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A card-driven board game simulating the US Election of 1860. Up to four players compete to gain the presidency and save the Union! Read more

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This project was successfully funded on October 3, 2011.

A card-driven board game simulating the US Election of 1860. Up to four players compete to gain the presidency and save the Union!

About this project

Note: The images you see in the video are prototypes, and will not reflect the quality of the final product, which will be higher! Thanks for understanding!

The presidential election of 1860 was one of the most critical in the history of the United States. With civil war looming as a near inevitability, the challenge was to find a way forward after years of degenerating political discourse in the increasingly divided American electorate. In the end, after months of contentious campaigning between four major parties and over a dozen smaller ones, the election was won by the Republican dark horse candidate, a little known Illinois politician named Abraham Lincoln who hadn't even been the first choice of his party's senior leadership.

Divided Republic is a card driven two to four player game representing the last calm before the storm that was to become the American Civil War. Players represent the four major parties (Constitutional Unionists, Northern Democrats, Republicans, and Southern Democrats) and attempt to win the presidency by defeating their opponents with dirty tricks, platform speeches, and the manipulation of key historical events. All the while, President Buchanan interferes, radicals riot, and the country continues the downward spiral toward civil war. 

If one party wins the election by achieving the necessary 152+ electoral votes, or wins in the case of an electoral tie thrown to the US Congress, history may well change. Nevertheless, there is always the chance that the population of South Carolina will finally explode into open rebellion and secede, ending the game, at which point everyone loses!

This is a light to medium weight game with intense player interaction, card-driven play, and a play time of about 2-3 hours depending upon how events proceed. There are even a few laughs along the way as the mudslinging between parties heats up. Literally anyone can win - it's not simply a cut and dry Republican victory. This is a different kind of US election game, a game where there are not two, but four parties, set in a period when candidates did not generally campaign for themselves, and run in an era when the Republicans were still liberals and the Democrats were the vanguard of traditional American conservatism.

I have been testing this game and showing it off at gaming conventions for entirely too long. Along the way, it's consistently been well received, and dozens of players have asked the same question: When will it be published?

Honestly, the delay in getting it produced was twofold. First, it's a fact of anxiety: submitting one's designs can be a nerve-wracking and often demoralizing process, particularly if the game just doesn't suit the companies you're seeking to publish with. On a more practical front, however, it's simply a very difficult matter to get yourself published as a virtual unknown. One could have a truly brilliant design ready to go but be completely ignored by the industry's movers and shakers simply because one has not yet been published; it's a vicious cycle: they want more experience from you as a designer, and yet, without being published, you simply cannot get that experience! It's a tough road to hoe, even tougher with the economy in the state it's in.

Fortunately, and somewhat miraculously, a great little company called Numbskull Games, is offering me the opportunity to see my dream come true and to become a published board game designer. There's only one catch: producing a board game costs money. The design and component costs are only half the battle; there are also the costs of printing, production, distribution, and marketing. The costs are even higher with an unknown in the industry like yours truly.

Fortunately, the game is developed and ready to go. It's been extensively tested and proofread; placed in a burlap bag and soundly beaten with reeds; sanitized for your protection. All it needs is a little help in the production cost department to cover printing, final artwork, distribution, and the like.

That's where you, faithful reader, can make a difference. I need to raise the necessary funds to help cover the cost of the first production run of 1,000 copies. This can be accomplished with a relatively modest fee by industry standards: approximately $13,000. 

By making a contribution, you'll not only help to bring a quality game to market, but you'll also help fulfill a long and dearly held dream. It would be my distinct honor to present this design to the gaming community, and Kickstarter finally affords that opportunity. Won't you consider a contribution?

Thanks very much for your time, in -any- case.

Alex T. Bagosy

FAQ

  • Gerrit Smith, also known as "Smith Gerrit," and "William Gerrit" in some period accounts, was a prominent New York Abolitionist who advocated the immediate abolition of slavery to include, if necessary, use of violence to enforce such a policy. He was a friend of William Lloyd Garrison, financially influential, and often accused of funding a "Negro Underground" in the South by ardent Anti-Abolitionists. We don't know if the latter part is true, but it is worth mentioning that many of his fellow Abolitionists classified him as a "radical" member of their movement. At the very least, there is some indication that he was part of the cabal of Northern businessmen who helped to financially support John Brown's plans for revolt.

