Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Presidential Game Review - Hail To The Chief

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The Presidential Game is an educational board game that is made right here in the USA! The game released on July 12, 2012 and is the first of its kind. The game was created by well-known Wall Street executive recruiter, Regina Glocker and a father and son graphic design team of Russ and Christopher Patrick. The initial funding for The Presidential was raised through Kickstarter in February 2012. 

Learning about the US government has never been so much fun!

A moms review:
Board games always make learning much more fun...for both adults and children. During last yeas Presidential election we thought it was very important to include our little citizens and teach them about the election and voting process. We discussed at length the candidates that were running and why it was so important to vote. We took the kids with us when we voted. We read books, created lapbooks and colored in electoral maps when the poll results rolled in. You can read more about all that here.

When I found out about The Presidential Game I jumped at the chance to review it, even though my children are under the recommended playing age which is 11 years old and up. I knew though I could probably tweak the game a little to make it work for my 6 and 7 year old. Well I am happy to say the game worked out great for our family and the children had tons of fun (below I explain how I tweaked the game to make it work).

The Presidential Game is very educational and teaches children about politics as they barnstorm across the USA to earn 270 electoral votes to become President of the United States. However this game teaches much more than that including math, geography and social studies. It also encourages the use of critical thinking and strategy skills. And it helps develop important character qualities like sportsmanship and teamwork.

The Presidential Game includes:
-1 United States game board
-2 'vote' cards (Democrat & Republican) 
-300 chips (150 red & 150 blue)
-6 dice (3 blue & 3 red) 
-80 Politics cards
-40 "write your own" Politics cards
-1 Electoral WebMap Calculator Access Code
-1 score pad

We have played the game several times over the last few weeks. The first time we played we didn't do teams (as suggested in the instructions) instead Gwyn was the Republican candidate and Rowyn was the Democrat candidate and well mommy was the debate referee. The first thing the debate referee had to handle was who was going to be the Democrat candidate and who was going to be the Republican candidate...because neither child wanted to be Obama. Yes just like a real election there will be squabbling. This was very easy to resolve. I had each child roll a die and the child with the highest number got to be the Republican! The next few times we played we got daddy involved and we each teamed up with a child. 

The first time I opened the box the children asked, "why is there a donkey and an elephant head on the emblem?" So I took a few minutes and explained it to them with some help from this great article. We also learned a little more about political parties from these two videos, Political Rap and The Evolution of America's Major Political Parties before beginning the game.

How to play and how we tweaked:
So after the first debate about who is going to be the Republican and Democrat candidates it was time to play.  

Game Goal:
The goal of the game is to be the first team to make it to 270 electoral votes in 30 weeks (30 turns for each player). Our game ended up being a little shorter, due to limited attention spans. The game instructions estimate though that it will take about an hour to play 30 turns (but it could be less or more). You will need to decide how many weeks you want your game to be.

Campaigning and Fundraising:
Before each turn you decide whether you are going to campaign or go fundraising. My children didn't really get the difference and understand the advantage to fundraising, so most of the time they just campaigned.

If you are campaigning you choose three states you want to campaign in, then roll the three dice. Next you will decide which die (number of votes) corresponds to each of your 3 states. You simply place the correct number of chips on each state. For example you choose PA, GA and IN and you roll a 3, 6, 2. You could place 3 on GA, 6 on PA and 2 on IN etc. 

Strategy will eventually come into play because you can take over votes from an opponents state. Because of some tears with taking over states (yes I am sure the Presidential candidates cry and stomp their way up the stairs when they don't get their way too) I only allowed each child to take over 1 opponents state during their turn. We also didn't mess around with subtracting the tokens when they would take over a state, I just let them take over the entire state and remove all their opponents tokens. For example if you were placing 6 red votes on PA which already had 3 of your opponents blue votes you would remove all 3 blue tokens and place 3 red. In our case the children would just remove all 3 and place their 6 in its place. 

If you are fundraising, you must place at least 1/2 of your votes (you rolled) onto one on the 4 fundraising states (green Washington states) which you choose before your turn.  For fundraising you only use 2 die. The remaining votes may be allocated individually to any other sates. For example if you roll 10, 5 votes must go to TX and the remaining 5 may go anywhere else and can even be divided up among several states. Afterwards, you must select a 'Politics Card'. 

The politics cards are really cool and quite funny too. They give you the scope on what the media is saying about the election. Some cards must be played right away others can be held onto and played later. Some of the cards provide rewards other give penalties.

Here is an example of one of the cards:
You endorse domestic product of energy, including coal. Add 3 votes to West Virginia.

Keeping Score:
There are two options for keeping score. There is the traditional way which is writing down your score on the included score pad. I attempted to use this however with two impatient children who would add and remove chips faster than I could add and write it became too difficult so I ended up preferring the Electoral WebMap. The online calculator requires an access code to open it. It worked great on my tablet which I sat up right next to the board game. The map was much easier for the children to visualize what was occurring during the game and see how many votes they had. There is also a counter in the bottom right to keep track of how many weeks you have played (it took us about 15 turns to finish a game). 

The kids loved the map and immediately said, "mommy it's just like the one we filled out during the election and like the one that was on TV." We will definitely be using the interactive Electoral WebMap during the next election!

End Of The Game:
The game ends when the number of weeks selected has passed. If there are undecided states (still neutral) you will need to each roll a die. The team with the highest number gets the votes. The team with 270 electoral votes is the winner!

Hail to the Chief!

The Presidential Game has won 'The National Parenting Center Seal of Approval 2013' award in both 2012 & 2013.
Other Uses:
So another cool thing about this game is that the awesome USA map game board can be used for lots of other subjects as well like geography, history, etc.

For geography we decided it would be fun to play a find the state capital's game. I printed out a list of the capitals and states here. The game is so simple to play. Simply say a capital name out-loud and have the children place their chips (red/blue) on the state that they think the capitol is in. If they get it correct their chip remains if they got it wrong they remove their chip(s). The child with the most chips at the end wins! If you have more than two children you can use other colored chips, pennies, beans etc.

For history you can mark various trails, wars etc on the map using yarn, slips of paper, playdough etc. I tried to use a dry erase marker and it did work however I think prolonged use would end up ruining the board.

Gwyn review (7 yrs old) and Rowyns Review (6 yrs old):
Gwyn, "I love the game, it was lots of fun and we learned a lot of things about the President. I wanted to be the first woman President but my brother the democrat won."

Rowyn, "I liked the game a lot. It was a really fun game. Everyone should buyed it."

Links to follow:
-The Presidential Website
-The Presidential Facebook page 
-The Presidential Twitter 

Where to buy:
The Presidential Game can be purchased for $35.00 (plus shipping) directly from the website. From time to time they also offer special promotions.

Click here for more Presidential Game from the The Schoolhouse Review Crew.

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