Reviewed by Herb Levy
(Robot Martini Games, 3-4 players, about 20 minutes; $5.99)
With 2008 being an election year in the United States, it is only natural that games with an election as a focal point would appear in the marketplace. And so it is with, Ballot Bots, a reworked version of a three player game called Treeo, published by Robot Martini Games (www.robotmartini.com) where winning an election is the means for a clever game of set collection.
Ballot Bots, by Mike Petty and Stephen Glenn, comes in a ziplock bag to hold the deck of 49 cards consisting of 4 Campaign cards, 4 Position cards, a Spotlight card (denoting the “first player), 36 Voter cards and 4 Specials. The object of the game, as you might suspect, is to gather the most votes and win over various interest groups. The method to this madness centers on the Campaign and Position cards and the play of your own set of Voter cards.
The four Campaign cards, each with their own ability, head four columns. The Campaign cards offer benefits to the player who plays the “right” card and consist of Fundraiser (allows you to take the top card in the discard pile and add it to your score pile), Advertise (take the public card and place it in your score pile), Speech (take the Spotlight card and take the Spotlight player’s card into your score pile) and Debate (claim a played card and put any remaining cards face down on the discard pile in any order). Position cards are placed adjacent to these Campaign cards. Position cards determine if the highest, 2nd highest, 3rd highest or lowest played card wins the Campaign perk for a player.
Voter cards consist of six sets (of six cards each) grouped into six “interest groups”, specifically Liberal, Conservative, Minority, Wealthy, Impoverished and Undecided. In addition to its affiliation, each of these cards have an “Influence Value” (ranging from 3 to 38, on the left) and a “Vote Value” (ranging from 0 votes for the Undecided up to 8 for the Conservative, on the right). The four Special Cards have no affiliations but they have extreme Influence values (influence of 1, 2, 39 and 40) and a mild Voter Value of 2 votes each.
The Voter and Special cards are shuffled together and each player receives a hand of 8 cards (10 when three are playing). One of the remaining cards is placed face down to start a discard pile with the rest laid out in a row, the last card in the row called the “Public card”. The Spotlight card is given to a player and he can now arrange the Position cards to determine which relative value of card played will win the Campaign perk for the turn. He then plays a card from his hand FACE UP. Each of the other players now choose and simultaneously reveal a card from his hand. Players then claim cards based on the relative Influence values of the cards played.
The process is repeated for seven rounds (nine rounds with three players). After the final round, votes are tallied.
Player receive the number of votes depicted on the cards. In addition, players receive an additional 10 votes for every set of three cards (or more) they have collected from any of the interest groups. (Special cards do not give out bonuses.) Finally, to compensate for the 0 votes of the Undecided group, a player who has managed to collect three or more of those cards gets a 25 vote bonus. The player with the highest total of votes wins! (Tie? The player who has collected the highest valued Influence card gets the edge.)
There is room for a bit of planning to go along with the guessing and second-guessing as you try to determine which way to best spend your resources. By burying a card at the beginning, Ballot Bots successfully frustrates the card counters among us from breaking the game. The card artwork by Gavin Schmitt & David Lovejoy is stylized and fun with colors being easy to distinguish, of particular importance when you’re trying to collect color-coded sets, and numbers easy to read. Everything fits into a small ziplock bag which accounts for the small price. And, speaking of small, the cards are smaller than normal (roughly 3″ x 2″) and the card stock adequate but I wouldn’t object to “normal-sized” cards and sturdier stock in a second edition. All things considered, Ballot Bots serves as a pleasant filler and a prime example of good things coming in small packages. – – – – – – – – – Herb Levy
Winter 2008 GA Report Articles
reviewed by Herb Levy
(Z-Man Games, 2 players, ages 12 and up, 90 minutes; $49.99) With 2008 being a presidential election year, it is only natural that the marketplace will find itself swell with games seeking to simulate the event. But rather than looking at the upcoming election, 1960: The Making of the President looks back to one of the closest elections of the last ...Read More
Reviewed by Joe Huber
(Lookout Games, 1-5 players, ages 12 to adult, 30 to 2 1/2 hours; about $70) The ranking system on BoardGameGeek is fairly good at keeping new games from rising too quickly in the ratings – unless a game is a runaway hit. In 2005, Caylus (Winter 2006 GA REPORT) rose to the top ten in short order. In 2006, it was ...Read More
