A Game for Mavericks and That Ones
I’m going come right out and say that Campaign Manager 2008 is one of the best card games I’ve ever played. I want to ignore the theme and only gush about how wonderful the mechanics are, but the 2008 presidential campaign is inextricable from the gameplay. Thanks to well thought out components, this game is more than just card dueling.
Two players attempt to put their candidate on the iron throne (wrong card game?) by using their deck of cards to win electoral votes. The decks, either McCain or Obama, are drafted by a simple system of keeping one of every three cards you draw, and putting the rest out of play. I didn’t have a chance to compare the decks thoroughly, although I played both sides, but I think the card composition is about the same with some possible advantages to McCain.
That advantage is only because Obama starts with two votes. Playing specific cards will earn you votes towards any of four states that are currently in play, and another type of card will slide the populations interest towards different issues. The states are represented by larger cards made from heavier cardstock. They keep track of the key demographics, the Issues track, and votes. As a bonus, the state cards also show the actual results of the election in each state. Once you have the voters swayed to your side, you can claim the state and add your points to a scoring track designed to look like a cable news graphic.
While the types of cards you can play are practically identical in each deck, their themes vary. Each card is representative of people or events from the historic campaign, and every card has little post-it note style annotations on it with humorous messages from the campaign team to the candidate. The game is thankfully bi-partisan, so everyone gets some ribbing.
There are also news events provided by ZNN (the Z-Man News Network), and these cards give the game even more flavor and laughs. These cards are the most luck based aspect of the game, so be prepared for when the game swings against you without a chance for you to defend yourself.
Anyone who follows politics, and that was pretty much everyone in 2008, will find a lot to love in Campaign Manager 2008. Even if you voted for Cynthia McKinney you’ll find this to be a great card game. It takes a lot of its play style from CCGs, and I’d love to see Z-Man try to market this similarly to living card games. This is really a simplified version of 1960: The Making of a President, but I’d like to see them come out with expansion packs for other historical campaigns. Who wouldn’t want to recreate famous electoral battles such as Bush Jr. and Gore, Clinton and Dole, or the classic struggle between James K. Polk and Henry Clay. (That last pair was real, trust me.)