The Let's Play Archive

The Political Machine 2016

by TheMcD

Part 7: - Beginning The Campaign, Take 2

Beginning The Campaign, Take 2

It's like they always say: "Rome wasn't built on the first try"... or something like that. Anyway, we're going to be starting this campaign over. This is because of a few reasons:

1) A new update came out, and while the things it added were rather minor, I'm not entirely sure it didn't break saves. They seem to load well, but you never know.
2) The voting system I've been using has been kind of shitty, and so we're going to be switching to a new, simpler system that should make things easier.
3) We had kind of a shitty start, which can be partially attributed to a lack of advisory on my end, so I'll give you some tips to start out this time.

But before we restart, let's take a quick look at what changed with the new version, 1.2. For one, the title screen changed to now display the two main winners of both the Democratic and Republican primaries. We can also see a new option - "Campaign". Seems redundant, given that the whole game is about campaigns, but this is a campaign in the more video game oriented sense. This feature was apparently in the 2008 version of the game, had since been removed, and is now being sold to us again for 4$/4€. People aren't quite happy about it.

The way the campaign works is pretty simple. You pick a candidate, and go through a series of games against pre-set opponents...

...with special conditions. From what I've seen, these include "this issue is the #1 issue in all states", "you start with certain operatives", "a certain stat gets a malus" and "your opponent gets a bonus to certain things (like awareness)".

Of course, there is both a Democrat campaign and a Republican campagign. So far, I've been going through the Republican one, having taken out Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Lyndon B. Johnson, and the next opponent is Woodrow Wilson, who I'm kind of dreading because he gets a flat 10% awareness boost right out of the gate. Maybe I'll do something with the campaign mode down the line?

Anyway, let's move on to our campaign reboot. One new thing here is that they added a simulation mode that lets the AI go up against another AI. And of course, I simulated the Cruz/Obama matchup, and the result was Obama 384, Cruz 154. With that, the AI made my expectation of not being able to beat McCain's 173 electoral voters, let alone Romney's 206.

Also, you'll notice that I've taken the difficulty down to Beginner. I've completely forgotten that Normal is actually not the default difficulty of the game - it's Simple, which is two steps below Normal. I've been usually playing on Normal and have been doing pretty well, and I just figured that the "normal" difficulty would be the default. However, Simple is quite easy, so I decided to go half-way with Beginner. After all, we are beginners, but not simple. At least I hope we aren't.

Of course, our candidates are still the same.

And here we are.

Surprisingly enough, Obama's moves are exactly the same as the first time around (Outreach Center in California, Campaign HQ in Texas) - I presume that this means that there's no random element involved in the AI's decision-making, at least not for the first week.

The Zagby polls are slightly different, as there have been some changes in issue importances in different states, and to make room for two new issues that have been introduced - Funding NASA and Nationalism, which are both relatively unimportant issues that are liked moderately by all, though Funding NASA is actually a top five issue in both Alabama and Florida, so we might be making some occasional references to it. Nationalism is just filler, and any time you might think about using Nationalism, you should be using Fighting ISIS instead.

To note, I'm getting increasingly confused about the Zagby polls. In the campaign mode, the issues that are made the #1 issue in every single state somehow only end up in the middle of the pack in the polls for some reason, and focusing on that one special issue is what wins you the campaign, so apparently the polls are full of shit. Insert joke about the realism of the game here.

Now, you should know the basics on what we can do from the first run, so we can move on to the new voting system:


Our new system is what I call the "State-Action-Issue" voting. When you vote, you give me three things:

1. STATE: Any single state you want to campaign in.

2. ACTION: Any one action you want to do. I define actions as either "make an ad", "fundraise", "build an HQ" or "give a speech".

3. ISSUE: Any one issue you want to focus on.

You can find information on the states and issues on the spreadsheet.

The way I'll use the votes is as an advisory - I'll take the top two of all three parts and try to work them into the week's agenda. So, for instance, if the winning votes are California and Florida, speech and ad, and Fighting ISIS and Social Security, I would maybe go to California, do a speech on supporting Fighting ISIS, then go to Florida and run a ground game ad slamming our opponent over opposing Social Security. This should allow for more opinions to have value, and should make votes easier to work out.

So a vote would for instance be New York, build, Reducing Wealth Gap or Utah, ad, Religious Freedom or something like that. You can also work more suggestions into it - such as the type of ad I should place, or which kind of HQ I should build, and while it won't be officially counted separately, it'll also be an advisory.

Campaign Assets for Week 1:

- 250.000$ cash, 10.000$ income per week from HQs, 0$ costs per week from ads => 10.000$ income per week
- 0 PR Clout, +0 per week from HQs
- 0 Political Capital, +0 per week from HQs

Now that I've explained the new voting system, it's time for...


