Recently I was given the opportunity to play test an upcoming new game that will be available on Kickstarter very soon. I received a prototype of the game with everything needed to play. These are my thoughts and opinions on the presented materials. Enjoy!
Super PACS is a game by Brandon Patton and André Pereira, published by Tabletip Games and Merlin Pool Games. It is for 2-4 players. In this game, players take on the role of one of the up and coming leaders in the United States of Humerica. They will be buying investments and adding factions to their coalition to win elections. The player that can gain the most power by the end of the game will be declared the winner.
To begin, the game board should be placed in the middle of the play area. The faction cards are shuffled. Five cards are dealt out to each player. The remaining cards are placed face down on the board. Each player is also given 2 megabucks. The remaining cards are placed face up on the board. The House of Rep, Senate and White House cards are removed from the event deck. The cards are then shuffled. The event deck is then formed and placed on the board by placing the White House card sideways on the bottom face down followed by 2 random event cards. The Senate card is then placed on top of them sideways, followed by 2 more random event cards. The House of Representatives is placed sideways on top with 3 more random event cards placed on top to finish off the deck. The random event cards are all placed in a normal orientation while the 3 special event cards are turned sideways. The investment cards are shuffled and placed face down on the board. The top 4 cards are flipped over and placed on the 4 investment spots on the board. Leader cards are shuffled together. A random leader is dealt face up to each player. These are placed in front of the player forming their play area. The buttons are placed face up beside the board. The first player is chosen and play now begins.
The game is played over 10 rounds. On a player’s turn, they are allowed up to 2 actions. First they must choose an initial action. Those actions are to campaign or to embezzle. To campaign, a player simply follows the instructions beneath the word Campaign on their leader card. This usually allows a player to draw faction cards. To embezzle, the player simply takes 2 megabucks from the supply.
Once the initial action has been performed, they may choose a main action. The main actions that are available are to exploit, sneak and fundraise. To exploit, the player will add a faction card with the exploit icon to their coalition and follow the instructions at the bottom of the card. The player’s coalition is formed by placing like colored cards face up in a column beside the player’s leader card. To sneak, a player is allowed to place up to two faction cards face down above their coalition in their sneaked card zone. These cards are flipped face up at the end of the round, before the event, and added to the player’s coalition, ignoring the text on the card. To fundraise, the player adds up the wealth from all of the faction cards in their coalition. They are then able to take that much money from the supply.
There are a couple of other things that should be explained; surprises, superpowers and investments. Surprises do not require an action to use and may be played during another player’s turn. To perform the surprise, the player simply discards it from their hand and executes the text beside the surprise icon. If the card has an exploit icon, it is not performed. Likewise, cards that have been exploited may not use the surprise icon’s text. Superpowers are special leader abilities that may be performed once per round either during the player’s turn or when the card states that it may be played. To use this ability the player must pay the cost beside the action in megabucks and then they follow the text of that ability. Investments may be bought by a player at any time during their turn. To buy one of these cards, the player simply pays the cost to the treasury and then they are able to collect the card and any benefits that it provides. The card is then placed underneath the player’s leader card. If the player chooses not to perform a main action, they may pass.
Once each player has had a chance to perform their 2 actions, the end of round events and elections take place. First off, players reveal any face down sneaked cards and add them to their coalition. After this is done, an event card if revealed. Players must then follow the instructions at the bottom of the event card. Once the card’s effect has been resolved, it is placed in the events revealed discard pile. After the 4th, 7th and final rounds, an election card is revealed instead of a random event card. Those 3 elections are the House of Rep, Senate and White House. When these special election events are revealed an election occurs. Players must count up the votes in their coalition and announce the total. Once this is done, starting with the first player, each player may either discard a surprise card to affect the vote totals, use a superpower to affect the vote totals or pass. This continues until all players have passed. The player with the most afterwards wins the election and adds the event card to their coalition. Once the White House election has been completed, the game ends. Players then add up the power from all their factions and investments. The player with the most power is the winner.
With this being a prototype copy, I won’t go into great detail about the quality of the components. Let’s just say that there are quite a few cards included with this game. There are leader cards, faction cards, event cards, investment cards and reference cards, as well as cards for money. That’s right, I said money cards. No paper money here folks. Each card has some really silly and fun looking artwork that pokes fun and every facet of our country from the past several years including the up coming elections. While not directly naming any one individual by name, if you’re familiar with current events you will know who each leader card refers to. The main board, while currently only in paper form, looks nice and is very organized with a place for everything. The buttons look like something from a political campaign and are used at various times during the game, including the one that is used as a first player token. I’m sure once both the board and tokens reach production level, they will be made of much better quality materials and be even better. In any event, the game seems to be on the right track with everything well thought out. This should end up being a very nice looking game.
The rules that I received for this game were also in prototype form. Things were a little rough around the edges and seemed to be mildly haphazard. It does seem to take a bit to understand exactly what the designer was going for here. I will say that at least they look good. There are plenty of pictures and examples throughout the rules. The design is quite nice. I just hope that once everything is polished and completed, that we end up with something much more streamlined and understandable. For now, I’ll reserve my judgement.
This game is quite easy and fun to play. At it’s heart it is a game of set collection with a humoristic take that approach. Add in a touch of variable player power with some hand management and voting thrown in for good measure and you’ll get this game. I really like the humor that the game plays around with. I find that this game really plays to those people that keep up with the headlines of today. I enjoy all the various abilities and powers that the different cards possess. I find that each leader plays a bit different providing for a mild varitey in game play. Playing this game makes me think a lot about games like Bohnanza. However the humor in this one, might not be for everyone. There are a few cards that lean a bit towards the racy side. Nothing that older players should have a problem with but I don’t think this is one that you would want to play with the younger kids. There’s not a ton of strategy to the game but it does have a lot of player interaction. Everything from the events and elections to the exploit abilities and super powers. For me, this is what really makes the game. I really like that this isn’t just one of those games where each player is waiting for the others to finish their turn so that they can do something. Surprise cards will keep every one on their toes. The game is fairly light and isn’t going to appeal to everyone. For me though, I find it to be very entertaining and full of fun.
8 out of 10
Super PACS is a light weight set collection game of political satire with a take that feel . The artwork is very humorous and fun. However, some people may be turned off with some of the cards, especially those players without a sense of humor. The game is fairly simple and is quite easy to learn. It plays in about 45 minutes or so, depending mostly on the number of players. With 12 playable leaders and plenty of faction, event and investment cards, this game is highly replayable. Fans of games like Bohnanza or other games of set collection may find this one enjoyable as well. As I’ve stated earlier, this might not be the most appropriate game for the younger kids but should amuse most everyone else. I look forward to seeing the completed product and hope that the game continues to impress. I enjoyed the game and would recommend giving this one a try. It would be well worth backing on Kickstarter or picking up a retail copy when it becomes available.
8 out of 10
For more information about this game, please check out Tabletip Games at their site.
You can back this game right now by following the Kickstarter link below.