With the conclusion of Landslide, it was time to jump into yet another Presidential election game. This time, the choice was Avalon Hill's Candidate, always a fun romp. The Presidential contenders were Joey Konyha, Keith Canova, David Myers, Steve Pouey, Jerry Maus and myself. Steve and I were in the right mood, chomping on cigars and belching out in our best (or worst!) redneck candidate voices.
Each player takes turns bringing various states, or blocks of states, up for election. Players then secretly allocate their money cards to these states ... or place nasty cards on their opponents. These 'nasty' cards take the form of vicious rumors, endorsement cancellations, etc. Ultimately, the player who has allocated the most money to a state captures that state's electoral votes. As in the real Presidential election, it takes 270 electoral votes to capture the Presidency. This usually means that the victor isn't decided once all 50 states have held elections, but, instead, the fight goes to the convention floor to ultimately determine the victor.
I've described Candidate in more detail in past session reports. For those interested in the mechanics, I'd suggest you head on over to the Boardgame Geek site and read through some of the past session reports:
Joey began the victory parade early, capturing Wyoming and Idaho. I immediately seized the front-runner status, however, by sweeping both Texas and Oklahoma. Joey followed, however, with a sweep of the Carolinas. Keith made his presence known, however, by capturing vote-rich California, while Steve kept pace by scooping liberal New York and New Jersey. The big prize of Florida, which Jerry had invested heavily in, was sent to the undecided box, to be ultimately resolved at the convention. This pretty much devastated Jerry and he wasn't able to capture a major state until late in the process.
As the elections wound to a close, Steve, Joey and I were in a close contest: Steve 114, Greg 107, Joey 104. David was extremely far behind, having only captured three states. However, in Candidate, it is quite possible for the lowest vote-getter to capture the undecided block of states at the convention and put himself back into contention. This is exactly what occurred in our game. Dave captured the block of undecided votes, totaling 83 in all. This meant that the player with the lowest votes was now Jerry, so he was eliminated from contention. His 33 votes were the next up for contention and Dave once again captured these. He was now at an impressive 137 votes and the favorite for the Presidency.
Keith was the next to go and his 81 votes were a juicy prize. I managed to win these, bringing my tally to 188. This meant that Joey was eliminated. His 104 votes would be enough to put me over the top. Steve, Dave and I hotly contested the election, with Dave again ultimately emerging with Keith's former loyalists. This eliminated Steve from contention and put his block of 114 votes up for election.
Entering this final election, Dave had 237 votes to my 188 votes. Whoever won the support of these states would be elected President. When the cards were revealed, Dave had spread a nasty rumor about me. Fortunately, I had foreseen this possibility and had defended myself with a timely 'Squelch Rumor' card. Amazingly, we had both committed $130,000 to the election. However, I had placed another 'nasty' card on Dave, robbing him of $10,000. Thus, I actually had $10,000 more committed than Dave, and barely won the pivotal votes and claimed the Presidency!
Candidate is a fun ride. However, it suffers from what I call 'KriegundFriedenitis'. That is, the game will ultimately boil down to who draws the most advantageous cards in the final round. One can prepare himself for this by hoarding certain cards, but the hand limit of five cards per player severely limits this tactic. Further, one is usually forced to use these cards in key battles just to survive the do-or-die convention rounds, so you really can't hold cards indefinitely. Sadly, the victor, as in Krieg und Frieden, is ultimately determined by who draws the best cards in the final round.
There just has to be a way to fix this problem. If a suitable 'fix' could be determined, the game would rate in the neighborhood of a '7'. With this problem, however, it languishes in the '5' range. As my good buddy Ted Cheatham aptly described Krieg und Frieden: "I love the ride, but the destination disappoints!".
Ratings: Steve 8, Keith 6.5, Joey 6.5, Greg 5.5, Dave 5, Jerry 4