In our first Action Point post for Fort Sumter: The Secession Crisis, 1860-61 from GMT Games, we examined the map and then covered some basic examples of card play to place Political Capital Tokens and control spaces and showed a little bit about how various aspects are scored (scoring will be covered more in-depth in Action Point 3). In this Action Point, we are going to take a closer look at the Crisis Track and how it affects the game.
The Crisis Track
Along the left side of the game board lies the Crisis Track, which consists of two separate tracks that represent the Unionist and the Secessionist player’s handling of the Secession Crisis. From this track, players will gain Political Capital Tokens that can be used through card play to be placed on the board in various map spaces to attempt to control individual spaces or even an entire Crisis Dimension. This Crisis Track is made up of four different zones including Starting, Escalation, Tension and Final Crisis. These are marked clearly with different colors to aid players in knowing when they are about to enter into them. These zones are where all Political Capital Tokens start and once retrieved from the track and placed in zones, are never returned. When card play requires the player to take the first Political Capital Token from one of the Crisis Track Zones, this is referred to as a breach. Don’t worry though, the first breach of the first zone is “free” and there is no inherent penalty with entering Escalation. This just means that the game is progressing and players are getting into the political debates over the various issues.
In the above picture, you will notice that once a player breaches the Escalation Zone, they will gain an immediate benefit of 2 free Political Capital Tokens. These are very useful and will aid the player in continuing their card play to influence and take over map spaces while keeping their headlong ascent to the Tension Zone and eventually the Final Crisis Zone at bay. These extra tokens will be placed in their Token Pool and when new cubes are placed in the future, players will draw from that pool first before going back to the Crisis Track. You will also notice that there are three such bonus tokens to be had in the Tension Zone but in this zone there will be a penalty for the first player breaching.
That penalty will be to grant the opposing player the placement or movement of the Peace Commissioner meeple in any space. The Peace Commissioner in essence freezes the current status of any map space where it resides and doesn’t allow players to place or remove tokens from that space as long as it is in that area. This can be used to great effect to ensure control of a certain map space, such as a Pivotal Space where the player plans to use its granted ability to manipulate the other map spaces in that Crisis Dimension in an attempt to gain control of all three to score Victory Points, or to simply ensure that a space is controlled because it is their hidden Objective space.
The Final Crisis is the zone that you must be sure that it will lead to your gain before breaching as the penalty for the first player to breach it is to lose 1VP. That might not sound like much but in a game where scores will range from 5-12VP, 1VP can be the deciding factor in a win or not. The benefit to breaching first though is that you will gain access to all 4 bonus tokens that will be placed in your Token Pool to use as you need with card play and to secure the 1VP from having at least 3 more tokens in your pool than the other player. Remember, VP are pretty scarce so you have to make this decision with eyes wide open.
I hope that you are beginning to see how the game play in Fort Sumter works together. First you need to play cards to access your Political Capital Tokens, then you will need to slow your ascent up the Crisis Track by gaining access to the additional bonus tokens that can be had in the Escalation and Tension zones and finally you will need to skillfully maneuver your card playing to capture map spaces to score points but also keeping in mind some of the negative aspects of charging ahead and incurring various penalties such as the dreaded Peace Commissioner or the loss of a VP. Choose wisely and manage the crisis to the best of your ability and you will come out as the victor.
In our next Action Point, we are going to take a closer look at scoring and the different ways VP will be gained.