Do you like twists on classic card games that have a little education tied in with them?
|Presidential Rummy (2020)
Josh Horowitz, The Game Crafter
Before we get into the review, I won't be discussing any of the politics outside of the premise of the game; I will be focused on the game components and the mechanics of the game since any theme could be applied to the game. I enjoy rummy style games so I was interested in checking this game out, but I realize politics is a touchy subject for some. So this may or may not be a game for you if the theme is an issue. Now to the game.
Presidential Rummy is a twist on rummy that adds a little political flair by presenting players with parody versions of US Presidents along with some of their traits (though I can't confirm the correctness of the traits, which would be a job for Amanda). The game is very straight forward to play and focuses on goals cards rather than letting the players simply create whatever sets they want from the cards in their hand as in classical rummy.
Box and Components
The game comes in a standard card box. The graphics on the box are very clean, and it is clear the game is a parody based on the back of the box. I like the way the top of the card box folds down because I didn't have to fight with it or risk ripping the box; this has been an issue for me with many games. The overall presentation of the game is solid. The components within the box include:
- 45 Goal Cards: 41 Goal Cards with specific requirements to claim it, and 4 Drain the Swamp cards that provide a special ability to the player who flips it over. The characteristics on the Goal Cards include:
- Point Value represents the number of points awarded to the person who collects and keeps this Goal Card.
- Coalition Type represents the breakdown of Political Parties that must be represented by the Presidents in the set to receive this card. This is represented by the text for Partisan, Bi-Partisan, and Tri-Partisan as well as the boxes at the box of the card with A, B, and C.
- Attributes are broken into 10 types representing a fact about that President; on the goal card, it is a special requirement the presidents in that set much fulfill.
- Drunk: Had drinking problems
- Less-Educated: Never went to college
- Lawyer: Practiced law
- Younger: Under 55 when elected
- Older: Over 55 when elected
- Military: Had military experience
- Popular: Had high approval ratings
- Unpopular: Had low approval ratings
- 1X: Served a single term of 4 years or less
- 2X: Served more than 4 years or 2+ terms
- 50 President Cards: 46 cards containing Presidents and 4 Wilds that be used for any of the goal's attributes. The characteristics on the President Cards include:
- Chronological Number represents which order they were elected. Some goal cards require you to turn in a set of cards that are in sequential order, such as 34, 35, 36.
- Political Party is represented by the background color of the cards; you can think of this as the card's suit. Each Goal Card tells you what type of Coalition is needed to fulfill the goal as mentioned above. So if a Goal Card has three A's on the bottom; it needs three cards of matching political party (Partisan) along with meeting the needed attribute, if listed.
- Attribute represents characteristics about that President that will be needed to fulfill most Goal Cards; the attributes are listed above.
Rather than using standard sized card, they are using US mini-cards, which are slightly smaller than mini Euro-style cards that can be found in older Ticket to Ride games. The cards are pretty sturdy thanks to their smaller size, and they also feel reasonably thick and should hold up very well. The one downside to using the smaller cards is they don't stay in place in the box; if there was a small cardboard divider that would slide into the box, it would probably keep the cards from shuffling around as much.
The game is pretty straight forward. You will have a hand of president cards, and you will be turning in those cards to collect Goal Cards for points. The first player to earn 100 or more points worth of Goal Cards wins!
- Shuffle the President Cards and each player will select one blindly; whoever has received the lowest number will be the first player.
- Reshuffle the President Cards and deal three cards to each player. Place the remaining cards in reach of all players.
- Shuffle the Goal Cards and flip one over for everyone to see.
You are ready to begin.
- The active player will decide if they can fulfill the top Goal Card to form a set.
- If they can, they will take that Goal Card and lay down the necessary President Cards with it. The Goal Card and three President Cards should remain together and face up. Jump to step 2.
- If they cannot, flip over a new Goal Card and decide if they can form a set for that Goal Card and follow the instructions directly above for collecting the Goal Card.
- If the Goal Card flipped is the Drain the Swamp card, that player will select one opponent to lose one set of cards and the associated Goal Card, if there are any currently played. Those lost cards are removed from the current game.
