Friday, September 20, 2013

Review: The Presidential Game

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This was a fun benefit to being on the Review Crew: getting to play a new game for the benefit of my readers! It was a blast to get to review The Presidential Game: "a fun and exciting game of strategy where two teams, republicans and democrats, battle for control of each state to ultimately gain 270 electoral votes or more."

This game comes with:
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  • 1 20" x 30" Game Board, 
  • 1 Score Pad, 
  • 3 Blue Dice, 
  • 3 Red Dice, 
  • 80 Politics Cards, 
  • 40 "Write-Your-Own" Politics Cards, 150 Republican Votes (red chips), 
  • 150 Democrat Votes (blue chips), 
  • 1 Electoral WebMap Calculator Access Code

The kids couldn't wait to get it out of the box to play it. So, as soon as the chores were out of the way and the table cleared and ready, we got it out. After one reading through the rules, we were playing. I am usually anxious about new games being complicated and hard to learn, but this one really wasn't hard at all.

We divided into teams of republicans and democrats and rolled the dice to see who had the first turn. For each turn we had to choose between going campaigning or fundraising. The fundraising turn gives them the opportunity to place votes on more states than the campaigning option, so they often chose that one. The fundraising turns also end with picking up a Politics Card, which has a random chance type script and gives them extra votes, or helps their opponent. The cards are more positive than negative, so the kids always want to draw them. I loved the funny scenarios on the cards, with lines like "Your VP candidate just blurted that they can see Russia from their back door. Your opponent gets 2 extra votes on New York" (my paraphrase). There are also blank Politics Cards, so you can write your own. When campaigning, the kids had to choose 3 states to put their votes on, but they could roll three dice instead of two, earning more votes. You can download the entire rule book (updated) here.

We quickly discovered that there are certain "battleground states" where the control can swing the entire election. The kids battled hard over New York, Texas, and California. The roll of the dice and the lines on the cards brought giggles from all, and it became the new favorite game. They played many times over the past few weeks, almost daily for the first week. They are telling their friends about it too!

I played for a while with them, but they preferred me to keep score. We used the paper score pad only to keep tally of the vote totals at the end of each "week", but it is intended for score keeping if you don't have a computer, tablet or smartphone nearby to use the WebMap Calculator. We did most of the scoring or my smartphone, or on my sister's laptop. It was easy to use on both, and quickly calculated the electoral votes. We would then write the number of votes at the end of each round on the weekly totals, so we knew how many weeks had been played. You can also track your "weeks" on the WebMap Calculator, but we wanted to track how the scores went up and down, usually as California changed hands.

Each week is a round, one turn for each side. We only played 15 week elections, and it took about an hour. I would think a 30 week election game would take well over two hours. We found that is was less interesting after an hour, but less than that and you couldn't really play on all the states. The kids really got to understanding why a long drawn out election season could be so complicated. They really learned a lot about the election process.

All in all, we really liked The Presidential Game. At $35 it is a bit pricey for our board game budget, but it all was quality material, It's very educational and really helped the kids understand the electoral process. I think this game is perfect for kids ages 11 and up, especially kids who are studying civics, American history, and U.S. States in geography.

The video below shows the game contents more closely:

 Be sure you read all the reviews of this game, by visiting the Crew Blog, or follow the link below:


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