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Crew Review: The Presidential Game

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As a homeschool Momma, I tend to over-analyze everything that comes into our home for educational and learning content from books and magazines to computer programs, movies, dvd’s, and games.  I just LOVE it when we run on to a really fun game that is also educational, because what better way to really learn something than to get your hands on it and experience it for yourself? Well, that’s just what we found when we received The Presidential Game to review.

This award-winning  game labeled for ages 11+  is for two teams, so requires at least two players, but can be played with several on each team working together.   Purchase price is $35.00.

When we received our package we couldn’t wait to get started playing after pulling out the brightly colored box!

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Upon opening our treasure box containing the most powerful game in the world,  we folded out a big 20 x 30 game board which is a big United States Map (including Hawaii and Alaska in the left corner), one bag containing blue dice and blue chips (used as votes) for the Democrat team and one bag of red dice and red chips (used as votes) for the Republican team. We also found a deck of 80 politics cards and another deck of 40 blank “write your own” politics cards, and a cool looking paper score pad tablet. We also found the most important part: the directions. 🙂  As I was reading the directions I found, near the end, a description of a really cool option to this game. Included is a code to access an interactive WebMap (which you can access from The Presidential Game website ) that allows each team to update the map to reflect the states it has won or lost in its turn.  This can be used as a replacement for the nifty score pad and brings a bit of ingenuity into the picture for those techy-teens!

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The object of this game, is of course, to win the Presidential election by obtaining at least 270 of the 538 electoral votes.  That in itself already sums up the massive amount of learning this game brings to the table!

So after setting up the game board with the politics cards in place, it’ll be up to you to figure out how to solve the dilemma of who will be the Republicans and who will be the Democrats.  The Republicans will use the 150 red chips as votes and use the three red dice. The Democrats use the 150 blue chips for votes and use the blue dice.

The next decision which should be a little easier than the first will be to decide how many weeks it will be until the election. To give a bit of an idea on what to choose when you first start playing the game, the directions say that 30 weeks, which is 30 turns for each team, should take about an hour.  After you have played the game more, you will begin to get a feel for how long it takes to play and the learning curve will be effectively completing the game in less weeks or taking more weeks to strategize more. If you choose a shorter game with less weeks, then you will end up rolling dice to gain the states that are undecided because no one has had a chance to campaign them (or to break ties, or no fundraising money has been allocated.)  Of course winning a state with a “roll of the die” isn’t really the way it’s done in real life, but certainly speeds the game up :).  If you are like our family, we can leave a game out and continue it for a few days, so choosing more weeks to play isn’t always a problem. Still, the lesser weeks option is also good if you are playing with younger children.

To play, on each turn the team must decide whether it will go campaigning or fundraising.

If the team chooses campaigning, they decide and announce which three states will be campaigned in this turn. Next, they roll all three of the dice and allocate the numbers on each dice to each state. (They get to choose which number goes to which state, but each state may be visited only once during the turn.)

If the team chooses to go fundraising, they select and announce one of the four fundraising states (California, New York, Florida, and Texas) and then roll the dice. They must distribute at least half of the votes to the chosen fundraising state, but can distribute up to 100% to the chosen state.  The votes not distributed to the chosen state may be allocated to any other state or states of their choosing.

At the end of each fundraising turn, the team earns a Politics card. The team can choose to use the card or hang onto it to use at the end of any fundraising or campaigning turn later (unless the card is a play immediately card.) Only one card can be used per turn. These cards add, or sometimes take away, votes to specified states.

The game ends when the number of weeks is up. The undecided states are rolled for, and the team with the highest number of electoral votes wins the game, and the presidency.

Playing “the most powerful game in the world” at Gunn Ranch

As my girls have gotten older and have so much more on their plates, board games are not as high on their lists of things to do. My 7 year old is in that stage, however, where he just LOVES to play them, so he is our motivator. With this game, he definitely has to be on a team with an older person, though, due to his age. So we divided up into two and two and began working through the directions.

As I have alluded to already, we did have a bit of difficulty choosing who would initially be Democrats and Republicans. (Hey, we are Texans, what can we say??  LOL) But like any other self respecting Texans, we decided to play rock- paper- scissors for it. 🙂

We did have to play through it for a bit to get the score card under control, but it’s not real hard, just takes paying attention.  The scoring is definitely one of the fore-mentioned educational aspects of the game, as it certainly helps to bring understanding of how the votes change so rapidly back and forth in a state, as well as providing a good opportunity for some quick mental math!

A more thorough understanding of which states are the “important ones” to win was also gained and the process of how many votes each states gets, why some get more, why some have so very few, etc. was figured out hands-on.  Anytime I can use a hands-on approach vs. trying to put something into words, well, I’m all for that! Hands-on just works.

The politics cards are definitely one of our favorite things about this game. They are case scenarios/ situations/ statistics, etc.  that add votes to states.  These definitely led to much discussion on how media, personal lives, negative campaigning, world events, etc. play a HUGE role in campaigning and being in the public eye in general. We really had some laughs as well as far-reaching discussions on a huge variety of subjects from presidential personal lives, kids, spouses and families, to messing up facts in a debate, to foreign affairs, to the many faces of our media. This isn’t the first time we have discussed these types of things amongst our family, so we revisited and expanded on some discussions, but there were many, many new ideas popping up as well.

The bottom line of this game is that your kids will know and UNDERSTAND the electoral voting process in the presidential election after playing this game.  They will get an excellent mental picture of our United States geography as they travel through the states campaigning and fundraising. They will get a *civilized* taste for the big frontier of politics, media, and how that all works together (or sometimes against each other) to put a president into office in the United States of America. And after playing this game, they can teach it back to you.

Last but not least I have to make mention that while I can’t claim that my 7 year old totally understands the complete dynamics of the election/voting process, I do see that he has a much clearer grasp of the electoral voting process and presidential election than either of my older children had at his age, and I would even venture to say he understands it better than many adults. 🙂

We haven’t been able to coordinate playing the game near a computer yet, so haven’t used the WebMap calculator to keep up with the votes during game play. We are planning to get a laptop soon (as well as getting a new internet provider!) which will certainly make the WebMap a fun addition to our game play.

I would love to play this game when we have more friends to play and see how they all interact. 🙂

It would be an amazing tool to use in a co-op or teen government-study project, and will certainly be played a lot during the next election year!

To read about my Crew Mates’ adventures with The Presidential Game, click the banner!

Enjoy Your Journey!

Dr. Chris

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