An effective way to learn about a process is to work through it for yourself. Whether it is completing a science experiment to understand how hot air expands or using real money to make the word problem come to life, that hands on “real life” experience helps to cement concepts and ideas. Real life learning and hands on experiences can be challenging in some areas. We were able to enjoy some “real life” learning about the electoral voting system in America while reviewing The Presidential Game.
The Presidential Game presents you the opportunity to use a combination of strategy and chance to become the President. With a very simple, yet effective, set up,The Presidential Game brings understanding of the electoral voting system and shows how quickly the power can shift.
Who Can Play?
The Presidential Game is designed for ages 11 to adult. However, game play consists of two teams (at least one person per team). Using team play, it is feasible that children a bit younger than 11 could play, learn and enjoy this game.
What’s In Box?
- Game Board – Large, sturdy game board shows a US map. Number of electoral votes are shown on each state. Fundraising states has special shading.
- Tokens – 150 voting tokens for each team. Red for Republican. Blue for Democrat. Tokens are used to mark votes on the game board.
- Dice – Each team has three dice that are used to determine amounts of votes they have to play.
- Politics Cards – 80 situational cards that provide extra votes or penalties.
- Score Card – Formatted to make vote calculations simple
- Electoral WebMap Calculator Access Code – Code allows you to access an online calculator to keep score for you.
How Do You Play?
Game play is amazingly simple. First you decide how many “weeks” you want to campaign. A week is each team having a turn. A thirty week campaign last about an hour. A roll of a die decides which team begins the game. Your team may choose “campaigning” or “fundraising”. If you choose campaigning, you select three states that you want to campaign in. Rolling three dice gives you the amount of tokens you can place on those three states. For example: your team chooses NC, SC and VA to campaign in. You roll three dice and get 6, 3, and 1. You then could place 6 tokens on NC, 3 tokens on VA and 1 token on SC. All it takes is one token to claim the electoral votes of that state.
Fundraising plays out a bit differently. There are only four states that allow for fundraising: Texas, California, New York and Florida. If you choose fundraising, then you roll the dice. Half of that roll must be put in the state you are fundraising in and the other half can be distributed as you like. If you were fundraising in NY and rolled an 8, at least 4 votes have to go for NY. Then you can place the other 4 wherever you like. When you are fundraising, the Politics Cards come into play. You earn one card each time you are fundraising.
The Politics Cards contain rewards ( more votes) and some penalties (votes for your opponents). The Politics Cards contain situations such as: “The United Auto Workers just endorsed you. Add 5 votes to Michigan“, “Your opponent misstates where the Revolutionary Battle of Lexington took place. Add 4 votes to Massachusetts.” or “You support legalizing online gambling. Add 3 votes to Nevada.” There are some politic cards that have a *Play Immediately printed on them; meaning that you play them on that turn. Other Politic Cards can be saved for later strategic play. The Politic Cards provide a great opportunity for discussion of topics such as legalized gambling or legalize marijuana use. Seeing how the perception of the candidate can gain votes is interesting as well. Forty blank Politic Cards are provided so you can create your own political situations. This affords the players to bring current hot topics to be utilized in the game.
Teams play back and forth until the campaign has ended. As game play has been in action, votes have been added and subtracted. While not difficult, it can be challenging to keep up with the votes. Utilizing the online Electoral WebMap Calculator is great for making score keeping less tedious and lets the game keep a steady pace. If not using the Electoral WebMap Calculator, having someone not playing the game to keep score is a great alternative. The calculator provides an on screen map where you click to highlight each state in your team color. It is reminiscent of voting maps used during an election. Democratic states are blue; Republican states are red. The calculator provides a great visual and is simple to use.
When the campaign has ended there may be some states that are neutral; they haven’t been taken by either team. Those states are decided by a simple roll of a die by each team. The highest roll takes a state. Votes are tallied and the team with the highest electoral votes win.
What Did We Think?
I was excited to get The Presidential Game. Understanding the electoral voting system can sometimes be challenging so I knew this game would be helpful to my older children. It also opened up discussion on aspects of the political world that we don’t often bring to the table..
The game was simple to understand and put into play but my children didn’t really find it enjoyable. When playing, it became a race to see who got the largest states first and then they kept retaking the large states. Why worry about the smaller states if I just need the big ones to win? Excellent point. Do the smaller states hold enough votes to make them worth taking? Or does the power really lie with taking the bigger states? Even though they haven’t really enjoyed playing the game, they have learned quite a bit. Interest in the next election will be high now!
Since this game was designed with a team set up in mind, I think we would have enjoyed it more if we had more people playing;That would have created the framework for more discussion and strategy. In the future, we may include the younger kids in playing since the team structure would allow us to help them along.
The Presidential Game would be perfect for families that love politics. As they debate the issues, they could also enjoy a rousing battle for votes. This would also be great to include in a study of government or elections. It is a great hands on way to understand the electoral voting system.
What Is The Cost?
The Presidential Game can be purchased for $35.00.
As always other Schoolhouse Reviewers were able to enjoy this game as well. Take a moment to see how The Presidential Game played out in their homes.