Review: Politiko: The True Game of Malaysian Politics

By Intan Mawarni on May 8, 2018

Only one day left for Malaysians to cast their votes that will determine which party is going to rule this prosperous nation!

While biding time for the big election day to arrive, you may have played (or heard) the infamous political card game, Politiko, that was initially released during the 13th General Election back in 2013.

In the spirit of the upcoming 14th General Election, Centaur Games returns into the political arena with Politiko: The Game of Malaysian Politics which is the digital version of the card game on mobile that was announced in late April.

Choose between two coalitions which are the mock representations of Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Harapan to win parliament seats!
Choose between two coalitions which are the mock representations of Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Harapan to win parliament seats!

The goal of the digital version is that you need to win more seats than your computer rival in 8 turns, which sounds pretty much like the original card game but with a slight twist. Missing from the card game is a hexagonal map that represents a political area. Within the hexagonal map, there lies various coloured buildings which illustrated as the voters.

There are two parties you can choose: United Nationalists Front or People’s Hope Coalition. Both of these parties have their own demographics of voters that they can control such as Malay & Rural voters are for the former while Urban & Semi-Urban voters are for the latter.

A voter of a seat may reside in singular hexagonal shape while the divided lines show several voters may be clustered in combined hexagonal shapes. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a singular vote in a small seat or some voters combined in one large seat, the only way to emerge victorious in the game is to control at least half of the voters’ seat with the use of over 50 charming scheme cards.

Each player is given four cards but you can only use two schemes per turn. What makes the digital version a game-changer is that the players could draw up a new line on the map to create more seat or lure voters in a promise of development using the devious scheme cards.

From ‘Phantom Voters’ to ‘Ex-PM Weighs In’ card, this game pulls off non-stop jabs on Malaysian political landscape that will have you in stitches especially if you keep up with the latest political stunts and scandals in Malaysia. To make it even better, each party has their own designated scheme cards which emulate the real-life politics maneuvers by the local coalitions to garner more voters.

This game doesn’t hold back with Malaysian political references.
This game doesn’t hold back with Malaysian political references.

In my first playthrough, the game can be a bit confusing at first because I had a hard time to understand the mechanics of the gameplay and I’m not really up to date with politics. After several rounds of political campaigns, I finally managed to take down my opponent for good.

Despite going up against a computer, don’t take this AI for granted. The AI knows the ropes of the game making it easy to turn the tables if you’re not careful with the constant gerrymandering.

The only downside of this digital version is missing the ability to play against human opponents or an online multiplayer. Playing against the computer is a worthy opponent but after a while, it can be tedious.

I won more seats than the opponent despite I have less numbers of voters.
I won more seats than the opponent despite I have less numbers of voters.

Politiko: The Game of Malaysian Politics is an ingenious mobile game that brilliantly mirrors the current Malaysian political landscape of malapportionment and gerrymandering. The digital version is well translated from its original card game by bringing the fun factor into Malaysian politics with cheeky schemes card and manipulating the voters to be in favour of your party.

As a person who is not acquainted enough with the Malaysian politics, this game is an eye-opener for me and it works as a medium of education to familiarise myself with the going-ons of the local political scene, although it’s laden with tongue-in-cheek local politics remarks.

Politiko: The Game of Malaysian Politics is available in Android while the iOS version is still in the works. UPDATE 16/5/2018: Politiko: The Game of Malaysian Politics has arrived to iOS Store. Get the iOS version here.

8.0
GE's Simulator
Cheeky political card game turns into a neat mobile version that brings endless fun political remarks based on the Malaysian political landscape.
The Good
  • Informative
  • Humorous
  • Unique
The Bad
  • Can Be Complicated On First Play
  • Short
  • No Human Opponent
Intan Mawarni
About the Author
Story-driven games like Uncharted and The Last of Us are my favourites. I write and play video games! Yay!
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