Are you looking for an entertaining, engaging way to teach your kids more about the election process, the electoral college and US geography to boot? If so, look no further than the The Presidential Game. We received this game in exchange for our honest review and our family was immediately impressed. The beautiful colors and US map on the gameboard are eye-catching and the principles behind the game make it highly competitive and maybe even a tad addictive. But who wouldn’t be thrilled with a game that teaches difficult concepts in a visual and tactile way that is fun and engaging at the same time? You should really check out this game that has won the 2012 & 2013 seals of approval from the National Parenting Center.
The Presidential Game is available for $35.00, is geared for ages 11 and up, and includes everything listed below:
-3 Blue Dice
– 3 Red Dice
-80 Politics Cards
-40 “Write-Your-Own” Politics Cards
-150 Republican Votes (red chips)
-150 Democrat Votes (blue chips),
-1 Electoral WebMap™ Calculator Access Code
How the Game Works:
The object of the game is to be the team (party) to collect at least 270 electoral votes by the end of the game and thereby win the election.
You split your players into two teams, the Republicans and the Democrats, and roll a die to see which team will take the first turn. You can determine how long you want the game to last by determining how long until the election. You choose a set number of weeks such as 10, 20 or 30 weeks. One turn for each team equals one week. The instructions state that a 30 week game takes about one hour, however, we found that 15 weeks took us about an hour.
There are two aspects to game play, fundraising and campaigning. You may choose only one of these aspects on each of your turns.
If the Republicans choose fundraising, they will choose a fundraising state (California, Texas, Florida, or New York). The state is named at the beginning of the turn and the team then rolls two dice to determine how many votes (chips) they will have to distribute on that turn. At least half of the votes must be left in the state that you are fundraising in, so if a 12 was rolled, 6 chips must be left in the state and the remaining chips may be allocated wherever you choose. Then you draw a Politics card at the end of your turn.
The other option is campaigning. If the Republicans choose to campaign, they choose three states where they would like to campaign and roll 3 dice. Each number on the dice are allocated to the three states chosen and that number of votes (chips) are placed on each state. So if you rolled a 6, 2 and 1, you would place 6 chips on one state, 2 chips on one state and 1 chip on the last state. At the end of each week (or turn) you calculate your score using the scorecard or the excellent WebMap Calculator. The WebMap Calculator was a very helpful tool. The first time we played the game, we used the scorecard and became a little confused. We much preferred the WebMap Calculator and it was easy to use, but requires a computer, or internet accessible device with internet access to use it. You simply log on to the web address and enter the web code included with the game and the calculator opens up and you can keep score by entering votes at the end of each turn. Here is a screen shot of the calculator.
To enter votes, you simply click on the state and continue to click until the color of the team that controls the state appears. After each team has a turn, you click on the green arrows to advance to the next week of the election. The tally of votes is updated at the top of the screen and you know instantly which team is in control at the end of each turn.
The team who accumulates greater than 270 electoral votes at the end of 30 weeks wins. It is not necessary to reach the entire 270 electoral votes if you choose to play a shorter game. In that case, the team with the greater number of votes at the end of the set number of turns wins.
I am not going to give every rule in the book here, but I wanted you to get an idea of how this is played. The control of states, especially the fundraising states may change hands several times in each game. The teams tend to try to control states with the larger number of electoral votes in order to collect the most votes to win, so these states become the battleground states simulating real life elections. The game includes some similarities to real life and provides excellent teaching opportunities for the adults to educate younger children on the finer points of the election process and the electoral college.
Our Opinion of the Game:
We played this game as a family and as just mom and the kids. I was surprised that my 7.5 year-old was able to grasp the concepts easily and play along with the family. Our 11 year-old loved the game and was able to transfer some of his new knowledge of the game to real life. Even though the age range recommends ages 11 and up, we found that since the game is played as a team, younger kids could participate, have fun and learn something along the way. We have been studying American history recently and this game was a great way to explain the election process to our kids in a meaningful way. We also found that the kids were learning a lot about the location of the states as they looked for particular states on the gameboard during game play. We all really enjoyed this game and found that the competition was hot at times as we vied for control for our party. The strategy involved really appealed to our eleven year-old. We have been asked to play this game repeatedly by the kids and it is one of their current favorites right now. They have asked to play it tonight in fact. I have tried some educational games in the past that didn’t meet my standards for educational and fun, but this game exceeded both of my standards. It was loads of fun and very educational at the same time. This game would be fun for political science buffs, classroom teachers, politics-loving families and history fans. Our family gives it a thumbs up!
If you would like to read what other Crew members thought of The Presidential Game, click on the graphic below.