    His political experience in office was limited to a single term in the US House of Representatives as a member of the Free Soil Party. He ran for the presidency a number of times, on Abolitionist tickets with a variety of names. In 1860, Smith ran as the candidate for the simply named "Abolitionist Party," and won several votes in New York. However, most free soil/anti-slavery voters chose to vote for Lincoln in the election.

    Representative Smith was a rare man of his era, and is on record several times arguing for the complete equality of former slaves, a school of thought that many prominent Abolitionists avoided. After the war, Smith was blacklisted by the radical members of the Republican Party, who disagreed with Smith's assertion that the South should be treated fairly, and that part of the blame for slavery fell upon the North. In addition, Smith managed to burn several bridges by openly advocating for a pardon of Jefferson Davis.

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  • As discussed in the various levels of support, all shipments to the US and Canada will be mailed post free. However, because of the cost of overseas shipping, we can only offer free shipping at pledge levels of $100 or more. If you'd like to have the game shipped to you anywhere else in the world at pledge levels below $100, please add $15 to the amount of your pledge. This will ensure that you get your game as quickly as possible!

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  • The game will support anywhere from two to four players. It plays best, in my opinion, with four, but it is certainly just as valid with fewer players.

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  • Each player will represent one of the four major parties taking part in the election: The Constitutional Unionists, the Northern Democrats, the Republicans, or the Southern Democrats. Player roles are normally determined at random; this helps add to the flavor of the game and prevents players from monopolizing certain roles.

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  • Yes. While the game is primarily card driven, Divided Republic uses ordinary six sided dice for some mechanisms, mostly the result of certain events played from the game's extensive deck of cards.

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  • That varies considerably from group to group, but we have found that the vast majority of games are resolved within between two to three hours.

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  • The simplest way to answer this is to say that, if a Party has won 152+ electoral votes, the player controlling that Party has won the game. However, ties are not unheard of, particularly in multi-party situations like this. In the case of an Electoral Tie, the election is thrown to the House of Representatives, and the game is awarded to the player whose Party controls the most states; in the case that this, too, is tied, the election goes to the Senate, and the election is won by John C. Breckinridge, Vice President of the United States, and candidate for the Southern Democrats.

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  • An Electoral Tie is a situation when no candidate has clearly won the Electoral College at the conclusion of a presidential election. In 1860, the number required to win was 152+ votes; the electoral situation at the time made it possible for an Electoral Tie to occur in one of two ways: no candidate has won the necessary 152+ votes, or MORE than one candidate has won the necessary 152+ votes. The latter situation is far less common, but more likely to occur if additional states join the Union during the course of the election. (Both Kansas and Nevada were in the process of applying for statehood at the time of the 1860 contest.)

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  • He did, but you'd be amazed how few people actually recognize him sans beard. As such, the publisher decided to go with the bearded version of Abe, a decision I wholeheartedly support. The bust of Abe provided at the Abe Lincoln level will in all likelyhood be beardless (that's the goal, anyway); more on that as we get closer to getting some pledges for some of those in.

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Rewards

  • You selected
    Pledge $1 or more

    7 backers

    REPRESENTATIVE GERRIT SMITH - At this level, you receive our deepest gratitude and eternal thanks from a grateful nation, as well as a mention in the final rulebook!

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  • You selected
    Pledge $30 or more

    89 backers

    GOVERNOR SAM HOUSTON - At this level, you'll receive our gratitude, and a copy of the Divided Republic board game from the initial print run AS WELL AS a mention in the final rulebook! Your copy of the game will be shipped POST FREE if you are located in Canada or the United States. Please add $15 to your pledge if your game will ship elsewhere.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $45 or more

    77 backers

    PRESIDENT JAMES BUCHANAN: By request, here's another opportunity for you to support Divided Republic. At this level, you will receive all the benefits of the SAM HOUSTON level plus something extra cool: ABEPLES! That's right, Abraham Lincoln themed Meeples, complete with top-hat, in each of the four party colors! Your rewards will ship POST FREE to Canada or the United States. Please add $15 for shipping if your rewards will ship elsewhere.

