Overview:  Campaign Manager places two players into the roles of Obama and McCain in the 2008 Presidential Race in an attempt to win key Battleground States to become President of the United States. 

Gameplay:  Play consists of two phases:  the drafting phase and the gameplay phase. 

 During the drafting phase, each player constructs her “Playbook Deck” from a pack of 45 player-specific (Obama or McCain) cards by drawing three cards at a time, choosing one, and discarding the rest.  Once all 45 cards have been gone through, each player will have a 15 card Playbook Deck that will be used in the game.  The remaining cards are removed from the game. 

Gameplay consists of playing cards to gain voters in one of four active Battleground States.  Battleground States have five components:  Majority Issue indicator on the left, Key Demographics on the right, Defense Voters on the top, Economy Voters on the bottom, and how many votes the state is worth.  Red circles are voters for McCain, Blue circles are voters for Obama, and White circles are undecided voters.  Here’s an example of what a Battleground State looks like:

New Mexico is worth 5 votes

During a player’s turn, she has the following options: 

  • Draw a card from your Playbook Deck.
  • Play a card from your Playbook Deck.  Cards can do the following:  Swaying voters, altering Key Demographics, changing the Majority Issue in a state, additional card draw, or other things.

When a player has all of the voters in a state favoring her on the Majority Issue in a state, she immediately claims the votes for the state on the Score Chart and a new State is drawn along with a News Event that affects the state as it comes into play.  When one player scores 270 or more votes (both players start at about 170), she has won the election and the game. 

Verdict:  Campaign Manager is an excellent two player game that plays in about 30 minutes.  The challenge of building the deck you play with is a fun touch, with the option to “Go Negative” and run attack ads against your opponent for powerful in-game effects at the cost of potentially giving voters up. 

Gameplay itself is also engaging; there are interesting choices almost every turn with deciding when to sede an area to your opponent or to attack and try to win a state.  Learning how to properly construct your deck is crucial, as too much card draw or other wonky effects may throw off the focus of the deck while too little of such things can make for a slow or ill-prepared Playbook. 

If you’re in the market for a shorter two player game to fill the time between heavier titles, Campaign Manager 2008 fits the bill nicely. 


The table is yours,