This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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Having Some Fun With Our Electoral System
With the confusing nature of the real Electoral College, how fun can a game based on the electoral college be? Answer: it can be a good little game. Electoral College by DollTV is a nice little game that anyone can play. It brings the volatility of the electoral college into perspective and helps familiarize people with electoral weight of each state. This is a fun, 10-15 minute game, that anyone can play. I would even recommend it as an educational game. Kids will learn the electoral count of the states as they vie to become president of the free world.
DollTV has a winner in this game.
So let’s start with the ratings. As always the first rating element is story. While Electoral College is based on the most popular story in the world every four years, it is more linked to the presidential election through theme rather than story. However, there is a redeeming factor here in the use of the “Wild” cards.
The wildcards for the game (which include celebrity endorsement, fake news and Russian collusion) poke fun at problems that we know exist in the current system. This second level of story gives the game a feel that acknowledges our worries while helping us understand the process that allows these concerns. For story I give Electoral College a strong 6 out of 10, which is the highest we have given a “deck” style game.
The Artwork of Electoral College
The artwork of the game is simple, I mean really simple; however, this is not always a bad thing. Remember, a deck of cards just has numbers and symbols on it and is generally the first “game” people pick up as a child. In the case of electoral college, the artwork is refined but simple. There are some concerns about font (such as the Idaho card whose “ID” looks like “10”, which can be challenging for snap decisions. Most of the cards are states, so the card art is an outline of the state with its name at the bottom and the initials and points in opposite corners.
At first I thought the initials were a little unnecessary. However, if this game is being used as a learning tool, they are helpful. The backs of the cards are simple, which is standard for all deck games. The best art is on the “Wild” cards. The caricatures of Putin and a random celebrity are well done. For the art, Electoral College Combat is not going to compete with art-based games, but because of the form and function they are comfortably in the 6 out of 10 range.
The Player/Opponent Dynamic
The mechanics of the game are simple, which is good because deck-based games need simple mechanics to keep people’s attention. I would caution the creators that they may want a more detailed rulebook (and a different color scheme on the rules section of the box). The player/opponent dynamic was a little bulky to pic up at first. However, once we picked it up the mechanics were fun, once again simple yet elegant in the process.
Everyone who play tested it found that they acted too quickly, sometimes missing a nuanced move that would have netted them more votes. This adds an element of thought to an otherwise randomizing game (once again a staple of deck games). The mechanics will not wow anyone, but then again this is a deck game and they did well with what they were working with. Therefore, we award them a 5 out of 10 for mechanics (they could pick up a point in the second edition with a rule clarification).
A Glorified Version of War?
As with all deck games, this falls into the simpler form of strategy games. If you are brining your Magic the Gathering friends over to play this game, they will whine that the strategy is “too simple.” To be fair to the creators, DollTV, MTG players are going to whine about any game that is not MTG- so let’s look at it from a regular person’s viewpoint. When I first read the rules, I thought this was a glorified version of War. I thought you flipped cards and just hoped for the win. I was wrong.
There is an intricate level of strategy in flipping, picking and then final round strategy. The game was fun for beginners and seasoned gamers alike. With a playtime of 15 minutes, I am not sure that I have a card flipper in my 700-game collection that has more skill involved. This is one of the best simple card flippers for strategy, which ranks it an 8.5 in this column.
Tongue in Cheek
Novelty is another strong suit for Electoral College Combat. When it comes to games about the electoral college, there are trivia games (which tend to be about as fun as a root canal), educational games (which tend to be stretched into a game from a learning concept), and parody games. This game tends to break the mold, treating the EC with respect but keeping the tongue in cheek commentary (wild cards) to make it fun.
The jokes play out after the first couple plays, but the strategy and the method keep the game fun. A “celebrity endorsement” and completely flip the control of the board (beware you do not want that card to get you). For novelty, Electoral College Combat rings in with an 8 out of 10. Overall, this game is a steal at just under $7 on Amazon.
A Good, Clean Game
If you like fun, quick games- then this is a good one for you. It is a clean game, so you can keep it in your pocket and play it during your lunch hour or play it with the kids. The jokes are balanced, so you are not likely to offend conservatives or liberals if they see the game. While you will undoubtably get a “lecture” from the resident feminist or extreme libertarians how the EC is “unfair” for their interest group, that is not what the game is about. It is about learning and having fun.
Overall EC gets a total score of 33.5 out of 50. While this is an above average score for most games, this is a monster score for a prebuilt deck game. Add the fact that you can have a copy for under $10 bucks and this makes a great Christmas present for that politico in your life. I give this game a strong recommendation for fun and economy. DollTV has a winner in this game.
Dr. Christopher Smithmyer is a writer for NRN, the Vice President of International Affairs at Brav Online Conflict Management, and an Adjunct Professor of MBA Business at Doane University. He is also part of the founding team at BlackWalletLTD, one of the leaders in stable coin 2.0 ecosystem maintenance. Dr. Smithmyer’s focus is international business and finance, along with reviews of board games, weapons platforms, and survival items.