President Wars (Preview)
I’ve covered a lot of games over the past few years, but I have yet to see anything like “President Wars”. It’s a one to two player card game that is currently seeking your help on Kickstarter (as of 2/12/14). For those of you who hate getting wrapped up with the intricacies of politics, you needn’t worry…”President Wars” is more of a casual royal rumble of sorts. Before I get into specifics, I’d like to thank Jesse Heuser from Activity Makers for reaching out to me and providing me with a prototype copy of the rulebook. It’s important to note that I didn’t actually receive a copy of the game, so this preview will focus more on the rules and my initial impressions of them. Still, those just discovering this game for the first time may learn something new.
“President Wars” comes with a deck of forty-four playing cards, three ten-sided dice, and any special promos that might possibly come as a Kickstarter reward. Like most other Kickstarter campaigns, you’ll need to browse the pledge levels and stretch goals to see what extras may be offered based on your level of support. Some pledge levels offer special green dice while others offer ad space for your business, should you have one.
The cards themselves require a little bit of explanation, especially the values listed along the bottom of the card. Players will note three numbers on the bottom left of the card and one larger number on the bottom right of the card. The three numbers on the left represent the respective president’s time spent in office, popularity, and war experience. These numbers are added to derive the larger number on the bottom right corner of the card, which serves as the president’s hit points or HP. Along the top of the card is the name of the president along with the years spent in office. In the middle you’ll see a portrait along brief summary of their life story.
The game itself is played similarly to the card game, “War”. To set it up, one player will shuffle the deck of forty-four cards and deal twenty-two to both themselves and their opponent. Each player also chooses a colored die: Red (Republican), Blue (Democrat), or White (Independent). If you’re like me and don’t follow or care for politics, you’ll be pleased to know that it doesn’t matter which color you choose for they all have the same values (2-9 along with an eagle and shield symbol). A round begins by players drawing the top card of their deck, which is then followed by a battle that persists until one president is eliminated and discarded.
Combat is fairly simple in that both players roll their die. The player with the higher value will inflict damage, equal to the difference of the two dice. That damage is then subtracted from the losing president’s HP. If both presidents still have life left, they’ll roll again. This will continue until one president loses all of their HP and is thus discarded from the current game. The winning player’s president is put back into their deck to be drawn again at a future date. If at any point a player rolls an eagle, they steal their opponent’s president and place it (along with their own) at the bottom of their deck. Shields, when rolled, protect the president from attack and do damage equal to the number rolled by the other player. When one player runs out of presidents, the game ends and the other player wins!
I admit that part of me was conflicted when I agreed to preview a game that I hadn’t played…normally I like to run the game through a play test or two before offering my thoughts and opinions. Once I reviewed the rules however, I discovered just how simple the game really was. The prototype manual also lists some alternative with regard to combat…for example, you can eliminate the eagle symbol’s effect and just make it a value of ten. I personally liked this idea and would have played with that variant, namely because I feel the eagle would have made the game even more random than I would have prefered. Not playing with the eagle’s special effect also (in theory) shortens the game, as players have the potential to roll a lot of eagles (1 in 10 chance) and just keep swapping cards back and forth.
However, that wasn’t the first thing I noticed. What drew me in were the factual statistics listed on the cards, most notably the years the presidents in question served in office. I admit I have a terrible memory and don’t remember much from my history classes in high school. As such, having these around would certainly come in handy as flash cards if you happen to have kids studying American history. I’ve come to realize that “President Wars” is not only an easy to play game but an educational tool. While the cards don’t go into THAT much detail, they do provide the player with some interesting facts about presidents they may never have even heard of. I thought that including these statistics and personal facts on the cards was an excellent move. It would be great to see a free booklet or something included with the game that expands on the presidents in greater detail, mainly as a reference for those who enjoy reading and learning.
While I haven’t played it, the game certainly has me intrigued. I’m actively curious to see where this game can possibly go and what other educational features could be included with the game should it become funded and then some. There’s certainly an opportunity here for it to be expanded upon and introduced to classrooms to promote learning. If I were to make a change to the card art however, I’d label what the three stats were in the lower left of the card, just so as not to confuse and overload potential players. I didn’t know how they factored in or what they represented until I read the second page of the prototype manual. Labeling these stats would also compliment the above mentioned flash card idea.
All in all, my first impressions of “President Wars” were overall positive. While the game’s simplicity won’t challenge hardcore gamers, it could serve as either a quick filler or as a fun, educational tool for children. I’d say that this is a game at least worth checking out. The lowest Kickstarter pledge level to receive a deck (should it become funded) is six bucks, which isn’t too shabby either.
You can learn more about and support “President Wars” by visiting its Kickstarter page, here: