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$13,515 pledged of $22,500 goal
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$13,515 pledged of $22,500 goal
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About this project

Politicians should not be judged by the content of their character, but by the prestige of their family name. E Pluribus Unum? No, E Unum Pluribus.

2-4 Players 30-45 minutes per player

The Box
The Box

American Dynasty is a game of engine building, intrigue, and fierce competition in which the players must use their wits and political prowess to further their agenda and become America’s greatest political family. Explore your dark visions of political life. 

After a frantic year of design and playtesting, weirdly rooting for Jeb! and Hillary, and seemingly endless statistical spreadsheets to balance gameplay, American Dynasty is ready!

American Dynasty smashes 120 years of legislation, scandal, and political grandstanding into an anachronistic five term face-off among four of the greatest  American political families. The game rewards players who display timeless civic virtues like ruthless calculation, unabashed nepotism, relentless bullying, and—should the need arise—a willingness to waterboard the likes of Eleanor Roosevelt.

I set out to make a game that was simultaneously social commentary, scathing and uproarious satire, and an entertaining emulation of the Electoral College. To honor the dignity of our great nation, I wanted to inspire the average American—for just a few hours—to abandon their personal ethics in the intoxicating pursuit of absolute self-interest.

A completely unique hybrid of familiar game mechanics, American Dynasty will appeal to fans of a wide range of play styles. It’s part Eurogame, with a sophisticated victory point, or in our parlance—electoral—system. Winning elections, passing bills, and currying favor with special interest groups will garner fatter electoral grabs, but certain heavy-hitting states demand them as the price for campaigning. It’s also part Ameritrash, featuring a combative head-to-head format that encourages metagame bartering and strong-arming, and incorporates high-stakes die rolls to determine election outcomes and the efficacy of some media events. It has overtures of worker placement in the way candidates are run for office and influence tokens are placed on the board to improve die rolls. Finally, there’s a robust hand management element because players must draw media cards to take unique actions, and bill cards, which substantially altar the status quo of the game and must be voted on by other players to be activated.

More than anything it begs for open-format negotiation to gain power: trade money and influence, demand or offer bribes to pass bills, and make promises, whether you intend to honor them or not. Whatever it takes to put your family’s collective ass in the sweet seat of power.

The game board is composed of 5 key swing states where you will campaign to place your family members in positions of power! Each swing state has its own voting bloc which leans to the left or to the right and values different traits. Examples of voting blocs are The 1% (Business Bills, Wealth), Feminists (Female), and Cops (Crime Bills, Military).

By pandering to these demographics, placing influence around the board, and orchestrating media events like “War on Drugs” and “Screw the Intern,” you can manipulate your opponents and increase your chances of winning elections. To increase the value of winning elections you can pass bills and get into bed with a host of special interest groups. Oh, and eventually you’ll want to run for president, too!

You are strongly encouraged to form alliances and perpetrate betrayals along the way!

American Dynasty is an engine building game, with a twist: each player is competing to enhance the same engine according to their own agenda (just like a real election!). I was able to mathematically balance the game using simple ai scripts and spreadsheet analysis to ensure no family had an advantage overall, but each family does well using different strategies and capitalizing on different play styles.

  • The Roosevelts don't have term limits and make great military presidents. 
  • The Kennedys rely on their financial advantage and style to control the media. 
  •  The Bushes are masters of pandering to special interest groups, but they don't appeal to female voters, unlike . . . 
  •  The Clintons, who use their powerful women and expansive public influence to win friends and influence voters. 
American Dynasty Components Preview
American Dynasty Components Preview

The Game consists of: 

  • 196 Cards (16 Core, 20 Candidates, 40 Bills, 80 Media, 20 Special Interests, and 20 Blocs) 
  • 7 Piece Puzzle Board 
  • 8 dice (2 each of Orange, Purple, Brown, and Yellow) 
  • 4 Player Mats
  • 4 wooden Money Tokens
  • 81 Electoral Tokens 
  • 32 Influence Tokens 
  • 24 Family Tokens
  • Rulebook

Backers can vote in our Stretch Goal elections. IT. IS. ON.

The First Election is the Donald Trump Pack vs. Bernie Sanders Pack!

Donald Trump Pack – The man. The hair. The (proposed) policies. You’ll get more Trump than you could ever want as you enact some of the most inflammatory propositions he's ever made. 

 Bernie Sanders Pack - Some old guy (apparently the heir to the KFC fortune) decides that he can just jump into a presidential race, already dominated by both a Clinton and a Bush! His policies are determined to break up his rival's corporate interests. 

These are both Kickstarter Exclusive packs of cards. They will include 5 Media, 4 Bills, and a candidate card.

