Game #8 - Campaign Manager 2008
Campaign Manager 2008 (CM08) is another in the lineage of Jason Mathews' politically themed CDGs. Ever since I was in 7th grade I was always fascinated with election themed games. I was never very politically savvy, but I just liked the theme. My dad had a computer video game that allowed you to pit all-time Presidential candidates against each other. I always went for the slam dunk in that game. Give me George Washington against Walter Mondale. I'll be Abe Lincoln, the AI can have Thomas Dewey. I was 13 and not ready to lose a game to a computer.
As I got back into board gaming, 1960: The Making of the President became something that caught my eye. I enjoyed the election theme and as I mention in my #10 game Founding Fathers, 1960 turned me onto the CDG mechanic.
With the success of 1960, many people clamored for an updated version, with a newer election. The campaign of 2008 was an interesting one and I think CM08 really creates a fun way to choose the President. I love the fact that certain states are out of play. Johnny Mac has no chance to win California. Barry O has no chance to win Texas. Neither probably care all that much about all 3 of Wyoming's EV's. (Sorry Wyoming) The battleground states that are in play vary enough in their EV's to make for a very tight game.
The 2008 election was interesting for many reasons and because of that, many people may shy away from playing CM08 due to their own personal politics. If that's the case, that's really a shame. If you just focus on the game mechanics and step back from the theme, CM08 is very fun. There is subtle strategy and in your face strategies. First, the deck building is unlike any other game I've played. You are given 45 cards per candidate, but will only play the game with 15. Sometimes the choices you are given are very tough and as shown in this thread on BGG, people will often build their decks differently. Through more online play at Yucata, I've been able to try different strategies and I've seen how other strategies have worked (and not worked).
I also like how there is a "basic" version of the game - that eliminates the deck building. There are 15 starter cards that each player can use to learn the mechanics of the game. But really, after one or two states have been won, you know how to play the game and should really start focusing on building your deck.
My wife and I combined rated this a 15.75. I averaged my rating to 8.75 as opposed to 9 for the combined geeklist. What's funny to me about that is her comment for CM08 is that she can win this game from time to time. Her comment for 1960 is that she loses all the time - yet, 1960 is rated higher for us. If I rated the game with starter decks, it's an 8. With deck building, it's a 9.
I think of all the games I own, CM08 is easily in the top 5 of favorite game box covers. I mean, it's friggin awesome! I would have a hard time choosing between CM08, Founding Fathers, Cuba, Endeavor, and Constantinopolis - that's a blog post for another day though.
I'm glad it's available online at Yucata as well. I enjoy many games there and it's great to see new games come out often. Yucata has allowed me to continue playing games with my father since I got married and moved out of town. CM08 is one of those games I know he'd enjoy online too.