Print off a rules reminder and aid for everyone

Watergate is an excellent two player game, devised by Matthias Cramer.

It’s not difficult to follow once you’ve given yourself a few turns to get into it, but Watergate definitely needs a careful and thorough read-through of the rules and play procedure before you begin. The reminder leaflet above can be printed off for each player, giving them a chance to check out what they might want to do – and what their opponent might nastily do at some time or other.

If a newbie opponent insist, “don’t bother with the rules, let’s just play it and learn as we go along”,
I’d recommend taking a very deep breath …. 😁

The two players find themselves in role either as Tricky Dickie Nixon, one of the impeached Presidents of the USA, or as the Washington Post’s Editor who’s determined to bring Nixon’s shenanigans to light. As you’d expect, it’s a true tussle of a game, and there’s not a smidgen of love lost between the two protagonists.

Each player has a deck of cards, just a few of which are played in each round. There’s no specified number of rounds – it keeps going until one of them wins.

On each card, there are two different segments.

The upper one displays a number and a slip of coloured paper alongside a pertinent image. The number can be used to move one of three tokens a little closer to you – and that may bring real benefits. The tokens represent either evidence, or the momentum that either Nixon’s administration or the investigation have achieved, or control over who’s going to have the initiative in the next round – giving them one card more, and the chance of going first.

The lower part of the cards either allows events to occur, or permits meaningful conspirators (Nixon’s buddies) or journalists (Editor’s team) to have their day, each hoping to wreak havoc on the opposition.

Players are constantly confronted with decisions about which tactics and strategies to employ, and whether to go for a quick effect, or to delay in the hope of having greater impact later.

Nixon’s main aim is to accumulate as many momentum tokens as he can, since he wins outright if he can get five of them.

The Editor seeks to link any two conspirators pictures on the evidence pin-board to Nixon’s mugshot, and thus to win by forcing Nixon into resignation.

The Editor’s evidence tokens are face-up, as is appropriate since they reveal information.
There must a continuous link incorporating such tokens between Nixon and at least two conspirators for the Editor to succeed.

Nixon also can place evidence tokens onto the baord, and his are face-down (coloured black).
These block revelations, acting to impede the linkages that the Editor’s trying to establish.

They fight tooth and claw !

  • a clever game that’s ‘very different’ – and good fun
  • possibly just a little bit above casual, but it’s not really that deeply complicated
  • it takes a while to play – deliberation is in order
  • when to do what is definitely not easy-peasy
  • strategic thinking (probably) develops with play
  • low level of luck is involved, but players’ actions and decisions count most, without doubt