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  • You selected
    Pledge $60 or more

    52 backers

    SENATOR STEPHEN DOUGLAS - At this level, you will receive our gratitude, AND the ABLEPLES normally included at the JAMES BUCHANAN Level, PLUS an extra copy of the game, signed by the author! Your copies of Divided Republic will be shipped POST FREE to Canada or the United States. Please add $15 to your pledge if your games will ship elsewhere.

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  • You selected
    Pledge $100 or more

    11 backers

    SENATOR JOHN BELL - Thank you for your generosity! At this level, you'll receive all of the benefits of the STEPHEN DOUGLAS level POST FREE anywhere in the world, plus an EXTRA set of ABEPLES and something new: a T-Shirt themed to the political party of your choice! At the successful completion of this project, you will be prompted for your t-shirt size and party affiliation of choice. You may select The Abolitionist Party, the Constitutional Unionist Party, the Northern Democratic Party, the Republican Party, the Southern Democratic Party, or the Texas Unionist Party.

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  • You selected
    Pledge $150 or more

    2 backers

    VICE PRESIDENT JOHN CABELL BRECKINRIDGE: At this level, you will receive all the cool stuff at the JOHN BELL level, plus an EXTRA copy of the game (that's three copies of Divided Republic!, two sets of Abeples, AND a T-Shirt!) At the successful completion of this project you will be prompted for your t-shirt size and party affiliation of choice. Remember, rewards at this level are POST FREE anywhere in the world!

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  • You selected
    Pledge $175 or more

    1 backer Limited (15 left of 16)

    CIVIL WAR HISTORIAN: At this level, we are going to offer you an extra incentive to pledge a little extra to help us reach our goal, now so tantalizingly close! If you pledge at this level, in addition to the benefits of the John Cabell Breckinridge level, you will get a really cool opportunity: DESIGN A CARD. All copies of Divided Republic acquired via Kickstarter will receive an exclusive bonus: an Advanced Deck, which will add sixteen new cards to the game and allow for even more variability and options. If you pledge at this level YOU will be able to design one of these cards, with the help of the designer (yours truly.) You'll get a design credit in the rulebook, and when we create an entry for the Advanced Deck on BGG, we'll even add you to the list of designers! Because this will take a little bit of time to playtest, the Advanced Deck won't be available as soon as the base game, but it will arrive with our backers as soon as it's ready to go!
    Note: As a courtesy to our 250 backers, we'll be offering this opportunity as well. If that means that we somehow end up with more than sixteen cards - so be it!

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  • You selected
    Pledge $200 or more

    1 backer Limited (9 left of 10)

    SECRETARY WILLIAM H. SEWARD: By request of interested retailers, and arrangement with the publisher, I'm now able to a special package for retailers interested in carrying Divided Republic. By pledging at the SEWARD level, you will receive six (6) signed copies of Divided Republic, six sets of Meeples, and six sets of the limited edition busts normally available only at the $250 ABRAHAM LINCOLN level. As usual with pledges above $100, the rewards will ship for free. I regret that, due to the special arrangements made, I can't offer this award to private individuals. These are on a limited basis. When they're gone, they're gone. This will be the -only- way for retailers to get the limited edition busts and Abeples, as all others will be going to individual supporters.

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  • You selected
    Pledge $250 or more

    7 backers

    REPRESENTATIVE ABRAHAM LINCOLN: Savior of the Union! At this level, as a thanks for your generosity, in addition to all of the goodies listed at the JOHN BRECKINRIDGE level, you'll also receive an EXTRA t-shirt, PLUS a limited edition set of sculpted busts depicting EACH of the four major historical candidates: Bell, Breckinridge, Douglas, and Lincoln, which make great player markers! At the successful completion of this project, you will be prompted for your t-shirt size(s) and party affiliation(s) of choice. Remember - rewards at this level are also POST FREE anywhere in the world!

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Funding period

- (40 days)