3 Feb

Campaign Manager 2008

Filed under: Boardgames No Responses

Just a quick update on a game of Campaign Manager 2008 that I played recently with Sean. Sean asked me if it was true that the two decks for Barack Obama and John McCain respectively are identical so I’m just going to link to this detailed breakdown of the decks by Tao of Gaming. As he notes, except for the fact that McCain is strong in Defense and Obama is strong in Economy, both decks are identical save for three special cards. Each side has a unique Media Support and two other unique cards and that’s it.

Yes, this means that both sides have the same demographics cards as well, even if that makes zero sense. It is not even remotely plausible for Obama to win over groups like Seniors or Moderate Evangelicals. Similarly, McCain had no chance with Under-30 Voters or Women (even after accounting for the women pissed off that Obama won the Democratic nomination over Hillary Clinton). I know this is a game rather than a political simulation, but after seeing the attention to detail and realism in Twilight Struggle, it is disappointing to see such lazy design.

In our game, I think both of us ended up drafting rather similar decks. Obviously both of us saw the value of card draw and drafted both of the card drawing cards and many cantrip-style cards (sorry, Magic: The Gathering terminology here, meaning cards that give a small effect but also let you draw another card). Both of us were also weak at shifting issues and so could do little to affect states that were on the wrong track for us. Sean did draft some weak issue cards but I wasn’t sure if that helped him much. For my part, I drafted a strong attack card that costs two discards and a negativity die roll. That turned out to be critical and won me many states despite the downsides. I also had a couple of demographics cards, Latinos and Women, but they didn’t very useful and I mostly discarded them to pay for my attack card.

Shan watched us and was amused at how tenaciously we fought over big states, with each of us taking turns to play the cantrip cards. Our game ended up being ridiculously close and I finally won with only 271 electoral votes. I guess it’s an okay game but once again, I can’t see much depth in it. Are there even any viable deck designs except for card flow? I think it’s really silly how the designers made some cards so good that they are basically must-haves, thereby greatly restricting the creative space for deck designs. I guess there’s room for some head games when the same two people play a series of games against each other and try to outguess the opponent. But overall, it’s a rather disappointing game that could have been so much better with a more balanced and varied card set.

Written on February 3 2011 and is filed under Boardgames. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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