Election-themed family board games a great way to engage political interest in older children and teenagers. They are also a fun way to take a break in a classroom or educational setting. Here are some board games that are themed around elections and US politics.
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The Presidential Game
The Presidential Game is a two-player board game recommended for ages 11 and above. Players pick a side, Democrats or Republicans, and face off to win the a simulated election. Each side starts with 150 votes. The games is played for a pre-determined number of rounds represented by weeks of campaigning. During a round, teams choose whether to focus on fundraising or campaigning. Campaigning results in allocating voting chips to selected states using dice. Fundraising uses dice followed by a deck of cards with various positive or negative outcomes. At the end of the campaigning, the winner of each state collects the respective electoral votes. The candidate with the most electoral votes wins the election.
The Presidential Game is an excellent tool for teaching the nuances of the Electoral College and the associated political strategies. Should you focus on states with the most electoral votes? Will smaller states be neglected? If an opponent has a strong lead in a state, do you move on to other competitive states? This can lead to a discussion about swing states and campaigning.
The Presidential Game is available for purchase from Amazon here.
Race to the White House
Race to the White House by Bipartisan Games is a two-player board game for ages 12 and up that simulates the last eight weeks of campaigning before Election Day. Like The Presidential Game, players make decisions during each week of campaigning in order to win 270 electoral votes. However, Race to the White House is a more complex and detailed game than The Presidential Game. At the start of the game, players must select their side as well as their candidate. Candidates represent real presidential candidates from the past, including the 2016 election. Different candidates have different restrictions and perks.
Players use a combination of action cards, dice rolls, and player choices to build up influence points at the national and state level. Players must also manage campaign funding. There are different action cards representing other realistic aspects of campaigning, from debating to lobbying to media. On Election Day, candidates can even choose whether to concede specific states or not, which can also influence the final result.
Race to the White House is both a somewhat realistic look at American election politics as well as a complex strategy board game. Older children can learn about actual presidential candidates, as well as the real issues involved in political campaigning. While fun for children and adults, Race to the White House avoids jokes in poor taste or needless partisanship. All in all, Race to the White House as a great election-themed family board game for both the educational and fun aspects.
Race to the White House is available for purchase from Amazon here.
Election by Startup Games LLC is a two to four-player board game for ages 9 and up that simulates the days leading up to the election. Election is a complex game, more similar to Race to the White House than The Presidential Game. The game is less historical and more generic. For example, you choose generic candidate templates, rather than actual candidates. There are some unique game mechanics, such as hiring volunteers or consultants, buying ads, and polls. Money, as in real life, has an important role as well. In the end, polls and player’s votes determine who wins each state, and of course, the player with enough electoral votes wins the Presidency.
The cartoon and generic flavor of the game is well-suited for all ages, including a bit younger children than the other two games. Election is a complex strategy game that relies less on dice and more on player decisions. The gameplay scales well for younger and older players, much like monopoly, and the ability to accommodate two to four players is also a boon to families. Election is a fun way to teach children about the electoral system and various aspects of real campaigning. It lacks the historical aspect of Race to the White House, but makes up for that in its greater accessibility.