Full Suffrage For All! – Votes for Women

Votes for Women

Author: Tory Brown
Publisher: Fort Circle Games
Available Formats: Boxed
Boxed Boardgame (Fort Circle Games) – $75.00

1-4 Players
60-75 Minutes

“I believe in full suffrage as a right. I believe we had a legal and moral right to ratify; I know that a mother’s advice is always safest for her boy to follow, and my mother wanted me to vote for ratification.”

~ Harry T. Burn, Tennessee Senator, August 19, 1920

Harry Burn’s quote is powerful and gives us some insight into the times when Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the 19th Amendment. By 1920 the suffrage movement had been a long struggle for the vote, and the opposition fought hard not to grant women that right. Tory Brown’s Votes for Women explores the history of the suffrage movement in the united states from its beginning in 1848 through the ratification process of the 19th Amendment in 1920.

Votes for Women is a historically themed boardgame published by Fort Circle Games for one to four players. It explores this singular topic through a card-driven system with area control and worker placement mechanics projecting influence on Congress and campaigning efforts nationwide. Although inspired by 1960: Making of the President, Votes for Women charts its own course and mechanics. Like many historical games, Votes for Women provides players with a history lesson through experiential learning and reading. The recommended minimum age is 14.

Note: For Circle Games provided Rolling Boxcars with a review copy for this article. Please visit our Product Review Request page if you have an item you’d like Rolling Boxcars to review.

In the Box

When you remove the box lid, you will first notice that the box is packed to the top with components. Removing those on top, there are more! Votes for Women is both a game and a history lesson in a box; therefore, the components reflect this.

  • Gameboard
  • Rulebook
  • Historical Supplement & Designer Notes
  • An array of replica historical documents
  • 5 Decks of cards (varying quantities)
  • 19 Dice
  • 12 Campaigners (3 colors, 3 designs)
  • 190 Cubes (purple, yellow, red)
  • Various wooden markers

How Does The Game Work?

The game has several modes in which to play. All game modes are variations of the standard game. Therefore, that is where we will start. The game is played over a series of up to six turns, during which the Suffragist player is campaigning and lobbying to get the 19th Amendment passed in Congress and then ratified in 36 states. All the while, the Opposition player is doing their best to prevent the passage of the Amendment. As a card-driven game,  play alternates over six rounds in each turn, each being used for one of several options. Each option provides pathways and aids a player’s strategy. However they are used, there will be lots of campaigning or the placing of (or removing) influence cubes in the various states. Without a faction’s dominant influence, there can be no ratification or opposing when the time comes.


One player takes up the mantle of the Suffragist and the other the Opposition. Each player takes their respective wooden campaigners and influence cubes, purple and yellow for the Suffragists and red for the Opposition. Other markers, such as the wooden congressional markers, campaign buttons, green checks, and red Xs, are placed within easy reach. Nine State cards are placed face up; the Strategy deck is shuffled, and the top three are placed face up.

Players prepare their personal draw decks. Each deck is comprised of early, middle, and late-era cards—each era’s historical events roughly correspond to a 39-year span. Each era is shuffled and arranged with late-era cards on the bottom and early-era cards on the top. Lastly, with the turn marker on turn 1, both players take their “start” card into their hand. This card will also be one of the first seven cards in their opening hand.

Sequence of play

Games consist of six turns, each with six game rounds unless win conditions are not met earlier, and each follows this sequence of play.

  • Planning Phase – replenish hand.
  • Strategy Phase – a single-round bidding process to claim one of three Strategy cards. The Suffragist player commits first. The Opposition player may pass, tie, or out-commit. In all cases, committed buttons are spent and removed. Ties denying the Suffragist player a card.
  • Operations Phase – during the Operations Phase, beginning with the Suffragist player, each plays and resolves a card from their hand. They may also play one Strategy or State card per round. Cards may be played for one of four different actions.
    • Event – played for the Event on the card if all prerequisites can be met. It cannot be played for the Event if prerequisites cannot be met.
    • Campaigning Action – by discarding a card, the player spreads their faction’s influence. One blue die (d4) is rolled per campaigner on the board, and each die is assigned to one campaigner. The campaigner may place cubes of their color in states within their assigned region or remove their opponent’s cubes equal to the die value (Suffragist and Opposition cubes cannot co-exist in the same state). Campaigners may be moved to another region by spending a campaign button before placing cubes.
    • Organizing Action – by discarding a card, the player collects campaign buttons equal to the number of their campaigners on the board.
    • Lobbying Action – by discarding a card, roll d6s equal to your campaigners on the board. For every 6, add or remove one white Congress marker. When this track is full, the 19th Amendment is sent to the states for ratification.
  • Cleanup Phase – remove any cards in the “Cards in Effect for the Rest of Turn” box, and advance the turn marker.

Each of these Operations Phase options is important and can be a critical piece in a player’s overall strategy.

