Too many words — Deck Breakdowns
Each candidate has a 45 card deck. Basically symmetrical, with the exception that McCain is “strong” in defense and “weak” in economy, and Obama is reversed, and there are 3 special cards in each deck. Since this is a drafting game, examining strategy means knowing the decks. So, here’s the deck, along with my thoughts on it.
Just a note, whenever I say “Gain support” or “shift towards a position” it means towards the relevant position (“Strong” or “Weak” meaning “Economy” or “Defense” as appropriate). Minority and Majority mean the same as in the game.
3 Attack cards (Two “strong”, one “weak”) — Discard two cards from you hand, gain 2 support. And suffer “Going negative” penalty at the end of the turn.
5 Advertising cards (2 strong, 1 weak, 1 minority, 1 majority) — Gain one support and shift the state one position.
1 Advertising Attack — Gain 1 support in both defense and economy, suffer going negative penalty. (Note — this doesn’t cost two cards. I originally skimmed it and thought it did!)
6 Campaigning (4 strong, 2 weak) — Gain 1 support, draw a card.
2 Message Discipline cards — Discard N cards. Gain 1 support/shift 1 position in a different state for each card discarded. (1 “Support” card, 1 “shift” card)
2 Get out the vote cards — Shift a key demographic, draw a card.
2 Fundraising cards — one “Draw three cards”, one “Draw two cards, play one immeadiately”
2 Interview cards — Shift a state 1 space, then draw a card.
2 Issue control — Shift a state 2 spaces towards it’s minority position.
2 Microtargeting — Shift a state 1 space and alter the key demographic.
3 Speechs (2 Strong, 1 Weak) — Gain 1 support and alter the key demographic.
2 Media Support: Bias — Control which state is affected by breaking news. (Only the last media support card remains in play).
1 Media Support: Special — McCain’s special (“Don’t blame me”) allows McCain to not suffer a penalty for going negative. Obama’s special (“Running a clean campaign”) makes either candidate roll twice when they go negative.
10 Demographic Support cards — These are the same 10 groups in both decks. (“Gain the support of undecided voters in states where the appropriate demographic are the key voters”).
“Stay the Course” — Discard a card from your hand, go through your discard pile and add it to your hand.
“The Game-Changer” — Discard a card from your hand, then go through your undrafted cards and add it to your hand. Remove The Game-Changer from the play.
“No More Politics as Usual” — Remove this card from play, along with the last card played by the McCain Player.
“The Audacity of Hope — Discard any number of cards from your hand, then draw the same number of new cards, playing one immediately (and adding the rest to your hand).
- The attack cards — This costs you 3 cards (but only four actions total, 3 draws, one play) to gain two support. Gaining four support in other times requires 4 actions as well (two draws, two plays), although campaigning cuts that down. You also suffer negativity, but if that tempo and penalty swings a state, it’s worth it. The advertising attack (gain one Def + one economy without discarding) is a huge tempo swing … push your advantage and keep your opponent from closing out their side. Of course, the die roll may undo your support.
- Media Bias — Not drafting at least one is a mistake. Controlling the breaking news is a big deal, and often worth several support and positions over the course of the game. If your opponent doesn’t fight you on this, you’ve spent two actions wisely. Each campaign’s “special” media card helps fight this, and obviously biases your attack card values.
- The minority advertising card is huge. If your opponent has a state near victory, you shift it once (presumably to your side of the issue, slap down the last support, and win the state.
- Drafting your “weak” issue is interesting, I’d probably pass the advertising card (because odds are you are going to be playing that as a delaying tactic, and you don’t want the state to go firmly towards your opponents issue), but the campaigning cards? Sure. The advertising attack, as mentioned above, is tempo.
- The campaigning cards only get you support, but provide a card draw. Very efficient, but sometimes you need the tempo of attacking support, demographics, and position shift. That’s what they cost.
- Issue control — Shifting two spaces means you can flip any state, and if it was borderline, you are now immune to your opponents minority advertising card winning the state outright on the next play. Worth getting one.
- Demographic support — I was originally quite sour on these, but I’m seeing a few points. If you’ve got a few ‘weak’ support cards drafted, these combine well with them (since they flip both sides). They work well with attack cards or message discipline (or Audacity of Hope), since you’ll use them to fuel discards sometimes. They don’t work well with Oprah/The Governator (“Draw 2, play 1”) since the odds of drawing them at just the right time are weak. In fact, the personality fundraising cards (Oprahrnold) also hate the discard to activate cards…But the real issue is that a demographic support card is usually pretty easy to use. If you start with the card in hand, start with that state. When you win a state, check your support. (If you see your opponent just discarded his demographic, get that state into play now!) These cards are actually much more effecient than some of the others, bu there are limited returns. Haven’t analyzed the combo/state breakdowns, which is geeky even for me.
- A final (big) point on demographics is that you can take all the ‘decided’ spots, then hit the key demographic for the win. If you play them first, you don’t really cost your opponent time, since they’d have to convert the undecided anway. So use them for pressure (threaten a big state or multiple states) or to sweep.
- Microtargeting will depend on demographics, but I think these will become draftable (even as some demographic denial).
- Speeches — probably my least favorite gain of support, because altering the key demographic is mandatory, not optional. But we’ll see if I like these more when I start drafting more demographics.
- The “Draw 3” fundraising card one of the most important cards. I just had a game where I got to 8 cards (via fundraiser), then got to draw a few cards via my opponent going negative, which gave me the fundraiser. I played it, leaving it as the only card in the discard. Then a “Support + 1 card” gives it to me, I play 3 huge cards, then sweep them back into my deck. Repeat. It’s tough to get this going to such a perfect level, but even with only a few cards in the discard pile this is a brutal tactic.
- McCain’s advantages — he can recycle one card fairly often, which gives him a media support edge (in a game where both players drafted one) or a fundraising advantage. The ability to ‘sideboard’ a card protects against an unlucky draft, or he could hold off until he spots a weakness and pounce on it. Finally, his media special relies only on his deck (negating his negativity). Obama’s media card penalizes both players for negativity, so if McCain happens to not go negative, it’s really just a ‘cancel media bias’ card.
- Obama gets cardflow (with Audacity of Hope) and the ability to remove a key card (No more politics as usual). The latter can be used to remove McCain’s fundraising or media support, those are probably great uses. If Obama gets both cards and his fundraisers he’d be in a good position to grab most of his deck into his hand for the majority of the game.