Hero of Weehawken 2nd Edition Developer’s Notes
By Alan Emrich
With a fresh take on this new Edition of Victory Point Games’ venerable Hero of Weehawken, I look back on this project with considerable fondness. It has been some years since working on the first edition in its small, polybagged format. It remained on VPG customers’ “most wanted to see upgraded” list for ages, and I’m happy to have a second bite at this apple. (We used apples because George Washington chopped down the cherry tree when he was a boy, remember.)
If you are new to this game, Hero of Weehawken is a very manageable one-hour adventure where you, nestled in the newly-built White House, reside as President Thomas Jefferson. You must manage the nation’s affairs while keeping track of your elusive former Vice President, Aaron Burr. Your historical journey is as enlightening as it is fraught with peril. Opposing you is Burr, hatching a self-aggrandizing plot that will do the young American Republic great harm.
You must put a stop to his schemes before Burr launches his expedition; you must discover the identity of his co-conspirators, and you must arrest them and bring them to trial. Then, of course, there is the vital matter of actually winning the trial. Worse, Burr could be innocent, and if you failed to let him go, your administration would be forever stained by his undeserved persecution! As you can see, this game has you navigating a political minefield covered in banana peels: there are plenty of ways to do poorly, and you need to play smart to succeed.
Using the best elements of narrative card play, resource management, deck management, States of SiegeTM solitaire games, and even a dash of Clue, everything is at your fingertips as the world around you (and Aaron Burr’s plot) unfolds. You must steer your political destiny and America's if you would see your place in history rise.
About the 2nd edition
I want to thank Clark Miller for the great effort he made to bring the characters and story behind Hero of Weehawken to his illustrative talents. We all judge by the look of things – and by the look of things, Clark’s art judges pretty well. The publisher went all-out authorizing this level of visual enhancement for the game and your time spent playing will be richly rewarded for it. We will be showing playtest components with my own humble graphic design efforts throughout this article (these will improve when the real graphic artist gets ahold of the game). Still, the illustrations by Clark Miller that you see are “the real thing.”
From a game development standpoint, it has been great donning, once again, Jefferson’s well-heeled formal shoes and buckling them up for this grand gaming adventure. We present this remarkable (if little-known) story of the Aaron Burr conspiracy as a rattling good yarn in the guise of a solitaire game with a plethora of possible outcomes. As you furrow your presidential brow in deep reflection, your decisions will be many, consequential, and beset by the vagaries of an age steeped in limited information. (Remember, overseas information traveled at the speed of a sailing ship and overland communication traveled at the speed of a horse; if you were not an event’s direct witness, these delays dated the news you received.) You must rely, as Jefferson did, on hunches, suspicions, and your political instincts to bring about a high score through the muck and mire of Aaron Burr’s conspiracy.
In this second edition, I have researched and added flavor text to every card (it was sporadic in the first edition), helping fashion the narrative. The gameboard is better organized, as are the game mats, putting you in firm control of the “game space” on the table. I admit that gameplay ergonomics is something I consider a great deal because, like most gamers, I am a lazy player and don’t want to reach too far or have to pick up the rules book. I also sought out better symbolism to convey information so that costs and consequences are abundantly (and graphically) precise.
Something new in this second edition of Hero of Weehawken is difficulty levels. During setup, you can make the starting situation more manageable or more challenging. You achieve this by starting with more (or fewer) Prestige Points and beginning with one of the vital Conspiracy cards revealed or hidden under the map board where you cannot discover it at all. If you want a challenge, there is also a Remix option for the pieces in The West and the three Conspirator cards representing the actual Plot for Burr’s Expedition! That will keep you guessing and test your skills!
With the designer, we have rendered our verdict about Trial Defense cards. Not only has a new card been added for Aaron Burr to stand before the court as his own attorney (and watch out; he’s good!), but we were on the fence in the first edition about whether to reveal one or (if needed) two Trial Defense cards during a Defense Argument. Our answer was that, should a low-valued (1/2 or 1) Trial Defense be the first card revealed and insufficient to carry the argument, then a second (and final) card is also revealed to bolster the Defense. This method typically gives Burr and his defense team enough courtroom firepower to make a credible case.
There are some new Jefferson cards in this second edition as well. Jeffersonian Democracy will help with your domestic agendas. The Georgia’s Yazoo Land Scandal card requires a Federal Agent’s full attention to keep order in the new lands that will become Alabama and Mississippi. The Military Peace Establishment Act (which technically occurs before the game starts) bears fruit usable to subvert the advance of Burr’s Expedition plot. Finally, The Haitian Independence Lever on Napoleon for Florida represents a very touchy matter; Jefferson delayed this decision rather than make it because of the young Republic’s north/south political divide and the mixed feelings about Haiti’s successful slave revolt.
Finally, to top everything off, I have even created a memorable holiday promotional card. That fateful Christmas of 1805 was well-celebrated despite the Republic’s looming danger, and I thought you would enjoy a visit to that event at the Jefferson White House.
New for the 2nd edition
Here is a list assembled by the eminent Ian Wakeham, playtester and proofreader extraordinaire, of some second edition features not mentioned above:
One additional Conspirator marker in The West: two previously blank and, together with the new one, now include +2, +1, and -1 Prestige Point events.
Set up of Conspirators changed to make the appearance of Theodosia Burr less likely.
Difficulty setup level also affects Conspirator cards (i.e., immediately reveal or hide a conspirator).
Hard game difficulty level includes remixing Conspirator cards!
Trafalgar effect – if in place, failure on Pressure Britain Agenda track lowers Agenda (previously cost +1PP to try to advance the track during future attempts).
Various balancing changes to cards relating to PPs, Eye of Providence, Swords, and Scales of Justice.
Seven new Narrative cards:
Burr Leads His Defense Team, Acting as His Own Attorney
Trafalgar and Austerlitz now separate cards:
o Napoleon Triumphant at Austerlitz
o Nelson’s Victory vs. French and Spanish Fleets at Trafalgar
Yazoo Land Scandal
Military Peace Establishment Act
The Haitian Independence Lever on Napoleon for Florida
White House Christmas 1805
Lots of extra historical information in the rules.
Upgrading of components (artwork, mounted map/mat, card stock, translucent counters, etc.).
Two separate rulebooks (Getting Started/Epilogue book and Prelude & Plot/Expedition/Trial book).
Separate Conspiracy/Outcome cards with translucent counters to help eliminate innocents from deducing what to charge Burr with at trial.