Saturday, November 3, 2012

Election War Room 2012 Strategy Tips

My friend Chris released his game Election War Room 2012 on the apple store last week and I've been playing it quite a bit.  If you haven't played it yet - what's stopping you?  It's free between now and election day!

Here are a few strategy tips I've picked up along the way

You only need 15 million dollars to get through the last 2 rounds of the game as long as you're in a decent position.  The last 2 rounds see cards like Freelancer's Union and Occupy Wall Street.

Although it can be very attractive to get a total of 8 or 9 influence for a single action, simply campaigning with a full 5 million dollars in 2 states, 2 turns in a row, is often enough to lock down the key states to win.

Here's a good example of a game I had recently

I'm playing as Obama.  I'm barely winning in 4 states, but winning nonetheless.  My best play is to actually bid 5 in Florida and 5 in Pennsylvania or Washington.  Although it doesn't get me as much total influence, moving either of those states to blue will win me the game.

Don't bother doing anything to influence Florida in the first half of the game.  In the mid game the card "End Embargo" will show up.

  • If your opponent is significantly pushed in Florida, you can bid End Embargo and equalize it.
  • End Embargo is extremely hard for your opponent to stop.  If you win the bid, it happens.  If your opponent outbids you and wins, it still happens.  The only way to stop it is for both players to bid exactly the same amount.
  • If Florida is pushed in your opponent's favor then End Embargo becomes a mind game that's basically skewed way in your favor
    • If your opponent is new, just bid 1 and win it.
    • If your opponent has played a bit, bid 1 because they'll think "I don't want to equalize Florida" and they still won't win it
    • If your opponent is pro, then bid 2, since your opponent will know the only way to stop you is to tie your bid.  But this never happens because pros know that you don't touch Florida until after End Embargo has passed.
Opposition Research is super strong.  You want to win this.  It always shows up early in the game.

You're probably thinking "Seems too situational, why would I spend a lot to sometimes get +3?".  The reason is (again) Florida.  As we've already covered, End Embargo will show up in mid game.  On the same turn that End Embargo equalizes Florida, campaign there for 5 million.  You have now locked down Florida for the rest of the game and guaranteed yourself 30 votes.  Anytime your opponent tries to make a move on Florida, just bid 5 there again to keep it solidly on your side.

Making a bid costs you one of your two actions.  If a player makes a bid but loses, it still uses up their action.  Use this to your advantage!  Always ask yourself what your opponent's best move is.  Sometimes one of the best plays you can make is to win a card that is not necessarily great for you, but you're denying your opponent the free play.  A great example of this is Big Oil on turn 1.

Very often Republican players will bid 1 or 2 on this.  It's only worth 5 million, and ties go to the Republican, so generally you figure hey - free money right?  If I'm playing Obama I'll happily bid 3 or 4 on this.  Yes, it's an action to win 1 or 2 million dollars, which is normally terrible, but my opponent almost certainly bid on the card, so I'll also be negating their action.

Similarly, you want to think about what your opponent's best move is.  If your opponent has two moves that are clearly amazing for them then you can assume they are going to bid on both of those cards and you can pick up the third card for a 1 million dollar bid.

Sometimes, if one move is clearly amazing for my opponent and only mediocre for me, I'll go ahead and dive for an aggressive amount.  No, it's not great for me, but the deny is super valuable.  For example, consider Mainstream Media when I have 4 states and my opponent has 1, with 1 state tied.

That's worth a total of 10 influence for my opponent and only 4 for me.  I know my opponent is going to bid on the card.  If I am already in a winning position it is worth bidding a solid amount to negate my opponent's action and deny them the money.