The easy part is where you learn HOW we elect a President. This game lets you choose to use your turn either campaigning or fundraising. (Not both.) Before you begin your turn, you must declare what you are trying to do, and in which states. If you are campaigning, you can select any three states, roll the dice, and see if you win those states. If you choose fundraising, you must specify which of the 4 possible states you will be in (California, Florida, Texas, or New York.)
The game is quite realistic, as it follows the actual numbers of electoral votes...and you must have at least 270 electoral votes to win.
The difficult part? Winning. Before you can begin, you must select the number of 'weeks' until election day. This determines how many turns each team will take. There can be as few as two people playing (one on each team) or many. You will have to decide yourselves who ends up playing as Republican or Democrat!
The Presidential was made for players aged 11 and up. If you had a mature 10 year old, they could probably do alright. I want you to know there are two ways to keep track of your electoral votes. Which way you choose could make or break the fun for your 11 or 12 year olds.
The first option is to use the enclosed scorecards. There are spaces for 30 weeks (30 turns for each team.) It reminds me of a bank register. A space for +, a space for -, and a column for 'total.'
When the game first arrived, I let Emily (15) and Arlene (13) play by themselves with the scorecards. They had fun with the game, but struggled a little with keeping track of who won and lost votes each week. (If you run out of weeks and a state is still neutral, each team rolls one die and the higher roll gets all the votes from that state.) One area where the game differs from real-life is that each state is an all-or-nothing vote. (I vaguely remember learning that SOME states CAN choose to split their electoral votes...although I don't remember a time when any of them actually DID.
The other option requires a computer (or tablet w/ web access.) In the second option, you can use the interactive map on the website (after you enter the code printed on the back of your rules card.) This option turned out to be a LOT easier. It keeps track of the electoral votes for each team, and has a spot where you can keep track of which week it is. Note: you will still need the game board, dice, cards, and chips to see who is winning each state & by how much...this just does that math part for you. Plus, it's cool to click the states and watch them turn red, blue, or tan. (Tan is what happens when a state is neutral, either because no one has campaigned there yet, or because your opponent tried to take it from you & ended up with the same number when they rolled as you had already placed there.
I'm not going to try to explain every detail to you, but I think you should know this...whenever you choose to fundraise, you get a 'politics' card. You can choose to play the card at the end of your turn, or save it for later. A few of them require immediate play. The scenarios on the 80 politics cards are funny, and sometimes almost sad. Most of them revolve around gaining or losing chips based off of an endorsement or a problem. (Think mud-slinging and baby kissing.) The game comes with 40 write-your-own politics cards. You could use the daily newspaper for ideas...
I thought this game did an excellent job of showing how the electoral process ebbs and flows. If you're just starting out, a 30 week game could take you two hours. Once you're used to it, it will probably be more like an hour. With these longer games, every state has been campaigned in, and you will probably be waging war to regain control of the fundraising states. (After all, who wouldn't want California's 55 votes?)
Even though the price of $35 is more than we usually spend on a board game, I think it is a fair price for the game. I don't know of any other games that take this often-difficult concept, and makes it digestible. I can see this being a game your friends might 'insist' you bring along to game night, since it is a lot of fun! Like I said, it's not difficult to understand, or to play...it's just difficult to win!
We enjoyed playing the game, and plan to play it with friends. It would also be a good game for a small group, as it involves some strategy...or even a classroom.
Now that you're thinking you would like to play too...click on over to The Presidential Game's website and get your own!
There were oodles of Crew families reviewing The Presidential. Click the link below to read the other reviews!