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$7,395 pledged of $25,000 goal
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$7,395 pledged of $25,000 goal
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About this project

Nerd E Reviews American Dynasty

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.

America! We like our plains fruited, our banners spangled, and our air a-bursting with bombs. The noble, ever-evolving project of democracy fuels millions of dreamers in their lusty pursuit of happiness. But let's be honest. It is we—the elect few—whose iron fists are strong enough to squeeze the lemon of liberty so tight that the bitter drops of democracy trickle down into the innocent, upturned eyes of the body politic. 

American Dynasty is an engine building game, with a twist: the nation is the engine, and each player is competing to manipulate it according to their own agenda (just like a real election!). backstabbing, bloodletting, and good old fashioned wheel-dealing push players to use their wits and political prowess to further their agenda to become America’s greatest political family.

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.

We 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, we wanted to inspire the average American—for just a few hours—to abandon their personal ethics in the intoxicating pursuit of absolute self-interest.

 

American Dynasty is played on a unique hexagonal puzzle board. Draw piles are placed on the central hex, and the Capitol Hill tile shows game progress, tracks families’ meandering political alignments, and stands as the seat of the president. The other 5 tiles represent swing states, the only ones that really matter in a national election, right?

Assembling the board
Assembling the board

American Dynasty is played over 5 political terms, each with 3 phases: Session (turn-based, active), Elections (resolution) and Inauguration (cleanup). The goal of the game is to earn the most victory points, or the biggest Legacy, for your family. Run for Senate or president, vote on bills, spread your influence, manipulate the media, pander to voting blocs, get special interest groups in your pocket, and wheel and deal with rival families. Anything for the good of the family!

 

 

More than anything, the game 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 is played in 5 rounds, which we call terms. Each term is made up of the following three phases:

Session Phase: Players take turns playing cards from their hands to earn victory points and get in position before the elections phase. This phase is all about shaping the political landscape and setting up the board to your advantage for the Elections phase. Collect and spend resources, enter your candidates in elections, and use special cards to gain unique bonuses or abilities.  

Elections Phase: Decide the outcome of each election state-by-state, then the presidency, by rolling dice, which represent the whims of the fickle electorate, and adding any bonuses you prepared for yourself during the session. There are a select few cards that can be played during elections to influence results, but generally you are resolving the races you entered.

Inauguration Phase: Winners collect their victory points, called Electorals, and take office. The visible special interest card is awarded to a player, and the board is reset for the next term!

 

 Take a gander at the rulebook here (still subject to change).

 

"American Dynasty trounces other lightweight election games and delivers strategic depth, clever mechanics, and snarky cynicism for the win!"

-Brandon Patton, designer of Super PACS

 

"My favorite board game" -Brianna, playtested in Saint Paul

"American Dynasty somehow manages to be even more entertaining than real American politics, which is no small feat. Prepare yourself for a blend of shrewd negotiation, strategic decision-making, calculated risk-taking, and political gamesmanship (pun intended)!" -Danny, playtested at Austin Board Games & Beer Meetup

"Best effin board game I think I've ever played." -David, Austin, TX

 Some of the stretch goals we would love to meet are improved components, additional artwork and a 2-player variant. More details to follow, but for now, here's a peak at our first stretch goal, a Kickstarter exclusive and special homage to our first run back in February (read about it in Risks & Rewards below if you're curious):

We'll reveal what it does as the goal approaches!
We'll reveal what it does as the goal approaches!

 

  • Add $40 to any pledge for an additional game. 
  • Add $25 to any pledge for an additional shirt.

 

 

  • Neil Zumwalde - Game Designer 
  • Scott Doughty - Graphic Designer/Co-Creator
  • Micah Mackert - Creative Consultant
  • Michael Gaughan - Watercolor Artist (not pictured)

Risks and challenges

As many of you may know, this is our second run at crowdfunding American Dynasty. In February we reached 60% of our goal before being unceremoniously battered into submission by a much bigger entity with a weapon we just couldn't match (namely, a legal team). We don’t want to dwell on the issue, but for the sake of full disclosure: a big, creaky old behemoth claimed we had infringed on their trademark, and threatened to litigate. Was there ever a more American tale?

