Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Schoolhouse Review: The Presidential Game

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I always wanted to be the first woman President -- really and truly that was the desire of my heart and my life's goal and dream.  The MainMost still jokes that he married me because he wanted to live in the White House.  My undergraduate degree is in Political Science with a minor in American Studies.  The Presidency was my area of expertise before I headed off to graduate school to study even more Political Science.   And then GOD called me to something entirely different and my dreams of the White House changed completely.
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When the opportunity to review The Presidential Game ($35.00) came my way, I jumped at the chance to see if I could hack it in the political arena and find out if I could make it into the White House after all.  A great game for those just a wee bit competitive, I even let the kids play along, too.   It was fun to see who had what it takes to be elected President of the United States -- and it was wonderful to see my children develop a connection to my dreams of old.

Easily played by both children (ages 11 and up) and adults, The Presidential Game is a perfect educational resource that acts as an introduction to government, a lesson in mathematics, AND a geographical map of strategy and planning all in one. When we first took the game board out of the box, my Boy Scout looked the layout over and declared that he thought he had the game figured out already.  I was excited to hear him talk about this past presidential election (we watched all of the debates together and discussed the different political platforms) and happy to hear the "click" as he proceeded to explain the electoral votes accounted for on the gameboard.

 photo GameImage_zps8848e8d7.jpgI knew that The Presidential Game would be a great introduction to political science for my kids -- and a fun refresher for me.  I like being able to give them a behind-the-scenes tour of what it takes to win an election -- from fundraising to kissing babies.

Played with two or more people, The Presidential Game teaches so very much about our political process as teams choose between fundraising or campaigning with each turn.  The goal of the game is for your team (Political Party) to win the election by earning 270 electoral votes over a 30-week campaign period (rounds).  Don't worry -- this 30-week campaign period only takes about an hour to play.  My children LOVED the competition and enjoyed watching their states turn blue or red as we tallied up the votes.  I LOVED watching them strategize to make sure their team was numerically on top.

The beautifully packaged game includes:

  • the Gameboard (a sturdy map of the United States with each state clearly labeled including the number of electoral votes allotted it)
  • 3 red dice and 3 blue dice to be used by the corresponding team (Republicans and Democrats)
  • 120 Politics Cards --a chance taken after completing the fundraising aspect of the game.  These cards can help a team or hurt a team by giving or taking away votes.  80 cards are pre-printed with political scenarios, 40 are blank for you to create your own scenarios.  
  • 300 chips (150 red Republican chips, 150 blue Democrat chips) used to signify votes  {We store these in ziploc bags between games to keep all of our pieces together.}
  • a Scorepad for keeping a current tally of votes by round 
  • an access code for the online WebMap which allows players to turn the states red, blue, or neutral and keeps a tally of electoral votes.  This was the perfect tool for bringing Election Night to life.  We watch all elections together and the kids enjoy watching the states turn red or blue on television.  It was neat to use the interactive WebMap as we each headed towards the White House.
The game set up was easy and we've enjoyed playing to see who is the best campaign manager.  We DO have to determine from the onset of the game which family member is "running" for President and which will be "Vice President" on each team -- otherwise passions run high at the end of the game.  

Game play involves each team deciding on each turn whether they will "Campaign" by declaring the three states they'll visit and rolling the dice to acquire votes for those states OR will "Fundraise" by choosing to visit Texas, Florida, New York, or California and rolling the dice to determine vote placement.  Those teams that fundraise have an additional chance to help or hinder their party by choosing a Politics Card.  These Politics Cards are where the game gets real.  Just like in real-life politics, wise or poor choices can change the outcome of an election.  The Politics Cards may allot you extra votes -- but could also help your opponent by giving them extra votes and power.  When you choose to fundraise, you take a chance that your politics will be good.  At the end of each team's turn, players update the WebMap to see who is winning the race to the White House.

At the end of 30 rounds (although you can play fewer rounds if you choose), the political party with at least 270 electoral votes claims victory and bragging rights over the White House.  Since there's quite the competitive spirit at my house, it was most interesting to watch how the teams determined who would roll the dice, whether they would campaign or fundraise, which states they would aim for, and who had the right to be called POTUS.  I especially like watching my kids crunch the numbers in their heads and think critically about which states to focus on depending on how many electoral votes were at stake.  This made for a wonderful review for my Senior's American Government class and a great way to begin my Freshman's Civics class.  

I definitely want us playing the "games smart people play" and it's always a good idea to start with "the most powerful game in the world."  Everyone should have the opportunity to run for President of the United States, but even better -- everyone should have the opportunity to understand how our electoral system works.   The Presidential Game proved to be quite fun for the entire family.  Educational enjoyment at its finest, this is a game that we'll play for years to come.  Why don't you join us?

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 I was given the opportunity to play and review The Presidential Game as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew.   You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought of this and other products as well (or just click on the banner below.)


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