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Founding Fathers Part Two: Electric Booger Shoe

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Hi all,

We're getting the old band back together again!  This thread will be for @Agent B @Woot @Shamilton @mlcorcoran @Leuser and a sixth player (who has been identified but does not have a username yet) to start up another game of Founding Fathers.

I'll type up a formal introduction, assign statesmen to players, and introduce our sixth player to the rules later tonight.  But in the meantime, as we've now played a full game (including the sequel) I'd like to open the floor for a discussion of any potential rule changes.

I believe the group is in agreement that we're just going to play the first game and not the sequel this time -- let me know if there's any disagreements.

Here's a few items for consideration, but please feel free to add your own:

1)  Last time, we made a house rule that statesmen had to be at least 20 years old to be activated (as we noticed some statesmen were entering the game before they were even born last time).  This was, I believe, specifically due to game mechanics falling apart a bit when the Civil War was accidentally begun 30 years in advance.  That won't be a problem this time as the Civil War is an automatic "Game Over" since we're not playing the sequel.  However, is there a desire to have an age limit...and if so should it be 20?  35?  Something else?...or just let all statesmen be activated as they become eligible to be played?

2)  The game rules allow  the President to appoint a cabinet at his convenience -- seeing what crises arrive, and then choosing cabinet members in response.  Personally, I think it's much more interesting if we follow the real-world model of appointing your cabinet first and THEN facing whatever issues come up...so you have to balance making your allies happy against the possibility that the incompetent putz they want in Secretary of State could accidentally cause a war or something.  So my proposal is that you have to submit your cabinet before you reveal issues -- but I'll put that up to a vote, I'm fine if you guys override my thought on the topic.

3)  We all have real lives, with careers and most of us (all of us?) have spouses and kids who naturally require our urgent attention at times.  I propose we play this the same way we did last time -- I'll give you a heads up when it's your turn to act, which you can do at your convenience.  If you anticipate being unavailable for a 24 hour period, please let us know just so we know to not keep clicking "refresh" -- but otherwise, we'll all be respectful of each others' real life needs and remember that this is just a game. We didn't have any issues with that last time to my knowledge, so I don't expect it to be a problem this time.

Let me know if you have thoughts on these topics or any new ones you want to propose.  I'll aim to post the introductory text and randomly assign starting statesmen tonight around 10 PM eastern.

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I don't mind activating statesmen regardless of age but am not opposed to any kind of restriction either.

I do like the idea of having to choose a cabinet up front and dealing with the potential consequences.

Sometimes I feel like my wife and kids are my career.....so........many.......humans in this house!!! 😭

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I wouldn't mind playing the whole game again either. I was dealt statesman from all the same party then wasn't relavant till the 2nd game. With an extra person, whomever is dealt George Washington will have a pretty major advantage. We never talked about playing the whole thin, either way I want to play. I think if we only play 1st part your statesman should be eligible for a cabinet position as soon as activated. If we play the whole game wait until they are born at least. I think the cabinet up front would make things interesting.

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9 hours ago, Woot said:

I wouldn't mind playing the whole game again either. I was dealt statesman from all the same party then wasn't relavant till the 2nd game. With an extra person, whomever is dealt George Washington will have a pretty major advantage. We never talked about playing the whole thin, either way I want to play. I think if we only play 1st part your statesman should be eligible for a cabinet position as soon as activated. If we play the whole game wait until they are born at least. I think the cabinet up front would make things interesting.

Yep, you did get some terrible luck in the first game last time, as the only guy with a full group from one party.  

It was also interesting in a 5 player game that there was basically (at first) a strong alliance of three players, which made it difficult for the other two to get anywhere -- until @Agent B pulled off the surprise rogue alliance jump.  @mlcorcoran then did an amazing job of unraveling all the power the former alliance had accumulated...until a stray die roll accidentally kicked off the Civil War 30 years ahead of schedule and brought all of his hard work crashing down. ;c)

But with six players, there's a natural 3-3 split of equal power...at least, in theory.  We'll see how it goes!

