June 17th 1972 there was a break in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate office building in Washington DC. This is where our story begins, a story of cover up and of investigative journalism, the leader of the free world pitted against the free press. Who will ultimately win this battle? This is up to the players of the game Watergate from Capstone Games to determine.
Watergate is a two player game that has one player taking the role of Richard Nixon and the other the editor of (presumably) the Washington Post. This game is a tug of war of information, misdirection and coverup. The Nixon player is trying to get the Editor so bogged down that they do not finish the investigation in to the cover up of the Watergate break in time. The editor in a race against time needs to make the connections (2) to Nixon from the informants. Along the way the Editor finds clues and in classic crime drama fashion puts them up on a cork board with red string tied to it. The Editor needs to move fast to sift through the clues and make the connections. The tide in the game moves fast as clues, connections and even suspects are eliminated from the game.
"Who was the @$$hole that did that?" - Nixon
The game is really straightforward and when Rick and I sat down (Virtually) to play it there was not very much going back to the rule book to look up after the first couple of turns. There are 3 phases to each turn. First is the setup phase where you put new clues on the track along with the initiative token and a momentum token. The track is numbered starting at 5 on either end going to 0 in the middle. One end represents the Nixon player and the other the Editor. The goal is to have what you need to complete your objectives on your side of 0. If its on 0 nobody collects the tokens or clues. I really liked how this worked in the game play it added a lot of tension and moments of excitement.
The second part of the turn is playing your cards from your hand. Each player will take turns starting with the player who won the initiative token last turn. Each player plays a card and resolving the event or moving clues and tokens on the track. There are event cards that get played and when they do it is removed from the game (There was only 1 Saturday night massacre let not get greedy). The player with initiative has 5 cards and the other player has four, play alternates back and fourth until both player are out of cards. Then then final phase of the turn is the evaluation phase and this is when the tokens and clues get distributed to the player whose side the token is on.
"The Nixon player will try and block the investigation..."
The Editor will play clues on the board face up trying to make a connection between the informants and Nixon himself. The Nixon player will try and block the investigation by placing clues tokens face down on the board (these do not count as connections and block the Editor from using that space). If the Nixon player does a good job of blocking the investigation and taking the momentum tokens they will win the game. The Editor has it a little bit harder as you need to make the 2 connections from the informants to Nixon all while trying to manage the amount of momentum tokens Nixon is getting. I played the Editor in our game and it was difficult and eventually Tricky Dick won.
This is a fast paced lightweight game that is very thematic. I loved the cards they all had great pieces of the story. The game played very easily and had a lot of suspense and surprise to it. This one is a good add to your collection.
Designed by: Matthias Cramer
Published by: Capstone Games
Year Published: 2019
Recommended Ages: 12+
Time to Play: 60 minutes