Publisher: Activity Makers (2014)
Number of Players: 1-2
Average Time: 35 minutes
A Review by James, Gillian and Iain
James's Two-Lincolns (cents):
I hate Solitaire and I hate War. I am really not a fan of simple card games. There, I've cleared the air... So why then do I enjoy this game? Allow me to elaborate:
I am one who considers himself patriotic, I love history and I am VERY political. Rest assured I will keep my political views to myself during this review. There is nothing I enjoy more than spending time with my son and finding something we can do together that engages him and makes him ask me questions. I think that a strong curiosity about our nation's past is one of the greatest things our children can have in helping them to shape a bright and responsible future. President Wars scratches that itch. This game is as light and approachable as the traditional card game of War but without the feeling of being locked in a perpetual repetition. Because the game incorporates dice with a set strength value for each card there is always the hope that the underdog can overcome a powerhouse. That, to me, is a very American principal. Many things about our past should have been improbable, impossible even, yet the weak and the few were able to rise and triumph! Ok, PSA over...
Going into this review I wasn't expecting much. War, with presidents... "Daddy, I'm having so much fun!" greets me from the next room as my wife and son (6yrs old) are playing. But our test copy is just handwriting on blank playing cards, how can this be? Before I realize it, I am pulling facts from the internet to feed my son's (and wife's) eager questions and planning a trip to James Garfield's home (about five miles away). My son was having fun without even the pictures on the cards yet. He was having epic battles with old (often out of shape) men in high office roughing each other up and competing for power in his imagination. Then I got to thinking... envisioning Taft, in all of his size, wrestling with Theodore Roosevelt, Rat Terrier barking at the two of them. ("You wouldn't hit a man with glasses, would you?")... All the while "Hail to the Chief" plays in the background. I snickered to myself and sat down to play War for the first time in a long time.
President Wars is not a "gamer's game". It's not a heady, Euro-strategy and tactics game. This isn't a game for people who like to analyze their game and sit for hours musing over a board. This is a quick, very portable game that you can take on a car trip or play while waiting in a doctor's office, on a school bus, wherever. As a matter of fact, the first thing that came to my mind was that I wished my son's school had a few copies of this game. We live in the Northeastern part of Ohio and bad weather and indoor recess are frequent occurrences. I think this game would shine in that environment. It could also make for a very engaging way of working in a lesson for home schoolers.
For the price you could hardly buy a nice set of cards to play a basic game of war. This game offers a lot more though, with history and math. The best part is that it blends in these lessons in such a way that it never occurs to kids that it is anything more than just a game. From a gamer's perspective (and I play a great deal of the "heavy" stuff... I think the stage is set for possibly even more depth somewhere down the road. Why not add a bit of strategy to a basic game? Make a simple add on deck with one great event or accomplishment from each president's term that could be played strategically to enhance your odds and give you more control over the game play. This would be a great way of working-in additional facts, too. Roosevelt and the Rough Riders VS. Washington and the Continental Army... Epic! I would love to see some more stretch goals added to this already very enjoyable game.
In conclusion, don't buy this game if you are only happy with deep, strategic games. This is what I would classify as a light game for portability or play with family or between games. Just as SOS Titanic added another layer of depth to the tired, old game of Solitaire, this game adds more flavor and enjoyment to the game of War.
So, after reviewing this, we have pledged for two copies; one for us and one for our son's classroom.
I have played countless games of the basic War card game when I was little. I have taught my son how to play and, though he loves it (he's 6), I find it to be the game that never ends and isn't very enjoyable. We have never made it through an entire game of War. Although President Wars is similar in game play to the original War game, the addition of dice and HP makes the game so much more enjoyable! With basic War, you are just trading cards back and forth and it can drag on...and on...and on. Fortunately, with President Wars, this time is greatly reduced because the cards are often eliminated rather than traded. Plus...there are slight variations included in the rule book to make the game shorter, if you so choose.
I'm not big on the theme of presidents killing other presidents so...the way I think about it is...when a president is defeated they are KOed...or Kicked Out (of office). This makes it a much friendlier game to play (especially with kids!) because a game where Abraham Lincoln kills/assassinates George Washington is not one I want to play. But...the idea of say...Ronald Regan physically kicking Barack Obama out of office...is pretty funny.
I have now played this game against my husband and my 6 year old son and both games were full of excitement and laughter. I fully support this entertaining and educational game and look forward to playing it many times in the future in completed form with artwork and custom dice.
"I like when you kick a president out of their office like "hiya!" and they fly out of the office. And the other president locks him out of the office. My favorite part is rolling the Eagle and stealing the card. I get excited seeing who's the next president. I don't like my president getting kicked out of office."