reviewed by Herb Levy (Ystari Games, 2-4 players, ages 12 and up, 60-120 minutes; $55) Despite being a relatively new company, Ystari Games has, to its credit, released a remarkable series of very strong games. Ys (Winter 2005 GA REPORT), Caylus (Winter 2006 GA REPORT), Mykerinos (Summer 2006 GA REPORT), Yspahan (Winter 2007 GA REPORT) and Caylus: Magna Carta (Fall 2007 GA REPORT) read like ...Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy
(Robot Martini Games, 3-4 players, about 20 minutes; $5.99) With 2008 being an election year in the United States, it is only natural that games with an election as a focal point would appear in the marketplace. And so it is with, Ballot Bots, a reworked version of a three player game called Treeo, published by Robot Martini Games (www.robotmartini.com) where ...Read More
Reviewed by Chris Kovac
(Red Juggernaut Games, 2-4 players, ages 8 and up, 60-90; $49.99) Battue is a very thematic area conquest boardgame designed by Jim Long where you get to play competing barbarian hordes overrunning and looting a Roman city. The barbarian with the most loot (a combination of loot cards and controlling the high value building tiles) at the end of the game ...Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy
(Eggertspiele/Rio Grande Games, 2-5 players, ages 12 and up, 75-120 minutes; $59.95) Suppose Puerto Rico (Spring 2002 GA REPORT) and San Juan (Spring 2004 GA REPORT) had a child. What do you suppose it would look like? Well, if the child was delivered by the design team of Michael Rieneck and Stefan Stadler, the same team who gave us Pillars of ...Read More
THE STRENGTH TO LEAD If you want to get sort of philosophical, it seems as though you can divide people into two basic groups: leaders and followers. Some people like to "go with the flow", following a trail already blazed, having full confidence that the direction to be taken is safe, secure and true. On the other hand, some people like to make the decisions, ...Read More
(Z-Man Games, 2-5 players, ages 10 and up, 60-120 minutes; $55) One of the great games that has flown under the radar in recent years is Tycoon, a candidate for the Spiel des Jahres that received feature treatment from us nearly 10 years ago in the Summer 1998 GA REPORT (and reprinted in this issue). This brilliant game by the design team of Wolfgang Kramer ...Read More
(With the release of El Capitan, a revised edition of Tycoon featured in this issue - we thought it would be interesting to see the reception Tycoon received when it made its debut. So, we've "flashbacked" to Kban's review of the game from the Summer 1998 issue of GA REPORT.)
(Jumbo International, out of print) As designed by Wolfgang Kramer and Horst-Rainer Rösner, Tycoon is ...Read More
Reviewed by Jeff Feuer
(R&D Games/Abacus Spiele/Rio Grande Games, 2-4 players, ages 8 and up, 60-90 minutes; $49.99) One of the things we love about Euro Games are those tiny little side rules and exceptions that go along with the basic rules. Some games are like Puerto Rico (Spring 2002 GA REPORT) and all the players need to know every last one of the rules ...Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy LEAGUE OF SIX (Czech Games Edition, 3-5 players, ages 12 and up, 60-90 minutes; about $50) The title sounds like a band of superheroes out to right the wrongs of villainous criminals. It's not. The title actually refers to six towns of the Holy Roman Empire that, in 1430 AD, joined together to preserve their commercial interests and protect their security ...Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy (MOD Games/JKLM Games, 2 players, ages 12 and up, 45 minutes; $39.99) The time is England in the 5th century with Saxons and Celts clashing for control. In Macht & Ohnmacht (Power & Weakness), the struggle within the struggle is critical as not only knights but magicians too, operating in cycles, will determine which side will win. Macht & Ohnmacht (Power ...Read More
Reviewed by Al Newman
(Adlung-Spiele, 3-5 players, ages 10 and up, 45-60 minutes; about $10) Adlung-Spiele makes nothing but inexpensive card games but over the last few years, several have emerged as genuine gems. Verrater (Winter 1999 GA REPORT) and Meuterer (2000), both designed by Marcel-André Casasola Merkle, have become revered as classics and are highly rated at Boardgamegeek.com. Quite a few others have turned ...Read More
[We welcome first time contribute Andrea "Liga" Ligabue, a well known gamer from Italy with a varied background, broad interests and a keen insight in gaming. As he says: "I was born in Modena in 1972 and since my childhood I really enjoyed playing and inventing games. My real "debut in society" was when I was 16 years old and I entered for the first ...
Reviewed by Herb Levy
(Days of Wonder, 2-3 players, ages 8 and up, 30-60 minutes; $25) One of the most popular games in recent history has come from the talents of Alan Moon: Ticket to Ride (featured in the Spring 2004 GAMERS ALLIANCE REPORT). Not only has the game won many honors, it has also spawned a series of sequels in its wake including Ticket ...Read More