Bull Moose is a 1912 US election game with asymmetric parties and a card driven support mechanic. There’s a few generic tips I would give to new players, but there’s also some key lessons from the individual candidates that should be applied:
Events and Points; Balance your use of points with events – the events are more powerful, but you need to use some points to get to the right place to trigger the event. If your card requires you to be in Ohio, then think about how you will get to Ohio to use it!
Forewarned; You draw 8 cards and pick 4 for each hand – that means you can keep pushing cards down the deck, or you can set up a great next turn. Often setting up the big turn in turn 5 or 6 is a key mark of a winning player.
Whistle-stop and Movement; Whistlestop makes a movement action free – that still means you need to use the action points. However there are other cards that give you a move per card. That’s a key difference and means you should be using whistlestop in a turn when you are using lots of points cards.
Focus; You cannot win all the seats – pick your battles and don’t spend your game on movement points. Staying in the Midwest, the East or the South will give you lots of electoral college votes. Think twice before taking the long road to the west!
Use Specials; The game offers you late game changes in empty states and swing states – if the West is left open this can have lots of value, or the swing state of Kentucky can suddenly be contested. These late game swings are material.
Absolute Plurality; This concept is important – getting double another player in a state pushes them out of a state. If a candidate just left your region, now is a good time to squeeze him out of states – he won’t want to spend the movement doubling back, but if he otherwise has lost the state then he has sunk cost of those support cubes. The counter to this is that you should avoid the “sunk cost” analysis of throwing good support cubes after bad – you may be better to definitely take another state than contest a few.
Pennsylvania & New York; These will always be hotly contested, and almost always a lottery. Watch out for chasing a lost cause – Ohio & Illinois are highly valuable and so is much of the South and Midwest. Good odds in many states is often better than good odds in only one large state. However, watch out for one player monopolising both – if that happens they are leading the race by a long way.
Republicans; You can move one of your cubes at the end of the round – this is helpful to avoid superfluous cubes in states you just played an event, or to break ties with the socialist player (stopping their abilities). You will likely fight the Midwest and East and use this ability to avoid having to move as much as other players in the Midwest.
Progressives; You can add a cube at the end of each round – particularly key in the very last turn, but early game this is a good way to pick up small / mid point states that probably no one else will challenge you for later in the game.
Democrats; You don’t get an end turn advantage but that additional point in the South is a material bonus that will put other people from going there. Get in during turn two with big points and whistlestop – blocks of 4-5 support will quickly put others off 10 point states.
Socialists; You will chase people to cause ties and get free cubes. You don’t need to be in the region at the end of the turn and so you can be a bit more agile than other players. Don’t chase the whole game, but where you break one cube ties you instantly get absolute plurality.
Prohibition; You can move an opponents cube at the end of each round – use this to target players who would need to double back to stop you and push for absolute plurality where you can.
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