Politrics is the "Have I Got News For You?" [UK satirical TV quiz show] of board games. Highly entertaining satire, but not much strategy I'm afraid. Angus Deayton's (allegedly) haphazard allocation of points to the TV teams is a closer reflection of players' skill than you'll find in this game - the dice and the chance cards drive all. However, Politrics is an entertainingly silly way to spend an hour or so friends, particularly non-gamers, and some good laughs will be had by all.
The scenario is, predictably, one of getting elected, but in this case it's more of a leadership election than a general election, dragging yourself up from the back benches, to ministry, and hopefully winning the leadership. The format is the standard roll-dice, move dobber round square board, chance cards, etc. Anyone who has played POLITICIAN (from Image Games) will recognise the board as there is an inner and outer circuit of spaces, and you need to graduate towards the middle of the board to win. Anyone who has played Monopoly will also recognise the board, for not only does the game have a dig at politicians, and certain big companies, but the Monopoly board comes in for a bit of a take-off. The Board of Inquiry with its Public Gallery does look a shade Jail-like, and, oh look, there's a "Go To Jail (oops) Board of Enquiry" in the opposite corner. And yes, there are "Get out of Board of Inquiry Free" cards!
To the game. To win you need to hold four Popularity Cards. These are generally acquired (and lost) on squares on the inner, or Ministers', circuit but can be gained or lost through various cards. To survive the costs of the inner ring you need serious amounts of cash and this you generally acquire on the outer ring. Apart from various lucky sources and the Salary of £30,000 on passing 'Go', there are two main ways of making money. On certain squares you can buy Directorships at £200,000 each of which gain you a sum of £100,000 each time you pass Go, but you do have to sell these back to the bank for £50,000 before moving to the inner ring. The main source of income, however, is to buy shares in the seven companies represented on the board: Eurotrouble, Fat Cat Gas, PowerCut Electricity, Black Hole Investments, Standpipe Water, Virile, and Chaos Games Ltd. Any resemblance to any company living or dead is coincidental, (allegedly).
Landing on a company square entitles you to buy any spare shares in that company. There are only 10 or 20 shares per company so if you're the 6th to throw you may find available shares hard to come by. Shares create cash when passing, not just landing on, a Dividend square (where Free Parking might allegedly be). You get £1000 per share per dot on the dice roll you passed the square with, and a hefty (if not perhaps a little too hefty) bonus if you own all the shares in a company. With the two dice used on the outer circuit a throw of an average 7 with 20 shares will net you £140,000, but if those 20 shares are two complete companies you get another £200,000! Cash drivers like this soon make shares unavailable.
Once you think you have enough cash you can move into the inner ring by landing on one of the many "Become a Minister?" squares. Here the rewards, and the costs, are much greater. All you need to do is to acquire the requisite popularity cards and survive there (the difficult bit) until someone turns up a "Leadership Election" card. These cards are are scattered liberally through all three sets of cards. This ending is not dissimilar to that of POLITICIAN with the same frustration that the key criteria are very easy to lose and the chances of hitting that victory window are so slight as to begin to drag the end-game on somewhat. We played a game with a reduced target of three popularity cards and this seemed better.
As I implied at the start, this game is well and truly in the "Family Game" camp veering almost toward the "Party Game" classification. Certainly a jolly mood assisted by a pint or two of your favourite tipple does wonders for the game. However, I am left with a niggling feeling that the game would be more satisfying with a little more work on the balance. It all seems a tad overly random, especially the ending.
Putting on a Joe Public hat I'd say this is one of the more entertaining family games I've seen for a while. You'll either love or hate the board artwork which is heavily adorned with Martin Rowson cartoons (as is the box). The components are of high quality and the rules have been very well written. Although there is the obligatory fresh air in the Triv sized box you do get a good weight for your money.
All in all Politrics is a good quality, entertaining, rendition of a fairly standard family game. Putting it against others in the political family game mould, I'd describe it as more fun than POLITICIAN, less confusing than Poleconomy, but lacking the decisions of Snap Election!.
Kevin Rolph 1997
2008 note - The repeated use of 'allegedly' is an echo of the British TV show 'Have I Got News..' hosted (then) by Angus Deayton.
The reference to the game "POLITRICIAN" is not a reference to Politician but another of the same name.