Publisher: Naturalist Games
Release Date 06/09/2015
Get it Here: Amazon.com
Game Election is a game about deciding what game you want to play. Does that sound odd? Well it’s also a game about the inherent corruption in the political process of American Democracy, but that’s a little more subtle than the whole “What Game Should We Play?” context, so we’ll focus on that for the most part.
Game Election is meant to be a light-hearted way to solve a dispute of what game to play. I guess it could be used for any situation but honestly, I’ve personally never had a time where two or more party vehemently disagreed on what game to play. If someone doesn’t want to play something, you don’t play it. You find something you all would enjoy. However I realize a lot of people enjoy butting heads or develop game ennui so measures must be taken so as to decide what you will do as a group. Of course you could always dock Rocks, Paper, Scissors, draw straws or guess a number rather than play Game Election. Those are all free options instead of costing you ten dollars. Whatever. Sometimes you just have to play a game in order to play a game, I guess.
To play Game Election, you need two to six friends and a bevy of games to choose from. Each player can nominate up to eight games that they want to play. That’s eight games total, not eight games per person. That’s still a lot of options if you have four or five people trying to pick out a board game. Each game nomination must be accompanied by short speech extolling its virtues. Once all the games are nominated, each person picks one of the six colors in the Game Election deck. You have green, orange, blue, red, purple and yellow. Each player than takes the nine cards of his or her color and keeps cards equal to the number of games nominated plus one. Sounds confusing? Well if three games are nominated, you would keep cards 1-4. If eight games are nominated. Each player then places one of their cards, vote side down, by the game. This will, if you know your math, leave you with one card left. You can then wheel and deal for that card with the other players. Some of those cards might even have a power on it, like the ability to break ties. You then add up the cards and the one with the most points wins. It’s pretty simple.
So how does a game get points and win? Well, through the cards. You have a YAY card worth 1 point, a NAY card worth 0 points and a YAY YAY card worth 2 points. There are also VETO cards worth -1 points.For some reason the rules for the VETO card say “-X Votes. X = number of Vetoes for this game.” That’s way too wordy. Just say “negative one” or “-1.” People will get that and there is less clutter on the card.
The problem with Game Election, besides the fact it will be rare that you need a card game to decide what game you want to play, is that the game is far too easy to end in ties and the card distribution isn’t very good. Let’s say you have three people playing. Each one gets four cards – NAY, YAY, YAY, YAY YAY. So that’s three positives to one negative. What if you only want to play one game and you want to give the other three NAYs. Too bad. Really the game should have enough cards to let you do all YAY or NAY if you want. You’re paying ten bucks for fifty-four cards after all. If you are ever in a situation where you need all nine cards, there are two NAYS, three YAYs, two YAY YAYs and two VETOS. The VETOS only show up in seven or eight player situations though, which doesn’t seem balanced. The game feels like every player should have a VETO if need be. The YAY YAYs feel redundant and can lead to a situation where everyone uses the YAY YAY on the game they nominated, cancelling each other out. Again, ties happen a lot if you have more than three games nominated. Even with two or three, ties still happen. In case of a tie, the instructions say to flip a coin. What then, is the point of even having or buying Game Election then? You should have just flipped the coin in the first freakin’ place.
I guess Game Election is one of those concepts that is just completely nonsensical to me. I can’t fathom a time when you would ever need to play a card game in order to decide what game to play. Are you and your friends that addled in the brain that you can’t make a choice? Are you that dysfunctional that you refuse to bend or acquiesce someone else’s choice for your leisure time? Playing Game Election only takes a few minutes but it’s not very fun. Okay, it’s not fun at all. It’s just time when you could be playing (or setting up) the game you all actually want to play. Essentially what I took away from Game Election is what I take away from our own Constitutional Democratic Federal Republic is that the system is broken and really needs to be fixed from the ground up. At least Game Election is neither corrupt nor working for corporations instead of citizens, but it’s also not worth purchasing even at a reduced price point. I hate saying that it’s a waste of both time and money because it sounds harsh/mean, but I can’t think of a better way to phrase it. For ten bucks you could get something fun like Timeline, Clue, Uno, Connect 4 or Yahtzee. You have a lot of options out there for the price point – make better decisions than this.