johnson, the House voted party line electing President Elect Rubio the the Next President of the US. Although Rubio was in last place with 140 electors and 32.1 percent of the vote, he had the majority of the vote for more than half the house delegations as per the 12th amendment, and so he won.
The Senate vote was different. The 12 amendment allows selecting the president from the 3 highest votes, but the VP on the 2 highest votes. This puts the election of VP between Ventura (my VP) and the Democrat VP... no GOP alternative. Meaning that President Rubio will have a VP not on his ticket for the first time since Adams had Jefferson. This was not specified in the game, but I will take it as a moral victory for the 3rd party as this would be the first true 3rd party VP in recent history.
Thus, the results of my 3rd party challenge were to have lost a nail bitter for President, but I like to think to have won the VP for my running mate.
The Masterful 81 was my final rating, and I exceeded the goal of 1 vote and 5 percent. If this was real life, Johnson would have exceeded all expectations. The final result of Rubio winning is believable, though the idea of of a libertarian or DEM VP for the GOP president would be unexpected.
No restarts were made.
This ends the AAR and moves to my game suggestions to improve game play. I enjoy this game and have bought it every version since 2000 when it was under different management. Good game.
A few final game balance thoughts:
1 love the new (return) of 7 day moves. This really helped. That said, I would suggest fixing the problem of 1 or 5 day ads and 7 day moves. Either increase ads to 7 days, or allow ads to start in the future. Even for 1 day moves, I would love a feature to be able to plan for ads to start days in advance and then auto delete. For example, if it were possible to -- when designing an add -- to also select it to run in given states for a given duration and then auto delete would be great. Or it would be good to have 7 day ads. On the same topic, spinning is hard on 7 day mode as you can only spin day 7. It would be nice of if one could reserve points for spinning (i.e. an option to spin 1 2 or 3 items during each day during the spin. if activated, the auto-spinning would pick the event with the highest impact level and spin it for 1 spin, for 2 spins the 2 higest, and for 3 would spin all items.
I also enjoy that scandals are harder to have, but the game should adjust the chance for scandal to reflect this. I had 15 and 16 percent changes for a week period, and this for 4-8 scandals each and no scandal for a couple months straight. 8 weeks for 4 scandals with a 15 percent change. There is like a .5 percent chance of this happening. I think the reported odds were off. I think they went with 1 percent a day, but the real chance was less than 1 percent a day per scandal (likely).
Finally, the situation of O Malley winning Iowa, NH, NV, SC and then losing badly isn't realistic. It is like winning the early states doesn't matter. Same with Graham. Plus it is like the other states aren't considered by early states, also not realistic voters consider the chance of election in other states when voting. I think the model should make the following updates:
1- In addition to existing logic, every primary state -- for the 2 weeks prior to voting should also consider the relative position of a primary candidate in every other state. During these 2 weeks, voters who support a candidate in a primary who has national support that is less than 1/3 of the support for the leading primary candidate for their party should start moving from firm to leaning so that starting from 2 weeks before the primary until 1 week before, 20 percent of the firm voters for that candidate should move to lean each day. At one week before the election this movement stops for that state. This should be more like real life, as voters re-examine their support when they support low-ranked candidates right before votes. It wouldn't move support away, only to leaning.
2- In addition to existing and above logic, this second suggested change would complement the first and make winning matter. after every primary vote, voters in primary states that have not voted will be adjusted based on the primary results. After each primary, voters will re-evaluate their support as follows. First, supporters of any candidate who does not finish with at least 1/2 of the vote percentage of the primary winner should lose 1/4 of their leaning voters and 1/4 of their firm voters should lean. Second, any candidate who wins a primary should get a slightly bigger boost. 10 percent of that voter's supporters should move from lean to support for the whole country.
3- Finally, their should be a cumulative impact on the primary. Their should be an additional, hidden, attribute that acts like an issue. It would be -2 to 2, thus 5 values. The total number of primary delegates given thus far should be added together and divided by the number of candidates still in the race. Any candidate with more than the average would get a proportional bonus. Any with less, a proportional harm. So if there are 100 delegates and 10 candidates, any candidate with 10 delegates would get 0. A candidate with 5 delegates would get -1. One with 0 would get -2. One with 100 would get plus 2, one with 50 would get plus 1. In the general election this would be set to 0 for everyone.
Those are just some ideas, but the main thing is that the O Malley situation isn't realistic but it happens in many games I play where the winners of the early states lose everything else.
As a strategy when I play GOP or DEMS, I ignore Iowa and NH as it is too competitive and I can easily lose those states, but win others that I used my resources for in place of those states.