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Playtester Question


vcczar

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My favorite part of the game to playtest is the career track phase, because here you really have to plan and think strategically, because your decisions surely have a long-lasting impact.

Are you going to remove your private sector giant because you gamble on an open seat in a swing state's gubernatorial race or do you prefer gaining an even greater bonus but having your politician locked away in the private sector for at least four more years? 

Which career track will you choose for a politician, who's equally talented in legislative and administrative matters? Remember the politician hails from an agricultural state and could be a shoo-in for a cabinet position in some years. However, the state has a senior US senator, who has already served for more than twenty years in the nation's upper chamber. That's why rising through the legislative ranks of the state could essentially benefit your politician in becoming what some would call the legitimate successor of the state's senior US senator.

Many New Englanders seem already positioned for a career in the legislative branch, so sending your draftee to the backroom politics track seems pretty attractive. After years spending there you could potentially use your politician to build a powerful East Coast network of politicians by the means of deep ties between powerful kingmakers and their protégés. However, spending up to twenty years in smoke-filled rooms will essentially lock away your guy from the current political stage. So are you poised to take risk of potentially waking up in a dramatically altered political landscape in which your politician's state and region might have already faded into the background of political influence? 

These are just some examples of questions, I am looking forward to think about when playing A More Perfect Union.

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I think my favorite part of playtesting AMPU is two fold. 

First, is the elections.  Having to select which candidate to run can be a very interesting and rewarding process, especially if you win the race!  You have to look at what voters in the state want, and if it's a Congressional seat, if there is a seat bias.  Then you have to look at ideology.  A Progressive candidate is unlikely to do well in a state that loves Traditionalists.  Then there is the roll of the dice...which I liken to voter turnout in primaries.  Did your candidate get their name out there well enough for primary voters to select them?  Roll a 6 and...yes they did!  Is your politician charismatic?  Are they a propagandist?  Does your faction have a media card which can help them?  Did they fight and do well in a recent war?  All these factors and the small bonuses/penalties you get from them can help you win (or lose) an important election.

My second favorite part about AMPU playtesting is seeing what historical politicians and leaders end up doing.  As a historian, museum director, and college teacher, it fascinates me to see things like James K Polk having two terms, Boss Tweed being assassinated before he gets the Democratic Presidential nomination, and the Republican party never forming and instead remaining the Whigs.  It's like watching American history unfold in front of you, and you get to play a part in directing it.  For example, in one playtest, I was able to package an anti-lynching bill with another popular bill during the Legislative process, and not only was it was approved by Congress, it was signed into law by the President during the Reconstruction Era!  Now, will the other party challenge it in the Supreme Court?  Maybe...we'll have to wait and see.

I can't wait to play A More Perfect Union when it's released!

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My favorite is the census, but that's in large part due to me personally crunching the numbers for it.  In the program, it'll be automated.  I'm still a stats nerd, so I'll love it, but it better have some good summary screens every time it happens.

Besides that, my favorite is definitely the legis phase, because there's just so many options.  In early eras it is possible to maybe run out, sure, but even by the mid-1800s there's no way you can possibly go through them all, so there's almost infinite ways the nation can develop depending just on how Congress goes.

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My favorite part is the faction leader selection.

Having to evaluate your options and choose carefully who you want to build up, knowing that there's risk involved in gaining bad traits but also that only your faction leader can be a major candidate for President (aside from celebs). I've debated with myself about taking a pol who was already strong in their own right and making them faction leader to elevate them to presidential contender versus taking a young pol who's basically a blank slate and investing in them over the long run to make them into a powerhouse. 

Combine that with getting to watch the other players make similar considerations and watching as they make their selections and where they see their best potential moving forward. When everyone's done, getting to see the power centers that emerge and why, I remember one playtest when every faction leader in the GOP was a member of the Senate, versus one playtest where following a complete wipeout, the GOP's faction leaders were all jobless, it makes for a fun and immersive experience. 

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I'm been lucky enough to participate in a few playtests but as the person who is running several of the on-going playtests I have gotten a slightly different perspective then most players.  I have enjoyed watching from behind-the-scenes, the players and teams strategize and try and figure out how to best move their faction and politicians forward. While at the same time try to help their party as a whole win.  When do they vote for what is best for their faction and when do they vote against their interests to boost their party is fascinating to watch. And when the Dixiecrats and Progressives faction are both in the same party together boy can it get interesting!!

I also really enjoy the events phase of the game. There are both generic events and scripted events specific to what era you are in. You never know what might happen to mess up your best laid plans. Just managed to get one of you pols elected as President. Awesome! Until you find out the economy just went into a panic and you've just been hit with a scandal.  Maybe I would have been better off controlling the Senate and letting that other faction be President!!

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I’m hooked on strategizing candidates for House elections. I spend an inordinate amount of time looking at district biases and trying to position the best candidates in each seat. Easily my favorite part of the game.

Second is trying to get alt histories to play out - including the What-If scenarios of ahistorical states and non-traditional, special candidates.

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my favorite part of playtest is the intraparty infighting as you have a lot of options to decide either to work with another person across the isle of ideologies or work together with a similar ideology and duke it out with the opposite.
I personally wish there was more to be gained with inter-party cooperation as that could be interesting to see a faction of con red work with left dem to, for example, remove reconstruction in exchange for the gold standard.

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My favorite part so far has to be the various ammounts of backstabbing that you have to do to try and get your way. In the 1868 playtest the Democrats had a non aggression pact for all their efforts to try and win various elections but it never seemed to work. In the one election where they started primarying each other they were able to take that. 

You also find that when you are in the minority and their is a contested election for either the PPT or Speaker that you can try and get someone who might be more favorable to yourself into office in exchange for some concessions. On the time we did this the Democrats ended up getting stabbed in the back after it became clear a repeal of reconstruction was never going to have been on the table and they had always intended to vote against it.

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I'm definitely a fan of seeing the paths I can take a a player.  Do I want to focus in on building up dominance in a specific industry or lobby group, State or region? It's also fun when ask those intersect.  For example, in the 1948 test,  I control the far left Democrat faction which is crowded with labor- focused statesmen. This also benefits me in the industrial Midwest. 

As a game manager, I've really enjoyed the varying ways human players treat their cpu counterparts and collectively strategize (or don't!). 

More than anything, I really love the longterm goals of building up a statesman that you have grown attached to. You really want to see their story unfold in a great way. So make some unknown governor runs a state for 20 years or witness a real life one-term congressman become president 20 years after they would've retired.  Really fun and exciting what-ifs!

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