Someone recently asked me, vis-a-vis my previous comments on Kickstarting board games, if there were any Kickstarters I would recommend. And there is definitely one: the Pandasaurus Games reprint of Tammany Hall. For those who are unaware – which is most of you – Tammany Hall was an extremely-small-print-run board game which has become legendary among hardcore boardgamers because it’s A) supposed to be really good and B) extremely hard to find and thus very expensive.
Well, I happen to have a copy already! So let me confirm: it’s very good. It’s a sort of area-control game wherein each player is a major political player in 18th-century New York (it is, in some ways, Gangs of New York: The Board Game). Each turn you can either plunk down “ward bosses”, or a combination of ward bosses and immigrants (Irish, English, German or Italian). When you place immigrants on the board, you get political favour chips of the appropriate nationality.
Then, at the end of every four years, you have elections in each of the city wards, which are won by the player with the most votes. Votes are your ward bosses plus all of the political favour chips you choose to expend – but chips are expended in a sealed bid, which effectively turns each vote at least partially into a bluffing contest (“so, is he going to pull in his Irish favours here, or save them for ward 17?”).
That, plus some other clever mechanics (slandering opponents, the fact that the big winner of each election gets more VPs but then has to assign the special powers of the game to other players) make for a boardgame that is both extremely engaging and not too complex from a rules standpoint, but what I really love about Tammany Hall is that it captures the feel of political horse-trading almost perfectly, and the bluffing aspect of the game really seals that for me. (Also, you can make lots of jokes about English and Italians, if you are so inclined. Playing the game with friends of the appropriate ethnicities gets hilarious and lowbrow very quickly.)
Right now it’s a few hundred bucks short of making its Kickstarter goal for the base game, so it’s guaranteed to succeed. I highly recommend it – it’s a fantastic game.
(Also, other people should Kickstart Ogre so it gets to 700K and Steve Jackson promises to thus Kickstart Car Wars. I don’t care about Ogre, but I want me some Car Wars. With the long-awaited official rules for scaling gameplay up to Hot Wheels.)