I do know that others had complained that the sequel game just wasn't as fun of a design as the original game was, and I do agree -- there just isn't as much to worry about (keeping tension low, managing the budget, swinging party popularity back and forth, having to assess the election impact of any new proposed state, etc.  Also, a lot of the issue cards in the sequel game felt repetitive.  There's a ton of cards about busting up unions, etc.  

Let's try just the base game this time.

If there's a desire to play a third time down the road, we can talk about whether to bring the sequel game back.

As for statesmen needing to be born, that shouldn't be an issue if we're just playing the core game.  The age issue only came about when we had the 30 year Civil War timejump issue.

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Ok.  Consensus seems to be:

Statesmen must be born to be activated.  This shouldn't be a problem as we're only playing the core game.  I do remember last time that Andrew Jackson was appointed General of the Armies in his early 20's, but we played it off just fine.  

Cabinet must be appointed before issues are revealed.

(To be clear to any newbies following along here, these are house rules we have created and are not reflected in the actual game rules).

Also, per our Facebook chat discussion, we will retain the black rings rule (which is option per the official rule book).  As a reminder:  When you lose an election, your statesman receives one black ring.  If you have two black rings (from two consecutive lost elections) that statesman can never run for President again.  You can get rid of a ring by being eligible to run in an election but choosing not to.  But there is no way to get rid of a ring if you have two -- because having two means you're not eligible to run.

I'll get us started here shortly.  As a reminder, the rule book is available online here, for free: https://www.thegamecrafter.com/games/founding-fathers (scroll down to the downloads section).


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2 minutes ago, swejie said:

Oh hey guys

I'll read through the rules, but don't anticipate having time today.  Should be able to dive in Saturday morning.

Welcome aboard!   @Leuser @Shamilton @mlcorcoran @Agent B @Woot - @swejie is the sixth and final player of the game.  He hasn't played before, so I'll be explaining rules as we go along just like I did when you guys played for the first time.

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Just now, swejie said:


Do I know anyone else beside leuser and our fearless leader?

No.  I went to high school with Woot and MLCorcoran, Agent B is my cousin, and Shamilton and I once co-hosted a terribly offensive Christmas show on a Portuguese radio station. ;c)

Aside from you/Leuser and Woot/MLC, nobody knows each other outside of playing this game and all having a common thread to me.

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In the Fall of 1787, after nearly four months of wrangling, brow-beating, and arm twisting, the Founding Fathers in Philadelphia emerged with a Constitution.  Over the next several months, it would be ratified by the newly-independent states.  They also had a leader, the universally popular George Washington.  Now it was time to see if it would all actually work.  Could a democratic republic, surrounded by enemies, deeply in debt -- a new experiment in the world -- thrive and survive?  

Or would Benjamin Franklin's dark hint -- "A republic, if you can keep it" -- prove all too apt?

Welcome to Founding Fathers!  You each play as your own team of statesmen, working to build their legacy -- something that will outlive them when they die. 

You will achieve great things if you work together.  But working together will only get you so far.  After all, you are not playing to be forgotten among the masses.

As the game begins, George Washington has just been elected President. 

John Adams,
 his Vice President, has not yet come to curse the office as "the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived." 

No other offices have been filled, yet.

If you can keep this nation -- this grand experiment -- somehow financially afloat...independent of foreign intruders...and also held together despite deep differences between the north and south...then you just might have a shot of playing all the way up to the 1860's.  A span of nearly 100 years of (alternate) American history.  

But if you fail -- then it's game over.  If you are remembered at all, it will be as the men (and possibly women) who were handed an incredible opportunity to build a new world, and ruined it over their ideological differences.  

President Washington's first task shall be to assemble the greatest minds our nation has to offer.  He'll need a Secretary of State to handle foreign affairs.  A Secretary of Treasury to handle our finances.  An Attorney General to handle our laws.  A Special Envoy as our chief diplomat.   A General to lead our armies.  A Postmaster General to keep the mail delivered on time.  A Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court to ensure out laws are enforced fairly and dutiful. 

