Up & Away Games > Founding Fathers
Founding Fathers
Awards & Testimonials

2015 Sumo Award – Yokozuna level

“I think FOUNDING FATHERS will soon take its place in the TOP-5 of all time.” –Man Katris

Magnificent.” –Mike Siggins

“This is a fantastic game ... it's always in high demand at board game night. Not just a game for history nerds (I'm certainly not one), though I'm sure that enhances the experience. Great diplomatic game with good strategy elements. Highly recommended!” – Kevin Hart

An OUTSTANDING game on the early American Republic, as fun as it's a magnificent history and politics living lesson” – Gabriel Gonzalez Pavón (Rauxa on BGG)

“Have played games where I run for president, but never have I actually had to do the duties and hold the office I was elected for. This game shows that it is a labor of love. Thank you for making this.” – Brennan Higgins

“What an amazing game. Really great theme running through it, beautiful artwork and components and a great game of deals and negotiation. Even more options with the add on that includes solitaire rules. Anybody with an interest in this period of history will love it and if you like interactive games with a political undertone, you can't miss out on this gem.” –Dave Moore (Lffvet on BGG)

“The feel of this game is absolutely superb. There is a real sense of history involved, and it gives a great narrative. Currently, the game runs up until the Civil War and the extra cards from the Offices and Statesmen expansion really add to the game.” – Dave Moore

Dayum, but I am falling in love with this game. The narrative this creates is quite compelling. My hat is off to Rick Heli for a great game!“ –Charlie Lewis

“I ... want to be buried with this game when the time comes in the very distant future. ;)” –Charlie Lewis

“It's a fascinating game to play.” –Charlie Lewis

“I totally agree about what an amazing job this game does in creating a narrative.  My first solo game ended with an economic collapse right after the assassination of President Rufus King. A memory like that sticks with you for a long time.” –Dan Petty

“It's great fun to create your own political history of the United States” –Dan Petty

“First thoughts: Incredible. Deep, and thoughtful, tons of great info on the cards, and the theme is everything. Nothing pasted on.... So much to think about.... We were doing the elections totally wrong, but found out how deep they really are.... I am proud to have [it] in my collection. Can't wait to add the expansions!” –Jeremy Mease

“One of the most thematic and deep games I own, can play this all day and want to play more!” –Jeremy Mease (ReluctantFr0g on BGG)

“US History is something I never lost time in, I don't dislike it but I don't like it neither. Anyways the game is a 10, it's immersive, quick, it has the best of Republic and nothing of the bad without being a clone, and it makes you think you are one of the big lobbies behind the statesmen (the factions) maneuvering to position the "right" people to win the presidency (sometimes I think it's like playing House of Cards).” –Edgar Gallego

very accurately simulates various aspects of American politics. Some aspects, like the area control mechanic of the voting process (where candidates place cubes on a map of admitted states to lock in electoral votes), are incredibly simple mechanically, but still provide so much room for negotiation and clever card play. I found myself constantly thinking how brilliant some of these design choices were – in the case of this game, a simple failed issue keeping Ohio out of the union make Virginia way more important in the electoral process than normal. There are so many lasting effects of small decisions that this game definitely takes multiple plays to appreciate the butterfly effects. .” –MeepleMayor on Instagram

“First off, excellent, excellent game. Played the first issues deck on Saturday and had an absolute blast. .... I (and the other 3) were all totally invested in the debates. You have created a sandbox that can allow me to be a politician for a few hours. Its nice to see that some played like Frank Underwood, and others like Lyndon B Johnson. Just wanted to thank you for all the effort and thought you put into this game. It really shows. I am looking for any future expansions or games you have in your future.” – Hans van der Drift

“If you are an American Revolution/Early America fan and you enjoy a long game based primarily on negotiation you probably cannot stop yourself from at least enjoying this game. ... The way that the game fits itself into the actual real history is fabulously done, you legitimately get to walk America through its first 80-ish years. You get to debate all the major issues that faced the young country and possibly take a radically different path than reality. ... The rules of play are actually quite accessible for a game with such a grand vision. ... The designer is wonderfully prompt and helpful with any questions as well. ... This is a game I will probably never let out of my collection simply due to my fascination with the theme and what the designer has managed to accomplish with integrating it into the game. ... If you like American History you owe yourself a play of this.” –thereearistotle on BGG

“Everyone enjoyed it and wanted to get in another game. ... there is lots to explore in this game. Just as important, my wife's comment was that she heard us laughing the whole night. This really is a game with intense interaction and great stories. ” –Tripp Ritter

