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Subject: The Gamer Nerd Review: Campaign Manager 2008 rss

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Nicolas Shayko
United States
Ohio
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The Full Review with Images can be viewed on www.TheGamerNerd.com
http://www.thegamernerd.com/reviews/campaign-manager-2008/

Campaign Manager is a 2-player strategy game where there 2008 general election is recreated. One player is the Obama campaign, the other the McCain campaign. The two players battle for 20 swing states in order to find a path to 270 electoral votes and the player that does is the winner.

Campaign manager is played with a deck of cards for each side, known as the campaign deck. The deck is 45 cards, but through a neat drafting mechanism a 15 card play deck is created. At the start of the game, each player picks up a set of three cards, keeps one and discards the other two. This is done 15 times in total to create a 15 card deck. Each player then shuffles and draws 3 cards to begin. Now the battle for the swing states takes place, with 4 of the 20 battleground states on the table at any one time. Once a state is won, the winner chooses an undecided swing state to replace it.

The player can make a choice of one of two things on a turn: either draw a card or a play a card. The cards are used to win states. The best thing to do here is look at a state.

The state is New Mexico and it worth 5 Electoral votes. There are three important things on a card. First, look of the left side. That determines the “Key issue” which is either Defense (Tank) or Economy (money). The arrow starts at the dot, in this case on the middle toward the economy side. This determines which side of the support markers needs to be filled in order to win the state. Look at the top part of the card, the defense side, with one red circle (McCain), one white circle (Independents) and one blue circle (Obama). In order to win the state on that side, the key issue marker must be on the half and all the support markets filled. The right side is the key demographic which matter for specialty cards which we will not discuss here.

The cards allow you to do a number of things, but the most important is gain support. For example, a card may say “Gain one support in economy in 1 state” If that card is played the player can replace the support of an opponent or gain the support of an independent. Other cards move the key issue or the key demographic.

There are others thing to the game, but that is the key, going back and forth, either drawing cards or playing them in order to take states. There are extra powerful cards that are called “going negative” but have a drawback where you roll a die and your opponent gets something based upon what you roll.

The great thing about campaign manager is the dynamic of going back and forth trying to win these states. When do you use your firepower to try to gain a state? The drafting mechanism is great and really makes the game as it allows deck construction using a variety of strategies. On top of this, for political junkies, basically all of the major campaign events are represented on the cards. For example ,there are cards featuring Joe the Plumber, The Katie Couric-Sarah Palin interviews and even P.U.M.A. (deep political trivia there!)

This is a very solid game. It fits a category that is under represented in my mind, medium level strategy games for two players that last under an hour. You don’t have to love politics to love this game. It is balanced and a good battle between two sides.
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Todd Kauk
Canada
Winnipeg
Manitoba
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I also think this is an underrated game . In an interview with Jason Matthews on an episode of Ludology, he remarked that this was his favourite game system. And this is coming from the designer of Twilight Struggle and 1989, Dawn of Freedom! surprise

Anyways, I have a copy of this game (great condition) for auction here:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/152765/board-game-auct...

Thanks for the great review of one of my favourite 2 player games!


Todd
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John McD
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I really enjoyed this game as a game. But I did hope that it would offer some insight to the election, really, it's a pasted on theme with nothing to really tell you about how the election was won and lost (as far as I could see).

Nice game though, look forward to playing again someday.
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Nicolas Shayko
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Would this game translate to another theme and make as much sense? I don't think so. The card text really does coordinate with events of the 2008 campaign. Little quirks even like "Joe the Plumber, P.U.M.A., Reverend Wright, the Palin-Couric Interview, the Oprah Endorsement, McCain saying "Bomb, Bomb, Iran." Most of the actions make sense with the theme. P.U.M.A. help with Clinton Democrats, for example.

I mean the theme isn't nowhere near Twilight Struggle or Making of a President 1960, but it really isn't meant to be.
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Aaron Silverman
United States
Halfway between Castro and Mickey Mouse
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Todd Kauk wrote:
I also think this is an underrated game . In an interview with Jason Matthews on an episode of Ludology, he remarked that this was his favourite game system. And this is coming from the designer of Twilight Struggle and 1989, Dawn of Freedom! surprise


To be fair, he's also the designer of Campaign Manager 2008!
 
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Gary Meacher
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This is a really great game. Has a nice strategy element to it. Even if your not into politics, you can appreciate the game for its mechanics.
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Patrick C.
United States
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mmmbraaains wrote:
This is a really great game. Has a nice strategy element to it. Even if your not into politics, you can appreciate the game for its mechanics.


Many years experience in politics/activism and I just can't bring myself to bother playing this (I own it) because it's so detached from reality. When I saw the card about McCain getting the youth vote because he appeared on SNL I had to just groan. Yeah, the voting public is full of the easily swayed, but it's not THAT easy. I'm not sure how the game could be made more realistic, I just know that living in a highly political state like NH with the first primary causes me to lose interest in this game.
 
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Chris Berger
United States
Round Lake
Illinois
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travvller wrote:
Many years experience in politics/activism and I just can't bring myself to bother playing this (I own it) because it's so detached from reality. When I saw the card about McCain getting the youth vote because he appeared on SNL I had to just groan.


It's not "McCain getting the youth vote." It's McCain getting the undecided youth vote in one (or occasionally, but rarely, up to 4) state(s).
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Patrick C.
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arkayn wrote:
travvller wrote:
Many years experience in politics/activism and I just can't bring myself to bother playing this (I own it) because it's so detached from reality. When I saw the card about McCain getting the youth vote because he appeared on SNL I had to just groan.


It's not "McCain getting the youth vote." It's McCain getting the undecided youth vote in one (or occasionally, but rarely, up to 4) state(s).


I was going by memory. Either way, it doesn't matter to me one iota. A single appearance on SNL would not get an entire group's undecided vote. That would be like saying Nixon got the senior undecided vote for appearing on The Lawrence Welk Show. Yeah, that sounds realistic! [/sarcasm]

I understand what the designer was trying to do - distill larger concepts into something simple that could be used in a game. That's fine. But to someone who's lived and breathed this stuff the distillation is like looking at a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy of the Mona Lisa. It doesn't resemble the original enough for me to dispel my disbelief. I'm not talking about game depth, I'm talking about the game's detachment from reality.
 
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Patrick C.
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I think the designer either willfully or by accident combined various campaigns. For example, the SNL thing would have been totally plausible with McCain's 2000 campaign. McCain during that time (before Bush overtook him) was rocking the vote in any primary or caucus where the GOP establishment wasn't in control. There were Democrats getting ready to vote for him. At the time he acted and sounded very independent. That card for the SNL show affecting the undecided youth vote - in 2000 - would make sense. In 2008, absolutely positively not.

I'd actually be interested in playing a game based on the entire 2000 campaign. The smearing of McCain, the rise of Bush and his backing within the party establishment, the Ohio/Florida voting fiascoes, the effect of Ralph Nader, the Supreme Court decision. Holy moly, there's a lot there. That race was nail biter.

The only people surprised by the 2008 election were people who were too convinced of their own cause and couldn't feel which way the wind was blowing.

I understand why the designer chose 2008. But the real world politics that would make an interesting game with multiple plausible outcomes was for 2000.
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Stu Hendrickson
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Alexandria
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the review is defective as it does not treatthe signature issue of the game, deck recursion. this is important and needs to be addressed.
 
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