The Political Machine 2016

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Screenshot of “The Political Machine 2016”, showing animated versions of Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush.

The latest installment of my “Does This Even Work?” series involved a product I’ve talked about before.  For those frequent readers of this blog (I know there are none of you), you may remember me referencing this game when griping about Bank Of America’s terrible customer service.  But when I finally was able to purchase the game, how well did it work out?

This is more or less a repackaged version of the same game that Stardock has released during the last couple of elections.  I was acquainted with this game series back in 2008, where I paid $20 for a disc version of this game that lagged like crazy.  However, the 2016 version runs through Steam, thereby creating a much smoother playing experience.

Whether you are a Democrat, Republican, or one of those weird people who voted for Jill Stein, this game has any candidate you could want, or wish never existed.  From Donald Trump, to Abraham Lincoln, to even Jill Stein’s VP candidate, Ajamu Baraka, no one is really disenfranchised other than that you must select between either the Republican or Democratic party.  Stein and Baraka are both listed as Democrats, whereas Gary Johnson and Bill Weld are listed as Republicans.  To be fair, I’m sure they all were a member of a major party at one point.

If you have played this game in previous elections, then you already have an understanding of how the gameplay works.  However, if you are completely new to this game, there definitely is a learning curve and you have a few campaigns that allow you an easy opponent so that you can get used to it.  Campaign headquarters raise money and awareness in that state.  Outreach Centers generate PR clout, which allow you to receive endorsements, but becomes useless once all of the endorsements have been made.  Consulting offices generate political capital, which allows you to place political operatives in areas you need them.  The operatives mostly are helpful, but some will ruin any chances you have of winning a state if you fly to a state with a “?”.

You have several functions that should be used wisely.  Fundraising will be important, but states will become annoyed if you simply hang around to get money from them, thereby ruining your ratings.  You can create ads or give speeches, but be careful that you don’t alienate your voters.  Building an HQ allows you to generate any of the things mentioned in the above paragraph.  And of course, again, the political operatives and endorsements.

Now that you have the basics down, it all becomes a game of strategy.  Remember that you’re winning electoral votes and not a popular vote, so checking each state polls individually will be in your best interest.  If you’re a Democrat, chances are you will likely not win Texas, whereas if you’re a Republican, you’re probably not going to win California, no matter how much time you spend there.  So be realistic and choose strategic swing states, and don’t forget to check out the flyover states, because otherwise they will vote for your opponent if they are ignored.

The game runs smoothly for the most part, but occasionally has some glitches that end when the campaign ends.  The random events can be aggravating, especially the lawsuits.  And for whatever reason, I cannot seem to beat LBJ.  But is it fun?  That will all depend on your own personal tastes.  Most people are sick and tired of politics right now and likely don’t want to be reminded of a Donald Trump presidency over the horizon.  However, for folks like me who are even more involved than before, this game can be an interesting way to prove that you know more than Hillary Clinton’s campaign management.  Because this is totally real life, right?

Official Rating: Shut Up And Take My Money!

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