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The Primary Review

Quick Look:

Designer: Matt Quock
Artists:  Sebastián Koziner, Rocio Ogñenovich
Publisher: Mountaintop Games
Year Published: 2018
No. of Players: 1-5
Ages: 14+
Playing Time: 30-60 Minutes

Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com

"Win or lose, we go shopping after the election."
-Imelda Marcos

From the publisher:
Congratulations on your candidacy in The Primary! Outwit your opponents during a presidential primary election by traveling the country, hosting rallies and fundraisers, advertising, and gaining the favor of powerful Super PACs. Regions across the country will vote during the eleven rounds of the game and you will have to predict your opponents’ strategies in order to earn the most delegates and win the game! Good luck, candidates!

This is the part of my reviews where I ramble on about something, and let me tell you have I got a ton to say about the election process in this country...Just kidding, I'm not touching that. 


Rules and Setup:
The object of the game is winning the most delegates. You do this by winning regions (or in certain areas finishing second. The states are set up in regions on the map rather than all fifty states.

Each player selects a color and takes the pawn, influence cubes, and the scoring star of that color. Next deal tow candidates face-down to each player. Each candidate has a different special ability. Choose one and place the other in the box. Next, in the top right corner of your card, there is a number. This is the starting amount of influence cubes you have. The last person to vote in a presidential primary is the starting player. The last phase you take three round markers of your choice and place them in the non-voting area (it is recommended to use rounds 1, 4 & 9 in your first play), then you randomly place one round token on each region, with the number side face up and place voting marker next to round one.

Action / Movement Programming 
Area Control / Area Influence 
Simultaneous Action Selection  
Variable Player Powers

Game Play:
The Primary is played over eleven rounds, each with four phases: News, Action, Vote, and Organize.

1. News Phase - In the News phase, the top news card is drawn and its effect is applied to the current round.

2. Action Phase - In the Action phase, players select four action cards from their hand and place them face down. Once all players have committed their action cards, they take turns executing their actions one card at a time.

3. Vote Phase - During the Vote phase, one or more regions (or none at all) may vote. The player with the most influence in the regions voting wins delegates, getting one step closer to victory. It is important to note that your candidate pawn counts as an influence cube.

 4. Organize Phase - This is the cleanup phase. You will remove any cubes that were involved in the voting phase and return them to the player bank of that person. You will next flip over the round marker to show a checkmark stating that round is completed. Move the voting marker to the next round token and return all the played action cards to the owner's hand (unless specified by the news cards). Pass the first player marker to the left.

The player with the most delegates at the end of the game wins!

Artwork and Components:
This seems like an odd place to start, but I want to talk about the bags. The bags are big enough not only to hold the cubes, but the player pawn, star, and the cards as well. This makes it super easy to set up. All the components for each player are already all set up and ready to go. The cubes are somewhat translucent so they look nice on the board and the color choices make them easy to tell apart. The art style fits the with the theme well, and there is a Freeman candidate, so I love that. Also, I think the Elect-o-bot 9000 for solo play is great.

For me, pretty much everything. But if I had to pick the top one I would say for me it's the map. having to fight it out in all fifty states would add a ton of unnecessary time. The region map streamlines this.

The Bad:
Some people will not like the simplified region map.

Final Thoughts:
The first thing I noticed right away on this game is there is a very minor amount of take-that gameplay. There is some for sure, but the game focuses on your own gameplay and tactics. Also, I always appreciate a game that has an equal amount of male and female choices for character selection. And all the cards make sense for an election. I know that sounds weird, but there is no wackiness or overpowered cards. Every player has the same deck, so you know what they can do, and they know what you can do. Despite setting your four cards in advance, there are cards you may have put down with the intent of using one way, and by the time that card comes up, you might want to play it another way. My best friend will tell you that I am a huge fan of elections and I have been searching for the right election game for years to add to my collection. That search is over.

Players Who Like:
Area control, action selection, beating someone to the punch.

Check out The Primary on:

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/233996/primary   http://mountaintop.games/games/the-primary/   https://www.facebook.com/MountaintopGames/   https://twitter.com/MtntopGames   https://www.instagram.com/mountaintopgames/   https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOgx69nIhUrEVBMVvEF0mog/      

James Freeman - Reviewer

James is a child of the 80's he grew playing D&D and Stratego. He currently owns more games than his understanding wife of 20+ years thinks he should. James lives in Buffalo, New York with his previously mentioned wife, 2 teenage kids and one Havanese dog. Also, if someone outside of Buffalo says they serve buffalo wings, they are lying.

See James's reviews HERE.
The Primary Review The Primary Review Reviewed by James Freeman on March 11, 2019 Rating: 5

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