And, yes, he will need a Secretary of War.

He will need great minds.

He will need you.

Here is the starting statesmen for each player.  You are also dealt two cards to be held secretly in your hand.  I will private message these to you.

@Shamilton you control the President of the United States,  the legendary (and 83-year-old) Benjamin Franklin, and author of the Three-Fifths Compromise declaring slaves to be 60% human, James Wilson.  Your team is particularly old and you'll likely want to focus on getting as much popularity as possible in the short term, as you won't be alive in the long term.  Washington currently leads the Conservative Party, and is a shoe-in to be nominated for a second term -- unless you royally screw things up.


@swejie You are the Vice President John Adams, his fellow Masshole Timothy Pickering, and slave-owning southerner William H Crawford.  As Vice President, Adams is currently viewed as Washington's likely successor for the Conservative nomination for President -- but he won't have as easy a time of it as Washington does.


Nipping on Adams' heels is that lovable rascal, @Agent B's Alexander Hamilton.  He is actually tied with Adams for popularity (how party leaders are chosen) right now -- but Adams wins the tie by virtue of being the elder statesmen.  Of course, being elder also means Adams is more likely to die first -- so Hamilton just has to Wait For It and Not Throw Away His Shot.  (He doesn't have to wait for it, of course...a single popularity point more than Adams will give Hamilton the boost up to succeed Washington as the party's nominee).  While the other players so far have bipartisan hands, @Agent B is firmly invested in the future of the Conservative Party.


@Woot represents the Vice President's son John Quincy Adams, the much maligned Aaron Burr, and Burr's fellow New Yorker and man about town, Daniel Tompkins.


@Leuser has two future Presidents and a King.


Finally, we have @mlcorcoran with the leader of the Liberal party, Thomas Jefferson, 22-year-old Andrew Jackson, and beloved meme from our last game, Dewitt.


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40 minutes ago, Leuser said:

Checking in to check the notify me of replies box!

And counting votes of fellow competitors...

On that note (Counting votes) I'll be creating the new excel sheet for tracking all this stuff tonight.  @mlcorcoran submitted a new design for it, so I'll take a look and hopefully it'll be nice and easy for everyone.  He's fancier at computers than I am.   My entire skill set begins and ends with spelling words correctly.  ;c)

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Hi again all and welcome @swejie! I'm very excited to play the original era game again after our September hiatus.

@Actinguy I've prepped the new spreadsheet design to get you started. Last time we used Google Drive and it seemed to work for everyone so I created it there, but a separate Excel attachment is equally possible and hassle free.

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2 minutes ago, mlcorcoran said:

Hi again all and welcome @swejie! I'm very excited to play the original era game again after our September hiatus.

@Actinguy I've prepped the new spreadsheet design to get you started. Last time we used Google Drive and it seemed to work for everyone so I created it there, but a separate Excel attachment is equally possible and hassle free.

I use the phrase "excel sheet" and the document on the google drive interchangeably because I am a fool.  ;c)

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@Woot @Leuser @Shamilton @swejie @Agent B

Well, gents, @mlcorcoran has outdone himself with the new excel sheet.  I'm very impressed, especially with that election tab!

Please take a look and let us know if you have any feedback -- of course, if you guys do just hate it for whatever reason, we go back to using the old one.  If we just need to make minor tweaks or add something to this one, that's cool too.


You should all have access to see, but not edit, the file.  Please let me know if that's not the case.

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The point of the game is to rack up popularity.  Popularity goes to an individual statesmen -- and when that statesman inevitably either retires or dies, those popularity totals are converted into Victory Points.  You win by having the most Victory Points at the end of the game. 

How do you achieve popularity?  Well, getting elected President is a great way to do it.  You get three popularity for being elected President, plus you can (usually) assign members of your own team to cabinet positions for more popularity, and then as you handle various crises?  Why, that's more popularity too!

