Regina Glocker, Hank Stampfl and Russ and Christopher Patrick leaned around a white-cloth-covered table at the American Hotel in Sag Harbor on Saturday night, staring intently at the board game in front of them.
“Hmm, who’s winning now?” Russ Patrick mused, casually shaking a pair of blue dice in his cupped palm. “She is,” he nodded his head to the left at Ms. Glocker, who stifled a laugh.
And then in a mock whisper to his son and teammate, Christopher, just loud enough for his opponents to hear, he added, “That’s because she invented the game.”
”Oh, just roll,” Ms. Glocker joked.
The name of the game is The Presidential. It is played on a map of America, each state numbered with its respective share of the electoral college votes, a total of 538.
Two teams—Democrats versus Republicans—face off in a fight for control of the White House as they battle with dice, chips and cards to guarantee a minimum 270 electoral votes needed to secure the presidency—the same number required during an actual election.
”This whole idea started in 2008,” Ms. Glocker recalled during an interview at the hotel before hosting a game fundraiser there. “The original thought was that the world was very depressed, Monopoly was made during the Depression, so it’s time to invent a board game. And, believe me, I love board games.”
She scoured the market and talked to everyone she came across about the games they liked. After months of research, Ms. Glocker soon realized that in a world obsessed with the presidency and politics, there wasn’t a single game about the subject matter.
The rules for The Presidential are simple. On a team’s turn, the players have the choice to either campaign or fundraise.
To campaign, the team announces three states and then rolls three dice. The team decides which die corresponds to each state and puts that number of votes, represented by blue chips for Democrats or red chips for Republicans, on the map.
A team can fundraise in the four “money” states—California, New York, Florida and Texas. The players select one state and roll two dice. At least half of the total votes must stay in the fundraising state, and the rest can be applied anywhere else. Then the team draws a Politics Card and follows the instructions, which can either help or, in some cases, hinder.
”You were spotted wearing a Red Sox hat while prepping for a debate,” one card reads. “Your opponent adds three votes to New York.” Another says, “You drive American cars only while your opponent owns several foreign cars. Win four votes in Michigan.”
Strategy quickly comes into play. A team can snatch up a state controlled by its opponent by rolling a number higher than the number of chips already in the state. Moves like this with the big fundraiser states can make or break a game.
Over breakfast at the American Hotel in November, Ms. Glocker pitched her idea to friend and designer Russ Patrick, who lives in Sag Harbor and, with his son, runs Solution: Design + Marketing Communications in the village.
The father-and-son team jumped on board without any hesitation, they said, and agreed to design the game and all of the fixings that go along with it.
”At first I thought, ‘It’s an election year, it’s timely. This should work out just great,’” Russ Patrick said. “But then I realized, you can play this game anytime. This is really a timeless concept, as long as there’s an electoral college and a president of the United States.”
In January, the trio crossed paths with Manhattan-based social media guru Hank Stampfl, who really helped get the gears in motion, Ms. Glocker said. He introduced the team to promotion via Facebook, Twitter and, perhaps most important, Kickstarter, a website used to raise money for creative projects.
But there’s a catch. Every Kickstarter project must be fully funded before its time expires or no money changes hands. At press time, 159 backers had pledged $31,144 of the $35,000 goal. The Presidential’s deadline is Monday, March 12.
If the board game does not raise $35,000, all of the pre-orders will be canceled. Ms. Glocker will not owe the pledges anything, she said. Regardless, she still plans to produce at least 5,000 board games, and if successful on Kickstarter, she may up that number substantially, she said.
”It’s crunch week,” Mr. Stampfl said. “One week to inspire the world. It would be hilarious to see it in the White House. That’s when we seal the deal.”
In a digital age, the board game industry may seem like an uphill battle at first glance. But the Patricks assure that it’s not.
“A lot of kids actually like that there’s chips and dice and cards and they can do something with their parents,” Russ Patrick said. “It’s a good family activity, versus everybody being in their bedrooms on their computers playing games.”
“A kid’s always going to want to go, ‘Oh, can I roll the dice?,’ as opposed to, ‘Can I tap that touch screen?’” Christopher Patrick added.
But for players craving a tech element, the team has created an interactive, online app of the electoral college map to keep score of the votes accumulated by each team, in lieu of calculating it by hand. During game play, players can touch the states once to turn them red, indicating Republican control, or twice to change them to blue to Democrat.
Seated at the game table at the American Hotel, North Haven resident Bill McCoy gave the app a try on Ms. Glocker’s iPad. He said he’s never seen anything like The Presidential.
”This is pretty neat,” he said, playing on the Democrat side with Ms. Glocker. “I have some friends in Washington who’d think this was a riot. They’d think this is great.”
With that, he turned back to the game where he faced Republican father-daughter team Clive and Isabelle Rowe.
”I want Hawaii,” the 12-year-old strategized with her father.
”All right, let’s campaign,” Mr. Rowe replied.
”Pick three states,” Ms. Glocker instructed.
”Hawaii ...” Isabelle started.
”Hawaii doesn’t have very many electoral votes,” Ms. Glocker interrupted. ”But you can still go there if you like.”
”My daughter wants to go to Hawaii,” Mr. Rowe said, laughing.
”I’d want to go to Hawaii, too,” Mr. McCoy added from across the table.
Approximately 15 minutes later, tensions were running high. Ms. Glocker announced the score: 248 to 232, with the Democrats in the lead.
”Let’s go back to California again,” Mr. Rowe murmured to his daughter.
”Hey, hey, hey, hey!” Mr. McCoy protested. He controlled California, which boasts a whopping 55 electoral votes, enough to dramatically change the game.
With a roll of the die, Isabelle knocked Mr. McCoy’s votes out of California and took the lead.
”We’re coming back!” Mr. Rowe yelled victoriously, and then added, “Is this a cliffhanger, or what?”
As the Rowe pair and Mr. McCoy abandoned their seats to give those waiting in line a try, Isabelle asked Ms. Glocker when her pre-ordered game would arrive.
“June,” Ms. Glocker said with a smile.
“Cool,” Isabelle replied as she made way for the next player.
To pre-order the game, pledge or learn more information, visit kickstarter.com/projects/1941219079/the-presidential-game.
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