- Were they able to form a set this turn?
- If they were, they will replenish their hand to three President Cards. They do not discard down if they somehow have more than three cards in their hand after completing a set.
- If they weren't, they will draw a President Card allowing them to exceed the typical three cards, which may help on future turns in forming a set.
Play continues to the next player. This repeats until someone has reached 100+ points with their collected Goal Cards or one of the decks runs out.
- Match the required Coalition type; this will not have an Attribute icon on it.
- Essentially, you will need President Cards of the required breakdown whether that is all matching for Partisan, two different parties with Bi-Partisan, or three different parties with Tri-Partisan.
- Match the required Coalition type AND share an Attribute with the goal. Similar to the version above except the Presidents must also have the listed Attribute as well such as drunk, older, popular, etc.
- Are in Sequential order for certain Chronological Goal Cards. This are worth more since they are much more difficult to do.
- These will require you to place presidents in a sequential order based on their Chronological Number such as 1, 2, 3 or 34, 35, 36.
If you have the necessary cards to fulfill the Goal's requirements, you will put the Goal Card in front of you and place the three President Cards along with it; be sure not to mix them up with other sets because you may lose a set of cards if the Drain the Swamp is played against you.
There are Wild President Cards that can match any Attribute, Coalition, and Number needed for a Goal Card.
Additionally, as the game progresses, you may find you need cards that you have placed within other sets; if you have a card in your hand that fulfills the criteria of a Goal Card, you may swap a non-Wild card from that set with the card in your hand. This action could allow you to get the right cards in your hand to be able to form a new set; you can do this swap at anytime during your turn.
As an example, let's say you have a collected set that required the Older attributes and a Tri-Partisan Coalition. You have three different political parties represented within the set of cards with that Goal each with the Older attribute, but you really need the 1 Term from your Yellow Card. You happen to have a similar Yellow Card in your hand that also has the Older Attribute. You can swap that card in your hand for the Yellow card on that goal since it still fulfills that goal's requirement. Now you can use that card you reclaimed in a new set (if you haven't already played a set this turn).
Once a player has 100+ points worth of Goal Cards, they immediately win the game!
If this condition does not occur before either deck runs out of cards, then the player who flipped/took the last card finishes their turn, and the game ends. Whoever has the most points wins. Ties are determined in this order based on who has the most: Chronological Order Goals -> Tri-Partisan -> Partisan -> Bi-Partisan -> play again!
The game includes three variant rules I will touch on, but won't go into great detail on.
This variant adds in a new player option when they are unable to form a set based on the top Goal Card at the beginning of their turn. They may ask another player for a specific card instead of flipping over a new Goal Card. If they receive the requested card, they can form a set if they now have the correct cards.
Instead of showing just one Goal Card, there will be six Goal Cards. The Drain the Swamp and Wild cards will act differently in this variant clearing away the current Goal Cards. This is my preferred way of playing the game because I tend to like having options.
This adds a time element forcing players to play their turns in 60 seconds or be forced to pass. Those who are able to complete their turn in the time limit will be able to draw an additional President Card this turn. So instead of penalizing slower players, you are rewarding those who keep the game moving.
This mode is played by yourself, and you are playing with the normal rules. You are ranked based on how many turns it takes to get to 100 points; the quicker the better your rank.
The overall presentation of the game is very good with everything feeling and looking polished. Obviously, the theme may be a deal breaker for some people, but I imagine the game could easily be re-skinned (and maybe it is already) while retaining the mechanics. The game is pretty simple to learn with the exception of a few minor things during the initial playthrough with the rules. Once you get a few rounds in, the game is very simple to play. I do like that they included additional rules for playing the game as it offers a little more replayability.
Amanda was looking forward to reviewing this game since she like historical themes, but she wasn't able to due her new job. We will do a video playthrough at some point allowing her the opportunity to provide her thoughts about the game and some of the Attributes applied to the presidents. If you like rummy style card games (which I very much do enjoy) and don't mind a political theme, be sure to check out Presidential Rummy from the links provided below.
We received the product in order to write an honest review; all reviews reflect the honest opinions of the writer.