“... RoR (Republic of Rome) takes hours to figure out, while this game can be taught in about 20-30 minutes. ... I really like the game as you get a real feel for the history, you get involved with the alt history you are constructing and with the fate of your politicians and the requirement for the players to create ways to oppose each other. There are action cards, but these are pretty weak. Instead it is about playing politics where you have to balance getting what you want done with sharing power (and points) with others. It can be quite long, but I think it is worth it. It helps to have players that are in to the experience as much as the game. Like Eklund games, you can have a situation where winning is a very long shot, but the small wins, like blocking a foe's initiatives are great. You also gain the perspective of a politician seeking personal gain often to the cost of the country. The expansion that creates more regional/political sides is a nice touch, especially when you are trying to figure out what your side is and who you are supposed to be playing. It is my favorite political game.” – Tripp Ritter

“I recently picked up Founding Fathers (plus expansions) and have been playing it with my Hamilton-obsessed son. After I foolishly passed women's suffrage, he managed to get Abigail Smith, widow of the first vice president, elected president, followed by two terms of Alexander Hamilton in which he amassed so much popularity that we decided Mount Rushmore was just four busts of Hamilton.... The game is basically a reskin of Republic of Rome, but streamlined in lots of good ways. It covers American politics from the Constitution to the Civil War.... There is also a fun presidential-election minigame.” – Victor A. "Abe" Delnore

“Been playing this game (with expansions) with my 10yo and enjoying it immensely. He took the Conservatives in 2P and managed to get Abigail Smith and Alexander Hamilton each elected president.” – Victor A. "Abe" Delnore

“We finally broke out the historical variant. It takes a great sandbox game and makes it much more of a game without losing too much of the wild Eklund-like gameplay. … This was so much fun ” –Tripp Ritter

“The game is absolutely crazy with 5 players. So much fun. “ –Tripp Ritter

“Had an excellent time with the game this past Saturday evening with a group of 4 .... The players ... are very interested in playing again as soon as we're done, ... I'm pretty excited to go again, myself.” –Jeromey Martin

“What an interesting and fun game! ... the initial plan was ... to play ... for about an hour ... we ended up playing Founding Fathers all night, and agreed that another session was definitely in order as soon as possible” –Mark D'Agosta

“We had a great time and Kevin was leading when we packed it in due to 2:00 a.m... We had a great time. As for the game. It really works. We were having a blast the whole time although this was definitely a function of the group as well as the game. The mechanisms work well. It's evocative... All together, I like it quite a bit...” –Aaron Cinzori

“It creates the same motivations and feelings I imagine a politician having.” –Anthony Duncan

Gorgeous, engrossing, and it marks a streamlined improvement on the addictive Republic of Rome game engine. A great "experience" game if you 're a history nut, and a fun playing experience to boot. I found the solution to the fluid party identities over the nation's first ~70 years under the Constitution to be elegant.” –Christina Kahrl

"Great fun was had by all and it was one of my more memorable and enjoyable evenings of gaming." –John Lapham

“I find learning about and playing the roles of the less-well known leaders of the country a fascinating aspect of this game...  Finally, Founding Fathers is loaded with historical detail, not just about the statesmen but also the key issues and events of the era. You could easily use this game as an outline for an introductory course on the history of this period. From that standpoint alone, the game is probably worth checking out for anyone who is interested in this era of American history.” –John Lapham

“It's a fabulous game, rich in historical detail with a game system that generates fascinating narratives. Thanks for a truly great game, Rick.” –John Lapham

“... everyone had a great time, From the utterly corrupt Dewitt Clinton to Benjamin Franklin winning the Whitehouse in his 90s, everyone had a great time.” –Alex Berry

“I went into it with no expectations and found it to be delightful. The negotiations were a lot of fun and the selling of offices while I was President was very amusing. The best part though was the clever election mechanic which inspired all kinds of interesting decisions. Good game!” –Brian Evans

Fantastically fun game -- thank you, John, for organizing and teaching it! Although we didn't get through very many turns, it didn't feel like it dragged, and the action cards added some nice twists.” –Sharon R

Great game. started at 12 noon at John's house. I was not last. 11+ hours but felt like 2. Fun group of players!” –John Boswell

“I have only played it once so far, I enjoyed it .... For a first learning game it was great.” –Jonathan Townsend

Crisp and exciting. I have the PnP version, and have found the solitaire variant excellent too.” –Jonathan Townsend

“Gets an 8 out of the gate for being a rip-roaring experience... we sure had a fine time... So steeped in the history, chock full of short-term shenanigans, interesting negotiation space, long-term ebb and flow... I certainly like what it did for us.” –Claudio Campuzano