  • Add $40 to any pledge for an additional game. 
  • Add $25 to any pledge for an additional shirt.
  • Add $5 to any pledge for an additional wink and empty promise.
The game prototype
The game prototype
Clinton Shirt
Clinton Shirt
The 4 available prints and shirt designs
The 4 available prints and shirt designs
  • Neil Zumwalde - Game Designer 
  • Scott Doughty - Graphic Designer
  • Micah Mackert - Creative Consultant
  • Michael Gaughan - Watercolor Artist 

Risks and challenges

WHY THAT GOAL?
Our current minimum manufacturing order to get American Dynasty shipped by early May is Just above $20k. We rounded our goal up 10% (Kickstarter Fees) to $22,500. This pays for proofs, tooling, freight, manufacturing, warehousing, shipping, and helps us with any eaten costs from low shirt counts. All of the design, prototyping, and marketing costs have been out of pocket, for the love of this project.

WHY THAT DEADLINE?
The current election climate adds timely fun to the game, so our shipping deadline of having games in the hands of backers before the end of May is of paramount importance to us. You are putting your trust in us and this project, and we'll do everything we can to make sure there aren't delays. We're parallelizing the tasks of tooling and design touchups in order to meet our deadline.

WHAT ABOUT FULFILLMENT?
For the games, there are currently 2 fulfillment and warehousing options we're looking at. There is one local warehousing option here in Austin, or Amazon Fulfillment. Our decision will be based on the scale of the order and the success of the Kickstarter. This decision making process shouldn't delay production since we won't need to specify a freight destination we have an account with until April. Shirts can be delivered directly from the manufacturer. Prints and Stretch goal packs will be printed locally and shipped by us.

HOW DOES THE MERCH WORK?
Financially the shirts are horrible at low quantities. If we order less than 12 of each design, they cost us more than $25 each, but they're really awesome, so they deserve to exist. Still, I can't justify asking someone to pay more than $25 to just get a T-Shirt no matter what, so I won't.

The prints will be shipped directly from Michael Gaughan's art studio, where he'll sign each one personally! You lucky ducks.

Non-base game stretch goals will be printed locally and shipped separately from the game, so their arrival may not match up with the game. We are confident that we can get them to you on the timeline that we gave, but if that has to change we'll let you know right away! In fact, we'll make sure everyone is updated with the latest news on stretch goals as we have it.

Stretch goals that will be incorporated in to the base game may end up changing our manufacturing cost, but we've made sure to account for that in our pricing strategy. For example, if we meet a goal for custom molds, there will be a one-time tooling cost to have them made, increasing our startup costs, but making the game a bit easier to play. If we manage to raise enough to get more watercolor art for the game, it will enhance the look and feel of the game, but won't add to our manufacturing costs. Importantly, none of the stretch goals should delay production time of the game itself, since we've already quoted them out, and most are design exclusive changes.

This is gonna be fun! Democracy (or something like it) WINS!

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Support this project

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    A video thank you with your name or another empty campaign promise, accompanied by a sultry wink at the camera. We'll record a video with all of our thanks and winks.

    All backers get to vote in our stretch goal elections.

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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    A shirt, available in Bush, Clinton, Roosevelt, or Kennedy. (Check out the designs under "Rewards").

    See add-on options under "Rewards"

    All backers get to vote in our stretch goal elections.

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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $40 or more About $40

    The game w/ all stretch goals.

    See add-on options under "Rewards"

    All backers get to vote in our stretch goal elections.

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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    The game w/ all stretch goals.
    A dynastic family print signed by Michael Gaughan, our watercolor artist. Available in Bush, Clinton, Roosevelt, or Kennedy.
    A shirt.
    Your name in the rulebook.

    See add-on options under "Rewards"

    All backers get to vote in our stretch goal elections.

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $750 or more About $750

    Your family (or friends) are a dynasty!

    3 of your family members will be painted by Michael Gaughan, given character traits, and made into 5 candidate cards, a player mat, and 6 family tokens! 3 copies of your dynasty will be shipped to you.

    Plus the $100 Reward, with 2 additional copies of the game.

    The backer will need to tell us a bit about their family members (so we can pick your traits) and provide photos.

    See add-on options under "Rewards"

    All backers get to vote in our stretch goal elections.

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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $1,500 or more About $1,500

    The original watercolor collage of the Bush family, signed by the artist, Michael Gaughan.

    Plus everything in the $750 & $100 rewards.

    See add-on options under "Rewards"

    All backers get to vote in our stretch goal elections.

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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $3,500 or more About $3,500

    Neil & Michael come to your house and Neil plays the game with you, while Michael live paints the game being played.

    Plus everything in the $750 & $100 rewards.

    See add-on options under "Rewards"

    All backers get to vote in our stretch goal elections.

    Available within the US only.
    International donors may contact us for special exceptions.

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Funding period

- (34 days)