Although our art was an original watercolor (and classy as hell), and despite the fact that the image in question can be found crumpled in literally every tip jar across the nation, the truth is we are just a few dudes with a fun, dirty little dream, and we couldn't afford to fight off such a well-lawyered adversary.

Despite a few bruises, this experience has only made the game stronger, as it has allowed us to refine our artwork, and given us time to develop the game to a higher degree — with some very exciting results.

We've removed the offending symbol from our artwork, but this situation has increased the strain on us in terms of both time and money. As a result, we have (very) slightly increased our goal to better help us cover some of the additional expenses of bringing the game to market. Our new goal still includes proofs, tooling, freight, manufacturing and warehousing, and better accounts for shipping costs of the game and other rewards to you. The shirts will only be profitable if we order a high enough quantity, but we think they’re freaking great, so we want you to have them, and our new goal takes ordering them in to account as well. All design, development, prototyping, and marketing costs have come directly out of our own pockets, simply because we love and believe in this project.

We don’t expect any delays in production or delivery. Things move slowly in the first part of the year for our manufacturer, and our May delivery date is based on our discussion with them about scheduling. This also gives us time to update or add new artwork if we meet stretch goals, and generally make sure we produce and deliver the best, most kickass product we can.

Stretch goals that aren’t being incorporated in the base game (like exclusive cards) will be printed and shipped separately, and we’ll deliver those game components in as timely a manner as production allows.

We LOVE to joke around, but we wanted to go into some detail about these issues because we believe, in all seriousness, that transparency is not only integral to the great project that is Kickstarter, but a goddamn fundamental value in general.

We promise that from here on out, everything we say will be perfumed with the bittersweet odor of satire!

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Support this project

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Absentee Ballot

    Show your love for your favorite Dynasty with a t-shirt. Available in Bush, Clinton, Roosevelt, or Kennedy. (Check out the artwork under "Rewards", see them in action under "The Team").

    See add-on options under "Rewards"

    Includes:
    • Dynastic Family T-shirt
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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $40 or more About $40

    Voter

    The game w/ all stretch goals.

    See add-on options under "Rewards"

    Includes:
    • 1 copy of American Dynasty
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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Greased Palms

    A dynastic family print signed by Michael Gaughan, our watercolor artist. Available in Bush, Clinton, Roosevelt, or Kennedy.

    Plus the game w/ all stretch goals, a shirt and your name in the rulebook.

    See add-on options under "Rewards"

    Includes:
    • 1 copy of American Dynasty
    • Dynasty print signed by the artist
    • Dynastic Family T-shirt
    • Your name in the rulebook
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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    Charity Gala

    Get a fancy laser-etched wooden game box with built-in inserts.

    Plus the game w/ all stretch goals, a dynasty family print, a shirt and your name in the rulebook.

    See add-ons under "Rewards"

    Includes:
    • 1 copy of American Dynasty
    • Dynasty print signed by the artist
    • Dynastic Family T-shirt
    • Your name in the rulebook
    • Laser-etched Wooden Box w/Inserts
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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $750 or more About $750

    Political Insider

    Your family (or friends) are a dynasty!

    3 of your family members will be painted by Michael Gaughan, given character traits, and made into playable candidate cards (+2 crony cards), a player mat, and 6 family tokens! 3 copies of your dynasty will be shipped to you.

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

    Plus 3 copies of the game w/ all stretch goals, a dynasty family print, a shirt and your name in the rulebook.

    See add-ons under "Rewards"

    Includes:
    • 1 copy of American Dynasty
    • Dynasty print signed by the artist
    • Dynastic Family T-shirt
    • Your name in the rulebook
    • Be a Dynasty
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  6. Select this reward

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

    Crony

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

    Plus the game w/ all stretch goals, a dynasty family print, a shirt and your name in the rulebook.

    See add-ons under "Rewards"

    Includes:
    • 1 copy of American Dynasty
    • Dynasty print signed by the artist
    • Dynastic Family T-shirt
    • Your name in the rulebook
    • Be a Dynasty
    • Original Watercolor
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    Limited 0 backers
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Funding period

- (28 days)