The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Campaign Manager Initial Thoughts

Campaign Manager 2008, Leonhard and Matthews latest mind virus, spent the last day quietly chittering into my ear. With rules so simple they border on the abstract, the game presents you with nothing but choices. After my first two games I felt a warm glow, drafting always torments me. But I had my suspicions, the same dark thoughts that led me to eventually give up on Twilight Struggle. We played Fairy Tale. “Ah, it’s just the drafting,” I thought.

Later last night, a third game of CM-2008, and the decision space exploded.
My efficiency draft (which had handily won my first two games) went up against a key-demographic laden Obama that threatened to sweep any
of the four active states (several in double-digit electoral votes). Media control, ignored for two games, was hotly contested and probably decided the game.  Several “Back and forth” card plays revealed some interesting effects.

And now the game sits perched on my shoulder, unseen by others, tossing random thoughts:

  • What’s the relative value of an action, and how do you rate gaining support versus position shifting, versus card draws, versus key demographics.
  • How many “Bombs” does your deck need ?
  • You can have no key demographics, can you get away with having 4 in your deck? Five?
  • Should a deck present a credible threat in your opponents platform? (Defense for McCain, Economy for Obama)?
  • How can you induce your opponent to waste turns?
  • If your opponent doesn’t deal with key demographics, can you go negative more or less often?

Apart from tactical thoughts, I want to go through the deck and look at the jokes and easter eggs. And talk to the little man whispering about swing states. In short, I find Campaign Manager compelling. There’s plenty of luck, at least as much as Twilight Struggle, but the game takes 40 minutes and often less. It’s not flawless, but it’s elegant.

More later.

Written by taogaming

February 2, 2010 at 6:04 pm

Posted in Reviews

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  1. I think the constituency cards are a lot more useful than what I made of them due to dubious tactical play on my part. Note that the constituencies vary widely — some of them come up in a lot of states, some in few. It’s possible that they’re balanced in some complicated fashion but it did not appear so.

    One thing I was thinking about is manipulating the introduction of new states. It seems really crucial to control the media when you bring out a big new state. So, if you don’t control the media, and if you have to close out a state, then bring out the smallest state possible, or one that is more or less a lock for one player or another. Also, don’t bother closing out small states when you don’t have media control; you may lose ground on a bigger, more important state due to the random event.

    If you’re McCain, you may want to draft either 2x media control or the retrieve-from-sideboard card, because otherwise Obama can nuke the media control card. That may or may not be more effective than nuking the dig-out-from-muck card. I’d have to look at ZNN and think about it.

    Fred Bush

    February 4, 2010 at 8:30 am

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