Game Review: GMT’s Prime Minister


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Number of Players: 1-4
Time: 1 hr+
Game Type: Political Management
Gamer Type: Advanced
Complexity: 8
Some have said that politics is the best game of all. It has been one of the holy grails in the gaming community to create a political game which represents the nature of politics while still maintaining players’ ability to maneuver within the game itself. Most games are unaware, or unwilling to look at, the devious nature of politics as it stands. In most places, self comes first, then party, then nation. GMT does a bold retrospective on the nature of politics in Prime Minister.


Story


By its very nature, politics is a contentious environment. If you want to have an enjoyable session gaming with your friends, it is best to keep personal politics out of the discussion. GMT does this by using its historical game genre to provide the perfect playing field: Victorian England. Players take on the role of one of the ten politicians who earned the role of prime minister during the longest reign in England’s history. Thus, unless they have strong feelings on the corn tax, players can work toward their goals without the interference of personal politics. 9 out of 10.


Artwork


The artwork for the game is well done. GMT has a standard-sized box which allows their games to be prominently displayed on your shelf. This game has the understated tones that are fitting for a Victorian game. The artwork has the classical look of the Victorian period – dark but not gloomy – which adds to the game. The boards are well laid out and easy to read. The cards are well designed. This places a wholistically even gaming experience with a true feel for the period. 8 of 10.

Mechanics


Eurogamers rejoice! There are no dice in this game. This game is based on a series of cards and player mats. Whether it is the first time through or once you have learned the cards, knowing what is in the piles will only get you so far within the game. Because of the balance between the randomizers (the cards) the game plays well and uniquely each time that it is played. This gives an immersive experience whether you are playing the Liberal or the Conservative party. 8.5 of 10.


Strategy

Within the realm of strategy, there are four main categories we look at: offense, defense, rush, and engine building. Because this is a consensus-building game, for the most part you are looking at building not only an engine in your hand but with your counterparts in the game. That being said, there is a unique feature; at the beginning of the game, there is a multi-party pact in place. In this setting, everyone gets the same points as the Prime Minister. At some point in the game, the opposition leader will need to remove the pact; this means you need to be in a position to play against the other party and your own party at any time. Defense and offense are also very prevalent, depending on whether you are in the opposition or in power, which changes throughout the game. Rush is difficult in this game, but it is not missed because of the balance of the other three main strategic elements. 8.5 of 10.


Novelty


As noted above, a political game is hard to pull off without losing friends. This game has the novelty of allowing you to do something that is not contentious. Even in the World War I games, someone has to be Germany and know they are going to lose (or break continuity). However, in this game both political parties in England, albeit through different names, are still messing with the lives of the populous (just like governments around the world). As a result, no one is the automatic “loser” or “winner” in this game. This alone is unique. The board and the player mats also increase the uniquity of the game, which earns it’s a score of 9 of 10.


Overall

This game is a long term, complex game. The rule book take a while to read. But it is worth it. This game is well thought out and fun. Politics are not thought of as the most fun field, but they can be. Especially when lives are not on the line. Historically, this period was interesting – in game form it maintains that interest. With a score of 43 out of 50, this game is a massive win for GMT. The game is something you can explain faster than you can read the rules, which allows for it to be played in fairly short order. It also has a shorter playing time than most GMT games, which opens it up to a more causal gamer. Definitely something that you should take a look at for your historically- inclined gamer friends.

Christopher W Smithmyer
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