"A re-imagining of the Republic of Rome system, covering the first ~70 years of the United States from 1789 forward. ... a great "story-telling" game, as you are provided a large, engaging sandbox in which to experience the rise and triumph/fall of the major (and many minor) political figures of the era. I'm anxious for a vassal module.” –Christopher Leary

"A perfect game for everyone who interested about politics. If you love Republic of Rome, this game is a 'must have'!" –Theodore Georgopoulous

Very fun simulation.” –Matty Totonchy

Smooth system. Evocative and engaging..”  –Aaron Cinzori

great mechanics, art, and theme”  –Lance Wattigney

great fun” –Matt Gustafson

“I thought this game was great....I found this a really enjoyable game” –Kevin Kesseler

“I am playing through my first game to get a feel for how things work and am very much enjoying myself. Playing with with both expansion kits as well. ... Thanks for a great game!” –Christopher Roos

“It's a great game.” –Robert Stites

“Finally got it to the table with 2 other players this weekend, and we had a blast. We only had time to play through the first era, but the theme and flavor were awesome. The rules were tricky at first, but by the end we were moving at a good clip, and were getting a handle on strategy. I know it will be even better with 4+, and now that we have some "veterans," we should be able to get it to the table again soon. I highly recommend this game! ” –Randy Montrose

“We ... played a complete game ending with civil war just before the issues deck would have been exhausted. The game was long, but fun and intense. One of our players had gotten up at 6:30am, and then drove over 6 hours from AZ to my home in CA. He was dead dog tired, but could not pull himself away to go home until the game was over, he was so engrossed in the play of it. The theme and flavor are awesome, and we literally had "back room" deals made.” –Randy Montrose

“The other players are going to play again as the gaming experience was fun and quite addictive ... There followed a long discussion about the game mechanics and themes, with large digressions on the current policy, which lasted late into night. Ultimately, then, this is a game that provides "food for discussion", always a great sign. ” –Luca Cammisa

“This ... kind of game ... addicts me ... I do end up wanting to play again and again and again. .... I like the game a lot. I think I love the game, actually...” –Enrico Viglino

“What a great game!” – John Weber

“That said, I did get a couple things in the mail, both gifts. I got a copy of Navajo Wars and a copy of Founding Fathers. I am PUMPED about both games. Founding Fathers looks incredible – like a brilliant corrective on Republic of Rome. I love The Republic of Rome, but it has aged less well than other innovative AH games like Titan and Hannibal. Anyway, I read through the rules a couple of days ago and I couldn't believe how clear they were. This has high priority for table time in the near future.” –Cole Wehrle

“This is a really impressive distillation of Republic of Rome that seems both more streamlined and more interesting. If further play continues to support my initial feelings, this game is a considerable accomplishment. If you've always wanted to play The Republic of Rome, but were scared by the long rules and epic playtime, this game is for you. If you've played The Republic of Rome, but wish the game had deeper engagement with matters outside of war, this game is for you. If you have an interest in US political history, this game is for you.” –Cole Wehrle

“It was a crazy game, with shifting favor, corruption, bribery, and everything a political game can and should be. Amongst the more hilarious twists were Benjamin Franklin being elected the third president well into his 90s and serving two full terms (our only president to do so), and the failure of Congress to pass the Bill of Rights. I knew was in bad shape when my great hope, Thomas Jefferson, died early, but I also made some mistakes throughout (mainly not being ruthless enough). It was a great group of guys and we had a ton of fun playing.” –Mindy

“there is a lot to appreciate here … a clean, playable system” –Chris Farrell

“Been playing ... Founding Fathersfun for fans of the Sierra Madre aesthetic. A touch long, but plays cleanly & great history.” –Chris Farrell

“First of all, congrats for your games, RoC and FF, long time known, but unplayed till recently. Being a fan of political games, I very much appreciate your fine job in these two” –Jordi Cairol

“I bought the game a while back, and played it a few weeks ago. I love it!” –ExcitingJeff on BGG

“We're really enjoying the game.” –Stephen Wilson

Everyone had a blast!” –Ryin Brown

“I'm generally not a fan of solo games, but all in all, this was a very enjoyable experience. .... thanks for a great game; I look forward to many more hours of enjoyment.” –Don Domenici

“Thumbs up; it does produce very good narrative. Hope to play again soon.” –David Dockter

“We had a five-player run at Founding Fathers ….. VERY COOL. It went pretty slowly, as we were all new to it (and one player was a bit AP-prone). We covered roughly 1788-1816. But very interesting. Not that complex, but there is a LOT of stuff going on. Cool.” –Wendell Albright (wifwendell on BGG)

