If George Washington had played video games, would he still have led the United States to independence? Or would Americans today be singing "God Save the Queen"? In honor of Presidents' Day, FP looks at video and board games that teach us a little something about a few of our 44 commanders-in-chief.
Birth of America II -- Before he could become president, Washington had to mold an army virtually from scratch and lead it into battle against arguably the best force in Europe. He might have appreciated a chance to practice his generalship in this sophisticated strategic-level computer game, in which fighting is almost anti-climatic compared to raising and supplying armies, and moving them around a vast theater of operations.
Assassin's Creed 3 -- Would Washington have enjoyed a video game in which time-traveling assassins meddle with the American Revolution? And would we have wanted him to play a game that comes with an expansion called "The Tyranny of King Washington"?
The Halls of Montezuma: The Mexican-American War -- If the current security situation in Mexico continues to deteriorate, the U.S. government might want to check out this board game centered on the 1846 U.S. invasion.
War Between the States -- The challenge of this computer game is to get your armies moving, a frustration with which Lincoln was intimately acquainted. The Union and Confederate players must appoint commanders, each with a different level of initiative that in turn determines how fast his army travels. (And seniority rules mean that the worst commander is frequently the one in charge.) Needless to say, at the beginning of the war, the Union is stuck with McClellan and Burnside, while the South has Lee and Jackson.
Victoria 2 --The United States scrambles for its share of the imperialist pie in this economic-military computer game that depicts the days when occupying foreign lands was considered a good deed.
A Splendid Little War: The 1898 Santiago Campaign -- Was there really a time when U.S. troops could land in Cuba and be greeted by cheers instead of gunfire? This board game about the U.S. liberation of Cuba during the Spanish-American War almost seems like an alternate universe.
World War One -- A small board game of the Great War, in which the combatants expend manpower like ammunition in the ultimate war of attrition.
Monopoly -- A game published during the Great Depression, in which Americans can go bankrupt from excessive speculation, seems appropriate for Hoover.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
World in Flames -- A living-room-sized board game that can take a full year to complete would have been good preparation for the global war that FDR fought. The American, British, and Soviet players must work together, but only one of them will win.
The Korean War -- The U.S. player must repel the North Koreans, survive Chinese intervention, and save South Korea, all while trying not to drag in the Soviets, in this challenging board game.
Twilight Struggle -- A clever board game of Cold War superpower rivalry, in which launching coups and military interventions determines whether the United States or the Soviets will emerge on top. Just be careful not to start a nuclear war.
John F. Kennedy
Cuban Missile Crisis -- JFK might not have opted for a blockade had he played this board game, in which the United States invades Cuba and possibly triggers World War III.