Special Components

  • Strategy Cards – one-time unique event cards playable by the owning player at their leisure.
  • State Cards – 9 available. These are claimed when a faction places its fourth cube in the named state; provides special one-time events for the owning player.
  • Campaign Buttons – used in the Strategy Phase to claim or deny a claim to a strategy card. To move campaigners during a Campaigning Action. To reroll owning player dice rolls.
  • Congression Markers – represent the Suffragist’s efforts to get the 19th Amendment passed and the Opposition’s influence on Congress to prevent it from passing.
  • Green Checks – denote states that have ratified the 19th Amendment.
  • Red Xs – denote states that have opposed the 19th Amendment.

Game Ending Conditions

At the end of turn 6, if the 19th Amendment was not sent to the states for ratification, the Opposition player wins. If it was sent to the states, and neither player met their winning condition previously, 36 ratified states (green checks) or 13 rejected states (red Xs), it goes to a final vote. During the final vote, each undecided state will be decided by a dice roll modified by the number of influence cubes in the state. Campaign buttons may be spent to reroll the die, but in the end, the highest die roll wins the state for their side, placing either a green check mark (ratified) or a red X (rejected). The moment either win condition is met, that faction wins the game.

Other Game Modes

There are three other modes of play; giving players options and Votes for Women endless replayability. Each of these modes uses the basic game outlined above, adding or changing rules to accommodate the increase in the player count or the change from competitive to cooperative play.

Games with two Suffragists (one purple, one yellow) can be competitive against one or two Opposition players or cooperative against the Oppobot, the games solitaire “bot” player. Games with two Opposition players is competitive versus one or two Suffragist players. However similar these two modes might sound, there are distinct changes to the rules facilitating each.

Solitaire or versus the Oppobot with two Suffragist players has the most changes to the rules. First, players will notice the Oppobot is treated as a player with its own draw deck. As the Oppobot is designed to be played independently without human decision-making, there are guidelines for everything from assessing if Oppobot can play an event to where influence cubes will be placed and what to do if they cannot be placed in that location.

Game Play – At The Table

With several games now under my belt, I am confident in my opinion of Votes for Women. Before I get to that, let me briefly summarize that journey. The journey consists of two face-to-face and solitaire games.

Right out of the box, the game was easy to set up the first time, but we botched our gameplay despite both of us reading the rules. Of the four options available to both players during the Operations Phase, we completely forgot about lobbying Congress, a failure on both our parts. At the time, we wished a single-sided player aid card was available. The next game was a solitaire exploration of that aspect of the design. Yes, I made sure to lobby Congress. The solitaire game versus the Oppobot was a completely different experience regarding gameplay, strategies, etc. It came down to the wire, with the Oppobot eking out a victory. Returning to an in-person game with my prior opponent, we had a completely different experience because of the Congressional lobbying. We quickly realized that a quick reference card is not required to play. With the 19th Amendment sent to the states for ratification, there was lots of back-and-forth campaigning to get our cubes out and lock in the states. In the end, I won with an Opposition victory.

I am a huge fan of these types of games, of which there are many, but Votes for Women nails it! It is one of the best games I have played in a long time. The decision-making and level of tension are finely honed and dialed in. This is a classic in the making!


The first of many striking things is the cover art—simple yet evocative, embodying the game’s theme. The color palette used here carries throughout the game’s components. The slightly subdued colors are easy on the eye and do not distract from the game. The box is stout and should hold up well with repeated use.

The cards are poker quality, durable, and holding up well to repeated, unsleeved use. Each is also a micro-history lesson with a historical notation about the card’s title. For those wishing to delve deeper into the historicity of the suffrage movement, there is also a Historical Supplement & Designer Notes booklet. In addition to Tory Brown’s designer notes (common in war and historical games), there is also a short single-page article entitled “The Patriarchy & The Declaration of Sentiments.” In which, Tory outlines some of the events of the Suffrage movement dating back to 1776. In addition to this, she also presents 14 historically significant documents in chronological order dating from 1776 to 1920. Each is reproduced and included in the game box.

The overall component quality is top-notch, from the box to bits to the cards. Fort Circle did not skimp on the game’s quality in any way that I can see.

Final Thought

As I stated above, Votes for Women is a fantastic game and a classic in the making. If you are a fan of historical or political games such as 1960: Making of the President, Twilight Struggle, 1989: Dawn of Freedom, or any of Volko Ruhnke’s games in the fantastic COIN series, you will find the gameplay to your liking. While not as mechanically complex as other games within this genre, the complexity level is perfect, providing the proper stress and tension levels as you fight for or against the 19th Amendment’s ratification.

The accompanying historical immersion is top-notch and far better than many of the other historical games out there. The depth of Tory Brown’s research and passion shows, not only in the gameplay and overall design but in the historical notes and fantastic replicas included–wonderful touch!

Votes for Women is one game that will routinely hit my table, if not in multiplayer mode, then in solitaire mode. I can easily see Votes for Women being my most-played historical boardgame of 2023.

~ Modoc

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