Prez Games, presidential election board game for Android
Board games are one of the oldest methods of recreation ever invented. ‘Senet’ was the name of a surprisingly complex board game invented by the Egyptians and archaeologists place it around 3500 BC. That’s well over 5000 years ago and board games are here to stay, even with the advancement of technology they’re still one of the most popular form of social recreations. You’ve played a board game for sure, be it in the form of Chess, Tic-tac-toe or the latest Game of Thrones game. A board game is basically any game that is played with items placed on a marked surface (board) and involves obeying some rules by a group of players. They can have complex strategies behind them and luck only influences in a small manner the result of the game. The theme of a board game can be abstract (i.e. ‘chess’), it can be a representation of movie/video game/book (i.e. ‘Dungeons & Dragons’, ‘Game of Thrones’) or ultimately they can represent real-life situations (i.e. ‘Monopoly’).
One of the most intriguing real-life situations that can be represented in board games is the presidential elections. Imagine playing a board game as Obama (I giggle thinking how this blog post already triggered an alert in Prism and an NSA employee just became my newest reader) against Mitt Romney with the purpose of winning the presidential elections in the United States. That’s powerful and fun in the same time and you can play this board game on your smartphone or tablet by installing ‘Prez Games’ for Android. Developed by Flexibendi, the goal in ‘Prez Games’ is to be the first player that reaches 270 electoral votes and become the president.
Why 270 votes? Well, here’s a little overview on how presidential elections take place in the US (it helps a bit in understanding the game):
- President is elected indirectly based on the number of votes received from the electors in a state. Each elector is voted by the people in that state. An elector is thus a representative of the people.
- Each state gets a number of electors equal to the number of Congress members it can have. There is however a minimum of 3 imposed.
- The electors are voted after they promise in advance to vote for a particular candidate from their party. It’s very rare for electors not to keep their promise.
- There are 538 electors in total thus for a president to be elected he needs at least 270 votes from the electors.
Design & Gameplay
This is why in ‘Prez Games’ the goal is to win the votes from 270 states to defeat your contra-candidate. It is a turn-based game that’s played on a virtual board. It starts with choosing a type of game, Solo vs the AI or Online vs other players. Once you’ve decided that, it’s time to pick a party: Democrats or Republicans. For each party there are a certain number of possible presidents, 25 candidates in total. Yes, you can play as Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Hillary/Bill Clinton and so on, even Sarah Palin for God’s sake. The game design is excellent from this point of view, as each candidate is actually a caricature/cartoon version of the real person, thus quite enjoyable. You can see a video tutorial below where I try to beat my AI contra-candidate…unsuccessfully:
At first you can play only with one candidate from each party, but as the game progresses and you get some money (Bendibucks they’re called) you can unlock more candidates. Each candidate is not there only for eye-candy, they also have individual powers/abilities which can be activated during a game by using a number of power items. Here’s an overview on what you can do when the actual round starts:
- Stick to your goal. Before the rounds start you can choose what items to put in your deck. You can choose 10 total items and the idea is to have a balanced deck to defeat your adversary. During the game you can purchase other items (or win them) from the board if you have enough money. Just remember that the goal is to obtain 270 votes (or half of those if you play in quick mode).
- Use your decks. The items that you choose when the game starts are stored in the briefcase. While usually there’s only 10 items in there, some candidates get more (but you unlock those with money). When there are no more items in the ‘Briefcase’, you’ll be able to recycle the ones that you’ve used previously as they’re stored in the ‘Discard bin’.
- Win the rounds. The game is based on a series of rounds. When it starts the board is filled with 25 items (5×5 grid) and each player gets 5 items from the briefcase. Players take turns in placing the decks until they exhaust all actions in that round (i.e. both players tap on ‘Pass’). A new round begins and so on until the goal is achieved by one of the players.
- In-game actions. During each round you can perform several actions: use an item, deposit funds, purchase items, modify power, activate special powers, charge the power bar and of course pass. Playing an item is easy, you tap on the item and drag it on the suggested allowed destination to use it. The funnies action is depositing money, as you have to drag a coin onto the candidate’s brain :). If you have enough money you can purchase additional items from the board, and those will be placed in the recycle bin for you to use in a future round.
There are several other actions and they are all around power. Power in ‘Prez games’ is the key element as whoever has the most of it wins the game (that and money, of course). Power is represented by a donkey (Democratic power) or an elephant (Republican power). The neutral zones are marked as half donkey half elephant. To win a state from the board you have to surround it with more power items than your competitor. You can increase power in a surrounding spot by dropping power from your hand in that spot. You can drop power items on your competitor’s power spot, which will deduct from their value.
A candidate has special powers and you can activate those by dragging power onto the powerbar at the bottom. When enough is dropped to activate a special power, you’ll be able to tap on those stars that activate the special power.
- Score. At the end of each round, the score is calculated. The candidate that has the most power items surrounding a special state, wins the electoral votes from that state. If it’s a draw, neither of the candidates win the votes from that state. When a state card is under the influence of a certain party, it will ‘borrow’ its color. At the end of the round, if a player has 3 identical items in a consecutive order it will win the value of those 3 cards from the board – that’s called a playline and it counts horizontally and diagonally (republicans count from left to right, while democrats from right to left).
I told you, the game has complex rules as any recent board game that respect itself allowing you to develop your own strategies. It will take a bit to learn the rules but the game provides a separate help section and also has a tutorial play mode – if you start that you’ll get hint bubbles all throughout the game that will give you more details on what you can do and what an item does. ‘Prez games’ is very thorough in terms of help items and explanations and I recommend the first gameplays to be the tutorial type.
There aren’t many options to set, only enabling the music and sound effects, music which I found to be very good (reminiscent of ‘Bonnie Tyler’ tracks). With ‘Prez Games’ you also have your own profile that shows statistics on how many games you’ve won, your achievements, your score and how much Bendibucks you have in your treasury.
After a few solo games if you know enough you can challenge other online players and compete against them.
The game is free and only displays advertisements at the bottom of the screen. They also use Tapjoy (reward system) and you can get this way extra Bendibucks, the in-game currency you can use to unlock other candidates with better super-powers. If you’re curious what is the super power that Sarah Palin possesses, I invite you to download and install the game.
You can read more about the game from its official webpage at http://www.prezgames.com/ where the developer also announces new candidate additions. To download the game visit its Google Play webpage: Download Prez Games.