But if you can't get elected President?  All is not lost!  All you have to do is convince the President to give you one of those sweet, sweet cabinet positions (or appointment as General, etc), handle crises that fall under your department, and wait for that old coot to die so you can move up!

There are also influence points, or IP.  At the start of the game, each player (NOT each statesman) begins with three IP.  You can use these IP to handle issues that come up (we'll talk about this later).  You can also use IP to either boost your statesman's popularity -- or build support for your political party.  All of this comes into play later, during the "Player" phase of the game.

But right now, we are in the Issues Phase.  

As President of the United States, @Shamilton must first appoint all offices.  He may then do any of the following, in any order.

1) Reveal and handle an issue.  He will ultimately need to do this four times, before we advance out of the Issues stage.
2)  Pass/Repeal any taxes.   There are currently no taxes to repeal.  
3)  Pass/Repeal any tariffs.  There are currently no tariffs to appeal.

Again, these may be done in any order.

There are two kinds of offices that @Shamilton needs to appoint.  The first are political offices.  All of these MUST go to Conservatives (the President's party) -- with the exception of one that he may choose to give to a liberal.  In other words, he must give 4-5 of these to conservatives, and 0-1 to liberals.

Note that each office comes with one popularity point -- except the Secretary of State, which comes with two.

All of these offices are surrendered before the next President (or Washington's second term) takes office.  


Then there are the non-political offices.  As such, they can go to Conservatives OR liberals.  Each of these are unique.

Chief Justice of the Supreme Court -- this is a lifetime appointment.  Once appointed (and accepted), the Chief Justice serves until he dies...or until he is elected either President or Vice President.  It comes with no popularity, but the Chief Justice can play a vital role in a lot of scenarios that fall under his jurisdiction.

General -- Can only go to those with an "M" listed by their popularity/ability.  They retain their role even when the Presidency changes...but it is not necessarily a lifetime appointment.  They can be stripped of their rank in favor of a different General with a higher ability...or in favor of any military man from the President's party if the current General is of the opposite party.  They of course must resign as General if they are elected President or Vice President.

Postmaster General - Not actually in charge of anything, though it does come with one free influence point.  This was traditionally a "patronage" job -- a thank you to the person who helped the President win office (often awarded to their campaign managers).  Later in the game, this may convert into a political office with popularity points, but you don't have to worry about that yet.



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Next topic:  Finances.

Currently, we have a revenue of -30, and a reserves of 0.  This means that if Washington neither spends nor earns any money for our nation, then at the end of his first term, America will be 30 in debt.  That by itself...even with the interest that is charged...is not necessarily a big deal.  However, you will find that it quickly adds up if not resolved, and debts of more than 100 run an increased risk of financial disaster that could harm the sitting President and Secretary of Treasury...or even ending the game entirely in financial collapse.  It is generally in everyone's interest to balance the budget and run up a surplus...though of course sometimes you may want to go into debt to chase after some shiny popularity points!

How do you increase your revenue?  Well, by tariffs, for starters.  You may only attempt to pass ONE tariff per Presidential term, and of course you start with Tariff I.  


Note that they say "Treasury + Congress".  This means that you need to appoint a Secretary of Treasury -- AND you need to get Congress to approve.  We'll discuss how Congress works when it comes up.  Note the "difficulty" in the top left.  Your Treasury Secretary must have an Ability score higher than that difficulty...or they (or you as President) must spend enough influence points to overcome the gap.  One influence point will give your Secretary a one-time boost of one ability point.

There's also popularity in the top right.  If you successfully pass Tariff I through congress, both the President AND the Treasury Secretary will receive 2 popularity.

In addition to tariffs, there are also taxes.  These are usually less popular than tariffs, but sometimes necessary.  You'll note they don't come with any popularity.  (The number after the slash means you get popularity for repealing them if they already exist).  


In addition to not being popular, taxes can also kick off some really bad times.  See below:



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Okay.  That's probably enough to get us started.  

We are currently on @Shamilton President Washington to appoint his cabinet and then do any of the following in any order he chooses.

1) Reveal and handle an issue.  He will ultimately need to do this four times, before we advance out of the Issues stage.
2)  Pass/Repeal any taxes (with his Secretary of the Treasury, which he'll need to appoint first).  There are currently no taxes to repeal.  
3)  Pass/Repeal any tariffs (again, with his Treasury Secretary).  There are currently no tariffs to appeal.

To advance to the next phase of the game (treasury) he will need to appoint every office and also reveal and resolve four issues.

When you're ready for the first issue, Washington, let me know.  I'll reveal it and talk through how the issues work.

The rest of you are encouraged to begin making your case to Washington on why your candidates are the best for the offices of your choice.

I'll continue to walk you through things for now, but here are the rules for those who want to read ahead:


And here is the FAQ that explains some of the more complicated rules, and was updated recently.


The game is afoot!  You may now begin.

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Things to consider as you hand out appointments:

1)  The character's ability.  Higher ability means they will be more capable of handling issues that pop up.

2)  The character's popularity.  Many offices offer boosts to popularity -- both with the initial appointment and also by handling issues successfully.  Give the wrong character too much popularity, and all of a sudden you might not be party leader anymore (which will cost you being nominated for the next term as President).

3)  Future considerations.  You're not going to control the Presidency forever.  Start building some good will now, and hope they remember you fondly when you're the one with your hand out one day.

4)  Not necessarily a consideration, but the other players do have the right to refuse whatever appointment you offer them.

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Let's explain the statesman cards, for @swejie's benefit.  Look at your John Adams card.


At the top left, we see 4/4.  The left number is Adams' starting ability -- the higher the better.  This makes you a more competent President, VP, Cabinet Member, etc.  Though his card says 4, Adams actually has a starting ability of 5 because his wife Abigail gives him a +1 boost.  Most statesmen don't have a special wife -- there are only three in the game, and only Adams starts with one.

The second number in the top left is your starting popularity, 4.  A higher popularity increases the likelihood that you will be your party's nominee for President.  The highest eligible statesman from each party has the option to accept or decline their party's nomination.  If you decline, the second most popular statesman MUST accept.  You will gain additional popularity by being appointed to offices, elected President/VP, and handling issues as the President or relevant cabinet member.  It is also possible to lose popularity if an issue goes south on you.  We'll discuss more on that later.  The main thing to realize right now is you are tied for second-highest popularity in your party.  Washington has the highest.  You and Hamilton are tied for runner-up -- but you win the tie by being older.

That's it for Adams at the top left -- but some statesman have a "M" up here.  That means they have military capability, and can therefore be appointed General or Secretary of the Navy (an office that has not formed yet).  Adams lacks this, and therefore can not serve as General.

At the top right, you see a roman numeral I.  This is not something you have to worry about, that just indicates that you are in the starting deck of founding fathers.  After we deplete this deck, there are two more decks of statesmen that will carry us into the 1860's...if you guys keep the country alive that long.

Then you see MA -- Adams' home state is Massachusetts, which will be important at election time.  

Finally, we move to the bottom left.  "Conservative" is Adams' political party.  The opposition is "Liberal."

Then you see a "3" above a gavel.  That's how many votes Adams has, representing his sway in congress.  You tally up the votes on all of your statesmen's cards to get your total voting power -- your statesmen all vote as a united group, even if they are opposite parties.  

Finally, below the gavel, you see another 3.  This is Adams' age.  He is not 3 years old, of course -- rather, he is the third oldest statesman in the game.

Certain issue cards have a skull on them, indicating a statesman has died.  When this is revealed, we roll a die.

1-3:  Oldest statesman (Ben Franklin right now) dies.
4-5: Second oldest (George Washington) dies.
6:  Third oldest (John Adams) dies.

When you die -- or retire, by completing 1-2 terms as President -- all your gained popularity points are converted to victory points.  Highest victory points at the end of the game wins.  Your starting popularity does not count for this though -- so if Adams drops dead today, he will give you 0 victory points...not 4.


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