*insert GameFAQs-style ASCII art of a bobblehead Obama here*

Alright, the thread requested some tips from me, as some hints from somebody who actually played this game might come in handy. I'm going to break this down into the three things that you're going to vote on, and will give some elaborations on what I would do for the short-term (until about Week 5~6) and mid-term strategy (until about Week 11~12).

1. STATE: For the short-term, the key in the early part of the campaign is to find the states in which you want to have made great gains in awareness sometime around the mid-part of the campaign. For our current campaign, I would pick the following:

- California. As this is the wealthiest state, we need to make sure we can get the most out of this money-pinata.
- Texas. This is the biggest Republican state, and the third most wealthy state. Thanks to it being our home state, we already have a great advantage in awareness, but we still need to make sure we get a bit of an extra boost.
- Florida. This is the biggest swing state, and a crucial state to win if we want to win the election. Further, the AI also knows that Florida is crucial, and will put effort into winning it as well, so we need more effort.

I would NOT pick New York, as while it is the second wealthiest state, it is even more Democrat than California, which is already quite Democrat. If I have a shot at winning New York, I can sleepwalk through the election, or I'm focusing WAY too much on it. To note, I'm suggesting getting a lot of awareness in California, but I'm not suggesting we can win it. Again, if we can win California, we can sleepwalk through the election, and that's quite unlikely. However, while I believe we can't win California, the value we can get out of fundraising there is much too great to pass up on it.

As for the mid-term, that's when we start getting into important swing states, which, as you remember, are states with high amounts of electoral votes that could go either way. For our campaign, I would look into:

- Florida. Still a crucial state, and it won't be won in the early stage.

Furthermore, I would concentrate on the group of "more than 10 electoral votes, leans Republican" states, which is:

- Ohio.
- Georgia.
- Virginia.
- Arizona.
- Tennessee.

That should be enough for the first half. Quick late-term preview: We'll need to analyze the situation and see which potentially winnable states have seen little effort put into them by Michelle. The late-term campaign depends heavily on how the previous parts went.

2. ACTION: Given that we're probably going to be doing everything on the list and they're all important, I can't exactly give a ranking or something like that. Here's some tips on each action type:

- Ads: You can be quite generous with ground game ads in important states. A single TV ad will cost as much as nine ground game ads to make, and as much as ten ground game ads in maintenance every week. It might be smarter to only use ground game ads early and only bring TV ads into it late, when you're trying to give a last push on as many fronts as possible.
- Speeches: Speeches are a tool that I particularly use in tossup states that haven't really been campaigned in by either side. Spending one week giving two speeches can win a state with about 6~8 electoral votes for you if you do it right. Furthermore, speeches work well in the endgame when you need one last push and there's still some undecideds in the state. Note that once you've pretty much run out of undecideds in a state, pretty much nothing bar a massive push will change what has developed there. So if Florida is projected at 49% Democrat, 1% Undecided and 50% Republican, then getting that 1% will be a lot more effort than it's worth.
- Fundraising: Said something to a similar effect before, will say it again. Only fundraise in states where you have 75% awareness or more, ESPECIALLY California. You want to maximize the amount of money you get out of every fundraiser, and the only way to do that is to have high awareness.
- Building: In retrospect, I believe that building up your original HQ to level three is not a good idea. Think about it - it's our home state. Shouldn't we be building the level three stuff in states where we need every bit of awareness we can get? Then again, we want high awareness in Texas because of fundraising. Hm. Anyway, there's a few things that one should pay attention to. We should probably have one level three HQ of the PR Clout and Political Capital varieties - you can neglect one of the two resources, but I find that there's a large amount of stuff that is very useful on both sides. Also, don't forget to put the Political Capital HQs into shitty states, since they don't give bonuses to the state they're in.

3. ISSUE: Now, what issues we want to play with largely depends on the states we're in, but there's some general strategies.

- In Republican states, you have pretty much free reign - you can go with generally acceptable issues like Fighting ISIS and Social Security, or you can go with issues that Democrats don't like.
- In split states, try focusing on those generally acceptable issues, but only if they're a top issue.
- In Democrat states, maybe try hitting the opponent on Democrat issues like Supporting Gay Marriage, Reducing Wealth Gap, that kind of stuff.
- In general, stick to the top issues in the state, preferably top three.
- When it comes to ads, you want to run with issues with which you've already established a strong issue rating, because the weekly bonus is a percentage - so getting an ad out on us supporting Securing The Borders (69 rating) would be a lot more effective than one on Support For Israel (24 rating), but only if the issue importance matches.

I hope that helps. Now, I need a state, an action, and an issue.