“A very interesting game on early American history. Very thorough without being scripted. Really illustrates the need for peace, and the requirement to maintain enough funds to deal with economic crises. I'd definitely like to play again and maybe up my rating.” –Larz Welo

“I have only played solitaire. I enjoy the game very much. I fact, it is one of my favorites. I have yet to play it multiplayer. I have played the game with the assistance of my 9 year old son. I have him help with decisions made within the game and to introduce him to US history of the period. Because of the length of time to finish the game, I have yet to do so. Even so, the game is great fun, and very much replayable. I highly recommend the game, even for only solitaire play.Guy Ferger

“Having never played Republic of Rome, I can't put Founding Fathers into its predecessor's context. However, I can say that this is quite the complex little title. The level of detail is insane ... The overall feel of the game is strong, as is the semi-co-op/actually-competitive feel of the game. The history is awesome and fun to meddle with.” –Sean Franco

“It was a lot of fun, and I would love to play again next year with the same group now that everyone knows how to play. Once we all sort of understood it the game moved pretty briskly”. –Dave Gutierrez

“Early results are in! Seems like a winner. Very open ended. Deep but not overly complicated. Feels a lot like a Phil Eklund design (high praise).”TedW on BGG

“Great, unheralded game. If you want to play a thematic yet manageable game re the first 80 years of American History, this is your game.” –TedW on BGG

“We had a blast with it. .... Overall it was plenty fun, and three of the four of us live close enough to each other to want to schedule another game ...” –alekhine on BGG

“Founding Fathers is a beautifully produced game, with particularly handsome and functional cards” –alekhine on BGG

Enjoyable even for non-history buffs (though it certainly made me more of one). Good strategy and competitive elements. Love watching the alliances form, then crumble. Only real complaint is there can be stretches of 'down time' where you feel pretty powerless, but that's where the alliances become key. And luck plays a little larger role than I'd prefer. Still though, my group has played this several times now and each time gets more competitive, more interesting, and more fun. Definitely a favorite of ours to bust out every couple months.” –Kevin Hart

“One of my favorites is Founding Fathers, and it taught me how tied elections work before it became a plot point on Veep.” –James Wahl

“Very cool design! Professional job, well done!” –Alex Peters

“A fun reworking of Republic of Rome with better sequences of negotiation and changing cast of characters. Additionally, the issues being less abstract and the lack of constant military campaign make for a fun experience. Recommend for history buffs and The Republic of Rome, fans.” –Steve Rogers

“I would do an AAR but when we play, so many things go on, it would take a stenographer to get a real feel to what all is going on. It is the kind of game that one might get a better feel for if it were made into a reality show or documentary and played by folks that know history and are prone to acting. Richard Cuccia, our gracious host, is the most boisterous when we play as he pretends to take on the persona of the southern aristocrats or northerners with feigned outrage, etc.” –Rusty Coleman

“got this one to the table at HeavyCon and loved it. This one is [a] negotiation game in many aspects as well as a political game about the founding of the USA. We re-wrote history quite a bit...” –Larry Rice

“This was the highlight of the Con for me. ... The story this one tells over time is quite enjoyable, particularly if the history of the time interests you.” –Larry Rice

“It was definitely fun.” –Kyle Seely

“so far the game looks really interesting and I like the election mechanic a lot.” –Stephen Campbell

By Cole Wehrle:
Republic of Rome is a brilliant, seminal design, but I find Founding Fathers to be a little smarter (as any good follow up should be). In general, the design tries to find more places for interesting relationships and interactions. In Republic of Rome, the game spins around military matters which often boil down to questions of who gets to lead the armies and how many armies do the get. Founding Fathers dispenses with the military system and instead boils down the various challenges that face the nation to simple issue cards which the President allocates to his cabinet members or else takes on himself. While the loss of detail is regrettable, the game plays much faster and more smoothly and the various issues actually present a wider range possible outcomes and events.

That said, Founding Fathers isn't a dumbed down version of Republic of Rome. The game just houses its complexity in other places. For instance, the election of the president follows a little campaign mini-game where the admission of certain states to the union can have huge ramifications. A lot of time is spent positioning your leaders for a shot at the executive.

Beyond that, just about every little system in Republic of Rome gets adjusted. The mortality system replaces the chit pull with the gradual culling of the older statesmen. The event deck is separated from the "goodies" deck, so when players draw their cards they are going to get things that are useful.

In general the various changes mitigate a lot of the game-driven chaos of Republic of Rome and replace it with player-driven chaos. So, I wouldn't say the game is better, but it has virtues.

The biggest clear advantage is probably the games barrier to entry. The rules are scant 14 pages with examples and the game is pretty easy to teach."