Sunday, September 22, 2013

Schoolhouse Review: Presidential Game

Recently I shared with you how much Gess has been enjoying board games and today I get to tell you about a new one we have been playing.  The Presidential Game is a neat way to not only have some family fun, it's a way to learn about how our election process works. 

The Presidential Game is a strategy game where you play in teams of two.  You have Repulicans which are the red team and Democrats which are the blue team.  The object of the game is to win the election by securing 270 electoral votes.  Before the game begins you agree on how many weeks are left before election day.  There can be as many as 30 weeks which means each team gets 30 turns.  They say this takes about an hour of game time.  We usually went with half that choosing 15 weeks. 

During each turn the team decides if they want to go campaigning or fundraising.  The amount of votes they receive in each state from those efforts is determined by the roll of the dice.  If you go fundraising instead of campaigning you only get to roll two dice instead of three, but you also get a politics card which can gain you a few votes as well, but it could cost you some too, so this could be a risk.

There are two ways to keep track of the score.  The game comes with score cards that you can use to tabulate the score after each week.  There is a + and - column in which you add what changes were made and then write the total out to the side.

The other method is the one we chose to use.  I think the best way to keep score is using their online web map.  This is great because it shows visually where each party stands at the end of the turn.  Here it is before any turns begin. 

This is what it might look after week one.

And here was the end of one of our games.  It is really funny to see these when you know in real life there is no way some of those states would ever be that color . We particularly liked the red California and blue Texas.

It is a fun game to play, especially if you like politics like I do.  We follow every election closely and on election night we are watching our own maps as the results come in.  Here was Gess during our last presidential election checking out the map.  She loved that the map in our game worked pretty much the same!

Because Gess has special needs it was really great that she was on a team.  She would just randomly choose states to campaign in.  She always wanted to have her home state of Kansas and other states she was familiar with.  Any lonely state left untouched, she was willing to go to, even if it didn't help out her team's total score.  We used that teach her about how the process does seem to leave some states out.  It's sad, but it's pretty accurate.

I think the game does a good job at pointing out how frustrating this system can be.  Just when you think you can hit states you haven't been to yet, your opponent takes over, or at least causes you to lose some ground and you end up having to spend time in a place that should already be considered yours anyway. We constantly battle over Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan and Georgia.

The politics cards are interesting and I know at least some of them are based off of actual events that have swayed votes in the past.  Some are just things that could happen in any campaign.  Either way they are fun and some have the potential to really change up the map.

The game play was fairly easy though the instructions that came in the box were a little unclear.  We didn't realize at first that you could only use two dice while fundraising.  After our first game we thought, why in the world would anyone campaign?  Then we found the FAQ online that clarified that point.  Be sure to read it before beginning!

We haven't had the opportunity to play with more than just our small family yet, but I am waiting for my son to come home from college.  I think he would enjoy this game as well.  Those independently minded in our family get frustrated that there are only two teams, but such is the way it works in real elections.  While we might sometimes like more choices, the likely hood of having them are slim to none.  Of course they do have a politics card that throws that into the mix as well and ends up costing both teams a few votes but in the end one party will win, like it or not.  Will it be yours?  Play and find out!

The Presidential Game is for ages 11 and up and is both fun and educational.  The game costs $35.00 and can purchased online.  To learn more about the game visit their website or see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought about it by clicking on the banner below.


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